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

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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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Addictions

Claims about ‘safer supply’ diversion aren’t disinformation

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News release from Break The Needle

This month, police in London, Ont., admitted to what critics have said all along: safer supply diversion is happening at alarming levels

Last spring, Canada’s minister of mental health and addictions claimed critics’ concerns about “safer supply” diversion — the illegal selling and trading of taxpayer-funded addictive drugs — were based on lies.

“For Pierre Poilievre to state untrue information about safer supply, and try to create barriers to accessing harm reduction services that are saving lives amid this ongoing crisis, is incredibly irresponsible and dehumanizing to people who use drugs,” read a statement by then-minister Carolyn Bennett’s office.

Fast forward a year, and it’s clear which side was telling the truth.

This month, police in London, Ont., admitted to what critics said all along: diversion of pharmaceutically supplied opioids to the streets is happening at alarming levels. London is home to Canada’s longest-running safer supply program, which dates back to 2016 and was significantly expanded in 2020.

The London Police Service released data that shows a staggering 3,000 per cent increase in the seizure of hydromorphone tablets — the opioid predominantly given out by safer supply programs — over the last five years. In 2019, London police seized just under 1,000 tablets. By 2020, that number had tripled. In 2023, they seized 30,000 hydromorphone tablets.

For context, hydromorphone is as potent as heroin and just two or three of these pills, if snorted, can cause an overdose in an inexperienced opioid user.

Earlier this month, the city’s deputy police chief, Paul Bastien, told CBC’s London Morning, “We recognize the value that safe supply plays as part of that harm reduction piece, but diversion is an important issue that is affecting community safety. I won’t say that everyone’s doing it, but some of the tablets from safe supply are being diverted for that purpose.”

“Criminal groups are fairly adept at exploiting policy changes that are well intended. But unforeseen consequences sometimes arise and this appears to be, at least in part, one of them,” he continued.

A reasonable person may assume that, given this alarming new evidence, proponents of safer supply would change their tune about widespread diversion being “fake news.” Unfortunately, they haven’t.

Some activists are now claiming on social media that London’s spike in hydromorphone seizures was not caused by safer supply, but rather by a high-profile theft of 245,000 hydromorphone tablets from an Ontario pharmacy. Yet the spike in seizures began years before this theft and, according to multiple addiction physicians, the street price of hydromorphone collapsed in the city well before 2023, suggesting an earlier influx of diverted supply.

However, these mental contortions aren’t surprising. As more and more evidence of widespread diversion emerged over the past year, accusations of disinformation and misinformation haven’t stopped –– they have simply evolved. The narrative changed from “Diversion doesn’t exist” to “Fine, it exists, but only on a small scale” to, now, “Fine, diversion exists at scale, but imagine the alternative?”

This is the angle already emerging in British Columbia, where the province’s top doctor, Bonnie Henry, authored a damning report that acknowledges the regularity and harms of safer supply diversion, yet still concludes safer supply is “ethically defensible” and advocates for its expansion.

Like many safer supply activists, Henry often argues diversion isn’t a significant concern because most opioid deaths are caused by fentanyl.

While it’s true that most opioid deaths are attributable to fentanyl, hydromorphone is still incredibly dangerous. When diverted into the black market, it creates new addictions, often among young people, which culminate in fentanyl use.

Moreover, data indicate hydromorphone is implicated in an increasing share of drug-related deaths in young people in B.C. In 2019, there were no reported deaths involving hydromorphone. By 2022, that number jumped to 22 per cent. Similarly, a recent report by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Ontario found the number of youth in the province who self-reported using prescription opioids for “non-medical” reasons jumped 71 per cent between 2021 and 2023.

Still, safer supply activists continue to insist, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that widespread diversion isn’t happening.

In 2017, Collins Dictionary declared “fake news” the word of the year. Since then, the term –– along with sister terms “misinformation” and “disinformation” –– have taken on a disturbing new life.

While fake news, misinformation and disinformation are very real democratic threats, some politicians and activists realized they could delegitimize opponents’ arguments and unflattering media stories by simply proclaiming them fake. Now, we’re in the dizzyingly ironic position of real news, and real facts, being dismissed as misinfo and disinfo by self-declared guardians of the truth.

This is the exact problem journalists and concerned medical professionals continue to face when raising the alarm on so-called “safer supply.” Despite the abundance of solid reporting, emerging data, whistleblower warnings and first-hand accounts of widespread diversion, harm reduction activists and their allies in government don’t just recklessly dismiss the problem, they weaponize the language of fake news to discredit a reality they don’t like.

Communities across Canada, and addicts themselves, deserve better.

A guest post by
Sabrina Maddeaux
Bold opinions and analysis of the political and economic issues that matter.
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Health

UK report debunks claim that halting puberty blockers increases suicide in gender-confused youth

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From LifeSiteNews

By Jonathon Van Maren

For more than a decade, the transgender movement has used a potent lie to blackmail desperate parents and feckless politicians into accepting their agenda: that if gender-confused children are not provided with sex changes – “gender-affirming care” – they will be at a high risk for suicide. Parent after parent heard the simple, deceitful question, posed to them by trans activist medical professionals: “Would you rather have a dead daughter, or a live son?” 

Yet another review highlights that this claim is completely baseless. As the BBC reported on July 20: “There is no evidence of a large rise in suicides in young patients attending a gender identity clinic in London, an independent review has found.” 

The report, titled “Review of suicides and gender dysphoria at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust: independent report,” was published by the U.K. government on July 19. Professor Louis Appleby was tasked by Health Secretary Wes Streeting to examine the evidence after LGBT activists claimed that suicide rates were spiking due to restrictions on puberty blockers, which were first implemented in 2020. The review concluded: 

  1. The data do not support the claim that there has been a large rise in suicide in young gender dysphoria patients at the Tavistock. 
  1. The way that this issue has been discussed on social media has been insensitive, distressing and dangerous, and goes against guidance on safe reporting of suicide. 
  1. The claims that have been placed in the public domain do not meet basic standards for statistical evidence. 
  1. There is a need to move away from the perception that puberty-blocking drugs are the main marker of non-judgemental acceptance in this area of health care. 
  2. We need to ensure high quality data in which everyone has confidence, as the basis of improved safety for this at risk group of young people. 

This review is devastating to virtually every single claim trans activists have been making – and Appleby even notes, in point two of his summary, that trans activists themselves are posing a real danger to gender-confused children with their irresponsible lies about suicidality. Suicide, as we have long known, is a social contagion – and trans activists are explicitly encouraging gender-confused children to claim suicidal ideation in order to acquire puberty blockers.  

As the BBC reported: “The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it was vital that public discussion around the issue was handled responsibly.” It is difficult to read that statement as anything but a direct rebuke of trans activists. Appleby, a professor of psychiatry and experienced suicide researcher from the University of Manchester, warned that trans activist rhetoric could actually lead to adolescents copycatting that behavior. “One risk is that young people and their families will be terrified by predictions of suicide as inevitable without puberty blockers – some of the responses on social media show this,” he said. As the BBC noted: 

In response to [trans activist] claims, the new health secretary launched an independent review led by Prof Appleby which analysed data from NHS England on suicides of patients at the Tavistock clinic, based on an audit at the trust.

Covering the period between 2018-19 and 2023-24, he found there were 12 suicides – five in the three years leading up to 2020-21 and seven in the three years afterwards.

‘This is essentially no difference,’ Prof Appleby says in his report, ‘taking account of expected fluctuations in small numbers, and would not reach statistical significance.’

He adds: ‘In the under 18s specifically, there were 3 suicides before and 3 after 2020-21.’

The Good Law Project, run by executive director Jo Maugham, is currently challenging the puberty blocker ban – and predictably, Maugham expressed his disagreement with the review, saying that he had “profound difficulties” with it. It likely will make little difference. In the U.K., the transgender narrative is in tatters – and leaders still parroting these debunked lines should take note. 

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Jonathon’s writings have been translated into more than six languages and in addition to LifeSiteNews, has been published in the National PostNational ReviewFirst Things, The Federalist, The American Conservative, The Stream, the Jewish Independent, the Hamilton SpectatorReformed Perspective Magazine, and LifeNews, among others. He is a contributing editor to The European Conservative.

His insights have been featured on CTV, Global News, and the CBC, as well as over twenty radio stations. He regularly speaks on a variety of social issues at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions in Canada, the United States, and Europe.

He is the author of The Culture WarSeeing is Believing: Why Our Culture Must Face the Victims of AbortionPatriots: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Pro-Life MovementPrairie Lion: The Life and Times of Ted Byfield, and co-author of A Guide to Discussing Assisted Suicide with Blaise Alleyne.

Jonathon serves as the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

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