The evening began with an introduction of 7 recovering addicts from the Morberg House residential treatment program, who briefly described the lives they had, which their drug addiction has destroyed.
A former microbiologist; a Coumputer Science major; a 4 year degree program stopped one year short; another with a completed Master's Degree with a PhD; two others wishing to continue their education, and lastly a young grandfather and artist "glad to be off the meth and be a part of my family again." Putting that context to the concept of a "typical" meth addict brought home to the audience and panelists that this is not so much a drug of the pre-existing down-and-out drug-using segment of society, but rather that crystal meth delivers totally normal people to the depths of hell at breakneck speed.
Liberal leader Dougald Lamont, MLA for St. Boniface, attended the panel held in his riding as did his NDP opponent, Laurissa Sims, and Green Party leader James Beddome seeking election in Fort Rouge represented his party.
Absent from the Notre Dame Recreational Centre was any speaker for the governing Progressive Conservative Party, which did not send a reply to the invitation. Marion Willis, Director of Morberg House, opened the public Q and A segment with a proposal, after the moderated presentation and discussion by representatives of the three opposition parties.
Willis described her tour of a mothballed licenced care centre at 800 Adele Ave. in Winnipeg's west end. She was asked to see the building after our widely-watched profiles of the success of Morberg House, an addictions recovery program on Provencher Blvd. in St. Boniface affiliated with Street Links.
The former nun's residence was leased for use by child welfare agencies for 11 years until the Pallister administration sought to terminate the 20 year contract and ordered a midnight move this winter - but tax dollars are still paying rent on the empty building until next April (video length 2.27).
Willis described the existing 10 stabilization beds with triage on 2 floors and an attached administration building that could become "a centre of excellence to address the meth crisis".
She compared it unfavourably with election promises by Premier Brian Pallister and NDP leader Wab Kinew to spend tax dollars to build new drug detox units.
"It's a Class A turn-key building with 10 beds, the security, it's all there, it's locked in, turn on the lights, put some staff in there, put the Main Street Project, put AFM in there..."Willis beseeched the candidates to look beyond the legal dispute the government has provoked with the building's owners. "What this city needs most has been sitting since February empty, locked up, within walking distance of Health Sciences Centre."
She challenged the panelists what they would do if elected to government, about 800 Adele. Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont replied "If it's suitable, that should be the place it goes." (2.29)
The NDP was in a peculiar position on the issue as it has already committed to an ambitious program of services to be located on Main Street and Logan operated by Main Street Project. But Sims said she was confident that her leader Wab Kinew would be interested in having a conversation about the viability of the Willis proposal as part of their addiction services. (1.20)
Beddome, hoping to unseat Kinew in Fort Rouge, gave a short concise answer stating "we're in a crisis so why aren't we doing something?" (.40)
- 800 Adele and the contract dispute between the Pallister government and the owners
- the WRHA failing to get used needles they distribute off the streets, and
- their collective support for a safe injection site which got a surprising (to them) rebuke
- more to come in a follow-up column soon!
|Standing in for the PC Party last night: the very popular rubber chicken.|
No other media hung around long enough yesterday night to get the only REAL news to emerge.
The ONLY variations from the announced platforms came from the questions about 800 Adele and the failed "harm reduction" needle exchange program - stories exclusively reported on by TGCTS.Last night proved that in seeking your vote, politicians can be forced to go off script and address YOUR issues.
That's what citizen journalism does.
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