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When politics and truth collide

An important piece by John Geddes in MacLeans: RCMP and the truth about safe injection sites

It would have been quite a news conference, and it very nearly happened. Last fall, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, after months of intense, private talks, agreed to face the media together to declare their agreement that research shows the “benefits” and “positive impacts” of supervised injection sites for intravenous drug users. […]

“I can confirm we are good to go from our end,” said Chief Superintendent Bob Harriman, a top RCMP drug enforcement officer in Vancouver, in an email he sent on Oct. 28, 2009, to Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the B.C. centre. Harriman’s email included “proposed messaging for [a] joint media release” of the RCMP and the research centre. The RCMP would acknowledge “an extensive body of Canadian and international peer-reviewed research reporting the benefits of supervised injection sites and no objective peer-reviewed studies demonstrating harms.” As well, Harriman said the RCMP would admit that “reviews” commissioned by the force, which contested the centre’s research, “did not meet conventional academic standards.”

The proposed joint media release was never issued. Nor did the RCMP officers and the centre’s doctors appear together for their planned news conference. According to Montaner, two days before the scheduled event last December—after a venue had been booked at the University of British Columbia and “the banners were ready”—he received a telephone call from Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass, the most senior RCMP officer in British Columbia. “He said, ‘Julio, can’t do it,’ ” Montaner recalls. “I said, ‘What do you mean, Gary?’ He said, ‘I’m really sorry, I’ve been ordered not to go ahead with the news conference.’ ”

Despite over 30 peer-reviewed studies showing that Insite works, the sadomoralists in the conservative government in Canada have been desperately trying to shut it down.

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15 comments to When politics and truth collide

  • I am 99 percent for these safesites.
    Allow them an hour or two in a room with a bed too so I dont have to pick up condoms etc beside my car…
    I don’t like it when my neighbors assume it is me tossing the condoms. Extreme stress for him-who-does-not-use-them-things-and-despises-picking-them-up.

  • ezrydn

    “Julio, can’t do it!”

    “What do you mean, Gary?”

    “The Storm Troopers above have decided that it’s easier to save them by just letting them die.”

    “But, Gary, what about all the evidence, the science?”

    “There isn’t any!” (Click)

    So, as I see it, the RCMP supervisors “HAVE NO BALLS!” Truth be damned. Send in the paychecks.

  • kaptinemo

    More Lysenkoism.

    Now, you have to ask the question: just what role did the US (ha-ha) ‘Justice’ Department do to cause the RCMP to back off? Had to have been something substantial…

  • deep thoughts with Jack Handy

    Center for excellence in aids? That name is kind of weird.

  • darkcycle

    Well….this may be the apogee of cynicism, but how are you going to justify ever increasing drug war budgets, when you just had a huge drop in overdose deaths? And how do prevent the society at large from noticing that harm reduction works?
    Look, if your future depends on a continued drug war to fight, the last thing in the world you want is to inadvertantly win it. I really think that the bottom line here is that they want these people to continue to die. Just so the politicians have something to rail against, and the warriors can have more war. Winning doesn’t serve the ends of the perpetual war machine.

  • truthtechnician

    @darkcycle:

    It isn’t that sinister. Sadly, it’s as simple as politicians unwilling to risk their constituency for an issue that won’t advance them politically.

    It’s not that they want the drug war to continue, it’s that standing up to it would hamper their career.

    The voters have their own truth, “drugs are bad.”

  • Servetus

    Canada’s Harper government must be exercising its right to remain silent. It’s probably a good idea on their part for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his henchmen to keep their mouths shut, given his administration’s involvement in the continuing criminal enterprise known as drug enforcement.

    If they were to acknowledge a drug policy like that offered by Insite, one that doesn’t kill addicts, then the Harper government would be admitting that they’ve intentionally killed addicts in the past by their support of the previous prohibition policy. That would be admitting to murder. Harper might end up doing time in a UN jail cell in The Hague just like Milosevic.

  • divadab

    The Harper “government” is also against the long gun (shotguns and rifles) registry, so two weeks before a senior RCMP officer was scheduled to speak about the crime-reduction benefits of the registry, he was demoted and assigned to french language training.

    Harper and his henchmen represent dominionist oppression. They want to put more people in jail for longer, despite the lowest crime rates since 1960. They spent a billion dollars to put thousands of police into downtown Toronto for the G20, shutting down the financial center of Canada for a whole week. These idiots would kill the goose that laid the golden egg. They are beneath contempt.

  • ezrydn

    Something that’ll be interesting to watch is Feinstein in CA. Currently, she’s a total Prohib. She’s up for reelection in 2012 (Hopefully, we can rid ourselfs of Boxer this go around. I can only hope…and vote!). This will take place 2 years after the probable Prop. 19 victory.

    It’ll be interesting to see how her rant changes. Will she remain a Prohib in the face of her state’s turnaround? Watch and listen.

  • darkcycle

    Truthtechnician, yeah, it really does boil down to that, and it isn’t sinister, it’s practical. How else would you explain the Drug Czar’s mandate to lie about legalization. The ONDCP charter contains a provision requiring the Czar and his staff to oppose re-schedualing of a class 1 substance FOR ANY REASON.A fact I learned right here on this site. The US government actually POISENED the commercial ethanol supply in this country under alcohol prohibition. Killing up to 30,000 people according to some accounts INTENTIONALLY. Not just by ‘benign’ neglect. So we have established historical record to look at. Why else would they maintain the lie in this fasion? Trotting out the same tired and refuted arguements every few years, when they know full well they are lies, but hoping to preserve the status quo for just a few more weeks or months?
    Sorry to torch your impression of those noble politicians, but that is exactly what they are doing and what they want and need to have happen. Open you drapes and look outside.

  • darkcycle

    Oops, we’re talking Canada…Well, nintey-nine percent of what I said still holds true.

  • Tim

    It has taken more than a year for this story to catch fire. It’s because the current Canadian government is also trying to hack the census and gun control, so people are more aware than ever of government malfeasance. Glad to see Canadians are waking up.

  • Just me.

    Money money money, it always comes back to a paycheck.

  • Tim

    And here is a great rundown of the cast of characters, some of whom you know:

    Well you can tell a couple of things about one of those RCMP commissioned reports, written by Dr. Colin Mangham, and how government figured in them.

    Flashback : In May 2008, Tony Clement, then Health Minister, turned up at the Standing Committee on Health intending to combat Insite with one doctor in tow – Colin Mangham, “Director of Research” for the Drug Prevention Network of Canada.

    The Drug Prevention Network of Canada is a member org of the Canadian government’s National Drug Prevention Advisory Committee and an offshoot of the Drug Prevention Network of the Americas, dedicated to “combating the drug legalization movement globally.”

    The current president of DPNCanada is also on the board of DPNAmericas; the Canadian vice pres is Gwen Landolt of REAL Women. Rounding out the board of our own war on drugs Canadian clonetank is founder and past president ReformaCon MP Randy White, plus a couple of Scientology Narconon graduates.

    “Honorary board member” Calvina L. Fay of Drug Free America and Save Our Society From Drugs is touted as having “served as an advisor to President Bush on drug policy”.
    Yeah, war on drugs!

    So did Clement’s Dr. Mangham have any data for the Health Committee in 2008 to support his contention that 22 independent research papers in support of Insite were worthless? No, he was just offering an opinion, a “critique”.

  • Tim

    Lastly, these make for a fascinating read.

    And hey look: there’s even a Metafilter entry on this!