Harm reduction
4 min

Eating crow – err, geese

Early on during Member’s Statements, Liberal MP Keith Martin stood up to talk about harm reduction programmes like Insite and Naomi. Martin is a former emergency room doctor, so he knows his stuff when it comes to treating drugs as a medical issue and not a justice one.

Mr. Speaker, the government's drug policy is exacerbating crime, violence, the illegal drug trade and substance abuse.
The World Health Organization supports harm reduction strategies. The U.S. has even appointed a prevention focused national drug policy chair, but our government is refusing to listen to the facts and is actively blocking life-saving harm reduction strategies, like Vancouver's Insite program and the NAOMI program. The government is even trying to block these programs through the courts.
If we are to be serious about addressing gang violence, the illegal drug trade and even reducing the harm for our troops in Afghanistan, the government must see substance abuse as a medical problem, not a judicial problem. It should cut the link between users and organized crime through supporting NAOMI, Insite and other harm reduction programs that have been proven to work and save lives.

But what got the House laughing was Liberal whip Roger Cuzner’s statement on the supposed new Conservative “poverty plan,” which was a riff on queer Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth’s statement in a Finance committee meeting that perhaps the government should cull some Canada geese and feed them to the poor, as the overabundance of geese – and their faeces – is a health hazard at her summer home. Cuzner said:

Mr. Speaker, we read in today’s news that Conservatives have finally come up with a plan to address poverty. The Conservative senators have a truly novel plan. They suggest that we simply shoot all the Canadian geese that are becoming a nuisance at their summer homes, and feed them to the poor. Given that this is a Conservative plan, I am surprised they have not suggested to raffle off handguns, let them shoot, and then let the poor people have the geese.
We all know that Tory times are tough times, but where will it stop, squirrel burgers, pigeon McNuggets, gopher burritos, maybe beaver tails made from real beaver tails?
It may surprise Conservatives to learn that the Canada goose is recognized internationally as a national symbol of our country; it is not an anti-poverty plan. It is high time the Conservatives came up with a real plan to address poverty and unemployment during this recession.
Stop the silly goose games. The Conservatives have to get their ducks in a row and stop goosing Canada’s poor.

Question Period began shortly thereafter, and there were two major themes – EI, and the 800 job cuts announced at the CBC. To the former, Harper said that the Liberals should have brought forward suggestions before the budget passed and not after, and to the latter, he said that the budget provides $1.1 billion to the CBC. Never mind that Liberal heritage critic Pablo Rodriguez later said that the increases to the CBC’s budget were Treasury Board allocations to cover salary increases but not programming – so far as the Conservatives seem to be concerned with any questions on any budget allocations that result in cuts, the fact that the numbers appear to be going up is all that matters.

Libby Davies was standing in for Jack Layton, and she not only targeted the Conservatives over EI, but also their Liberal predecessors for bringing in eligibility changes in the first place.

Scott Brison got up to ask once again about the challenges around venture capital in this country, where innovators are being sent to the States to get funding. Stockwell Day accused Brison of getting false information from blogsters. When Brison asked his supplemental – impugning that Day didn’t seem to know what he was talking about as the day before he said it was an EDC file, which apparently it’s not unless EDC stands for “Endorsing Delaware Corporations,” Day simply repeated that Brison was getting his information from blogsters. Brison shook his head at that answer, while other Liberals shouted that it’s not where the information came from.

Bloc MP Réal Ménard stood up to ask a sort-of question, where he basically asserted that the government was adopting a Bloc proposal on eliminating the two-for-one credit on pre-trial time served (for which the Justice Minister thanked him for his support).

NDP MP Bill Siksay gave his questioning of Gary Lunn’s election spending another go, this time framing the question so as to ask the Prime Minister if Lunn should keep his Secretary of State portfolio in light of the allegations. (Government House Leader Jay Hill stood up to say that the question should have once again been disallowed, as the issue was the jurisdiction of Elections Canada).

There were neither any sartorial snaps nor style citations to be handed out, but I will make note of a few things – Liberal John McKay has been wearing some more creative ties the past couple of days, and this time it was rainbow stripes. Diane Ablonczy continues to prove that she can wear orange correctly (whereas most can’t), and Marlene Jennings got a new pink jacket that actually works on her, unlike her unfortunate dusky rose one.

Speaking of sartorial icons, Belinda Stronach is back in the news, this time talking about her breast cancer surgery two years ago. Stronach is raising money for breast cancer reconstruction in this country, so that women won’t have to go to places like California like she did in order to save their nipple during the reconstruction process.