Thursday, March 1, 2007


Abstinence-Based Residential Drug Treatment Programs
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, the crime, disorder and illness associated with substance abuse is gripping the people of Vancouver with a horrible sense of despair, anger, confusion and doubt. The people of Vancouver are in search of solutions. No one doubts the complexity of the problem. The addicted are people whose human dignity has been erased. Many suffer as well from mental illness and from other effects of society's abuse.
Our response to date has failed them. It has been inadequate, unfocused and lacking in compassion. A city as prosperous, modern and beautiful as Vancouver can no longer turn its back on the victims of substance abuse. No longer can we write off an entire neighbourhood, warehousing people in one district with the hope that the problem will be invisible to most. A new strategy is needed urgently.
The federal government can play a new role in implementing a strategy that not only addresses Vancouver's problem but one that is consistent in its approach to the problem across the country. A strategy must have its ultimate goal: a society living free of the harm associated with substance abuse. Achieving that goal must involve a complex, multifaceted approach.
In recent years, some have advocated a four-pillars approach, combining harm reduction with more traditional strategies of prevention, treatment and enforcement. I will not argue the merits of each of those four pillars. Suffice it to say that the ultimate goal is successful treatment of an addict, where, at full recovery, abstinence from substance abuse enhances the lifestyle of the abuser and eliminates the human toll associated with the illness.
Given this kind of logic and practical thinking, honourable senators, how could one support a drug strategy that embraces legal drug substitution as a so-called treatment for drug addiction? The "Inner Change" proposed response to Vancouver's widespread drug problem is at worst, ill-conceived, founded on unsound research and at the least, a risky proposition. This drug substitution program further advances a drug culture, reinforcing the notion of socially acceptable drug use. The program also fails to demonstrate compassion for those suffering from the addiction illness by dismissing abstinence-based treatment as the preferred medical option.
The "Inner Change" proposal is one further step in an insidious campaign to change cultural attitudes and to label those afflicted with substance abuse disease as somehow permanently disabled and incapable of ever making lifestyle changes. Such a policy direction offers no compassion, little hope and huge risk.
Honourable senators, I urge the Minister of Health and the federal government to adopt the national drug strategy that includes increased federal support for abstinence-based residential treatment programs in Vancouver and elsewhere — a strategy that is founded on hope.

Goodbye, Mr. Fix

No, it's not another musical.

But, maybe it should be.

The needle exchange in Victoria will be moved because it has become "a war zone."

But who didn't know that?

Apparently all those Four Pillars geeks who still "believe" in this kind of monstrosity.

Let them - and you - read the story and weep.


Maybe Christy Clark should stay out of politics.

First she left her post as Minister of Education in the B.C. government to pay more attention to her new son. Then, a few months later, she ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Vancouver. She was a Port Moody resident at the time.

Now she wants to save all the "special needs" children by opening a private school with your money.

Christ and a friend of hers named Wendy Cocchia have had a meeting with the current Minister of education, Shirlely Bond, to this questionable end. Cocchia is owner of something called The Absolute Spa Group.

First question: If Cocchia is such a good business woman, why doesn't she pay for this school herself and run it like the private business that it is clearly meant to be.

Next questions: When and how did Cocchia and Clark suddenly become so concerned about the welfare of "special needs" children? Do they have one or two? Does their cousin? Or is this what we call in the world of entrepreneurs, "an opportunity?"

It is crucial that special needs children not be isolated from the rest of the world. The ideal and reasonable response to the needs of such children and their families is what I would call "Half and Half." Half days they are in regular classrooms. Half days they are in special needs classrooms. It is essential not only for these kids that they are an important part of the mainstream, but almost as important for the other children to learn to love and help others.

Leave us not return to the days of Woodlands. And leave us not consider for a moment publicly funding a private enterprise in what should be a public concern.

Maybe Christy would like to do some volunteer work?

The Daily Number

Today - a bonus!

Two numbers!


That's the number of cops Vancouver City Council has agreed to pay for. The police wanted over 100 originally and then settled on asking for 65.

This decision was all politics and no brains or heart. Shame on this administration.


That number represents 2 factors having to do with visible minorities in the Canadian workforce. First, 50% of visible minorities today feel that their employers do not recognize their "foreign" credentials on a par with "Canadian" diplomas and degrees.

Second, in only a few years hence, half the working population in Canada will be visible minorities.

Which raises the question: How many more doctors and civil engineers will be sorting and stacking mangoes and snow peas at your local green grocer before Canadian governments wake up?

Action vs. Inaction Canada & New York

Two Lower Mainland districts are understandably alarmed that known and convicted sex offenders are now living in their neighbourhoods. What can they do? The guys have served their time, "payed their debt to society," (Don't these tired old saws ring hollow after all these empty-promises years?) and they are free to live as citizens - albeit citizens who are almost assuredly moments away from another rape and assault.

British Columbia's endlessly charming and constantly do-nothing Attorney General Wally Oppal (a man who never saw a public meeting or a store opening or a rally that he couldn't attend) shrugs his shoulders. He offers his deepest and most sincere concern to the families of the murdered and the attacked, and then heads back to office to do...what? Who knows?

This is in stark contrast to leadership in Albany where the New York state legislature is considering exactly how to deal with such dilemmas: a man is clearly a public danger and he is also a free citizen. Not an easy one, and the New York solution raises many issues. But give them credit for at least making a legitimate effort to find a reasonable response to an important community issue.

Perhaps someone could give good old, friendly old, smiling old, do-nothing shrug-the-shoulders Wally a New York paper to read from time to time.