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BC Conservative leader John Rustad said that if elected he would trigger the notwithstanding clause to enforce mandatory recovery for drug addicts.

In an exclusive interview on The Andrew Lawton Show, Rustad laid out how his party would approach the opioid crisis that has ravaged his province, killing 2,511 people in 2023 alone. 

Rustad said that the so-called“safe supply” and decriminalization approach has failed and only exacerbated the crisis. Rustad said the province needs to move to a model of recovery, much like the approach Alberta is taking.

“We need to be able to move to that recovery model, and we need to have everything in place, from doctor-prescribed treatment, to short-term voluntary recovery, to longer-term voluntary recovery, to involuntary recovery, to even long-term care for people,” said Rustad.

Elaborating on his point, Rustad said that the province had a responsibility to order involuntary recovery for those who are at clear risk of harming themselves.

“If somebody has OD’d, and is being brought back to life, clearly they are at risk of harming themselves,” said Rustad.

“I just think that it’s compassionate to be able to do that. Yes, you are impacting on their rights, but at the same time in a society we need to be looking at this from a perspective of saying ‘they’re not capable of being able of making that decision’ and we need to be able to step up and be able to help them in those circumstances.”

Rustad said that if he were to go forward with these reforms to British Columbia’s addictions policies, his government would more than likely face a challenge under section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms on the grounds of violating the “life, liberty, and security of the person.”

In response, Rustad pledged to invoke Section 33 allowing provincial legislatures to enforce the policy.

“We will likely get a Charter challenge, because you’re actually taking away somebody’s rights when you have mandatory recovery that people may end up having to utilize,” said Rustad.

“We need to do what’s right for the province, what’s right for the people in the society, and if the courts aren’t going to allow us to do that, we might have to use something like the notwithstanding clause to be able to implement it.”

While Premier Danielle Smith’s government has just begun expanding the province’s capacity to deliver treatment to drug addicts, the province has witnessed a spike in opioid-related fatalities in the near term.