Insite victory an embarrassment for Harper

Denial of health services and increased risk of death among drug users outweighs any benefit from absolute prohibition on drug possession

By Peter McKnight, Vancouver Sun

If nothing else, Friday’s unanimous Supreme Court of Canada decision on the future of Insite, Vancouver’s supervised injection site, reveals the federal government’s striking ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And in spectacular fashion.

The plaintiffs, after all, lost on both of their primary grounds of appeal, yet still managed to win the case. The plaintiffs’ first argument, which previously persuaded the B.C. Court of Appeal, concerned the doctrine of interjurisdictional immunity, while the second argument, which previously convinced the B.C. Supreme Court, concerned section 7 of the Charter. Yet, while these two arguments swayed lower courts, the Supreme Court of Canada wasn’t having any of either.