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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

THE SIDEWINDER – Doing nothing is not an option but the answer won't be found by spending more money and adding more bureaucrats to the public payroll

We've now had several years of the low barrier, harm reduction approach to solving or coping with our illicit drug use epidemic. Maybe it's now time to review what has been accomplished.

Almost every public health official, provincial housing authority, city councillor, police officer and drug counselor in this province openly acknowledge the growing tragedy of drug overdose deaths in British Columbia.


Former Liberal Health Minister Terry Lake cited the use of fentanyl as one of the leading factors in this outrageous tragedy; although, I don't personally understand what in hell difference it makes what drugs were involved. The point is that, despite all the talk and wasted money, people were dying in ever increasing numbers.


The official namby-pamby low barrier, housing first approach didn't save any of those lives but Christy Clark’s Liberal government kept pouring money into non-effective, so-called harm reduction programs.


The 2017 provincial election resulted in an NDP/Green Party coalition, which promised a lot but has delivered very little in the way of change.

 

The drug and crime problems are still with us. We now have safe injection sites and likely coming soon to a neighbourhood near you, we'll also have supervised injections sites. I guess the next logical step in this goofy pattern is home delivery of free drugs with nursing supervision.


Lobbying Ottawa for greater support from the federal government to help deal with our botched approach to the epidemic of drug deaths related to the use of illegal drugs also continues unabated as though Ottawa could solve anything.


The do-gooders, hand-wringers and poverty pimps -- who rely on drug users and drug abusers as their reason for being -- will all tell you that we need to spend even more money to help them continue in their failed attempts at salvation for drug and alcohol addicts, and those suffering from mental health illnesses.


Obviously doing nothing is not an option but the answer won't be found by spending more money and adding more bureaucrats to the public payroll.


There must be an expanded dialogue between various federal, provincial and local authorities and the public who pay the bills. That process must begin with a new approach that isn't mandated by the prevailing one-size-fits-all policy.


Although drug use, petty and major crime and other related matters are garnering headlines, there are a couple of other major issues which reflect a serious decline in the moral fiber of our communities.


Many BC cities and municipalities almost lust after large casinos because of the huge cash inflow to city coffers. We also have lottery outlets in almost every retail outlet in the province.


The upside of cash flow from gambling frequently trumps any discussion of the moral issues involved but there are too many undeniable tragedies unfolding in our communities everyday as a result of addictive gambling habits that can't be ignored.


We also have liquor available in every corner of every town. There are thousands of licensed seats in bars, restaurants, pubs and other establishments which allow serving liquor. Wine is even available in grocery stores.


There is a terrible immorality in this lust for revenue from these sources. We're already paying for the social clean-up and downside of these revenue sources ... and the bills keep growing.


With harm reduction we are now confronted with more broken families, more ruined lives, more drug addiction, more alcoholism, more mental illness, more deaths and more gambling addictions and, without a change in attitude, the numbers of people currently affected are only going to continue to grow.


With the attitude of the provincial government and city councils which encourage and promote these questionable revenue sources, we seem to be well down the road to resembling Sodom and Gomorrah. About the only thing missing is legalized prostitution.


If we are seeking moral and ethical leadership, I think we all got on the wrong train.

 

 

SANDY Macdougall ... is a retired newspaper reporter. He was elected for three consecutive terms to Maple Ridge municipal council in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and also ran for the Progressive Conservatives in Kim Campbell's ill-fated federal election campaign. He now makes his home in the BC interior community of Kelowna.

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