BTC: Imaginary government

From the Globe’s Andre Picard in Mexico City.

Ottawa is determined to shut down Vancouver’s safe-injection site because it’s necessary to “draw a line” about which public health measures are acceptable, Canada’s Health Minister says.

Tony Clement said that while the government supports needle exchanges as a legitimate intervention, providing a site to facilitate the injection of illegal drugs is going too far. He also invoked the slippery-slope argument.

“There are already people saying injection sites aren’t enough, that true harm reduction is giving out heroin for free,” the minister said.

“You have to draw the line somewhere and we feel we’re drawing the line in a place Canadians are comfortable,” Mr. Clement said in an interview in Mexico City, where he is attending the17th International AIDS Conference.

It is surely a shame to see Tony Clement whizzing away whatever claim to credibility he once had. In Steve Paikin’s The Life, Tony is lavishly hailed as a deep thinker and a “Boy Scout” to boot. And he makes great effort in the House to seem reasonable. But here he is now, saying things that aren’t just demonstrably untrue, but so easily refuted.

To the polls.

Ipsos Reid, June 7, 2008. “An Ipsos Reid poll made public yesterday found that 55 per cent of Canadians say the Downtown Eastside centre Insite is “a good thing” and 54 per cent say it should remain exempt from the country’s drug laws, despite a Conservative government appeal to shut it down.”

Angus Reid, May 31, 2008. “A majority of Greater Vancouver residents express support for the operations of the first legal supervised injection site in North America, and few believe the facility should be shut down after its license expires.”

Mustel Group, June 27, 2007. “A recent survey conducted by Mustel Group among a random sample of 852 B.C. adults (+/-3.4% margin of error) shows continuing support for InSite with 63% of residents in favour of the federal government extending the license to allow the safe injection site to remain open.”

Ipsos Reid, February 27, 2007. “Six-in-ten (61%) residents say they support the operation of the supervised injection site in the Downtown Eastside.”

(A page on the Public Health Agency’s website puts support at 71%.)

You’ll pardon Tony if he’s a bit fuzzy on the definition of majority, what with his party’s minority being allowed the freedom of majority for more than two years now. But if only in the interests of his own self-respect he might try approaching his job forthrightly. First, it was the science. At least until more investigation only redeemed that which the government meant to reject. Now, it’s public opinion. Only just a few minutes with Google is enough to debunk that.

So what next? Clement believes—his words—he’s “on the side of angels.” Which is perhaps as close as he’s come to full disclosure. As much as theology and ideology are one in the same. The primary difference being that those of great religious faith make no excuses for their beliefs, no matter the contradictions, improbabilities and incongruities.

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