A Conservative MP shed tears after reminiscing about the loss of his brother-in-law to a fentanyl overdose, courtesy of “safer supply” facilities.
MP Todd Doherty urged the Commons health committee to suspend its “safer supply” drug policy after losing a loved one to an accidental overdose “on the street.”
“We are powerless, powerless to stop this,” he said, referring to the families of overdose victims. “Somebody has to answer this.”
Doherty said drug dealers are selling illicit drugs on the black market in British Columbia, where Cabinet granted a temporary decriminalization of possessing up to 2.5 grams of opioids and other narcotics on January 31.
“There are businesses in my province that are buying illicit drugs on the black market and selling them or giving them away on the street,” he said. “How far have we fallen that you can perpetuate somebody’s addiction but we can’t get them into a bed for recovery?”
The Commons on May 29 upheld the policy by a 209 to 113 vote.
According to an in-house Privy Council focus group, most residents vehemently opposed the policy, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.
“Participants were mostly negative in their reaction to this decision,” said a March 10 report, Continuous Qualitative Data Collection Of Canadians’ Views.
“[They] believed the federal government should instead be focused on discouraging opioid use including implementing greater penalties for those using and distributing these substances,” it said.
Doherty told committee members that he “[doesn’t] have the answers” for “so many families that ask us to do something” about “safer supply” drug policies.
“I don’t believe taxpayer dollars should be going to fund these drugs,” he said. “We should be doing everything in our power to make sure we can get someone into a bed for recovery.”
“Recovery is always possible.”
According to the British Columbia Coroners Service, 1,645 residents have succumbed to fatal overdoses in the province this year, as of August 31. In 2022, deaths totaled 2,383.
“This so-called safer supply strategy is a failure making the opioid crisis worse,” continued Doherty, who spoke emotionally about having to “[go] into the dens of evil to […] save my brother.”
“We have rescued him in the middle of the night on a bridge from gang members that were threatening to throw him over if he didn’t pay the debt,” said the B.C. MP. “Two years ago he was shot twice in a drug deal gone bad.”
At the committee, he sponsored a motion asking “that the committee call for an immediate end to the government’s so-called safe supply funding.”
MPs ended debate on the motion without a vote, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.
Opposition MPs have estimated that more than $800 million in federal funding has been allocated for “safer supply” programs since 2017.