The Supreme Court of Canada has ordered the federal government to keepVancouver drug rehab center Insite open. (See Ottawa Citizen and Globe and Mail for coverage.) The controversy is that Insite provides so-called “safe injection” services as part of a harm reduction scheme. Giving drugs to addicts seems absolute folly, but that is only one issue. The larger constitutional issue is whether the federal government has the authority to make social policy decisions. The SCOC is over-stepping its boundaries by dictating social policy and is a terrible decision regardless of where you stand on drug decriminalization/legalization.
We editorialized in favour the Harper government’s drug policy and against Insite in 2007. An excerpt:
The latest studies on the “safe”-injection program are once again conflicting, but given the program’s anti-human underlying philosophy, we credit the research against it. In any case, the private community group backing InSite will keep it open with or without the feds. Best for the prime minister to remember his election promise: “We, as a government, will not use taxpayers’ money to fund drug use.”
It is unclear whether Ottawa will also be forced to pay for the clinic. It is almost certain that more safe injection sites will be erected across the country following the SCOC decision. Furthermore, as Sun News’ David Akin suggested this morning, the party leaders in all those provinces holding elections in the next few weeks (including Ontario, Manitoba, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island) should be asked if they will support opening similar clinics in their jurisdictions now that the Supreme Court has said the feds have to allow safe-injection sites.