REAL Women Media Release
Court Smashes Government Policy on Drug Addiction
Ottawa, Ontario – May 29, 2008
A single judge on the Supreme Court of BC, Mr. Justice Pitfield, handed down a decision on May 27, 2008, that took the olympian approach to judgeship. He did this by concluding that he knows best how to deal with drug addiction in Canada contrary to the policies of the federal government, which has jurisdiction over the issue. The government’s drug policy is to provide for a three-pillar approach to drug addiction by way of prevention (education), treatment and enforcement of drug laws, which has proven to be the only effective method of dealing with drug addiction.
Mr. Justice Pitfield, however, decided that, in his opinion, he preferred the approach of harm reduction, which is to assume that drug addiction is going to take place any way, so why not permit it in medically supervised sites? Unfortunately, drug injection sites merely continue the addiction, allowing the addict to enter a downward spiral to eventual death. Supporters of harm reduction also have an agenda which is to liberalize our drug laws.
Mr. Justice Pitfield also accepted the argument of the harm reduction theorists that the site provides services and assistance that may lead to their rehabilitation. This is contrary to the findings of the Expert Advisory Committee on the injection site, as the site’s main activity is to assist in the continuation of the addiction.
Using the Charter of Rights as his reason, Mr. Justice Pitfield concluded that to deny addicts the use of the site contravenes section 7 of the Charter which provides for “the right to life, liberty and security of persons.”
The problem is that Mr. Justice Pitfield is no authority on drug addiction. He has accepted the argument of those favouring the policy of harm reduction and ignored or dismissed any other approach to drug addiction.
If nothing else, this decision points out the total inadequacy of our appointed non-accountable judiciary using the Charter as their hammer to impose their views on all of Canada, ignoring the will of an elected government.
The ramifications of his decision are far reaching. If allowed to stand, it will permit the establishment of drug injection sites all across the country – bringing more misery and suffering for addicts.
Because of the seriousness of the situation, the government should apply for a “stay” of the decision, pending an appeal. This would result in the misconstrued decision of Mr. Justice Pitfield’s to cease to be binding until finally dealt with by the higher courts. In the meantime, the site should be shut down to protect the lives of addicts.
C. Gwendolyn Landolt, National Vice President, REAL Women of Canada
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