JOHN TWIGG -- Drug overdose and COVID deaths, US politics, a hung Canadian Parliament, and money laundering – oh, and global warming
The latest new example for me was an analysis piece in the Canada Free Press newsletter which reported on the many machinations by former President Barack Obama and many other Democrats to agitate for universal mail-in ballots in the next U.S. election on Nov. 3, which they claim would increase voter participation markedly but which Trump, Republicans and others expect would be prone to too much fraudulent voting and other abuses of the already-troubled electoral system, which you can read by CLICKING HERE .
Like almost everyone I was already all too aware of how radical anarchist leftists using the label Antifa (supposedly for anti-fascist) have been turning the downtowns of many major American cities into de facto war zones (I say "supposedly" because the groups themselves have been using fascist tactics, such as causing dozens of costly riots all around the U.S. on the dubious pretext of supporting the Black Lives Matter demonstrations protesting the recent death of black man George Floyd while in custody of police in Minneapolis).
That followed the shocking news yesterday that here in B.C. the number of deaths from illicit drug overdoses was 170 in May alone, bringing the year-to-date total to 554, which far surpasses the 167 deaths in the year to date from the COVID-19 pandemic (see graph below) but which is still quite low compared with other provinces and states on both gross and per capita bases.
Some of those drug deaths were related to COVID, such as drug users being less able to access safe-injection sites, but perhaps the major factor was addicts using income from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to buy additional drugs, and perhaps from the COVID shutdowns having caused the quality of the street drugs to worsen, such as travel restrictions reducing supplies of illegal but relatively clean drugs coming in from the U.S. leading to more made-in-kitchen concoctions supplying B.C. addicts.
But overall, the picture is awful regardless of which way you want to look at it - the whole provincial economy has been hamstrung by COVID responses while an even greater scourge - illegal street drugs - went rampant.
That wasn't news to B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who for several years has been advocating for de facto decriminalization of illegal drugs with or without changes to Canada's Criminal Code, but the sudden jump in drug deaths clearly did upset her.
“We must look at alternatives to the criminal justice system to get people the assistance they need,” Henry said Thursday at a news conference, as quoted by The Tyee's health reporter Moira Wyton.
“It is both sad and deeply frustrating to see the number of illicit drug deaths reach a new high in B.C. four years after the declaration of a public health emergency,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner, in a news release (also cited by Wyton HERE).
Parliament fails to function
However, Canadian politics are in a mess now too with the governing minority Liberals having failed on Wednesday to get approval for another stop-gap spending plan, partly because the New Democratic Party MPs and leader Jagmeet Singh opposed a draconian retroactive crackdown on fraudulent abuses of CERB as well as more help for people truly in need such as those with disabilities and the Bloc Quebecois wanted increased fiscal transfers to the provinces for health care, among other planks.
Here in B.C. the NDP government of Premier John Horgan is slowly allowing some sensible returns of normal commerce and notably supporting a proposal to let the National Hockey League use Vancouver as a hub for a playoffs tournament but on the other hand churches in B.C. are still limited to a maximum 50 attendees and with a lot of rigamarole if any churches do try to resume services, which is still over-bearing.
But a crackdown on organized crime? Apparently, it's not in the cards.
In fact an official inquiry into money laundering heard in Vancouver yesterday that the province has delayed plans to set up a multi-sector unit to enforce laws and share information regarding proceeds of crime going into real estate, gambling and other industries - pending the outcome of the inquiry by commissioner Austin Cullen, which began in February and won't hold formal hearings until September, which means yet more delays.
Is an over-abundance of caution going to become our new normal? Apparently so. (In the NHL hub thing, for example, fans could easily attend if they were required to sit a few rows apart and wear masks, but the politicians and bureaucrats apparently would rather err on the side of extreme caution.)
When we look at the madness going on to the south of us, such as downtown Seattle now being home to an insurrectionist quarter, it's easy to conclude we're better off with B.C. and Canadian caution and compliance, but that may be illusory when blind eyes are being turned to so much abuse and criminality as evidenced by the spike in drug deaths and by other indicators such as the continuing problem of stolen goods being fenced through mainstream storefronts in Vancouver.
Meanwhile we've heard less than usual about the supposed crisis with the climate, possibly because it has been overshadowed by COVID news but also because B.C. and much of Canada have just gone through one of the coldest and wettest Spring seasons in memory. Global warming?? Not here, but that hasn't muted the claims of climate alarmists. (The cause, by the way, is fewer solar flares and other natural factors such as variations in Earth's proximity and tilt.) For more CLICK HERE.
John Twigg ... is a veteran independent journalist now based in Campbell River. He can be contacted at email@example.com.