Opposition to Supervised Injection Sites: Hubris, ignorance and grandstanding

It’s pretty bad that Chair of the Board of Health, councillor Shad Qadri doesn’t seem to have done what he “has to” do in order to properly evaluate the issue of supervised injection sites. It’s worse when councillors strip all the humanity from those addicted to drugs, treating them as nothing more than criminal elements.

Enter Stephen Blais:

“Police chief [Charles Bordeleau] is an expert in crime and he’s against this,” said Blais. “[Levy] is an expert in health, not an expert on crime.”

“This is a criminal issue. Use of heroin is illegal and the sale of heroin feeds organized crime. I’m not sure why we would encourage the continued criminal behavior,” he added.

First, I’m pretty damn sure that our medical officer of health, Dr. Isra Levy, is far more an expert on research than is Chief Bordelau. The Chief’s apparent obliviousness to all the research on the matter of supervised injection sites would tend to give that away.

(He also seems unaware that these sites have a positive impact on crime reduction…so maybe he’s not as much an expert in crime as Blais would suggest.)

Second, and more importantly, this is not criminal issue, not primarily. It is a health issue. It is a public safety issue. It is a frigging human issue. It’s about harm reduction. It’s about getting people addicted to drugs into treatment programs. It’s about reducing overdoses.

It is so cold and soulless to reduce the treatment of drug addiction to a criminal issue, as if people are nothing more than a government classification, and the wrong classification gives you a shot at a death sentence.

Shad Qadri and the eternal search for readily available information

You may remember Shad Qadri. He who knows that photo radar is a speeding deterrent, is against it, but needs to learn more about it.

Now, we can’t expect councillors to know everything (and I’m certainly not wanting to keep picking on Qadri), but we can expect them to know some things. And we can expect them to do a bit of basic research…especially on issues pertaining to a committee they might chair.

People in Ottawa are talking about supervised injection sites (ahem). Members of the Sandy Hill community are working towards one. Ottawa’s top doc, Isra Levy, supports them. Study after study demonstrates their success in reducing overdoses, increasing treatment for addiction and reducing crime. This isn’t particularly new.

Cue Qadri:

“My position is [that I’m] against it, but as chair of the board of health I have to look at new and advancing issues that are raised in the public health realm,” said Stittsville Coun. Shad Qadri.

“I want to see the model that is being proposed by the Sandy Hill [Community Health Centre] and other partners. Let me be very clear, I’m not in favour of having an Insite or a supervised injection site with the Vancouver model … I’m in favour of something that would definitely help the opioid issue in terms of overdoses.”

He claims that he “has to” look at new and advancing issues that are raised in the public health realm. So the question, has he looked into this issue and decided to reject all the data (and common human decency), or has he failed to live up to what he “has to” do?

There’s really only one argument against allowing supervised injection sites, self-righteous moral grandstanding.

Let’s be clear about what’s going on. Qadri has something personal against supervised injection sites. I don’t know what it is, but he’s clearly not basing his opinion on the data, on the outcomes of Insite or on empathy.

People who could be saved will die if the city rejects supervised injection sites. I have no respect for those who would put their own personal or moral hang-ups ahead of helping people fight addiction.