BC United promises to end drug decriminalization if elected

BC United promises to end drug decriminalization if elected

BC United Leader Kevin Falcon is proposing new reforms to the way crime and street disorder are dealt with in the province.

On Tuesday, Falcon said he would immediately end drug decriminalization if elected next year.

B.C.’s decriminalization policy started in January and makes it legal to possess small amounts of illicit drugs, like meth and heroin, for personal use.

Advocates say it reduces stigma and helps people approach law enforcement for help, but Falcon says it’s led to rising disorder, prolific offenders and street crime.

The opposition leader has also promised to implement a province-wide ban on open drug use at parks, beaches, playgrounds and public places – something the B.C. NDP has resisted.

Falcon also said he’d introduce a new option for someone convicted of a crime who is battling addictions to choose “secure treatment” instead of jail, where they’d get addictions services to try and break the drug dependency before being released.

“The reckless decriminalization of hard drugs like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, etc., has only thrown gasoline on a raging bonfire,” said Falcon on Tuesday.

“As a result, police have been forced to become the social safety net in the province, and BC United’s plan addresses the root causes of crime so police can get back to policing,” he said.

‘Look at his record’

The NDP government defended decriminalization, adding that data on how the policy is going is expected to be released this week.

The policy hasn’t reduced overdose deaths, which continue at a record pace.

At the same time, the NDP has put $230 million into hiring more RCMP officers and tried, unsuccessfully so far, to get federal changes implemented for bail rules for prolific offenders.

“It’s kind of hard to take Kevin Falcon seriously on these issues, especially when you look at his record when he was a minister,” said B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.

“He cut important services around health, and at the same time his government cut a repeat violent offender program that we have reinstated,” he said.

Tuesday’s promise to end drug decriminalization is BC United’s second big policy plank that it has advanced ahead of the next B.C. election in 13 months.

The first plank was announced in May, with the party putting forward a $1 billion plan to expand addictions treatment.

Falcon called the first campaign promise the compassion plank, and described Tuesday’s promise as the consequence plank.

He also pledged 500 new police officers if elected, as well as hiring bonuses and housing allowances for those officers, as well as new prosecutors to help reduce court waits.

BC United is also calling for body cameras on all police officers in the province, and promises to crack down on minor crimes, such as shoplifting, bike theft and petty vandalism.

British Columbians should expect more big promises from BC United, particularly in hot-button issues like health care, in the months ahead as next year’s election looms.


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