Election 2019: One-fifth of the voters in Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola already cast a ballot | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Election 2019: One-fifth of the voters in Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola already cast a ballot

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October 18, 2019 - 6:00 PM

While federal candidates making a final push this weekend to win the hearts and minds of undecided voters, it’s too late to influence more than one-fifth of the electorate.

Elections Canada reports that 20,176 voters in the Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding cast ballots at four advance polls. With 94,331 eligible voters, that means 21.4 per cent have already cast their ballots.

That’s the highest rate of turnout for any of the five Okanagan or Kamloops ridings. The lowest turnout was in Kelowna-Lake Country at 17.8 per cent.

Nationally, there was a 29 per cent increase in advance poll voters over 2015, with 4.7 million casting ballots.

“It’s helped that there were 12 hours a day that the advanced polls are open,” Andrea Morantz, a spokesperson for Elections Canada, said. “We got the message loud and clear from Canadians that they like the greater options for voting.”

For people who are undecided and still haven’t voted, we asked the candidates:

Do you believe further decriminalization of illicit substances would help reduce the number of overdose deaths or reduce the crime related to the drug trade?

Joan Phillip, NDP

Yes, there is clear evidence that supports the decriminalization of drugs as the best way to deal with the crisis. When criminals supply drugs, society has no control over what addicts use, and too many people have died as a result.

Addiction is caused by trauma, adding the stigma of criminality to them only further entrenches them in the criminal life. I lost one of my sons last year to carfentanyl; so many families know the pain of losing a loved one. It has to stop.

Jesse Regier, Libertarian

The spirit of justice declares plainly that a person is innocent until proven guilty, innocent until they've done actual harm to person or property; while Canadian law seems to say otherwise.

To criminalize people who have done no harm is evil. We make no bones about this.  No innocent person should need to fear prosecution.

When a person does harm to a person or property, damages should be paid to the victims - not to the government. If there are no victims, there is no crime. having done so, should owe a debt to the individuals they've harmed - not to the government. A person who is accountable pays his debts and carries on being innocent. A person of malice should fear the law.

Eliminate victimless crime and the police will be free to actually help people instead of taxing them, they'll be free to hunt those who act with malice, instead of being legally required to harm those who are already harming themselves out of desperation.

The use of illicit substances is self-medication, not malice. Decriminalization will decrease crime because there will be fewer laws making criminals of innocent people. Not only will police be more effective in doing what's right to protect individual's rights and freedoms, but they'll also be more effective in doing what's right to help the broken who need love and acceptance where the law currently brings only more violence and suffering.

How can we reduce the number of overdose deaths without first improving the quality of their lives, and how can we improve the quality of their lives if we're constantly ruining their lives with unjust criminalization of their coping mechanisms when we should instead be giving them every opportunity to take hope and courage and to build a future free of addiction.

Mary Ann Murphy, Liberal

Thousands of people in Canada die from overdoses related to drug use, especially opioids. Significant initiatives have been taken to assist the provinces and territories in a pan-Canadian approach to aggressively intervene in this crisis.

This includes: $150 million in emergency funding for provinces and territories to increase access to evidence-based treatment; restoring harm reduction as a key pillar in our strategy; approval of over 25 supervised consumption sites; passing the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act; and, investing $13.5 million towards innovative approaches to treatment and prevention through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program.

To help more people access the addiction treatment services they need, we will move forward with new investments that help provinces and territories expand community-based services, build more in-patient rehab beds, and scale up the most effective programs – such as extending hours for InSite and other safe consumption sites. We will also make drug treatment court the default option for first-time non-violent offenders charged exclusively with simple possession, to help drug users get quick access to treatment, and to prevent more serious crimes.

Robert Mellalieu, Green

Yes.

One person dies every two hours due to opioid poisoning. These are preventable deaths. These deaths are indicative of a burgeoning mental health crisis.

Currently, we treat drugs as a criminal offence when it is not. The use of drugs is an escape from the reality of past trauma. Drug use of all types must be treated as the mental health disease it is. If we follow the example of Portugal were all drugs have been decriminalized and drug users are treated as patients, not criminals we can save millions of dollars, and thousands of Canadian lives.

Dan Albas, Conservative

The Conservative Party platform on this point has not been released (at the time of writing) so my comments here reflect my own views.

I do not believe decriminalization is the answer. The Vancouver Police Department has basically stopped making arrests for simple drug possession unless it was related to other crimes. While drug possession related arrests dropped by thousands in Vancouver, drug use only increased with corresponding increases to overdoses and fatalities.

In the last Parliament I supported a private members bill called “The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act” that does not allow for arrests related to drug use and possession if 911 is called, due to a medical emergency such as an overdose.

These types of measures are well-meaning but have not stopped or deterred the use of opioids. What we do need is more support.

On one hand, we see Interior Health opening more drug injection sites and yet for those with drug addictions, particularly youth, who are attempting to enter a detox or treatment facility, many are on waitlists for treatment in the lower mainland. In some cases, there is even a waitlist for access to treatment drugs such as Suboxone. A Kelowna based, not for profit, has told me that they could increase supports quickly if the funding was made available by Health Canada. This needs to change.

People’s Party candidate Allan Duncan did not respond.

For more information to help you make up your mind, go to iNFOnewsca’s Voter’s Toolkit or this overview of the riding (note that Marijuana Party candidate Brynn Jones ended up not running while Libertarian Jesse Regier entered the race after this article was published).


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

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