Lack­ing the “will” to win

The Daily Courier - - OPINION - SCHROEDER

Iam angry. In fact, I am more than angry, I am so mad I can barely find words to ap­pro­pri­ately ex­press it. For the sec­ond Christ­mas in a row I have stood be­side good friends as they have buried their sons. In both cases the deaths were caused by a fen­tanyl over­dose.

It’s easy to down­play com­mu­nal own­er­ship of the prob­lem by plac­ing the blame solely on the drug users. Of course they should just say “no” to drugs. Of course they should, but if only it was so sim­ple. Re­al­ity paints a much more com­plex picture.

I lived a fairly shel­tered youth, but even my cir­cle of friends was well ac­quainted with Fri­day night par­ties that in­cluded an abun­dance of beer. The dif­fer­ence be­tween that era and current re­al­ity is that no one was spik­ing the beer with poi­son back then.

To­day all as­sort­ments of drugs, from those which are now le­gal to those of a much harsher na­ture are be­ing spiked with fen­tanyl and car­fen­tanyl by greedy deal­ers. The deadly con­coc­tions are of­ten mixed by base­ment chemists who flunked Grade 9 Sci­ence. Some have ques­tioned the wis­dom of drug deal­ers killing their clien­tele. Suf­fice it to say when we are talk­ing about drug deal­ers we are not talk­ing about in­di­vid­u­als who pos­sess either a highly de­vel­oped sense of moral con­science or an en­vi­able IQ.

The com­plex­ity of the fen­tanyl cri­sis spans mul­ti­ple causal fac­tors in­clud­ing men­tal ill­ness, ad­dic­tion, root is­sues from child­hood trauma and abuse and even a de­pen­dency caused by le­git­i­mately pre­scribed opi­oids. With such a broad spec­trum of con­tribut­ing fac­tors it should come as no sur­prise that the so­lu­tion to the cri­sis also in­volves mul­ti­ple ap­proaches. For­tu­nately, men­tal health agen­cies, ad­dic­tion spe­cial­ists, the med­i­cal com­mu­nity and school dis­tricts ap­pear fully en­gaged. Perhaps more than any­one, the po­lice are at­tempt­ing ev­ery­thing in their power to stop the deadly flow of these drugs. They know first­hand what is at stake and are dev­as­tated by the tragedies.

There is, how­ever, one level at which there doesn’t yet ap­pear to be the will to act to stop this on­slaught against our youth. To be sure there is plenty of hand­wring­ing and much use of nice sound­ing words, but very lim­ited ac­tion. Our fed­eral gov­ern­ment and Supreme Court to date ap­pear to be re­spond­ing to this cri­sis with lit­tle more than hol­low words.

Let me be clear. Local gov­ern­ments and provin­cial gov­ern­ments seem fully aware of the im­men­sity of the tragedy but lack the author­ity to change or en­force the laws that could make a dif­fer­ence. This is a na­tional cri­sis re­quir­ing fed­eral ac­tion.

Or­ga­nized crime op­er­ates in our na­tion with im­punity. The poi­sonous fen­tanyl is im­ported, cut and put into our young peo­ple’s hands vir­tu­ally unim­peded by ef­fec­tive laws and court de­ci­sions. To be fair, tough laws ex­ist but they are so ham­pered by rights and priv­i­leges and con­sti­tu­tional loop­holes that the typ­i­cal po­lice of­fi­cer or judge has his or her hands tied try­ing to en­force them.

I for one have had enough of it. I’m sick and tired of be­ing called with news of yet an­other death. I’m done with be­ing told we can’t do more be­cause the con­sti­tu­tion pro­hibits any real en­force­ment or in­ter­ven­tion. If that’s the case we need some leaders with the chutzpa to change the con­sti­tu­tion. Re­ally!

Al­though ex­act sta­tis­tics are not yet avail­able it is es­ti­mated that more than 4,000 young men and women were killed by this poi­son in Canada last year.

1,484 were killed in British Co­lum­bia alone. The cri­sis is so se­vere that stud­ies are re­veal­ing that for the first time in decades the ac­tual life ex­pectancy of in­di­vid­u­als liv­ing in Canada is drop­ping. How many more young men and women must die be­fore there is a col­lec­tive will to change what­ever needs to be changed?

How many more of our sons or daugh­ters need to die be­fore we free the hands of our po­lice to round up these killers and em­power our jus­tice sys­tem to deal with them with un­par­al­leled sever­ity. We can­not be sim­plis­tic about a com­plex is­sue. This strength­en­ing of the pow­ers of po­lice and courts must be un­der­taken while si­mul­ta­ne­ously con­tin­u­ing to deal with root causes of ad­dic­tion through education, men­tal health and health­care ap­proaches.

I ap­peal to our na­tion’s leaders. If nec­es­sary es­tab­lish a Fen­tanyl Cri­sis Royal Com­mis­sion with the sole purpose of end­ing this on­slaught against our na­tion’s youth. Give the Com­mis­sion the man­date to ex­plore any­thing, and I mean ANY­THING up to and in­clud­ing pro­posed changes to our con­sti­tu­tion to put an end to this epi­demic.

And, when the task force con­cludes with rec­om­men­da­tions that are se­vere and un­think­able, have the courage to act.

In the current en­vi­ron­ment there is much talk about pro­tect­ing our nat­u­ral re­sources. How about we get se­ri­ous about pro­tect­ing the most im­por­tant re­source of all, our young peo­ple?

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