Re: “Charter says nothing about needle exchange,” letter, May 27.
The letter-writer claims the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms “does not say anything about clean needles.” Not quite true.
Section 7 of the Charter: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person.”
In 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada, citing Section 7, ordered the federal government to extend an existing drug-law exemption to Insite, a Vancouver safe-injection clinic that provides clean needles.
The court ruled that closing the clinic by nixing its exemption “would have prevented injection drug users from accessing the health services offered by Insite, threatening their health and indeed their lives.”
The court found that “during its eight years of operation, Insite has been proven to save lives with no discernible negative impact on the public safety and health objectives of Canada.”
The charter clearly has something to say about the distribution of clean needles to people who need them, and Abbotsford’s ban on needle exchanges is almost certainly unconstitutional.