Poilievre says Eby should immediately end decriminalization pilot project

Poilievre says Eby should immediately end decriminalization pilot project
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre rises during question period on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Wednesday, March 20, 2024.

Federal Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre says B.C. Premier David Eby should immediately end the province’s decriminalization pilot project, in the wake of testimony from B.C. police chiefs about a lack of power to intervene in public drug use.

Poilievre told CHEK News on Wednesday that he’s concerned by what the RCMP and BC Association of Chiefs of Police told members of parliment on a federal health committee this week, and that Eby should move to scrap decriminalization in response.

“Justin Trudeau and the NDP premier share the blame,” said Poilievre.

“They are the ones that brought in decriminalization. Eby asked for it, Trudeau granted it, and they both put your tax dollars into heroin-grade opioids that can kill people and get our children hooked on drugs,” he said. “So Eby and Trudeau are to blame for this radical, dangerous policy.”

The police chiefs told MPs they warned the B.C. and federal governments prior to decriminalization that it could impair their ability to respond to public complaints about drug use, by legalizing personal possession of under 2.5 grams of drugs like heroin, meth, fentanyl and cocaine.

“We have been flagging the issue of public consumption since prior to the submission of the exemption request,” said Fiona Wilson, president of the BC Association of Chiefs of Police and deputy chief of the Vancouver Police Department on Tuesday. “What’s happened is exactly what we predicted would happen.”

She told MPs that officers aren’t able to do anything unless the drug use falls in one of the limited areas exempted from decriminalization, including drug use at schools, airports, and some types of playgrounds. Everywhere else, police are hampered, according to Wilson.

“So if you have somebody who is with their family at the beach and there’s a person next to them smoking crack cocaine, it’s not a police matter,” said Wilson. “Because a beach currently is not an exception to the (decriminalization) exemption.”

READ MORE: B.C. police chiefs say decriminalization has left them unable to respond to open drug use

“It’s mayhem,” said Poilievre. “After nine years of Trudeau and the NDP, we have people lying face first on the pavement overdosing all across Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. We have children in our schools getting their hands on taxpayer =0funded hydromorphone drugs, and we have a massive crime spree that Trudeau and the NDP have unleashed. Enough is enough.”

Wilson also told MPs that 50 per cent of prescription hydromorphone seized by police are diverted pills from B.C.’s safe supply, which is intended to provide a clean alternative to those suffering addictions, but is increasingly falling into the hands of organized crime where it is trafficked for a profit on the street.

Decriminalization is a federal-provincial partnership, with Ottawa exempting small amounts of illicit drugs from the controlled substances act for three years, at B.C.’s request.

Poilievre said he’ll rescind that exemption upon forming government, as well as put restrictions on safe supply. The next scheduled federal election is Oct. 20, 2025, however an election could come sooner if the minority federal Liberal government falls.

In the meantime, Poilievre said Eby should take action to protect public safety.

“I’m calling on Justin Trudeau and NDP Premier Eby to end the decriminalization and the tax-subsidized drugs and immediately put all our resources into recovery and treatment that will bring our loved ones home drug free,” he said.

Eby on Tuesday said he’s fighting in court for more public spaces to be exempt from decriminalization, including transit stops and business doorways.

“I think all of us recognize that the program needs to respond and evolve to the concerns of British Columbians and what we’re seeing in communities,” said Eby.

“We are looking at options to ensure that we are meeting the very reasonable expectations of all British Columbians that, first of all, we treat addiction as a health issue and we try to keep people alive to get them into treatment and that treatment is available,” he said.

Rob ShawRob Shaw

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