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Opinion

Fentanyl Fiasco: The Tragic Missteps of BC’s Drug Policy

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10 minute read

From The Opposition News Network

Unmasking the Destructive Cycle of Drug Policy in British Columbia. A Tale of Good Intentions and Dire Consequences

My fellow Canadians, it’s been a challenging time. I had initially planned to bring you the latest spectacle from the House of Commons, featuring Kristian Firth, but fate had other plans. A personal emergency struck closer to home—a fentanyl overdose in the family. This tragic event threw us headlong into the chaotic circus that is the British Columbia health system. Let me be frank: the system is a mockery. The privacy laws that supposedly protect us also shroud our crises in unnecessary mystery. When my uncle was found unconscious and rushed to the ICU, the walls of confidentiality meant we could not even ascertain his condition over the phone. They notify you of the disaster but cloak its nature in secrecy. It’s an absurdity that only adds to the anguish of families grappling with the realities of addiction.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: our approach to drug addiction. The authorities label it a disease, yet paradoxically offer the afflicted the choice between seeking help and remaining in their dire state. This half-hearted stance on drug addiction only perpetuates a cycle of relapse and despair. As we speak, thousands tumble through the revolving doors of our medical facilities—5,975 apparent opioid toxicity deaths this year alone, an 8% increase from 2022. Daily, we see 22 deaths and 17 hospitalizations, and yet our response remains as ineffective as ever. This issue transcends our national borders. The U.S. has openly criticized China for its role in the opioid crisis, accusing it of flooding North America with fentanyl—a drug so potent, it’s decimating communities at an unprecedented rate. Just last year, over 70,000 Americans succumbed to fentanyl overdoses. And what’s more damning? Reports from U.S. congressional committees suggest that the Chinese government might be subsidizing firms that traffic these lethal substances. Lets be clear this is a state-sponsored assault on our populace.

In response to this crisis BC NDP policymakers have championed the notion of “safe supply” programs. These initiatives distribute free hydromorphone, a potent opioid akin to heroin, with the intention of steering users away from the perils of contaminated street drugs. At first glance, this approach might seem logical, even humane. However, the grim realities paint a far different picture, one where good intentions pave the road to societal decay. Addiction specialists are sounding the alarm, and the news isn’t good. While hydromorphone is potent, it lacks the intensity to satisfy fentanyl users, leading to an unintended consequence: diversion. Users, unappeased by the drug’s effects, are selling their “safe” supply on the black market. This results in a glut of hydromorphone flooding the streets, crashing its price by up to 95% in certain areas. This collapse in street value might seem like a win for economic textbooks, but in the harsh world of drug abuse, it’s a catalyst for disaster. Cheap, readily available opioids are finding their way into the hands of an ever-younger audience, ensnaring teenagers in the grips of addiction. Far from reducing harm, these programs are inadvertently setting the stage for a new wave of drug dependency among our most vulnerable.

Programs designed to save lives are instead spinning a web of addiction that ensnares not just existing drug users but also initiates unsuspecting adolescents into a life of dependency. What’s needed isn’t more drugs, even under the guise of medical oversight, but a robust support system that addresses the root causes of addiction yet, the stark reality on the streets tells a story of systemic failure. Let’s dissect the current approach to handling addiction, a condition deeply intertwined with our societal, legal, and health systems.

Take a typical scenario—an individual battling the throes of addiction. Many of them find themselves ensnared by the law, often for crimes like theft, driven by the desperate need to sustain their habit. Yes, many addicts find themselves behind bars, where, paradoxically, they claim to clean up. Jail, devoid of freedom, ironically becomes a place of forced sobriety.

Now, consider the next step in this cycle: release. Upon their release, these individuals, now momentarily clean, are promised treatment—real help, real change. Yet, here’s the catch: this promised help is dangled like a carrot on a stick, often 30 or more days away. What happens in those 30 days? Left to their own devices, many relapse, falling back into old patterns before they ever step foot in a treatment facility.

This brings us to a critical question: why release an individual who has begun to detox in a controlled environment, only to thrust them back into the very conditions that fueled their addiction? Why not maintain custody until a treatment spot opens up? From a fiscal perspective, this dance of incarceration, release, and delayed treatment is an exercise in futility, burning through public funds without solving the core issue. Moreover, from a standpoint of basic human decency and dignity, this system is profoundly flawed. We play roulette with lives on the line, hoping against odds for a favorable outcome when we already hold a losing hand. This isn’t just ineffective; it’s cruel.

Final Thoughts

As we close the curtain on this discussion, let’s not mince words. The BC system’s approach to drug addiction treatment isn’t just flawed; it’s a catastrophic failure masquerading as mercy. Opposition leader Pierre Poilievre has hit the nail squarely on the head in his piece for the National Post. He articulates a vision where compassion and practicality intersect, not through the failed policies of perpetual maintenance, but through genuine, recovery-oriented solutions. His stance is clear: treat addiction as the profound health crisis it is, not as a criminal issue to be swept under the rug of incarceration.

Contrast this with the so-called ‘safe supply’ madness—a Band-Aid solution to a hemorrhaging societal wound. In the dystopian theatre of the Downtown Eastside, where welfare checks and drug dens operate with the efficiency of a grotesque assembly line, what we see is not healthcare, but a deathcare system. It’s a cycle of despair that offers a needle in one hand and a shot of naloxone in the other as a safety net. This isn’t treatment; it’s a perverse form of life support that keeps the heart beating but lets the soul wither.

Come next election in BC, if any provincial party is prepared to advocate for a true treatment-first approach, to shift from enabling addiction to empowering recovery, they will have my—and should have your—unwavering support. We must champion platforms that prioritize recovery, that respect human dignity, and that restore hope to the heartbroken streets of our communities.

The NDP BC government’s current model perpetuates death and decay under the guise of progressive policy. It’s a cruel joke on the citizens who need help the most. We can no longer afford to stand idly by as lives are lost to a system that confuses sustaining addiction with saving lives. Let’s rally for change, for recovery, for a future where Canadians struggling with addiction are given a real shot at redemption. This isn’t just a political imperative—it’s a moral one. The time for half-measures is over. The time for real action is now.

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New Documentary Details Female Sexual Assault Survivor’s Story Of Being Incarcerated With Trans Inmate

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By KATE ANDERSON

 

A sexual assault survivor gave an inside look at living in a female prison with male criminals identifying as transgender in a new documentary by the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) released Tuesday.

The six-minute documentary, part of IWF’s “Cruel & Unusual Punishment: The Male Takeover of Female Prisons” series, focuses on the story of Evelyn Valiente, a sexual assault survivor and former inmate at the Central California Women’s Facility. Valiente, who is using a pseudonym to protect her identity, was forced to share a housing unit with a male inmate identifying as a woman while serving time for killing someone in a shooting.

“At first I thought it was going to be okay and it didn’t take long before this one particular individual was manipulative, calculating, vindictive and always looking and seeking to do harm to another person,” Valiente said regarding the inmate, who had a history of sex crime convictions.

In 2020, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California signed legislation requiring the state’s prison system to house inmates based on their gender identity and not their biological sex. Under the law, corrections officers are required to ask inmates privately how they identify and then work to house them accordingly.

Before her time in prison, Valiente had been sexually assaulted, and said that being in the same housing unit as this individual, who had been convicted of sex crimes, as well as other men made it “scary” not only for her but for many women who had “come from very abusive backgrounds.”

“It’s a lot of walking in trauma,” Valiente said.

WATCH:

Andrea Mew, IWF’s storytelling manager and co-producer of the documentary series, told the DCNF that while California lawmakers claimed that the transgender inmate bill was about keeping inmates safe, the law actually further victimized women in prison who often have been abused.

“It’s really interesting that California, at the same time that they are focusing on being all about rehabilitation, are subjecting women to being re-traumatized by a lot of their personal triggers,” Mew said. “Many women who are in prison are victims of sexual assault, emotional abuse, physical abuse and having men in their spaces can be a very big trigger for them. At the same time, it’s allowing violent male criminals to have unbridled access to, in many cases, the thing that got them there in the first place.”

Currently, five states: ConnecticutRhode IslandMassachusetts; California and New Jersey as well as New York City; have passed laws allowing men identifying as women to be housed in women’s prisons. However, other states, such as Wisconsin, have reportedly moved biologically male offenders identifying as transgender into all-female facilities despite their violent criminal history.

In September 2023, a female inmate sued the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in New Jersey after allegedly being assaulted in prison by a male inmate identifying as transgender. Another female inmate from New York City filed a lawsuit in January, claiming that a prison official instructed a male inmate who reportedly sexually assaulted her to identify as transgender so he could have “access to female inmates.”

Mew told the DCNF that she and co-producer Kelsey Bolar wanted people to imagine how they would feel if someone they loved in prison was forced to share a cell or a housing unit with a transgender inmate with a history of violence.

“People need to put themselves in the shoes of people who are in prison and just imagine yourself in there, imagine your own daughter in there,” Mew said. “There are a lot of things that could happen that could get you into prison that are complete accidents, so imagine yourself or your own daughter is in that sort of accident. Put yourself in the shoes of the person there and think about how it would feel if you’re being physically, emotionally and in some cases, as we’ve seen, sexually threatened by male criminals while you’re just trying to do your time and get home.”

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment

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CBDC Central Bank Digital Currency

Australians Abandon Physical Cash, Financial Freedom

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From Heartland Daily News

By J.D. Tuccille

Australians abandon physical cash for digital payments that are easy to use, monitor, and block.

The end of cash has been heralded for years—mostly by government officials eager to end the expense of minting coins and printing banknotes while pushing transactions to digital forms that can be tracked and taxed. The transformation has met varying degrees of acceptance or resistance from people around the globe. But Australians appear to be eagerly advancing down the road toward a cash-free world.

Disappearing Banknotes and Coins

“Cash was once a staple in the economy, but it’s fast becoming a relic of the past,” according to an April report on Australia’s financial evolution from SBSNews. “Just a decade ago, more than half of transactions were cash. Now it’s just one in seven, and it’s happened at an alarming rate.”

Various forms of digital payments now account for the lion’s share of transactions, with a growing number of merchants now refusing coins and banknotes, and ATMs disappearing around the country. That means cash is increasingly difficult to find and use even for those who prefer physical money.

The transformation was turbocharged by COVID-19, as people moved away from any sort of contact. But usage of cash was already plunging, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia, from almost 70 percent of transactions in 2007 to less than 30 percent in 2019. “Cash payments accounted for 13 per cent of the number and 8 per cent of the value of all consumer payments in 2022,” the bank finds.

While Australian consumers and central bank bureaucrats embrace the shift, there are serious downsides to an all-digital economy.

“Digital payments have shortfalls, including their reliance on the internet—which can prove problematic in times of crisis,” cautions SBSNews. The report described the plight of people cut off from processing services by wildfires that severed communications; those with cash could still buy necessities.

Digital transactions also require people to have accounts in their names, which is a challenge for young people and immigrants. And budgeting can be easier with paper and coins than with abstract numbers.

Unmentioned in the piece are any concerns about lost independence when all transactions can be monitored and, potentially, blocked. But that’s a major concern elsewhere.

‘Printed Freedom’

Printed freedom” is how German economist Lars Feld described physical money in 2015 while responding to a push in his country to abolish physical cash. He defended banknotes and coins on the grounds that people “should be entitled to an escape from all-out state control,” as Hardy Graupner of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle put it.

Such concerns came to a head in 2022 when the Canadian government cut off Freedom Convoy protesters’ access to their own bank accounts and blocked digital donations to their cause.

“It’s a Western version of China’s social credit system that does not altogether prohibit political dissent but makes it so costly that it becomes impractical to the ordinary citizen,” commented David Sacks, former COO of PayPal. He had already warned that electronic payment processors were working with governments to deny access to the financial system on ideological grounds.

Canada’s crackdown was dramatic, but it didn’t stand in isolation.

Digital Transactions and Targeted Industries

In 2022, American Banker reported that “a new code identifying credit card sales of guns and ammunition has been approved by the International Standards Organization, creating a potential path for card networks to help law enforcement agencies identify suspicious sales of guns and ammunition.”

Amidst concerns that banks would help government officials track gun owners, and several states banning the gun-specific merchant codes, the financial industry “paused” implementation.

The merchant code controversy was reminiscent of earlier government efforts, under programs including Operation Choke Point, to cut off businesses disliked by politicians from financial services.

“Operation Choke Point was created by the Justice Department to ‘choke out’ companies the Administration considers a ‘high risk’ or otherwise objectionable, despite the fact that they are legal businesses,” summarized a 2014 House Oversight Committee report. “The sheer breadth of industries affected – including firearms and ammunition sales, adult entertainment, check cashing, and payday lending – has generated significant concern with the objectives and scope of Operation Choke Point.”

Notably, physical money offers a workaround for businesses that government officials don’t like. To this day, marijuana is a largely cash industry for businesses legal at the state level but still illegal under federal law—a serious concern for heavily regulated financial institutions. For pot growers and vendors, cash may not always be ideal (it’s a target for thieves), but it offers the freedom to operate.

Use It or Lose It

That was the sort of concern that pushed Germany’s Lars Feld to describe physical money as “printed freedom.” It also inspired Swiss activists last year to urge their countrymen to vote “yes to a free and independent Swiss currency in the form of coins and banknotes.” Swiss officials rejected the initiative as insufficiently specific, but they also promised to incorporate protections for cash into the constitution.

Many Australians appear to feel otherwise, and they’re not alone. With demand plunging for cash, Denmark stopped printing and minting kroner in 2016 (private companies will be commissioned to produce more as needed).

“One of the reasons why it is no longer profitable to produce coins and banknotes in Denmark is that the Danes increasingly pay with either credit card or mobile phone,” BT reported at the time.

There is no denying that digital transactions are easy—sometimes too easy—requiring only a card or app, and not sufficient paper in your wallet. But despite the still largely unrealized promise of Bitcoin and other cyber currencies, most digital transactions leave records and require processing by third parties. Those intermediaries, under political pressure, can turn our own funds into tools of control. The more accustomed we become to digital payments, the more likely physical money and the freedom it offers will slip away.

“If you don’t use it, you’re going to lose it,” Steve Worthington of Swinburne University’s School of Business, Law, and Entrepreneurship told SBS News. “The less and less we’re able to access and use cash, the more likely it is that we will lose access to it the same way we have with paper cheques.”

It’s something to think about the next time you head for the store to make a purchase.

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