Supreme Court on Safe Injection Sites – Commentary



October 20, 2011

Many have heard about the Supreme Court’s ruling a couple of weeks ago on the InSite safe injection site in Downtown Eastside Vancouver. InSite is a place where drug addicts can go to shoot up on illegal drugs, under the supervision of health workers. When on the premises, addicts cannot be charged for possession of illegal drugs. It was an experimental project and the federal government was going to shut it down. (Click here to see a scientific study showing the failure of this experiment).

The Supreme Court, however, decided unanimously that the site should carry on its activities and ordered the Minister of Health to grant the exemption from Criminal law to the centre, even though the government had already studied the issue and come to its own conclusion. This decision smacks of legislating and directing public policy from the bench. It also crosses the line between the separation of powers between the judges and the executive and legislative branches of government. To read an excellent commentary on this issue by Peter Stockland from Cardus as well as a suggested move to correct this matter, click here.

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