Canada's jails no place for drug strategies: Toews
So-called harm-reduction drug strategies have no place in Canada's jail system, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Wednesday.
The Conservative government isn't onside with the push for Insite-style drug treatment for addicts in jails by organizations like the John Howard Society of Canada.
"We've made our position very clear in terms of the prohibition of drugs inside prisons and that's our government's policy," he said.
Last Friday, Canada's top court handed a victory to Insite, Vancouver's supervised drug-injection site, granting it an immediate exemption from federal drug laws.
On Tuesday, John Howard executive director Catherine Latimer suggested to the Commons Public Safety Committee in Ottawa that the Supreme Court's controversial ruling should have an impact in the country's jail system.
Latimer pushed the committee, which is currently probing drug and alcohol use in prisons, for harm-reduction strategies to be offered to drug addicted inmates.
Insite's Mark Townsend said both treatment and harm-reduction strategies could translate well from the streets of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside to Canada's jails. "The prison system should be honest about drug use and deal with it head on," he said. "And that includes injection sites and needle (exchange)."
The government, meanwhile, is focusing on preventing drugs from getting into the prison system in the first place.
Still, Toews conceded the ruling in favour of Insite may mean the government faces another legal challenge - this time on its drug policy in jails.
"That's what lawyers are paid to do. They always bring challenges," he said.
"We understand there are drugs in prisons, but that is not something we encourage or tolerate."