Welcome to The Paul Wells Show, Season 2
Love that Andy Milne theme music. Evokes sitting inside all cozy with a warm drink as the snow falls.
That was a fascinating podcast with I guest I knew very little about! Informative and entertaining...a terrific combo. It helped me understand the drug policy and party politics challenges more clearly. I wanted to read the transcript, but, try as I might, I could not find the button you refer to. Any guidance? I also enjoyed the Andy Milne tune. Sweet!
Pairs well with this pod. I’ve not spent much time in this policy area - but I have with the people most impacted and their neighborhood. We’ve somehow had major agreements in health and housing - multilateral and otherwise - but managed to miss those at the very bottom. No one wants to get tagged with a problem, so the problems become as homeless as those who are without hope.
It was a great interview however I'm not clear what he's suggesting to do or what the statistical impact of what has been done so far is. Clearly there needs to be an all of government approach on housing and affordability, but does that mean decriminalization and its positive and negative externalities are what we have to deal with until we do?
It feels like the classic 'oh communism wasn't really ever fully tried' after the 30th time we've tried it
Since we’re talking about Vancouver...
Wynton Marsalis and Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra are playing one night only, Oct 10. Some tickets still available.
An interesting interview. I appreciated hearing Kennedy Stewart's views, but in the end, I realize just like most of us, he does not have a workable solution to the opioid crisis. There was the suggestion that if provinces provided more social housing initiatives it would be a starting point. Clearly, allowing tents on our city streets is not working. Neither are the safe injection sites.
What resonated with me was Kennedy Stewart's admission that the effectiveness of decriminalizing illicit drug possession remains to be seen. While we wait to see whether the impact results in fewer overdose deaths, there remains the concern that decriminalization of possession of hard drugs gives the perception that "hey, drug use is not that harmful, because possession is legal." We are subjected to a fine if we drive our car without a seat belt, but possession of illicit drugs is okay?
Leading up to the Trudeau government's legalization of cannabis, we were told legalization would rid us of the drug dealers resulting in fewer adolescents toking up; but alas, talk to any high school student and you will learn its use is more prevalent than ever before. The location of cannabis stores at every busy intersection has given the implicit message to our adolescents that drug use is not harmful.
How did we go so wrong? In this land of plenty too many of our young people are finding comfort through drugs.
Loved everything about this podcast from the theme music which is so delightful, to the interview with an incredibly brave politician. People who don’t understand drug addiction and why decriminalizing small amounts of hard drugs as well as safe supply, absolutely need to listen to this podcast including most of not all of the Conservative Party.
I’m also glad that the topic of housing came up b/c I do think that NIMBYism is one of the main reasons why municipalities and provinces can’t manage to get affordable housing built. Without housing however any drug policies are doomed for failure.
Great interview. "Whatever your income is, this is where your community is." This statement is the at the root! It applies to many marginalized groups and needs to be turned into action that includes mixed neighbourhoods, significant income supports, nutrition, health, recovery, opportunities, etc. - the whole range of human possibilities that demonstrates, tangibly, something to aspire to beyond struggle and hopelessness. Think of the children of low-income single parents. I was raised by an uneducated immigrant single mother, and then I became a single mother. The stigma of being 'less than' is emotional and very real. Where you live definitely reflects your income and you are judged accordingly by those who are better off financially and in every other way. I felt it as a child and I still feel it now, despite my Master's degree and my children having become healthy adults. Sorry for the rant. It hurts my heart to think of people suffering and the rest of us not knowing what to do about it.
I love the piano piece that ends the podcast. Nice choice. Thanks for reading. Oops. I forgot to say, Thank You for the work you do and for this interview with Kennedy Stewart.
Thank you for providing the transcript! It is immensely useful as a reference when pondering these really tough issues.
Great interview, complex issue, working with other parties to get the right things done, clarification of what decriminalization is, parties incorrect slant on defining it. A loaded interview. Thankful I get to forget this stuff as I head to NAC tonight for Brahms concert and Paul on stage :)
Double the reason to be a subscriber. Great stuff! A most insightful conversation. Thank you.
I find it odd that Stewart makes no mention of NDP MP for Vancouver East (includes the DTES) Jenny Kwan, who uncovered in 2020 that BC received only .5%, that's right half of a percent of the Liberals' National Housing Co-Investment Fund. Ontario received 94%.
Some more fun facts uncovered by Kwan and reported in the Vancouver Sun by Dan Fumano; BC submitted 95 housing projects to the federal fund, the second most of any province, Manitoba and PEI secured fund agreements worth more than 3 times what BC got as of January 2020.
Stewart is quoted as saying at the time, "This shows this program’s a total failure for us in British Columbia. It’s great for people in Ontario, but it is certainly a failure for us, and it really makes me feel like we’re on our own here.”
I also think Stewart lacks nuance when he discusses the reaction of "NIMBYS" to density. It is not an opposition to density per se but the kind of density pushed by the developer captured city hall including the mayor's office that demolishes the character of neighbourhoods, and drives up housing costs though upzoning. The higher you go the more your housing costs increase under the current system.
The harm-reduction theory is based on the "big discovery" about how to treat cholera: just treat the symptoms. If you can keep the patient alive by just piling on the endless hydration and glucose, as their body flushes every drop from every orifice, they can beat it themselves if they're going to.
"Punishment" did not work we're very sure of that. One thing that did work was "older brothers". The younger brothers of those dead in the crack epidemic were far less likely to start with it. I've just tried to look up when the "crack epidemic" ended - everybody agrees it did, but there's no one date or event. Neither did any government treatment for crack addiction, not that they tried many besides jail. Word just got around, it was death.
I think these drugs are very much like epidemics, in fact - society, as a social organism, gradually develops a level of immunity, though there may be a permanent drag on health and productivity. If Government has no "cure for addiction", then maybe all it can do is treat the symptoms until the organism gradually develops immunity to the stuff.
I've already spent time wondering just how much chronic pain I might put up with - as my forebears did before me, with arthritis and every other pain - before taking a prescribed painkiller with any addiction warnings at all.
I can see why he was a one term mayor.
Excellent podcast. If I as a paid subscriber to your newsletter listened on Spotify, I missed the last bit etc.?
I live in Vancouver and voted for Kennedy Stewart when he initially ran for Mayor and against him when he sought re-election. Your interview confirmed to me that I was right. Kennedy Stewart is a fine man. As a dinner companion he is much preferable to the guy I voted for. However, like so many of his political fellow travellers he lives in a world of magical thinking. Walk through downtown Vancouver and tell me safe injection sites are a success. The public were told they were part of a program which would reduce drug use, get people into treatment. Drug use soared. Now we’re told that it wasn’t about drug use, it’s about sharing dirty needles. There is a fast growing industry of experts who deliver everything but results. Of course it’s a difficult problem. Maybe insoluble. But the approach of more drugs, less enforcement has little to show for itself. Mr. Stewart should remain in the academic world where he has a lot to offer.