Alberta NDP Candidate Indirectly Supports The UCP’s New Addictions Program

Written By Wyatt Claypool, Posted on May 18, 2023

The Alberta government and the United Conservative Party have over the last 4 years, and especially over the last year, been trying to take the province into a new direction on addictions policy. The UCP is trying to create a system that pushes drug addicts into rehabilitation programs and tries to not enable addiction. The UCP approach has been attacked by the Alberta NDP, who tend to favour measures to make drug use “safer” through such things as safe injection sites, and “safe” supply programs (although they are not attempting to deny they’ve supported the later policy).

The UCP just recently announced that if they form the next Alberta provincial government they will pass the Compassionate Intervention Act. This legislation would allow for mandatory drug addiction treatment (with a judge’s approval) for those deemed incapable of making decisions for themselves, and potentially dangerous to themselves and others. 

The Alberta NDP has gone ballistic over this promise, framing involuntary drug addiction treatment as being a “violation” of the rights of drug users, in spite of the BC NDP also being somewhat favourable to involuntary treatment to try and solve their much more severe addiction problems. 

Just because the Alberta NDP as an entity is opposing the UCP’s addictions policy doesn’t mean every candidate opposes the concept of the new Alberta drug treatment model.

Liana Paiva, Alberta NDP candidate in Peace River, in spite of criticizing the UCP government’s addictions policy like the other members of her party, actually has indirectly endorsed much of what the UCP is doing and newly proposing.

Paiva has in the past praised the Portuguese government’s actions to reduce the overall rate of drug addiction in the country. But here is where Paiva’s perspectives become a bit confusing.

Paiva over a posting of an article praising the socialist government in Portugal for finding an “antidote to right-wing populism” states that “First they figured out how to deal with a mounting drug problem by decriminalizing it and treating it as a mental health issue.” 

What Paiva misses in her assumption that hard drug “decriminalization” is not why rates of drug addiction fell. Other jurisdictions that have decriminalized hard drugs have seen spikes in addiction rates.

The reason Portugal was able to overcome its massive drug addiction problem was that while they “decriminalized” hard drugs the police would still detain drug addicts with severe problems and bring them before one of Portugal’s Drug Commission courts. Judges can then recommend treatments, hand out fines, and apply other legal pressures, to funnel addicts into rehab programs.


Yes, an addict in Portugal (possessing less than 10 days worth of hard drugs) cannot be imprisoned for possessing or using drugs, but unless they are ok with putting up with being repeatedly detained, fined, and pressured into taking treatment.

The UCP government’s addictions policy was actually influenced by the Portuguese approach, minus the decriminalization of hard drugs. The UCP’s involuntary treatment program is modeled on the way the Portuguese court system directly pressured addicts into agreeing to join rehab programs. 

So if Liana Paiva wants the follow the Portuguese model, she should be happy with what the UCP is doing. Unfortunately, one can suspect Paiva is only interested in the drug decriminalization aspects of Portugal’s program based on the misleading content about Portugal’s addictions program that she has shared. 

The Alberta NDP would be smart to quietly back off their current positions on addictions policy. The UCP policy is likely to be popular among Alberta’s increasingly crime-concerned population, and the NDP is not going to be able to sell “safe” consumption sites or “safe” supply in this environment.

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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