Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Tory MPs met with RCMP officers who commissioned anti-Insite research

Just weeks after Health Minister Tony Clement delayed a 2006 decision on whether or not the Harper government would allow Vancouver’s supervised injection site to remain open, Conservative MPs met with RCMP officials and discussed ways to shift Canada’s drug strategy away from harm reduction, according to allegations made this morning by Pivot Legal Society.

Clement cited a “need for more research” when, in September of 2006, he postponed a decision about the Hastings Street facility known as Insite. Clement said at the time: “Given the need for more facts, I am unable to approve the current request.”

But October of 2006, Conservative MPs had met with Vancouver-based RCMP officials to discuss what appears to be an effort to lobby against Insite, according to an RCMP email obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

“This is the paper I mentioned to you,” began the email by the RCMP’s Chuck Doucette, which bore the subject line “Drug Prevention Network has Policy for Conservatives."

The Oct. 26th email continued: “The [Drug Prevention Network of Canada] will be using this document to help persuade the Fed. Government to re-focus Canada’s Drug Strategy. As I mentioned, the MPs that spoke to us at our meeting indicated that this was the direction they wanted to go in.”

Harper also appeared to be aware of the RCMP project. As early as June of 2006, he told Vancouver reporters that he was waiting for assessments from the RCMP before making a decision about Insite.

Neither the RCMP nor Minister Clement’s office responded to The Tyee’s requests for interviews on Wednesday.

In January of 2007, a report contracted by the RCMP and written by Drug Prevention Network board member Colin Mangham was published in a non-peer-reviewed journal. In a radical departure from the conclusions of at least 15 previous studies – many of which were published in peer-reviewed medical journals – the Mangham paper found little to like about Insite.

And yet, throughout 2007, both Clement and Harper repeatedly pointed to the RCMP-sponsored Mangham study as evidence that Insite should be closed.

"There has been more research done, and some of it has been questioning of the research that has already taken place and questioning of the methodology of those associated with Insite,” Clement told an August 2007 meeting of the Canadian Medical Association.

Pivot alleges that the RCMP commissioned a pair of research papers in the spring of that year, and commissioned a second set of papers in the fall of 2006.

“What’s most concerning is of course that this article by Colin Mangham was repeatedly cited by Health Minister Tony Clement as evidence that the research surrounding Insite was inconclusive. And at no point did he recognize or acknowledge that is was research that was funded by the RCMP,” said Pivot laywer Douglas King.

Pivot has called on Auditor General Sheila Fraser to investigate what look like efforts by the RCMP to lobby politicians and the public against Insite.

Dean Wilson, president of the Vancouver Network of Drug Users, spoke at Pivot's press conference on Wednesday.

"What did Tony Clement know? And when did he know it?" Wilson asked. "We know from these emails that some conservative members of Parliament were involved with this. We need to know how deeply Tony Clement was involved."

Monte Paulsen is editor of The Hook.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus