Alberta’s NDP Official Opposition walked away from a bi-partisan committee to study safe drug supply, claiming the panel is “a political exercise with a rigged outcome.”
NDP Critic for Mental Health and Addiction Lori Sigurdson said four Albertans die every day of preventable poisoning and that the UCP government is refusing to act on proven public health interventions that would reduce the death toll.
“It’s clear that the UCP had no interest in saving lives when it formed this committee. We will not provide any legitimacy to this rigged process,” Sigurdson said in a media release Friday.
Sigurdson went on to say the UCP has always been “openly hostile” to proven harm reduction initiatives, claiming Jason Luan, former associate minister of mental health and addiction, commissioned a rigged study of supervised consumption services and also sabotaged community-led efforts to launch safe supply pilot programs in 2020.
Citing previous comments by the current associate minister Mike Ellis, Banff-Kananaskis MLA Miranda Rosin, and Red-Deer South MLA Jason Stephan on safe consumption sites, the NDP are not interested in studying the issue in good faith, but only in staging a political stunt.
“It is abundantly clear that the UCP members of this committee are intent on using it as some kind of partisan organizing or fundraising exercise. This is unconscionable,” Sigurdson said.
But the UCP says the NDP walkout from participating in The Select Special Committee to Examine Safe Supply is nothing but a political stunt and that the committee will continue its important work of hearing from all stakeholders, including those proposed by the NDP, despite the NDP’s lack of participation.
“United Conservative MLAs are looking forward to hearing from all experts, including the ones put forward by the NDP,” Calgary-Klein MLA and committee chair Jeremy Nixon said today. “The committee will move forward with inviting the approved stakeholders.”
The UCP says the NDP began advocating last June for a “safe supply” of drugs after adopting it as party policy.
“Our United Conservative caucus believes this is an important issue for Albertans, which is why we moved forward with a bi-partisan committee to thoroughly examine the issue,” Calgary-Cross MLA and committee spokesperson Mickey Amery said in a media release. “The NDP have clearly shown they are not interested in taking an impartial look at potential benefits and consequences of their own party’s policy. United Conservatives remain steadfast in our commitment to thoroughly examining this issue and hearing from a range of experts.”
The Select Special Committee to Examine Safe Supply‘s next meeting is Feb. 15.
article by Stephen Dafoe