Not even arguing the science

Whatever Tony Clement has said about the “evidence”—and whatever value you are supposed to place on Mr. Clement’s public pronouncements—the government’s lawyers managed to concede during yesterday’s Supreme Court hearings that Insite has worked.

Federal lawyer Paul Riley conceded health ministers allowed it to operate from 2003-2008 following a wave of deaths in the 1990s “to permit a scientific study of the nature of that program as a question of policy.” 

“And it worked,” interjected Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin. She cited the trial judge’s findings based on research showing addiction is an illness; unsanitary equipment is linked to infections and disease, and risk of death is lessened by supervision of qualified health professionals. “Lives are being saved, diseases are being prevented by this site, and are we putting too fine a point on it by saying the site has nothing to do with it?” McLachlin said.

“In the end this program somehow, while not being perfect, works,” said Justice Louis LeBel. “Have you got anything that tends to demonstrate that this program doesn’t work?”

Riley stammered in reply: “I think that’s a fair observation.”

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