The “Junkification” of Canada by the Left

By: Rachel Marsden

While I was a university student, I worked as a certified aerobics instructor and personal trainer. My fitness classes quickly became known as the toughest around, but they were also known for producing great results. If someone was having difficulty keeping up -- as many often did -- I would introduce modifications to help that person stay with the program until they became more fit. But there were no shortcuts, and no substitutes for hard work and sweat.

But imagine if the following scenario would have taken place instead: An obese woman comes through the door of the gym. She tells me that she has failed at every fitness and diet program that she has ever tried. Instead of starting her on a difficult journey to wellness, I say, “Judging by your past diet failures and the fact that your butt appears to have its own zip code, you’re clearly beyond hope. All that’s left for you is to turn on that cheeseburger faucet full-throttle! Come in here three times a day and we’ll ply you with free Big Macs, courtesy of the government. We call it the ‘Mickey D Maintenance Program’. It’s the only real option left for someone as far gone as you.”

Pretty crazy, right? Try telling that to the Canadian government. It’s doing the exact same thing, only with free heroin for addicts, to the tune of $8 million of taxpayers’ money—starting this week, in Vancouver, BC.

Every leftist politician I’ve spoken with, and every Canadian media report I’ve seen, parrots the “success” of the same Swiss study as justification for this lunacy. Hardly surprising, given that the Canadian media usually behaves like high school seniors doing term papers: one guy writes the story directly from a press release and praises a particular study, and the rest just copy it.

What no one has pointed out is that this Swiss study that the lefties rave about was deemed to be an abject failure in 1999 by a World Health Organization External Evaluation Panel report. Subsequently, a letter to the International Narcotics Control Board from the Director-General of the WHO concluded that the project was an "observational study without the possibility of making reliable unbiased comparisons between treatment options." It did "not provide clear evidence for the benefits of heroin treatment over other substitution agents." The project established "no causal link...between prescription of heroin and improvements in health or social status..." Therefore, "it is difficult to conclude that the available results of this Swiss study could assist any other country..."

But try reasoning with the liberal social engineers and with the people who have made a cottage industry out of conducting nutty research that defies common sense. When asked about the Vancouver free heroin trials, University of Amsterdam Centre for Drug Research director, Dr. Peter Cohen, explains why he’s all for the idea, “[O]piates are remarkably non toxic and impose very little health hazards. However, the junkification of users that happens to some of them is not a result of the opiates, but of the social conditions in which people land. Intense marginalization under conditions of prohibition 'creates' junkies…Now, if you supply heroin to users, you relieve them from the black market and you supply self esteem to them which creates all sorts of possibilities…But, compared to the social conditions that create junkification, the conditions inside the maintenance program are more humane and more promising.”

Cool word, that ‘junkification’. It evokes images of grunge-rocker Courtney Love trashing a pricey hotel room.

Let’s try some of the professor’s hip lib-speak with the fat lady’s case: “The lardification of fast food eaters that happens to some of them is not a result of cheeseburgers, but of the social conditions in which people land. Intense marginalization of cheeseburger scarfers under conditions of cheeseburger badmouthing as a result of movies like ‘Supersize Me’ ‘creates’ fatsos.”

Much like a guy with a German accent could read the back of a cereal box and make it sound like he’s talking about rocket science, if anyone could possibly slip this “junkification” BS past the average person’s sniff test, it would be some liberal with a bunch of academic letters after his name.

“Conditions inside the maintenance program are more humane and more promising”? So in other words, as long as the fat lady keeps coming to my health club to get her order of Big Macs with a side of “self-esteem” from me, it’s all good? Yeah, right. And maybe if we can get all the junkies to shoot up inside “Chuck E. Cheese” funhouses, they’ll eventually get hooked on “Whack-a-Mole” instead and forget all about the heroin?

I asked Robert Weiner -- Former White House drug policy spokesman, and now president of a Washington, DC-based think tank specializing in drug policy -- what he thought of Cohen’s statement, and the idea that heroin isn’t harmful. He replied with, “You get to the point where the person is obviously an idiot. It doesn't pass any thinking person's common sense test.”

Canadian Conservative Party Member of Parliament and Foreign Affairs critic, Stockwell Day, used to be a pastor and counselor of troubled youth. He says of the free heroin giveaway, “In all the time we worked with heroin addicts, I never saw one case 'cured' by giving the patient more poison. Encouraging more people to live on heroin eventually means more people die on heroin.”

And the people who would know best happen to agree. Billy Weselowski was a heroin addict for 20 years on Vancouver’s “Skid Row” where the trials are being held, and spent his share of time in penitentiaries. He took the hard road to recovery, started a licensed addiction treatment clinic that now has 58 beds, recently finished his Masters degree, and is beginning his Ph.D.

He says, “Everyone has copped out to the degree of reducing a little bit of crime and a little bit of harm at the expense of human beings. They’re just throwing these people away.” He adds, “No one’s going to be able to maintain [their addiction on the three prescribed hits per day] because you can’t maintain heroin. You build a tolerance to it. Inside a few months, you’ll need more of it to get the same sort of punch.”

Weselowski tosses a point at me that no one appears to have considered. I know this, because I could hear crickets at the other end of the phone when I ran the notion by a few of the Canadian politicians who have been pushing the free heroin idea. Weselowski feels strongly that “someone’s going to end up killing somebody [while on government heroin], and they’re going to blame the government and use that as a legal defense. The addict has got a gun to the citizenry’s head. It’ll be, ‘You created this. You put me in this position, and now you’re going to pay for it.’”

Although the Vancouver project is being billed as a “trial”, history suggests that it’s likely more of a soft-launch for a permanent program than anything else, and about as much as a “pilot” as a movie trailer preview is for the associated feature film released a few months later.

According to Conservative Party Member of Parliament, Randy White, whose riding is located near Vancouver and who has worked extensively with addicts, “Ironically, when the first needle exchange came into Vancouver, people said ‘this would prevent HIV and people will come in here and talk to us’. That didn’t work at all. So they said that now we need an injection site…That didn’t do the job. Now they’ve got a heroin clinic, and fully intend to operate a heroin clinic after the results come in because those that are working in that field have a vested interest. I’ve had people in those kinds of facilities challenge my concerns because they were concerned that I would have their jobs taken away if the project failed…[These measures] reflect a terrible lack of strategy, and [the heroin project] is an approach that basically says ‘we give up’”.

Leave it to the Canadian “harm reduction” leftists to advocate in favor of using Canadian citizens as guinea pigs to essentially duplicate a failed experiment. And while the government is funding heroin injections for junkies, diabetics can’t afford needles, and addicts who want into treatment centers to get off heroin end up on a waiting list.

The “junkification” of Canada, by the loony left is certainly well underway, with projects like free heroin and the idea of decriminalizing marijuana taking the country one step closer to a culture war with America—its largest trading partner.

As Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), member of the US House Committee on Homeland Security, points out: “Canada has a right to pass whatever they do. But if you don’t have harmonization of drug laws, and there is a disconnect, then we will have a right in the United States to re-evaluate our border strategy.”

With one foot in a dumpster and the other on a banana peel, Canada is the doped-up, misdirected, know-it-all kid who thinks he’s cool and ‘progressive’ like his loser European friends, but he clearly doesn’t give a damn about his future.