Saturday, February 13, 2010

The streets of Vancouver today are now on national television as the game of "cops and protesters" is played out. One wonders if there shouldn't be an Olympics for this sort of thing. Meanwhile the flags are waving, and the Chinese made "Canada mittens" are in glorious display for the world to see. The opening ceremonies were actually quite impressive despite the malfunction of a piece of equipment that was supposed to raise one part of the official torch. it was lit none-the-less, despite a gaping pit on one side of the stage, perhaps representing the money hole that the Games are likely to be. Speaking of "pits" in the sense of graves, the Olympic officials did their level best to honour the Geogian luger who was killed in a practice run at Whistler. Not the slightest peep about how the deliberate design of the track, to make it "faster" and therefore more impressive, was responsible for his death. Molly recently came across a post over at Mr Beer N'Hockey where one of the workers who actually built the track has something to say about its design. Well worth checking out. We'll see how those responsible are exonerated later.
Meanwhile every Canadian pol with a hand to shake and a baby to kiss ( and who doesn't have prostrate cancer ) is in Vancouver getting photo-ops. Our dearly beloved comrade leader Sneaky Stevie Harper was no exception, and, to tell the truth, he cut a more dignified figure than the Premier of BC who was drunkenly waving his flag with all the enthusiasm of someone who had just drank a 12 pack. It's a surprise he didn't fall down. Also, truth to tell, Stevie didn't look too overjoyed as he sat there. Doubtless this has to be tallied up as time lost to the real business of plotting. While Stevie, however, was lapping up his visuals as "emperor at the Games" another group was extending him an invitation.
The safe injection site 'Insite' has been mentioned before here at Molly's blog. It is an internationally famous harm reduction effort in Vancouver's Lower East Side, easily the junkie capital of Canada and also the Olympic record holder as the "poorest postal code in Canada" (a Winnipeg neighbourhood got the silver). Despite overwhelming local support the federal Conservative government has been trying for years to close Insite down. The BC Nurses Union has challenged Sneaky Stevie Harper to actually visit Insite when he is in Vancouver to see, with his own eyes, what goes on. Will he take up the challenge ? Stop holding your breath ! You're turning blue ! Here's the story of the invite from the website of the Union.
Nurses challenge Prime Minister to visit Insite while in Vancouver:
It's time for Harper to accept the facts and stop wasting taxpayers dollars on expensive court appeals, when the money could be used to provide care
Nurses are challenging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to join them on a tour of InSite, Vancouver's safe injection site, while he is in Vancouver to enjoy the 2010 Winter Olympics.

In a letter to Mr. Harper today, BC Nurses' Union president Debra McPherson says: "I would like to challenge you Prime Minister Harper, to take real leadership on addictions management issues in Canada. You could start today, while in Vancouver. Instead of running from protesters who are trying to draw your attention to the facts on this matter, join me and others and visit Insite. Talk directly with care providers and members of the community who understand the value and essential services provided at Insite. There will always be time for ceremonial ‘photo ops' but for many of the people suffering the disease of addiction in our province and across Canada, time is running out."

McPherson is extremely disappointed with the federal government's decision to appeal the most recent court ruling favouring Insite, this time to the Supreme Court of Canada.

In her letter, McPherson says "I am shocked and extremely disappointed to see that the federal government would once again put this much-needed health care service at risk, given the repeated court decisions to the contrary. Further, the significant body of research in support of the effectiveness of the service to prevent disease transmission and to save lives is recognized by nurses, BC's Health Minister and Health Officer and apparently almost everyone, except our Prime Minster and his government. It's time for the federal government to stop spending valuable tax dollars fighting in the courts on this issue. Instead, fund the services that are needed to successfully address the issues related to the disease of addiction in our country."

On May 27, 2008 BC Supreme Court Justice Pitfield ruled Canada's drug laws are unconstitutional because their effect is to deprive people suffering from the disease of addiction the right to healthcare and risks the security of their person. The consequent exemption from the related section of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for staff and the clients they serve, protected them from facing charges for possession or trafficking of drugs at the Insite health care facility. The federal government appealed that BC Court ruling which was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

Insite is located in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and is Canada's only supervised injection site for those suffering from narcotics addiction. It operates on the medical principle of harm reduction. InSite provides medical supervision for injections, primary health services and addictions counseling and referral to detoxification. Supervised injection sites are proven to lessen the spread of HIV, hepatitis and other diseases. This reduces strain on the public health system.

BCNU represents nursing staff operating Insite, promotes the expansion of harm reduction centres and a universal publicly funded healthcare system for all Canadians.

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