UCP leader Jason Kenney faced criticism on Friday over his views of safe consumption sites following comments he made in an interview published in the Lethbridge Herald on Thursday.
Kenny said, “Helping addicts inject poison into their bodies is not a solution to the problem of addiction.”
A social media backlash quickly followed, with one user saying the comments were, “Spoken like a person that doesn’t understand addiction nor public health.”
“Just in this week police responded to over 50 overdose calls in this city,” Lethbridge-West MLA Shannon Phillips said from Lethbridge on Friday.
“Jason Kenney essentially at the same time walked into this city and said that he thought it was okay to let those people die.”
On Friday, Kenney tweeted a response to the uproar — seemingly standing by his position on “so-called ‘safe’ drug/injection sites.”
“It seems I’ve yet again angered the NDP with my common sense answer,” his statement reads.
“We absolutely need to show compassion for those suffering with addiction, and we need to help them get off drugs. But helping addicts inject poison into their bodies is not a long-term solution.”
“His criticism is not just about people who use drugs, his criticism is about organizations that have worked tirelessly during this opioid crisis to support this population and have experienced tons of trauma around people dying constantly around them,” ARCHES executive director Stacey Bourque said.
People on the front line of southern Alberta’s opioid crisis also commented on his remarks.
“Our current system, we can’t detain people arbitrarily forever,” Lethbridge Police Chief Rob Davis said. “There seems to be very little support… to have the programs in place within the corrections system to actually address the addiction.”
Global News reached out to Kenney’s office for a comment Friday, but did not receive a response before our deadline.