Lacking the “will” to win
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?