Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Killer Drug and the Killer Cons

I took this picture yesterday of a humble monument next to a community clinic in Toronto.

It's believed to be the first monument anywhere, to those who died of drug overdoses or drug related causes.

But if we were to build a monument to all those who have died the same way all over Canada in just the last ten years, it would be massive.

Because our country has a huge opioid drug problem, and these days the most dangerous killer is the drug fentanyl.

I've written about that drug before, and how it should only be used in a controlled hospital setting. For if an amount the size of a grain of salt can make you obliviously high. One more grain can kill you.

The Globe and Mail has been running an excellent series on fentanyl, and how it became such a deadly threat. 

It's a depressing catalogue of mistakes stretching back twenty years. A tragedy which is now compounded by the fact the drug is cheap to make, easy to smuggle in from places like China. And can be enormously profitable, with an amount of fentanyl the size of a cantaloupe, worth about $20 million dollars.

But what stands out for me is how Stephen Harper and his foul Con regime could have done something to stem the rise of this deadly epidemic, but didn't...

Many medical experts say that the former Conservative government did not devote enough resources to harm-reduction measures (such as the provision of overdose antidotes) to address the side effects of drug abuse; Ottawa fought a war on drugs instead, primarily by prosecuting low-level offenders.

Instead of mobilizing resources to fight it, they tried to ban the words harm reduction.

Any mention of harm reduction was banished from Health Canada’s website in 2007, when the federal department changed the name of its National Drug Strategy to the National Anti-Drug Strategy.

They threatened those who were trying to save lives.

The Conservatives quietly spread the word that not-for-profit groups would have difficulty getting federal funding if they continued to provide harm-reduction programs.

They tried to close down Vancouver's wonderful InSite clinic...

Even though it has prevented thousands of fatal overdoses.

And when that failed thanks to the Supreme Court, they passed a law making it almost impossible to set up supervised injection sites anywhere else in Canada.

Just so Harper could pander to his rabid vengeful base and indulge his deranged views on drugs...

"This descent into nihilism... leads to silliness such as moral neutrality on the use of marijuana or harder drugs mixed with its random moral crusades on tobacco. It explains the lack of moral censure on personal foibles of all kinds, extenuating even criminal behaviour with moral outrage at bourgeois society, which is then tangentially blamed for deviant behaviour." 

Stephen Harper Report Magazine 2003

No matter how many Canadian lives it cost.

You know there is a tendency in this sometimes hardhearted country to blame drug users for their own fate. Or worse consider them criminals.

But these people were not criminals, they were victims...

They may have been humble, for this is a poor neighbourhood.

But they were mothers, fathers, sons and daughters and friends, just like any others. They were and are still missed by all those who loved them. 

Only to lose them so suddenly and so tragically.

And the real criminals are Harper and his Cons who put their foul ideology before the lives of thousands of Canadians, and never lifted a finger to save them.

Always remember what those Con killers did. How they betrayed their own people.

And never ever forgive them...

Please click here to recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers.


  1. Anonymous8:26 AM

    And don't you just hate to hear conservatives sounding off on panels about how to fix the situation in Atawapiskat. For ten years nothing was done. The same mentality lead to both situations.

    1. hi anon...yes the same mentality does lead to those kind of situations. If the Cons didn't see any electoral advantage they didn't care what happened to one group or another. And their treatment of aboriginal people has always been appalling and in some cases openly racist...

  2. As far as I have ever been able to see, Harper had no desire to help people. He liked to punish them. I suspect he got a certain amount of pleasure knowing he was inflicting pain on people. Plus, if someone killed themself with an overdose, he probably just felt it was deserved. I am sure any hypocritical fundamentalist Christian Zionist would feel this way.

    Certainly Harper's approach to the murdered and missing aboriginal women showed, at best, complete indifference to the safety and well-being of Canadian citizens. I would assume, based on his overall performance, he was also racist and self-justifying---I mean some of these women may have been prostitutes or drug users!

    His was always a punitive approach. Look at Corrections Canada where decent education programs that might keep people from re-offending were cut while the Cons built more prison space and increased mandatory sentencing. It is a lot cheaper to train a prisoner to be a Class A mechanic or a pastry chef or a mill-wright while they are in prison. The CC case is even more stupid since it costs us money. Prison is not cheap.

    I think what upsets me more than anything when we hear the litany of Con/Harper misdeeds is that none of his ministers had the ethics or courage to resign in protest over his vicious behaviour.

    In way, this behaviour simply is another illustration of Harper's unerring ability to pick the wrong policy or person at every turn. Dmitri Orlov in his blog has a comment that You may be forgiven for thinking of Stalin as a psychopathic murderer, because he was certainly that, but more importantly he was a competent, and sufficiently ruthless, head of a revolutionary state. Harper may have had some character flaws but he was not even competent.

    1. hi jrkrideau...I blame his behaviour on the fact that he is a clinical psychopath, and is unable to feel the pain of others. And as we know he is a cowardly bully, with a deep desire to punish others, when in fact he's the one who should be punished for what he did to this country. My consolation is that delusions of grandeur have come to nothing, his legacy is being demolished. And in the grand history of this country he will merit only an asterisk, having as you point out, built nothing and sought only to destroy,....

  3. Anonymous11:09 AM

    Way too much money being made by every government(s) to ever staunch the flow, Simon.

    "It's propping up the governments in Columbia and Peru
    You ask any D.E.A. man
    He'll say "there's nothin' we can do"
    From the office of the President (or P.M.?)

    Right down to me and you, me and you
    It's a losing proposition
    But one you can't refuse
    It's the politics of contraband
    It's the smuggler's blues"

    Follow the money, bud....

    1. hi anon...well that maybe true, but it's up to all of us to keep the pressure on, and work for the day when we can toss the One Percent and their stooges out of power, and build a fairer more equal society. I know that sounds like more pie in the sky Simon again. But that's the only way things are really going to change...

  4. e.a.f.5:05 PM

    Thank you for sharing the memorial. A memorial such as this is a kind and generous thing to do.

    In B.C. we have had a whole raft of deaths from fentanyl. it is mixed in with other drugs and sold by a variety of gangs. B.C.'s governments answer to that, was as usual, NOTHING.

    Given much of it comes in from China, Canada needs to put pressure on China to restrict this import. There needs to be a major presence on the waterfronts of our country by port police. the federal government needs to re-institute a police force for the various ports. We need more screening of containers. it costs money, but the message needs to be sent, you can't get away with importing this crap into Canada.

    More needs to be done by police services to go after the gangs which manufacture it here, distribute and sell it. If provincial governments refuse to allocate the funding then it is clear, they are part of the fentanyl problem. One could say if you're not part of the solution, you are part of the problem, so provincial premiers, step up to the plate or acknowledge you are part of the fentanyl problem

    1. hi e.a.f... your welcome, I must have passed by that monument a hundred times, but I only noticed what it was for the other day. Interestingly enough, the clinic right next to it is preparing to become supervised injection site, and is preparing to jump through all the hoops that Rona Ambrose created in order to get the approval. It's a model clinic, the kind I dream of creating all over the country, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that all will work out well. As for fentanyl I honestly don't know how we are going to get that problem under control, but right now I'm focusing on education...

  5. Harper's tough on crime approach was just pandering to his base who see everything in black and white:


    1. hi David...yes you're right, the base does see everything in black and white, and they have a vengeful spirit that only makes some social problems worse, and prevents us from solving them. But I think Harper wasn't just pandering to them, he was also showing his bully streak, and punishing people gives him some kind of sick pleasure. His treatment of Omar Khadr convinced me that the man must be a sadist...

    2. e.a.f.10:40 PM

      harper's "tough on crime" routine, in my opinion, was to put more people in prison and bring the American private prison corporations to Canada. he was all about privitzation.

  6. All of this is true, but I think another aspect of harm reduction is looking into why people feel so horrible that they seek oblivion, instead of a pleasant toke (or in the case of legal alcohol use, why they binge drink until they black out rather than enjoying a bit of wine with a good dinner). Doesn't it indicate great pain and deprivation, whether material or in terms of human relationships and feelings of self-worth?

    Also note Harper's crap about the "moral crusade" about tobacco smoking. There is always the risk that such campaigns moralize and make their targets feel shitty or "lesser", now that tobacco denotes poverty and not worldly sophistication, but most of the tobacco campaigns I've seen tend to avoid that and simply promote health.

    If fentanyl use is generalized among Indigenous communities, it could be a return of genocide. The prospect is terrifying. And it won't be used in lieu of solvents or bootleg liquor, but as a toxic cocktail.

    1. hi lagatta...absolutely, severe social problems almost always lead to rampant drug abuse, as it is a way to numb the pain in the kind of society we live in. When dealing with those with severe drug problems, one has to focus on the human problems first,
      Although I have to say that the fact that fentanyl has become such a problem scares the hell out of me, for its now used to spike cocaine and heroin, so many people don't even know what they're taking. And our repressive drug laws only make a bad situation worse...

  7. Well yes, that is true. I've interpreted and facilitated at conferences about suicide in Indigenous communities ... the degree of pain is so acute that I had to walk home from downtown, or almost, after my day's work, during a cold November week.

    The other thing that scares the hell out of me is realizing that a lot of authorities don't give a shit about "those people"... whether Indigenous or other marginalized people.

    1. e.a.f.10:44 PM

      lagatta a montreal,

      so agree with you. a lot of politicians don't give a shit about "those people". The first order of business of any political party is to stay in power once elected. Everything else is secondary. In my opinion that is why political parties tend to do things which will get them the most votes. Making life better for First Nations and marginalized people, just doesn't cut it with financial donnors and a lot of voters. its one of the sad truths I came to as a child.

  8. Hello Simon,
    This is such a nice sharing. Your article is very informative and attractive. Drug is such a dangerous things. It can harm our heart, human body too. Thank you for your article.

  9. Hi, Simon.
    With Canada now leading the world in the production of methamphetamine and ecstasy, its citizens and government will have to deal with the side effects of the growing illegal drug industry.