Friday, September 18, 2009


Judge Thomas Gove is featured in today's Globe, sharing with us his feelings about the Downtown Community Court.

His report is largely anecdotal and it is encouraging in the tiniest way.

But the central problem remains unaddressed.

A community court that directs addicts and others to responsive treatment is the right idea IF AND ONLY IF AND WHEN SUCH REAL TREATMENT EXISTS IN THE REAL COMMUNITY.

Here, in Vancouver, such treatment is by and large not available. Ask any parent of any young drug abuser.

Not only is such low-cost results-oriented treatment not available, most of the powers that be actively argue against it. They would rather hand out more needles and free crack pipe kits and open more clean shooting galleries, including mobile units that will bring addict nightmares to your local neighbourhood.

Not too far away however...

In Winnipeg, for the past 35 years, courts have been consistently sending addicts and others to the Behavioural Health Foundation. On a budget of around $6 Million a year, the BHF works with over 100 people in residence at a time. Do the math. That's about $60,000 a year per client. Cheap. Lunch money.

Results? BHF now claims over One Million Clean Man Days. Each day one client remains clean and sober is a Clean Man Day.

I was there recently. I met women who, after years of prostitution and addiction, are completing their school programs, re-uniting with their children and families and moving back into the community as strong, independent citizens.

Now, why isn't such a program here in BC?

Well, you ask that question of the politicians and the "experts."

They will give you every manner of excuse. But the truth is that if they weren't all sleeping under the same cozy blanket, if they weren't all beholden to a thousand interlocking bureaucrats with a million irrelevant rules-as-obstacles, BHF could open a facility here this afternoon and help Thomas Gove and his Community Court.

Until then, the good Judge's brave efforts can continue to be called "an experiment."

My god, an experiment?

That court and the kind of treatment that is available but not supported here should have been public policy 40 years ago.


david said...

gove said on bgood show that dtesiders who steal on the dtwside for drug money are told they cant cross cambie street and this is supposed to stop them from stealing. how stupid does he think we are? quite, apparently. I can only shake my head at such asininity.

Dave C. said...


Thanks for continuing to shed light on this issue. The Behavioural Health Foundation program has clearly had a huge impact on the lives of people with addiction problems in Manitoba. I was wondering if the BHF only provided service to Manitoba residents, or if they have accepted individuals from other provinces (like BC?).

I appreciate your obvious frustration in trying to convince the powers that be in this province to consider alternative approaches to treatment. I have indicated in a previous comment that I am absolutely in agreement with your position on the wrongheaded policy of aiding and abetting addicts to remain dependent on drugs. To me it conveys a destructive and disabling message to vulnerable individuals that society has given up on them.

Since the media in BC seem to be disinterested in this issue, would there be any point in trying to get someone like the CBC interested in a documentary on a national level? This is an issue that should be of national interest, particularly from the treatment effectiveness aspect.

Dave C.

Jean said...

Yes, the Behavioural Health Foundation in Winnipeg is open to anyone from anywhere, as long as the individual meets the admission criteria. We do have wait lists for space. For more information go to


Jeff Taylor said...

David, I hope you consider taking your message regarding drug treatment to the entire public of B.C. Maybe running for some level of Gov't which would provide you a huge platform in which you could educate the people. You have a 100 percent correct take on the entire situation. I strongly believe if all B.C'ers (especially Vancouvorite's) actually were shown the light (the real truth) then things would change. When people are shown that what B.C. and Vancouver are doing to correct this huge problem of addiction in our society in so off course, I truly believe people would pull their heads out of the sand and demand that things change.
Something to consider and deeply think about.
My personal opinion of Judge Gove is that he more than probably believe what he is doing is meaningful, constructive and accomplishing something, BUT in fact for every one person his court turns around, how many hundreds are not ? How much is that court - program costing ? and is it truly cost effective when you do the math ? Is it actually fair to say that Mr. Gove and his court is really part of the whole problem ? Probably is.