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Local Directory for Ottawa, ON


The Crack Kit Community Forum: Part Two

Open Mic at the Crack Kit ForumPart Two was the Open Mic – questions and comments from people in the audience. It was actually pretty interesting, because there was a real mix of attitudes and opinions. Until this point, I got the sense this was one of those “preaching to the choir” things, since everybody seemed to agree with each other.

There were several representatives of various Neighbourhood Watch programs, and they had concerns about carelessly discarded crack pipes and the dangers they pose to children and pets. Someone asked how many innocent children had been infected with HIV or Hepatitis via city-supplied crack pipes. (The answer was no known cases in all of Canada.) At this point Kathleen Cummings asked that value-laden terms such as “innocent” be avoided, as this was a health and human rights issue rather than a values issue.

It was pointed out that the crack pipes from the kits are easily recognizable and therefore avoidable, as opposed to the homemade pipes which are often constructed out of soft drink cans and so on.

One man got up and likened the crack pipe program to driving robbers to and from banks so they wouldn’t get hurt in transit. He also claimed the crack pipe program was illegal, and read a section from the Criminal Code to support his contention, and he insisted that the solution to the drug problem was for society to provide more support to ‘traditional families.’ He was informed that city lawyers deemed the program to be legal, and written proof of this was offered to him.

Another man – a resident of Sandy Hill – indicated that his property has never been damaged or littered with broken glass by anybody other than university students. He also pointed out that the public health benefits of the program apply to all of us, not just to addicts. And he concluded by saying that while we don’t have to like harm-reduction programs, the evidence shows that they do work.

The guy was there. He’s a school teacher and he’s trying to publicly fundraise enough money to replace the city’s share of the crack kit program.

A man stood up and spoke for quite awhile but I couldn’t really follow what he was saying. He was finally asked to sit down because time was running out.

A Green Party representative spoke and said he would be advocating to his Party that it officially endorse the program, along with other elements of a drug strategy, such as treatment facilities and needle-and-pipe recovery efforts.

Another man identified himself as a homeless crackhead who has been addicted to drugs for 20 years. He wanted people to know that not all addicts are irresponsible about disposing of their pipes and other equipment.

Someone in the audience demanded to know why he didn’t just quit.

“I would love to quit,” he said, “and I’ve tried.” He then went on to say that the courts should stop imposing conditions on long-term addicts not to carry drug-using equipment. These conditions, he explained, are why a lot of equipment gets discarded, often in a hurry.

Anyway, I learned a lot, and I was happy I went.

A baby bat for MeganOh – and here’s something just for Megan, who was disappointed she wouldn’t be able to attend because she was out of town. Just before the meeting I stopped to chat with the Homelessness Action Group camped out by the Human Rights Memorial, and they showed me this little bat who lives right behind them, on the walls of City Hall. I know how much Megan loves bats, so I took a picture of him for her.

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