Six years ago, B.C.’s provincial health officer declared a public health crisis due to the steady and significant rise in opioid related deaths. Despite all government efforts, the death toll continues to rise year over year. Opioids, primarily fentanyl, are now responsible for more than six deaths a day in B.C. Fort St. John and the rest of the north are not immune or exempt from contributing to these sad statistics.
This spring, our Premier formed an all-party provincial health committee and tasked them to review this overdose crisis. Local Peace River North MLA Dan Davies was appointed to this committee. Upon hearing this news, I told him I didn’t know whether to congratulate him or feel sorry that he is now tasked with finding a solution to a problem that Premier Horgan knows government has little likelihood of fixing.
He looked at me a bit funny and asked me why I thought this way.
Simply put, in our society, freedom of choice is paramount. Ending a service that others demand, or stopping others from doing what they so choose, is difficult, if not impossible to accomplish. When it comes to mind altering drugs, people have been using and enjoying them longer than we have been known to wear shoes, and neither is about to change.
Many, like me, advocate for harsher penalties for dealers, distributors, and manufacturers; end the supply chain and, voila, no more drugs, no more deaths, and a big drop in the use of illegal guns for the sole purpose of eliminating rival drug dealers. Throw the worst of the worst in jail and leave them there.
Too simple, some say, as they advocate for more safe injection sites with free prescription-quality drugs so we can keep them alive for a bit longer. Others push for more addiction treatments centres, knowing full well that attendance is voluntary and most have no intention of participating. And then there are those who wish for millions and millions of taxpayer funds to provide free housing, free spending money, and free drugs so addicts can live “normal” lives at the expense of taxpaying and hardworking Canadians.
As I was writing this, trying to impart my flat earth view that doesn’t sound too offensive and yet sticking with the grim reality of what fentanyl is really about, a series of events occurred that changed my narrative. At first glance they may not seem to be connected, but the more I thought about them, the more I realize they are.
Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Horgan are about to make these same killer drugs legal because they believe illegal drug users have become overly stigmatized and need some of their self-esteem back. Yes, you heard correct; send the message that these killer drugs are not really all that bad, just don’t advertise that it is these killer drugs that are ending the lives of so many.
And, there was more. In a one-week span, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that no matter how many people one may execute, no matter how evil one is, or how one chooses to do it, mass or serial killers cannot be sentenced to more than 25 years in prison. And if our “system” so chooses, they could be out let out on parole sooner. Yes, in Canada, jail without parole is deemed to be cruel and unusual punishment. This decision means if someone executes 25 others, by gun, club — or drugs — they can only receive one year in jail for each death, and then hit the streets free from the chains of society, rehabilitated or not.
Following that announcement, Trudeau introduced legislation to take guns away from Canada’s good guys if he deems them “dangerous.” Away from those who break no laws, away from those who work and pay to keep Canada running, and away from those who are honest enough to say, yes, we own guns. This legislation essentially avoids targeting those who own and use illegal guns in the illegal drug trade, which are responsible for most death by guns as the drug gangs and cartels illegally shoot one another with their illegal guns to protect their illegal drug trade that kills our kids by the thousands.
But, if that isn’t weird enough, it gets worse. Trudeau and Horgan have now agreed to make the personal use of small amounts of fentanyl legal; OK, and yes, by splitting hairs, they call it decriminalization. This despite these same illegal drugs being responsible for killing more Canadians than all legal and illegal guns, knives, baseball bats, and grizzly bears combined.
Oh, how my head hurts trying to figure out the rationales for where our leaders are taking our country, but one indisputable fact remains: Illegal drugs and illegal guns, and the use of illegal guns and illegal drugs, are so tied together that it is now almost impossible to separate them.
No matter how vile the perpetrators of death by illegal guns or illegal drugs are, we now know that it is no longer the victims who are protected from cruel and unusual punishment. Yes, we must protect the rights of the perpetrators, as the victims are no longer deemed important.
Albert Einstein once said; “The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” I’m not sure to what he was addressing, but it would be interesting to hear whom he thinks is evil in fentanyl management, or who our evil gun owners truly are.
As to a crisis, just Trudeau trying to find himself as he invents another one.
Evan Saugstad lives and writes in Fort St. John.
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