We have met the enemy and he is us.
A 40-year-old quote from the cartoon character Pogo is probably a strange way to start a column, but this famous quote pretty much summarizes the ridiculousness of how well-meaning people continually hurt society.
In the March 13 edition of The Province, columnist Jon Ferry wrote what I thought was a well-rationalized discussion on British Columbias broken addiction treatment services.
Most people involved in addiction treatment understand that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but as he points out, it appears in B.C. that we have decided our policies should primarily be based on a harm-reduction model which features free crack pipes, needle exchanges, safe injection rooms, along with free heroin and methadone fixes.
It is Ferrys opinion, and that of many others, that a harm-reduction addiction program does little more than put a Band-Aid on the addiction problem, as opposed to what is done by an abstinence-based treatment program which actually gets people off drugs.
Last month I came across a presentation made by actor Russell Brand (I know! Strange source, but a great presentation, eloquent and funny) to the British government about the difference between the two models which clearly points out that abstinence-based programs are necessary if we ever hope to reduce the chaos on our streets.
Ferry finished his column by stating, The success rates for abstinence programs may not be high, but they do help scores of addicts become drug-free. Keeping them on drugs, as harm-reduction theorists advocate, simply keeps them enslaved.
Amazingly, in the Sunday Province, B.C.s provincial health officer, Dr. Perry Kendall, attacked columnist Ferry as being very simplistic and wrong.
How could our provincial health officer not be aware that his staff and others who work for the health districts are advocates and activists who support only harm-reduction addiction programs in B.C.? They go as far as to intimidate any facility that wants to be abstinence-based.
This sent me to check Dr. Kendalls background.
Once I read his resume on the provincial government Ministry of Health website, everything became clear.
Dr. Kendall spent his first year as a doctor in Kingston, Jamaica, and in 1972, he moved to Toronto to work at Torontos Hassle Free Clinic.
Since then, he considers it his mission to establish harm-reduction policies for every health district he gets involved with.
In response, on March 19, Jon Ferry points out the ridiculousness of Dr. Kendalls argument.
Meanwhile, the good doctor and the health authorities continue to state that their policy is to provide a variety of treatment models, including abstinence.
As Randy Hawes and the other MLAs who travelled the province have stated, all the evidence on the ground proves that is not true.
The MLAs committee pointed out they could not find any evidence that the BC Health Ministry supports abstinence-based drug programs.
So as Pogo said, We have met the enemy and he is us.
And in this case, that would be Dr. Kendall and his crew.
Gordy Robson is a former Maple Ridge mayor and a local businessman who was raised in this community. His opinion column appears Tuesdays in the print and/or online versions of The TIMES. Questions and reactions can be emailed to Gordy c/o email@example.com.
@ Copyright 2013