Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau has reaffirmed his support for an expansion of supervised injection services across Canada. At the same event, the would-be prime minister also restated his belief that hard drugs should not be decriminalized.
Trudeau was speaking in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia on March 4.
A few members of accredited media outlets were in attendance but not permitted to ask questions. That didn’t prevent Trudeau from getting pressed by reporters still enrolled at UBC (who did a better job with their follow-up questions than most professional journalists I’ve seen at any press conference in Vancouver in quite a while).
Much has been made about Trudeau’s promise to decriminalize marijuana if he's elected to lead the country. And so Sam Fenn, a reporter with the Cited, asked for Trudeau’s position on the decriminalization of harder drugs.
Fenn briefly argued there is evidence the prohibition of narcotics like heroin does more harm than good and suggested Canada could decriminalize those sorts of drugs like countries such as Portugal have.
“What do you have to say about the prohibition of heroin, crack cocaine, crystal methamphetamine?” Fenn asked.
“I disagree with loosening any of the prohibition on harder drugs,” Trudeau said. “I think that there is much that we can and should be doing around harm reduction. Insite is a great model of that, and I certainly want to see more safe injection sites opened around the country. And I am firm on the fact marijuana needs to be controlled and regulated and that prohibition isn’t working. But I’m not in favour of loosening restrictions on harder drugs.”
Fenn quickly followed up: “Why?”
Trudeau’s response: “Let’s get harm reduction right first. Let’s make sure that we are doing everything that we can. I don’t think that, despite some of the examples around the world, I don’t think it’s the right solution for Canada now or ever.”
Fenn again pressed him for more of an answer: “Some of the experts at, say for instance, the [B.C.] Center for Excellence [in HIV/AIDS], would say harm reduction is the end of prohibition of those drugs.”
Trudeau: “Then I’ll allow them, academics, to play with definitions. I believe in harm reduction, but I don’t believe in decriminalizing harder drugs.”
That's more than I've been able to get out of Health Minister Rona Ambrose in two years.