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Red Deer Council Candidate Jonathan Wieler – A Safe & Healthy Community


7 minute read

Hey everyone,

As I write this the snow is blowing outside and Red Deer is getting its first major snow storm of the year. It would be nice to have winter tires for my vehicle but a while ago someone came into my back yard and stole them! They were stacked up beside my house and blocked in by my wheel barrow and a some scrap wood that I had stacked up. I wish I could say that this was the only time I have personally been the victim of crime, but it’s not. I wish I could say that I am the only one experiencing things like this and that this is the worst of what’s happening, but it’s not.

What is happening in Red Deer? Why are stories like mine becoming more and more common? I hear about more and more violent and disturbing crimes. Why are the stories getting worse?

The economic downturn and the rising drug crisis are closely correlated to the increase in crime. All of these things are connected in very complex ways. That’s why our solution must be full spectrum. If we want to address why people are stealing tires from peoples back yards then we have to address things like unemployment and public health.

Let’s address unemployment by attracting new and more diverse businesses to Red Deer. As a councillor I will work with existing businesses to find out what they need to be able to continue to operate profitably and I will reach out to prospective businesses and find out what we can do to make Red Deer a desirable place for them to set up shop. Also, I recognize that the more we partner with RDC, soon RDU hopefully, then the more our community will prosper.

Connected to that is also the concept of social economic development. We want to prevent crime and we know that when people have a good job they have hope and that when people have hope they are less likely to turn to crime. That’s the bigger picture that we’re looking at. I am a strong advocate for linking our social, cultural and environmental goals with our economic goals. True sustainability, wether social, environmental or cultural must be financially viable in order to last and our economic goals must contribute to the general wellbeing of our citizens at the same time. Thats good policy.

My campaign for city council is focused on what we can to right now to get results. Right now we can provide more tools to our police services and our justice system. GPS tracked ankle bracelets are proven to be effective in disrupting the pattern of crime. If we put enough of these devices on repeat offenders; the guys stealing trucks and dealing drugs, then we will throw their destructive patterns out of balance. If a gang member gets an ankle bracelet then that guy is out of the gang because the others won’t want him around. These devices are cost effective, legal and would be put to good use immediately. We can start a pilot project right away and start gathering evidence to prove if the technology works for Red Deer and how best to fund and implement a strategy.

A hot button topic is the drug crisis in our community. When we let fear dictate public policy then we are reacting to the problem. What’s the difference between reacting and responding? It’s how much planning goes into the process beforehand. When we generate public policy based on evidence then we will be able to respond to the problem. We must be very intentional with how we respond to the rising drug crisis and treat it the way we would treat any other public health emergency.

I’ve heard a lot of discussion about building a supervised consumption site and there is a lot of concern about how this will be implemented. If we build a high security medical facility to supervise people using drugs then we must intentionally focus on prevention, outreach and long term treatment and support. Right now we don’t have any control over the situation, people are injecting everywhere in the city and leaving their needles in places that are creating a serious hazard to the community. How do we regain control of the situation? The evidence shows that there are effective ways to help people with addictions; but it will require a concerted effort to put together a plan that will work. We must listen to all the voices in our community; to the experts and front line workers, to families affected by addictions, to nearby residents and businesses. As a councillor I will be committed to engaging our community to find solutions that will make our city healthier and safer.

I’m prepared to roll up my sleeves and get to work. Please help me to secure a seat on city council so I can work with you to move our community towards these goals!

Thank you

Let’s go for coffee!

Please feel free to email me ([email protected]) or contact me on social media; just search for Wieler4RD on most platforms or use the hashtag #CoffeeWithWieler.

I have lived in Red Deer since I was a child. This is the community that I choose to raise my family in and where I choose to operate my business. I am grateful for all of the opportunities I have had in this city and I will give back to the community through service, passion and conversation. I am curious. I am personal. I am BOLD.

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‘Harm Reduction’ is killing B.C.’s addicts. There’s got to be a better way

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Susan Martinuk 

B.C. recently decriminalized the possession of small amounts of illicit drugs. The resulting explosion of addicts using drugs in public spaces, including parks and playgrounds, recently led the province’s NDP government to attempt to backtrack on this policy

Since 2016, more than 40,000 Canadians have died from opioid drug overdoses — almost as many as died during the Second World War.
Governments, health care professionals and addiction experts all acknowledge that widespread use of opioids has created a public health crisis in Canada. Yet they agree on virtually nothing else about this crisis, including its causes, possible remedies and whether addicts should be regarded as passive victims or accountable moral agents.

Fuelled by the deadly manufactured opioid fentanyl, Canada’s national drug overdose rate stood at 19.3 people per 100,000 in 2022, a shockingly high number when compared to the European Union’s rate of just 1.8. But national statistics hide considerable geographic variation. British Columbia and Alberta together account for only a quarter of Canada’s population yet nearly half of all opioid deaths. B.C.’s 2022 death rate of 45.2/100,000 is more than double the national average, with Alberta close behind at 33.3/100,00.

In response to the drug crisis, Canada’s two western-most provinces have taken markedly divergent approaches, and in doing so have created a natural experiment with national implications.

B.C. has emphasized harm reduction, which seeks to eliminate the damaging effects of illicit drugs without actually removing them from the equation. The strategy focuses on creating access to clean drugs and includes such measures as “safe” injection sites, needle exchange programs, crack-pipe giveaways and even drug-dispensing vending machines. The approach goes so far as to distribute drugs like heroin and cocaine free of charge in the hope addicts will no longer be tempted by potentially tainted street drugs and may eventually seek help.

But safe-supply policies create many unexpected consequences. A National Post investigation found, for example, that government-supplied hydromorphone pills handed out to addicts in Vancouver are often re-sold on the street to other addicts. The sellers then use the money to purchase a street drug that provides a better high — namely, fentanyl.

Doubling down on safe supply, B.C. recently decriminalized the possession of small amounts of illicit drugs. The resulting explosion of addicts using drugs in public spaces, including parks and playgrounds, recently led the province’s NDP government to attempt to backtrack on this policy — though for now that effort has been stymied by the courts.

According to Vancouver city councillor Brian Montague, “The stats tell us that harm reduction isn’t working.” In an interview, he calls decriminalization “a disaster” and proposes a policy shift that recognizes the connection between mental illness and addiction. The province, he says, needs “massive numbers of beds in treatment facilities that deal with both addictions and long-term mental health problems (plus) access to free counselling and housing.”

In fact, Montague’s wish is coming true — one province east, in Alberta. Since the United Conservative Party was elected in 2019, Alberta has been transforming its drug addiction policy away from harm reduction and towards publicly-funded treatment and recovery efforts.

Instead of offering safe-injection sites and free drugs, Alberta is building a network of 10 therapeutic communities across the province where patients can stay for up to a year, receiving therapy and medical treatment and developing skills that will enable them to build a life outside the drug culture. All for free. The province’s first two new recovery centres opened last year in Lethbridge and Red Deer. There are currently over 29,000 addiction treatment spaces in the province.

This treatment-based strategy is in large part the work of Marshall Smith, current chief of staff to Alberta’s premier and a former addict himself, whose life story is a testament to the importance of treatment and recovery.

The sharply contrasting policies of B.C. and Alberta allow a comparison of what works and what doesn’t. A first, tentative report card on this natural experiment was produced last year in a study from Stanford University’s network on addiction policy (SNAP). Noting “a lack of policy innovation in B.C.,” where harm reduction has become the dominant policy approach, the report argues that in fact “Alberta is currently experiencing a reduction in key addiction-related harms.” But it concludes that “Canada overall, and B.C. in particular, is not yet showing the progress that the public and those impacted by drug addiction deserve.”

The report is admittedly an early analysis of these two contrasting approaches. Most of Alberta’s recovery homes are still under construction, and B.C.’s decriminalization policy is only a year old. And since the report was published, opioid death rates have inched higher in both provinces.

Still, the early returns do seem to favour Alberta’s approach. That should be regarded as good news. Society certainly has an obligation to try to help drug users. But that duty must involve more than offering addicts free drugs. Addicted people need treatment so they can kick their potentially deadly habit and go on to live healthy, meaningful lives. Dignity comes from a life of purpose and self-control, not a government-funded fix.

Susan Martinuk is a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and author of the 2021 book Patients at Risk: Exposing Canada’s Health Care Crisis. A longer version of this article recently appeared at

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$1,000,000 boost from province for upgrades at Red Deer’s Centre for Social Impact

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Youth HQ is proud to announce that Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Red Deer and District has been awarded $1,000,000 through the government of Alberta Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) for the purpose of facility upgrades to the Centre for Social Impact.

The Centre for Social Impact (CSI) is an inspiring place where charities and non-profits can
collaborate; a place centrally located where families can readily access a variety of supports and
services; and a place where organizations can share resources and minimize operating costs.
“We are grateful for the support from CFEP, which enables us to address facility enhancements
and upgrades in support of the charities and non-profits that share this place where community
connects.” States Rob Lewis, Executive Director, YouthHQ.

Board Room at the Centre for Social Impact. Priority upgrades are the roof of the building and the HVAC systems

“Investments into non-profits in our communities, like Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Red Deer
not only support new activities and programming but uplift youth and help build stronger
communities. Alberta’s government is proud to provide this million dollar grant to Red Deer Big
Brothers and Big Sisters, as they provide essential supports and services for the youth of Red
Deer and surrounding area.”

Tanya Fir, Minister of Arts, Culture and Status of Women

“The CFEP grant awarded to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Red Deer and District is very
exciting news for Red Deer and surrounding communities. This substantial investment will
directly benefit our community by supporting essential youth programs, providing lasting
benefits for our youth in the years to come. I was happy to write a letter of support, as I am
continually inspired by the work Youth HQ does in our community. This grant will undoubtedly
enhance their ability to make a positive impact.”

MLA for Red Deer-North and Minister of Health, Adriana LaGrange

Conferencing area at the Centre for Social Impact. Priority upgrades are the roof of the building and the HVAC systems

For more information on the Centre for Social Impact please visit

About Big Brothers Big Sisters of Red Deer and District

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Red Deer and District enables life-changing mentoring relationships
to ignite the power of young people. Providing life changing mentoring experiences since 1976,
Big Brothers Big Sisters has been matching children and youth with adult role models who help
them achieve their biggest possible futures. We believe we are #BiggerTogether, and currently
work with over 220 young people to ignite their potential.

About Youth HQ

Youth HQ empowers youth by fostering a community of support. Our network seeks to instill
young people with confidence in their unique identities and abilities, providing them with skills
for life through knowledge, healthy relationships, and quality experiences while providing safe
environments to learn and grow. Youth HQ coordinates programming for Big Brothers Big
Sisters of Red Deer & District and Boys & Girls Club of Red Deer & District, offering numerous
programs and services that support children, youth and families.

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