This week, the Mother's of MumsDU (Moms United and Mandated to Saving the Lives of Drug Users), along with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, decided it was high time to get some answers from our major federal parties regarding Canada's approach to addressing problems related to drugs and drug use. Since many of these issues have taken a backseat in this federal election, the responses they received should be taken in to consideration before casting your ballot this coming Monday, October 19th!
Together, these three non-partisan organizations all working towards drug policy reform here in Canada, put together a short questionnaire of sorts and sent it off to each of the major federal parties. Unfortunately, they did not receive a response from all of the parties. Can you guess who didn't bother responding?
Before we delve into which parties responded, and what they had to say, lets first take a look at the questions they were asked.
Question #1: "Does your party support restoring harm reduction as a key pillar in Canada’s federal drug strategy, including support for supervised consumption services as one important component of an overall federal strategy on drugs — and as part of efforts to prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C (HCV), associated with unsafe injection drug use?"
Question #2: "Does your party support Good Samaritan legislation as one important component of a comprehensive approach to addressing the pandemic of death by drug overdose in Canada, and expediting access to naloxone by making it a non-prescription drug?"
Question #3: "Does your party support considering new approaches to regulating and controlling cannabis production, distribution and possession, as a way of minimizing the harms of the cannabis industry and cannabis use, promote public health, and respect the human rights of adults who use it?"
Question #4: "Given the scientific evidence of the ineffectiveness of mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offences, does your party support eliminating the use of such sentences and again allowing judges to employ discretionary practices for these offences?"
Question #5: "Does your party support Canada advocating at the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs for a comprehensive approach to drugs based on evidence, public health objectives, and human rights standards, including support for harm reduction programs? Does your party support the creation of a mechanism within the United Nations that brings countries and civil society experts together to consider alternatives to drug prohibition as the main strategy for controlling drugs?"
Fantastic questions! Certainly ones I want to know the answers to before I head to the polls on Monday.
So, which 3 parties took the time to answer these 5 key questions? Who didn't?
Responses were received from the Green Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada, as well as the New Democratic Party of Canada. The Conservative Party of Canada did not bother taking the time to respond (however, you can view the request letter here).
Lets take a look at some of their thoughts on addressing drug related issues, and policy reform, shall we?
First up, the Green Party of Canada...
Answer #1: "The Green Party is a strong advocate for harm reduction policies, including lifesaving supervised consumption services. The scientific evidence, social policy research, and public health results prove unequivocally that a focus on harm reduction saves lives and make all Canadians safer."
Answer #2: "The Green Party supports Good Samaritan legislation to address drug overdoses. Promoting the public interest should be the guiding objective of all public policy. When laws threaten the health and lives of Canadians, they no longer fulfill this goal. Good Samaritan legislation will help to counteract this lifethreatening consequence of existing drug possession laws, and will reduce overdose deaths." "We also support increased access to naloxone, and its removal from Health Canada’s list of ingredients that require a prescription."
Answer #3: "The Green Party of Canada fully supports removing marijuana from the drug schedule. Greens will legalize marijuana, create a regulatory framework for the safe production of marijuana by small growers, and institute a tax rate similar to that on tobacco. When marijuana is legalized and taxed, the Green Party will dedicate a share of this revenue to research and public education about the health effects of marijuana."
Answer #4: "The Green Party will repeal the mandatory minimum sentences on nonviolent drug offences and all Harper era criminal laws creating mandatory minimum sentences."
Answer #5: "The Green Party will continue to advocate for a comprehensive approach to drug policy based on evidence, public health objectives, and human rights standards. Canada should be a leader at the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs, to promote progressive and sciencebased drug policies that accomplish pressing public health objectives. Harm reduction programs must be a priority of any Canadian drug policy framework, as should the aforementioned elements."
Read the full responses to questions here
Next up, we have answers from the New Democratic Party of Canada...
Answer #1: "New Democrats see harm reduction as a fundamental pillar in the framing of Canada’s drug policy. Its arbitrary removal is symptomatic of Stephen Harper’s decade of overriding scientific, evidence-based policymaking with a destructive ideology-driven approach. A New Democratic government will build its health policies on the basis of evidence and science."
Answer #2: "Assisting someone whose life is in danger is part of our social responsibilities. The NDP is committed to working with the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition and all relevant stakeholders to develop intelligent and effective policies that will better protect citizens who come to the assistance of someone in an emergency situation due to overdose. We are also committed to working collaboratively with doctors and medical experts to evaluate and implement evidence-based harm reduction strategies, such as adopting medical recommendations to improve access to naloxone and assessing whether it should be available without a prescription."
Answer #3: "New Democrats have long said that no one should be going to jail or be stuck with a criminal record for possession of marijuana for personal use. We have pledged to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana immediately. When it comes to marijuana, we need an approach that focuses on health promotion, public education, and safety."
Answer #4: "The NDP is not in favour of the overuse of mandatory minimum sentences. In 2012, we opposed the Conservatives’ Bill C-10, which called for this type of sentence for non-violent crimes like drug possession. The NDP believes that an approach to justice and public safety that is limited to punishment and incarceration is insufficient. To ensure the long-term safety of our communities, an NDP government will put forward a balanced strategy that is smart on crime, focusing on crime prevention, prosecution, rehabilitation of offenders and victim’s rights."
Answer #5: "Yes." & "Yes."
Read the full responses to questions here
Next up, we have answers from the Liberal Party of Canada...
Answer #1: "A Liberal government’s priority will be evidence-based policies that reduce harm and protect public safety. We were leaders on protecting public health and safety on this issue, and will continue to focus on policies for the public good. Our party believes that safe injection sites are an integral party of a broader, evidence-based national drug policy that promotes public health and decreases crime. We support supervised injection sites because they decrease the risk of death and disease for those living with addiction and mental illness, reduce crime, and protect public health and safety."
Answer #2: "The Liberal Party of Canada supported the recommendation for Health Canada to examine the risks and benefits of amending the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to allow for Good Samaritan legislation, as utilized in the United States. Our party and our Leader, Justin Trudeau, are committed to reducing public harm and ensuring public safety through policies and programs that are formed in consultation with experts and civil society that includes rigorous examination of supporting facts and evidence."
Answer #3: "Yes, a Liberal government will legalize and regulate marijuana."
Answer #4: "Our party does believe that mandatory minimums have a place, but only for extreme crimes when necessary to protect the public from specific threats. The Conservatives have clearly abused the system for ideological reasons and against the interests of public good. A Liberal government will focus on protecting Canadians and making our communities safer by pursuing policies that reduce crime and prevent re-offending, such as rehabilitative programs that are proven to limit repeat offences."
Answer #5: "Yes. As a broader principal, Liberals support mechanisms for bringing together governments and civil society to study and consider new approaches to problems such as drugs that are based on evidence, public health objectives, and human rights standards, including harm reduction."
Read the full responses to questions here
Now that you know where the major federal parties stand on these important issues, make sure you get out and VOTE on Monday, October 19th!
By K. Lanktree
- Freelance Writer -
- Blog Mistress -
- Former IV Drug User -
- Methadone Patient -
- Lover of all things Harm Reduction -
Help keep 'Studio L' online by donating to help offset the costs! Thanks💋