The Electric Pencil

Montrealers get insight on InSite

with one comment

In June, the Quebec government quietly announced that it would be pursuing the possibility of setting up a safe injection site in Montreal. Considering the controversy elicited by Vancouver’s safe injection site, InSite, it was surprising that there wasn’t more reaction to it.  It could be that it people didn’t take much notice of the story in the lazy, hazy days of the beginning of the summer, or it could be that people realise, like Health Canada, that harm reduction strategies like InSite work.

While we haven’t heard much more about safe injection sites in Quebec since early June, today Montrealers will have the chance to find out more about how InSite has worked in Vancouver. Today at 6:30 in room 151 Bronfman Building (1001 Sherbrooke Street West) at McGill University, Friends of InSite will be making their Montreal stop in a country-wide tour to dispell myths, drum up support and take questions about safety injection sites. Friend their Facebook event page:

The series will present two powerful speakers who have experience with the implementation of harm reduction approaches. Liz Evans, the executive director and founder of the Portland Hotel Society – the community organization that operates the supervised injection site – will be speaking along with Tony Trimingham, a parent of an addict who died of an overdose and longtime activist for the supervised injection site in King’s Cross, Australia.

They will be reporting on the health care benefits of supervised injection sites, and discussing the implications of the recent BC Supreme Court decision for communities across the country.

Even if Montreal has not seen much debate yet, words continue to fly back and forth over the future of Vancouver’s InSite. Despite a victory at the B.C. Supreme Court, which ruled that Canada’s drug laws – particularly those that outlaw safe injection sites – violate the Charter of Rights by interfering with access to needed medical services. InSite was set to lose it’s exemption from Canadian drug laws on June 30th, but the ruling means that the site will be able to stay open indefinitely. That is, until the federal government comes up with a new law that may simply allow InSite to stay open, or one that runs a circle around the Charter, changing the law just enough to shut InSite down (although I’m not sur ehow that would be accomplished). The court gave the federal government until June 30, 2009, to pass a new law.

As a primer on the debate, Adam Radwanski and Margaret Wente are going back and forth over at the Globe and Mail, with Wente having the advantage of a five-part series on InSite (no prize for guessing which side she is on). To  balance it out, I suggest visiting and InSite itself. Friends of InSite have also posted this short video by Tony Trimingham:

Written by Tim McSorley

July 15, 2008 at 12:58 pm

One Response

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  1. Interesting article, thanks for writing it. I stumbled upon it after someone clicked through to my blog from here.

    One point, though – I think proponents of initiatives like “Insite” like to call it a supervised injection site, as opposed to a “safe” injection site. In any case, I think that’s a more advantageous term, because it accurately describes what happens at such a site and doesn’t allow for (distracting?) debate over whether injecting illegal drugs is ever a “safe” thing to do. The point is that the science and experience appears to show that supervising drug addicts in a way like this saves lives.


    November 19, 2008 at 6:57 pm

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