Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the New Democratic Party, I am proud to carry on the debate on the important discussion of InSite and injection sites.
Although I was born in Holland, I was raised in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. I understand all too well what the east end of Vancouver was like in the 1960s and 1970s. It was not the greatest thing, because one saw a tremendous amount of people, for a variety of reasons, with severe drug or alcohol addictions. There were folks down there from all walks of life. It was an extremely unfortunate circumstance as a young man to witness the tragedy of what happened to these people's lives.
Fast forward to years later, and we have InSite.
I am the first person, along with everybody else in the House, who would encourage every Canadian not to use illicit drugs whatsoever. That is the main principle, but it is very difficult to get people off illicit drugs if they are in the back alleys, street corners, throughways, under bridges, or anywhere else.
The best way to get to these people is to show them compassion and the dignity of their lives. They may be on the bottom rung of the ladder, in a deep hole where they keeping digging it deeper and see no way out with the exception of an overdose or possible suicide. It is the Canadian people, the good people of Vancouver, east end Vancouver, and former municipal and provincial politicians who had the insight to come up with InSite. They were able to get these people off the streets and into a shelter. Even though they were still using drugs, there was an ability to work and consult with them to get them off the drugs and allow them to become productive members of our society.
On the other hand, we can just ignore the problem. They will be back on the streets, under bridges and in vacant lots, but then we will have the paramedics, firefighters, police officers, and social caseworkers going in when the situation has gone too far.
I know everybody in the NDP, Conservative Party, Liberal Party and other parties here are very clear that we do not want young people or anyone resorting to illicit drugs of any kind. However, when that situation arises, it is best to get them off the street to a place where they can be safe and get counselling. They can then understand that there is hope and a possibility that life can be better for them.
InSite is all about that. Injection sites are all about that. It is to show the compassion and love that we have for these individuals who are going through a very severe and difficult time.
Some of these folks may have come from the aboriginal community, some may have gone through a divorce, some may have psychological or physical problems, and some may have come from our police, firefighter, or veteran community. We do not know where these people have come from, and to be honest, I really do not care. All I see is a human being.
A lot of my Conservative colleagues over there profess to be of the Christian faith. I ask them this: what is the Christian thing to do in this regard? It is to reach out with an open hand and show the compassion and love that these people deserve in order to turn their lives around, and there is a lot of evidence of where this has happened.
My great colleague, the representative for Vancouver East for the past sixreen and a half years, has been in the forefront of this struggle. She has represented Vancouver East with great pride and honour and with great distinction. We are very proud to have her, one day in cabinet, but right now in our caucus. She is an outstanding human being who understands the situation probably better than anybody else in the country or in Parliament.
With that, I will resume this most vital discussion shortly after question period.