Alistair MacGregor, MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, said he and the federal NDP support increased measures to restrict the recreational use of opioids.
Speaking to North Cowichan’s council on Aug. 16, MacGregor said the use of opioids, particularly fentanyl that has been linked to hundreds of deaths across B.C., has been the subject of long and intense debates in the House of Commons recently, and the NDP are in support of giving authorities more tools to work with through Bill c-37.
Among the increased tools, the bill, which was made law in May, gives officers at the border greater ability to open international mail if they suspect it contains illegal drugs.
“We need the federal government to treat (the opioid issue) as the crisis it truly is,” MacGregor told council.
“But we can’t expect just one strategy to fix the opioid crisis. All partners must work hand in hand. I’m pleased that the province has created a new ministry (Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions) to deal with this issue, and we’ll do our part to ensure the federal government helps as well.”
MacGregor visited North Cowichan’s council as part of a series of speaking engagements he has committed to with municipalities and First Nations in his riding to hear their concerns, particularly around infrastructure, and bring them back to Ottawa.
As well as the ongoing opioid crisis, MacGregor spoke on legalizing marijuana, affordable housing and other issues in the Valley in his presentation to North Cowichan’s council.
He said the NDP have had a leading role in Bill C-45, which will legalize the recreational use of marijuana, but the fact that the Liberals have decided not to make it legal until July, 2018, has created issues.
“Dispensaries (in the Valley) are currently operating outside the law, and that makes it a grey zone for police,” MacGregor said.
“Police detachments are working with limited resources, especially during the ongoing opioid crisis, so raiding dispensaries are down on their list of priorities right now. It’s taking a long time for this law to be implemented and that’s really contributed to a lot of confusion.”
Mayor Jon Lefebure pointed out that North Cowichan is working with the Community Land Trust Foundation of BC on two affordable housing projects, one in Chemainus and the other on Sherman Road, and asked for MacGregor’s assistance in acquiring federal funding to help the projects.
North Cowichan is leasing the properties to the Land Trust at nominal costs, and the CLTF is assuming the financing and construction costs of the developments.
“But major funding is still needed for these projects,” Lefebure said.
“We’re also poised to do other good things in regards to affordable housing projects, and I hope the feds and the province will be there to help us.”
MacGregor said the affordable housing issue is “near and dear” to his heart.
“I’ve talked to people in Chemainus who are couch surfing and received their feedback on this issue,” he said.
“We’ll be looking to find solutions.”