By Terry Milewski, CBC News
News conferences with Canada's Prime Minister don't happen every day — which, of course, increases the likelihood that, when he does hold one, he'll make news.
But it's even rarer that you'll hear Stephen Harper concede that the war on drugs is a failure.
It happened, though, after two days of listening to Latin American leaders explaining just how costly, and bloody, the war is.
Harper met Canadian journalists at the summit in Cartagena, Colombia, on Sunday and readily admitted there are differences among the leaders over the exclusion of Cuba from the Latin America summit. He admitted, too, that there was a disagreement over British rule in the Falkland Islands. Read more »
BY MARK KENNEDY, POSTMEDIA NEWS Published: Vancouver Sun
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper is flying to a weekend summit in Colombia where his hard line on drugs will put him at odds with some Latin American leaders who are calling for a debate over whether drug use should be decriminalized.
Harper's position on Cuba also could run afoul of a possible consensus by countries in central and South America.
Harper is attending the Summit of the Americas, a conference of leaders from 34 nations that is held every three years.
The talks this year will include such issues as trade expansion, and Harper will meet with senior business executives from Canada and elsewhere who are attending the summit to discuss investment in the Western Hemisphere. Read more »
By: Les Whittington, Toronto Star
OTTAWA—Pension issues flared again in the Commons Tuesday as opposition MPs contended Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government should cut spending on prisons and military jets rather than retirees.
“A single F-35 costs $450 million,” said NDP finance critic Peter Julian. “That would pay Old Age Security benefits for 70,000 Canadian seniors. Its prison plan costs $19 billion. That would pay annual benefits for 2.9 million Canadians seniors. The Conservatives say costly prisons and fighter jets are their priority. We say seniors are more important.”
Toronto Liberal MP Judy Sgro said, “The government has caviar tastes when it comes to jets and jails, but a baloney budget when it comes to seniors.” Read more »
Editorial, The Toronto Star
For 20 years there’s been a troubling disconnect between the reality of crime in Canada and people’s fear of it. The persistent — though mistaken — view that crime is on the rise has allowed governments to push through ever more “tough-on-crime” laws.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have taken this to extremes. The omnibus Bill C-10 before the Senate right now will foist enormous and unnecessary costs on taxpayers.
Yet in reality violent crime is down. Property crime is down. Other crimes are down. Crime is at its lowest since 1973. Read more »
BY: ALLEN GARR, VANCOUVER COURIER
It’s easy enough to understand the confusion in the minds of some members of the public. We woke Wednesday morning to read about the brazen killing of a gangster at an upscale restaurant at Vancouver’s Sheraton Wall Centre early the night before. It was one of a string of revenge killings that have been taking place between rival gangs in B.C. for months now.
At the regular monthly meeting of the Vancouver Police Board later on Wednesday, a report was presented boasting that crimes of all sorts are actually down in Vancouver, including violent crime. And while crime is down across the country, it’s apparently dropping here at twice the national rate. Read more »
By Janet Davison, CBC News
When Canada's premiers and territorial leaders meet early next week in Victoria for one of their two annual get-togethers, their attention will be largely focused on health care and how to pay for it.
While the view over the Victoria harbour may be calming, the discussions could be anything but as they reflect divisions among the provinces over how they can influence Stephen Harper's majority federal government, which has shown very little interest in sitting down at the federal-provincial negotiating table. Read more »
BY DAN GARDNER, POSTMEDIA NEWS
The Gardner key to understanding Stephen Harper's federalism is heroin.
Got your attention? Good. The word "federalism" tends to put people to sleep, but this is important stuff so I'll try to sex it up. Hence, heroin.
There's lots of it in Vancouver's benighted downtown eastside, as there has been for decades. Law enforcement and social services tried everything they could think of to get rid of the drugs and the crime and the social blights. But things only got worse.
In the mid-1990s, HIV and hep C were epidemic and overdoses soared. In 1993 alone, 200 people died.
In desperation, city officials turned to an idea tried with considerable success in Europe. Insite opened its doors in 2003. Read more »
By. JEFFREY SIMPSON, Globe and Mail
In the ongoing struggle between ideology and evidence within the Harper government, ideology too often wins.
The entire field of criminal justice features the government’s determination to ignore evidence. Occasionally, the evidence is so incontrovertible, and the means for forcing it on the government so forceful, that the government has no choice but to adjust course and, in a few instances, to actually retreat.
So it will be with the supervised injection site in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside after the Supreme Court’s unanimous support of the program’s continuation and its utter rebuff of the Harper government’s opposition to it.
The minister at the time of the government’s appeal against supervised injections at the Insite clinic was Tony Clement, now under justified assault for boondoggle spending in his constituency surrounding last year’s G8 summit in Huntsville. Read more »
By Editorial - Comox Valley Record
Anybody who has ever been victimized by crime remembers the effect it had — and perhaps is still having — on them.
A sense of innocence, trust or security can be lost — irretrievably in some cases.
Being doubly victimized by a Canadian legal system that bends over backwards to ensure the accused gets a fair trial might create a feeling of betrayal.
The Stephen Harper government is tapping into these feelings on top of the existing anti-crime element of its ideology.
No politician — or editor — wants to appear soft on crime, which might explain why few political opponents criticized the Conservatives’ Safe Streets and Communities Act during Question Period. Read more »
By. John Moore, National Post
Facts and science found refuge in Canada’s Supreme Court last Friday. The court delivered a smack down to ideology, finding that the success of Vancouver’s safe injection program in providing better outcomes for drug addicts and improving public order is inarguable. The court’s highly technical decision hinged on the unanimous conclusion that the program’s goals have been provably met. Debate over.
Insite works on the principal of harm reduction; if an individual is going to use drugs then it’s better they do it in a clean and supervised environment. The goals of the program are to prevent the transmission of disease, lower the incidence of public drug taking and to expose users on a regular basis to addiction professionals, increasing the opportunities to choose rehab over continued drug use.
For half a decade opponents of Insite have marshalled bogus studies, torqued factoids and the occasional legitimate dissenting research in order to insist that it’s a complete disaster. The Prime Minister declared it to be “a failed experiment,” as if saying this would make it true. Read more »
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