Why Does The Alberta NDP Want Drug Addicts To Suffer?

Written By Wyatt Claypool, Posted on April 23, 2023

In a baffling campaign move, the Alberta NDP has come out against involuntary drug addiction treatment.

The NDP likely did this just to be contrarian after the United Conservative Party (UCP) mused about potentially pursuing involuntary treatment options in the future. The NDP is basically declaring they would rather a drug addict die on the streets than have the government force them into rehab. 

This is an odd position, not only because of its moral senselessness but also because the British Columbia NDP government is in favour of passing mandatory rehab policies.

BC Premier David Eby would be further to the left than Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley but even he stated about involuntary rehab:

When someone overdoses twice in a day and they show up in the emergency room for the second time, a second overdose in the same day, the idea that we release that person back out into the street to overdose the third time and die or to have profound brain injury or just to come back to the emergency room again, seems very bizarre…

Currently under our system … the intervention can only come once they’ve seriously brain injured themselves through an overdose. We need to have better interventions and that could include and should include involuntary care for people to make sure they at least have a chance.

On the opposite side of this issue, Rachel Notley argued that:

Imprisoning Albertans against their will for addiction treatment is doomed to failure, both from a treatment perspective and a legal one. Effective and lasting treatment meets people where they’re at and supports them in taking a different path. I strongly expect that the courts would strike down an approach that forcibly confines Albertans who have not been convicted of a crime.

At the time this article was originally written, the UCP government had not actively pursued any involuntary drug treatment but has of May 15, 2023, announced they would pass the Compassionate Intervention Act which would be a step towards involuntary treatment, with requirements for oversight by judges.

Premier Danielle Smith upon announcing the new policy stated that:

Far too often, this addiction crisis has led to social disorder and out-of-control violence. It is the number one job of a government to ensure people are safe when they walk down the street. They shouldn’t have to look over their shoulders in their own communities…People have a right not to be randomly grabbed, kicked, spit upon, or heaven forbid, stabbed.

For some reason, Notley and the NDP see effectively letting addicts die on the streets as a winning position, to the point they may try and force this to be an issue about freedom not about public safety.

Notley not only will have to argue a confusing position about respecting the “rights” of addicts to camp on the streets, committing crimes, and putting their health at grave risk through the use of high doses of illicit drugs, but she will have to condemn her BC NDP counterparts in order to do it. 

The Alberta NDP should remember the government of BC is in a far worse position with rampant drug deaths than Alberta, so maybe they have learned a thing or two about what is required to deal with the issue after decades of weak voluntary rehab policies.

The NDP’s idea of trying to “support” addicts getting on a better path is the same policy framework that has failed all over North America over the last several decades. Reviving drug addicts on the streets with Narcan and then handing them brochures to a rehab centre does not cut it. Addicts, especially those who are homeless do not have the capacity to get on the right path and do not have the right to deteriorate on the streets. 

Alberta is a compassionate society and it runs against Albertans’ values to simply allow someone to suffer from addiction. Involuntary drug treatment is a compassionate policy that the UCP government is smart to follow the BC NDP in passing. 

Rachel Notley and the Alberta NDP opposing involuntary treatment shows truly how gross partisan politicians can be. The NDP is effectively willing to allow addicts to suffer and die in order to try and score some cheap points against Premier Danielle Smith and the UCP. 

The silver lining here is that the NDP’s political game likely won’t play out in their favour. Albertans won’t fall for the NDP’s hollow emotional appeal in favour of prolonged suffering rather than short-term detainment and treatment. 

Wyatt Claypool

Wyatt is a student at Mount Royal University, where he is the president of its Campus Conservative club. In his writing, he focuses on covering provincial and federal politics, firearms regulation, and the energy sector. Wyatt has also previously written for The Post Millennial.

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