Monday, May 5, 2008

Tony Clement Should Resign

As an addendum to my previous post, consider this excerpt from the Globe's editorial today:
[...] Researchers from the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS detail what appears to be a deliberate attempt to suppress positive reviews of Insite from being released while its future is being decided.

Rather than extend federal funding for continuing research into the (InSite) facility, which had produced 22 (overwhelmingly positive) peer-reviewed studies over the preceding three years, Mr. Clement reportedly rejected his own department's advice and abruptly changed course in 2006. Further research, the authors write, would be focused on whether Insite complied with international drug control treaties - presumably in hope of demonstrating that failure to do so justified its closure. And researchers had to agree to delay the release of their findings until after the facility's current legal exemption had expired - a requirement that prompted University of British Columbia researchers to decline participation on the grounds that it was ethically unacceptable.

Mr. Clement, by all appearances, does not want more research. He wants research that conforms to the current government's antipathy toward supervised injection facilities, and provides the impetus to shut down Insite or at least reject applications for similar facilities elsewhere. In the absence of that research, he would prefer to have no research at all. Oblivious to the plight of addicts who may needlessly lose their lives as a result, Mr. Clement is keeping his blinders firmly attached.
Clement claims that he's open-minded on the safe injection side; one wonders why anyone not blinkered by morally bankrupt ideology would conclude that InSite is anything but a positive development for the Downtown Eastside. Whatever Clement's actual motivations - whether he is simply incompetent (a sure thing, in any case) or if he is also misguided thanks to a juvenile "Just Say No!" philosophy - his waffling on this issue does not merit the confidence of Parliament much less anyone concerned about public health. He should resign, though a better solution would be the removal of his boss as well.

Update: I suppose a more inflammatory headline would be something along the lines of "Conservatives Oppose Reducing AIDS Transmission" or, more succinctly, "Conservatives Support AIDS; Oppose Access to Addiction Services". That would be par for the course given past claims by Harper that the Liberals and NDP support child pornography.

2 comments:

Ladyjutea said...

I...waffle.

There are positive reviews on the studies. That, I'm sure of. But at the same time, I'm so abhorrent of anyone even contemplating use of drugs that this kind of venture scares me. Logically, I am aware of the benefits to such a site and yet...

Maybe I'm just too sheltered.

Josh G said...

Perhaps ;)

But from a health perspective, we can identify several unambiguous desirable objectives:

1) Preventing infectious disease transmission via sharing of needles used for intravenous drug use is a good thing.

2) Provisioning nursing and addiction services to drug users are good things, particularly since this can and does help get them into treatment programs.

So, that's what InSite does, and what it's designed to do. If we could stop substance abuse by decree, it would be great, but in the meantime, it's much better to work on ways to get drug users - who often suffer from mental illness in addition to their addictions - off the street and into programs that facilitate safe injection practices and access to treatment services.