Injecting truth: RCMP and the truth about safe injection sites

published on August 20, 2010 by John Geddes in Maclean's

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It would have been quite a news conference, and it very nearly happened. Last fall, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, after months of intense, private talks, agreed to face the media together to declare their agreement that research shows the “benefits” and “positive impacts” of supervised injection sites for intravenous drug users.

For the RCMP, making such a statement would have been a turning point: the Mounties would have had to distance themselves from dubious studies, commissioned by the force itself, that were critical of Insite, Vancouver’s pioneering safe injection facility. And that would have been a politically awkward move for the federal police, since Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government is firmly committed to shutting down Insite.

But senior officers seemed ready to take that dramatic step. “I can confirm we are good to go from our end,” said Chief Superintendent Bob Harriman, a top RCMP drug enforcement officer in Vancouver, in an email he sent on Oct. 28, 2009, to Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the BC centre. Harriman’s email included “proposed messaging for [a] joint media release” of the RCMP and the research centre. The RCMP would acknowledge “an extensive body of Canadian and international peer-reviewed research reporting the benefits of supervised injection sites and no objective peer-reviewed studies demonstrating harms.” As well, Harriman said the RCMP would admit that “reviews” commissioned by the force, which contested the centre’s research, “did not meet conventional academic standards.”… More>>

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