Decriminalization of drugs | Mayor Plante’s office deplores “false assertions” by Pierre Poilievre

(Ottawa) The office of Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante accuses Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre of spreading “false assertions” about the City’s efforts to decriminalize simple possession of drugs.

On the one hand, we are correcting the “request from the mayor of Montreal” that the leader of the official opposition has been mentioning in the House for over a week. Faced with British Columbia, which has reversed course on a decriminalization project, Mr. Poilievre implores Prime Minister Justin Trudeau almost at every opportunity not to “repeat the radical experiment” elsewhere, such as in the Quebec metropolis.

On the other hand, the Montreal mayor’s office is against the fact that Mr. Poilievre uses the verbs “decriminalize” and “legalize” as synonyms, as well as their associated nouns or adjectives.

“The national overdose crisis will not be resolved with the false assertions of the Conservative leader and we invite him to focus on concrete solutions,” maintains Plante in a written statement sent to The Canadian Press.

For an approach similar to that which British Columbia had begun to take to move forward, an exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act must be granted by the federal government. The Western Province had obtained this seal of approval from Health Canada in 2022.

However, Montreal has not made a formal request to Ottawa, “despite a unanimous position from the Montreal municipal council in favor of this principle” recalled by the press secretary of Mme Plante, Catherine Cadotte, in an email sent Thursday to The Canadian Press.

The approved approach aims to avoid a criminal record and imprisonment for people found with small quantities of drugs for their personal use.

“Before changing laws, it is essential to provide cities with more resources in housing, mental health, addiction and social intervention,” she said.

Asked about M’s “request”me Planted and called to react to the comments of the latter’s office, Mr. Poilievre’s office declared Friday that “the mayor of Montreal has confirmed her desire to legalize hard drugs.”

This is in the same vein as the wording of a motion proposed by the Conservative leader which was debated on Thursday. This calls in particular for the rejection, by Mr. Trudeau, of “the vote of the City of Montreal asking the federal government to make deadly hard drugs legal.”

No support for the legalization of all drugs has come from the municipality.

In 2021, Montreal elected officials instead adopted a motion to ask Ottawa to allow the decriminalization of simple possession. Mme Plante voted in favor and has since reiterated her support for the approach several times.

“People who use drugs do not need a cell and a criminal record, they need care and a home, and that is what we must act on immediately,” he said. added Mme Cadotte.

Mr. Poilievre’s office maintains the same interpretation of the word “legalization” and its related lexical field without making any distinction with the term “decriminalization”.

In her email response to questions from The Canadian Press, spokesperson Marion Ringuette condemned “Justin Trudeau’s experience with the legalization of hard drugs.”

There is no doubt in the eyes of Conservatives that the exemption granted by the Trudeau government to British Columbia “resulted in death and destruction, chaos and carnage in hospitals, playgrounds, parks and public transportation in British Columbia,” she recalled.

However, it is not clear what would happen to a formal request from Montreal – if it ever materialized – since Mr. Trudeau has clearly said he wants to work with the provincial levels of government in this regard.

“When Vancouver asked us for an exemption, we said: ‘No, we only want to work with the province on this file.’ (…) The same thing (will prevail) with regard to Ontario or Quebec,” he said last week during question period.

When Ottawa granted its exemption to British Columbia in the spring of 2022, the government of François Legault signaled that decriminalization was not in its plans.


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