Election Rundown: Trudeau’s talk of opioid crisis solutions is a vote grabbing technique

Election season means that politicians will be parading out hot button issues for votes

British Columbians want real solutions to the opioid crisis. Photo: /The Star

By: Connor Stephenson, SFU Student

On Friday August 30, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Vancouver mayor and former New Democratic Party MP for Burnaby South, Kennedy Stewart. The two met on the front steps of Vancouver City Hall and proceeded to speak about what they have planned for the future of Vancouverites and Canadians more generally. Their main talking points included battling the opioid crisis, new housing developments, and extending the Millennium Line division of the SkyTrain down Broadway Street.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that all this hyped-up rhetoric is a by-product of election season, a political strategy to secure votes. Voters should remember not to be swayed by the staging of high-emotion issues when weighing the candidate they believe best represents their interests. 

Aside from Trudeau’s photo-op with Mayor Stewart, in which he made brief statements about where the money will be invested, his re-election platform more generally gives no explicit indication as to where the money is intended to be allocated. Given that this is such a pressing matter, would it not be important to clearly lay out to voters what the federal government has planned moving forward? 

Considering the significance of the effects of the opioid crisis across Canada, and particularly in British Columbia, Trudeau’s focus on this issue makes him appealing to some voters. Trudeau says his government plans to continue to work toward a solution to the epidemic through legislative change and further investing in border security, safe injection sites, and resources for first responders. Part of this plan includes working with international partners.

The federal government says that they are exhausting all options when it comes to finding a solution to the crisis, and part of that involves a  $100 million investment, nation-wide, to fund the battle against the opioid epidemic. This is a significant amount of money, and it could potentially provoke a favourable change. 

In British Columbia alone, opioid related deaths rose from 1,007 in 2016 to 1,546 in 2018. Both local and federal governments acknowledge that this is a public health crisis. However, previously implemented solutions appear to not have been very effective, given that opioid related deaths in Canada increased by over a thousand in two years. 

Admittedly, it would be expecting too much to anticipate a positive change in such a short time period, however, the opioid problem is getting worse. Trudeau’s promise of continued investments now, when he had years to address this beforehand, can be interpreted as political rhetoric exclusively designed to attract votes. If Trudeau is genuine about resolving this issue he should be more inclined to employ bold strategies. Decriminalization of illicit drugs has been proposed, but Trudeau and his party are not in favour of this. It might be wise to reconsider if they plan on capturing British Columbian votes come October.