(Todd Colin Vaughan/Lacombe Express Editor)

VAUGHAN: Albertan OPS/SCS discussion dividing central Albertans

Individual suggests they would delay contacting emergency services during overdose

Advocating for the end of another human being’s life is never OK.

At a recent open house in Red Deer discussing a proposed supervised consumption site (SCS) and the current overdose prevention site (OPS) being run by Turning Point, central Albertans had the opportunity to discuss the socio-economic impacts of these facilities.

Many residents spoke at the meeting, which was overflowing into the hallway of the Cambridge Hotel.

Passions were inflamed on both sides of the argument, with many coming out for and against the harm reduction facilities.

People in favour spoke about the fact that it has saved hundreds of lives due to the use of naloxone when overdoses occur.

Those who spoke against voiced their legitimate concerns over crime in the downtown core of Red Deer and in the direct area around OPS.

People are allowed to debate, and free speech needs to be guaranteed in our democracy, but advocating for the termination of someone’s life is beyond the scope of free speech. It is actually a threat.

This happened when an individual who works at a business in Red Deer stepped up to the microphone and described that due to ongoing criminal activity in and around the store, the individual has decided to lock up the naloxone kit so that only store staff can receive this life-saving treatment.

Furthermore, this person described that if another human being overdosed near the building, they would try to call 9-1-1, but may forget their pass code to unlock the phone before dialing — suggesting they would delay emergency response for someone who’s life is in critical danger.

Once these appalling words came out of the mouth of the individual at the mic, the human atrocity this person suggested was further exacerbated by the fact that many in the audience were clapping for what was said.

Human beings, at a public meeting, clapping for someone suggesting they would delay saving someone’s life in an absolute time of need.

This is not free speech. This is uttering threats against a community of ill and disordered people who use drugs often to escape unimaginable trauma and despair.

It is OK for a community to come together and discuss how it wants to address issues of poverty and addiction.

It is OK for citizens to passionately be for or against SCS as part of an overarching solution during an ongoing opioid crisis in Alberta. These are disagreements of thought that are guaranteed as inalienable rights in a free society.

It is not OK — even if it is meant in jest — to suggest any human being deserves to die in terror because they use drugs.

It was disheartening, sad and miserable to hear what this individual said. It was terrifying to hear claps and hollers from the crowd after it was said.

This is not the Alberta I believe in.

Alberta is comprised of many people on both sides of the debate trying to find positive solutions to an opioid crisis that is stealing lives and destroying families. These good people — both conservative and progressive alike — do not advocate for the terrible deaths of others.

SCS is a divisive conversation in our community, but combating the opioid crisis holistically is a conversation we have to have together.

Promoting horrible deaths for fellow Albertans should not be part of that conversation.


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