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Vancouver's controversial Insite clinic can stay open, the Supreme Court said Friday in a landmark ruling.
In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that not allowing the clinic to operate under an exemption from drug laws would be a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The court ordered the federal minister of health to grant an immediate exemption to allow Insite to operate.
The Insite ruling is the most brutal collision to date between the Supreme Court of Canada and Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. Despite the imminent appointment of two more Harper nominees to the top court’s bench, it will likely not be the last.
On Friday, the Court ordered the federal government to grant a special exemption to allow Vancouver’s supervised drug injection clinic to operate without fear of prosecution for possessing and trafficking in hard drugs.
The ruling is the latest volley in an ongoing battle of wills between the top court and the ruling Conservatives. That conflict pits Conservative ideology against the primacy of the rule of law and it has been escalating.
Tensions between Canada’s judicial establishment and Harper’s Conservative party have been simmering for years, predating its election to office. It has been one of the Prime Minister’s longstanding mantras that the exercise of political discretion by an elected government is not a matter for the courts to meddle with.
The Insite ruling is a strong reminder to the Harper government that its law-and-order agenda is not above the law itself.
While the ruling is a victory for Insite, the Supreme Court said it "is not a licence for injection drug users to possess drugs wherever and whenever they wish." "Nor is it an invitation for anyone who so chooses to open a facility for drug use under the banner of a 'safe injection facility,'" said the court.
Originally posted by TheComte
reply to post by ARealandTrueAmerican
Maybe so, but the Supreme Court has let him know in no uncertain terms that his ideology will not trump the rule of law. Even his own Supreme Court appointees voted against him, so that alone is a blow to his law and order agenda.
Originally posted by TheComte
It's possible a split is coming in the party. McKay (a moderate) is already on the outs with Harper.
Insite was granted a three-year exemption from the possession and trafficking provisions of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act when it first opened its doors in 2003.
It was granted two extensions but the Conservative government made it clear in 2008 that it did not support another exemption, and court proceedings were launched to try to save the clinic. Lawyers for the federal ministry argued that the government should not be in the business of facilitating illegal drug use.
The federal health minister at the time was Tony Clement, now Treasury Board president, and the Supreme Court agreed with lower court decisions that found his decision to withdraw the exemption violates Section seven of the charter because it contravenes the principle of fundamental justice.