Hard Knox Talks & Toronto visit

Hard Knox Talks & Toronto visit
Watch or listen to the full interview on Hard Knox Talks.

I had a recent appearance on Hard Knox Talks, where we got into how policy manifests at street level, how government propaganda drives what we are told to call 'polarization,' and why people across the political and drug policy spectrum should unify around reallocating excessive wealth at the top instead of fighting over scraps. You can find the podcast version here.

Toronto rally and march for supervised consumption

I'm in Toronto for work, so made sure to support local activism.

Organized and attended by people from Barrie, Guelph, Sudbury, Timmons, Toronto and Windsor, the rally for supervised consumption attracted >150 demonstrators with stops in Trinity Square, the office of Chief Medical Officer of Health Kieran Moore, and Queen's Park (Ontario legislature).

Unions including CUPE and RNAO were also involved with organizing – a indicating the how solidarity is playing out in Ontario. In BC, we continue to see advocacy by some of the largest unions, while in Alberta, the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (representing 27,000 workers including paramedics) has recently added its voice with a significant position against a one-size-fits-all abstinence approach that explicitly supports harm reduction.

Zoë Dodd and Ashley Smoke served as event MCs and delivered phenomenal speeches (complementing many others) throughout the event. Here is a segment of one from Zoë – enjoy the moment where someone shouts "Zivo's an idiot!"

Organizer Zoë Dodd gave a rousing speech in front of Queen's Park, the Ontario legislature.

I helped explain the Alberta Model to the Ontario crowd in front of the CMOH office, and Alex Betsos thought to capture some of it. My speech is printed in full at the bottom of this piece.

A person speaks into a megaphone beside a sign reading "Reduce the harm. Reduce the loss. Reduce the trauma. At any cost."
I was invited to speak at the rally for supervised consumption organized by people and unions from across southern Ontario. Video and photo captured by Alex Betsos.

Protest against Israeli incineration of Rafah tent camp

On May 27, many in the local harm reduction community attended the emergency protest against the Israeli bombing of a Rafah tent camp, where hundreds of defenceless Palestinians took refuge before a night raid that killed at least 40 people. The short-notice protest attracted (my estimation) between 1,000 and 2,000 people who marched from downtown to the University of Toronto.

A person wearing a keffiyeh points a finger at the sky while standing next to a statue of a man, on which a keffiyeh was hung around the neck.

SCS rally speech on Alberta model

Make no mistake: Alberta has spent the last 5 years denying the evidence on supervised consumption sites and safe supply and is now likely leading the country in drug poisoning deaths. That won't be confirmed for at least a year, maybe three.

Our government has become skilled at hiding bodies by overloading the morgue. Why are they hiding the bodies? To concoct a narrative that the Alberta model is working. The Alberta model is a publicly funded but privately profitable system of pseudoscientific health care that seeks to incarcerate and extract value from people who use drugs. Its systems centred on residential institutionalization are neither equipped nor designed to reduce deaths. And the Alberta model IS working, just not how you might hope. It is producing big yields for the private companies feeding at this trough of human misery. Politicians are not coming to save anyone. As we've seen with housing, the overarching role of our political system is to protect private property. We have to mobilize our own politics. Public Health isn't coming to save anyone. They all have nice jobs and as we saw with covid, they will bend to the will of politicians to preserve them. We have to build our own health responses. Many of you here involved with Moss Park know this well. The media are not coming to save anyone. Great journalists are doing tremendous work, but as we've seen with Palestine, the overarching role of the media is to shore up industrial power against the policies that would end this crisis. We have to create our own media. People want to hear your stories. They need them to frame the solutions being offered — safe supply, supervised consumption, community connection, access to basic human dignities. The war on drugs is a war on people, and no province has embraced it more tightly than Alberta. Three weeks ago I woke up with a concussion after being bludgeoned by Calgary Police for standing with the students against genocide. Look to Alberta to see what's coming next in Ontario and elsewhere. It begins with cuts to harm reduction, and it ends with police violence and mass incarceration through the newly privatized treatment system.

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