Before I was elected, I volunteered with an incredible organization in our community, Sanguen Outreach, stuffing harm reduction kits that their staff would distribute from their mobile response van.
Too many of our neighbours are dying at the hands of poisoned drugs in our community. Last year alone, 99 loved ones were lost – more than from the covid-19 pandemic.
In both federal elections, I promised I would advocate for policies that would save lives, like decriminalizing unregulated drugs and providing a safe supply for those who need it most.
Once in Parliament I quickly grew fond of a BC MP Gord Johns, who introduced a bill that would do both of these things. What I loved most about it: he focused his bill not on partisan talking points, but on the learnings from a non-partisan, expert taskforce commissioned by Health Canada. Gord also lucked out and had his named picked to have his bill debated and voted on among the first of any in this Parliamentary session.
BC’s provincial government had been advocating for the feds to allow them to decriminalize in their province for over 15 months. The day before Gord’s bill was to be debated the federal government finally announced they would grant BC this exemption.
The media, appropriately, celebrated this important step for saving lives in that province.
The next day, I attended a reception led by moms whose children had died from poisoned drugs. It was emotional.
Just minutes later during Question Period, I had the opportunity to ask last question to the Prime Minister, just before we voted on Gord’s critical bill.
I appealed to the PM to make this an opportunity to rise above the politics. At the very least, he could turn around and let his MPs know they could break from following the party line and vote with their conscience.
When I asked the question, the moms were watching us from the gallery above our seats. It was a powerful moment.
Gord’s bill was defeated – every Conservative MP and the majority of the Liberal caucus voted against it. But we did see a glimmer of hope: 14 Liberals voted against their government, and for Gord’s bill. Many more abstained. This was the largest number of dissenting votes of any we would see in this entire session of Parliament.
At the end of the day, sadly, Gord’s bill won’t become law. But because of his efforts, lives will be saved in BC. And I will continue to work across party lines to advocate alongside organizations like Sanguen to save lives from poisoned drugs in our community, and across our country.
See more on my efforts calling on the government to treat the drug poisoning crisis as the public health matter it is, instead of a criminal one:
Key moments of my advocacy in the House of Commons
Related petitions I’ve sponsored
Find related media coverage on my work