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Seamy Underbelly, Part II

Visiting the Downtown Eastside (DTES) has churned up some contradictions for me, and resolving those contradictions requires re-thinking some questions I thought I already knew the answers to:

1) To what extent do people choose to live in the DTES, and to what extent are they stuck there?

2) Does the DTES community strengthen its residents or [...]

Safe injection sites: Treating people with addictions like they matter

Last October, the Supreme Court ruled that Insite, Vancouver’s safe injection site, could stay open despite the Harper Government’s objections. The arguments hinged on whether addiction was primarily a health issue or a crime issue. If it were a health matter it would fall under provincial jurisdiction; if it were a criminal code issue, it [...]

Insite comes to Ottawa

The Harper Government TM is still attempting to shut down Insite, Canada’s only supervised injection site. The case is now before the Supreme Court of Canada, which is where I spent yesterday morning.

I had to line up to go through a scanner, and empty my pockets and put metal things in a bin and so [...]

Tough Justice: Is the Harper agenda a phony war on crime?

Last night CBC’s Sunday Edition hosted a community forum called “Tough Justice: Is the Harper agenda a phony war on crime?”

It drew a full house at the Gladstone Theatre. The first hour consisted of questions and answers posed by Michael Enright to the six panelists. The second hour was questions from the audience.

The panelists [...]

Hemorrhaging money from both ends

Last night GC and I went to Loblaws and gathered a bunch of ingredients for a Cob Salad. Then we unshopped, putting all those ingredients back where we found them, and drove over to Farm Boy instead, because we love Farm Boy. (Sometimes when we can’t think of anything to do, one of us will [...]

Insite survives Conservative ideology attack

Good news – the BC Court of Appeals ruled against the federal government in favour of Insite’s constitutional right to exist. Not only that, but the Court of Appeals also tackled the jurisdictional issue, and determined that Insite is a provincial matter, not a federal one.

There’s still a possibility that the feds will appeal [...]

Bill C-15: Stupid policy, shrewd strategy

The Conservatives are trying to take the war on drug users to another level with Bill C-15, which proposes mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses.

This Bill, if passed into law, will strip judges of their discretion in sentencing Canadians convicted of drug offenses. Rather than being allowed to take all factors into consideration before making [...]

Project CRACKDOWN

Did you hear about Project CRACKDOWN and the resulting police sweep of the Byward Market? The Ottawa Police’s Street Crimes Unit spent four months investigating open drug use in the Market and then conducted a sweep of low-level street dealers on Thursday in preparation for tourist season.

Tourist season.

Think about it. That’s how we define [...]

In a small crowded room with Gabor Maté

Gabor Maté at CCHC, March 4, 2009

Dr. Gabor Maté spoke in a small, packed room at the Centretown Community Health Centre a couple of days ago. He’s a physician whose clients are primarily hardcore drug addicts in Vancouver’s notorious Downtown Eastside.

[Also appearing at the same event was Dr. Samantha King, who wrote [...]

Another myth pierced

I don’t know about you, but I thought addicts were notoriously irresponsible about disposing of used needles. From everything I’ve heard in the media and at community meetings, our parks, playgrounds, schoolyards and front lawns are practically carpeted in used needles.

There’s no question some needles are ending up in those places. But apparently it’s not [...]