Alberta Politics

Len Webber: we’ll give you safe injection sites if you give us oil pipelines

File this under: totally clueless politicians.

In the midst of an opioid crisis that is reported to have claimed the lives of more than 400 Albertans in 2016, Calgary-Confederation Member of Parliament Len Webber told the House of Commons Health Committee last week that opposition to the potentially lifesaving facilities was comparable to opposition to oil pipelines.

Here is Webber’s shockingly tone deaf response to Vancouver-Kingsway MP Don Davies during a discussion about Bill C-37 on February 9, 2017:

I don’t need five minutes. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It was really just a thought here. I think Mr. Davies’ intention here is to try to make the application process for safe injection sites easier.

Would you be in a similar position, Mr. Davies, if we were sitting around the table here talking about application processes for pipelines in Alberta? To apply for a pipeline is extremely onerous. It’s extremely burdensome and time-consuming. It can often take years.

We fought hard as Conservatives to try to make it easier to get pipelines built throughout this country, but we’re not talking about pipelines here today; we’re talking about safe injection sites.

Would you agree, Mr. Davies, that it is very onerous to put in a pipeline in this country? Would you be in favour of making it an easier process to put pipelines in, just as you would like to have safe injection sites put in without consultation from the community?

Basically, I see the changes here giving the minister the power to basically overrule any community consultation or community decisions, whereas communities opposing pipelines is something the minister can’t overrule.

The thought is there. I was just thinking that in Alberta we are having a very difficult time trying to get pipelines put in place, and you are here talking about how you want to make it easy to put in safe injection sites. I think it’s very important that we have community consultation, that we have approval from all areas with regard to getting these sites put in place. I know there are some communities that would be opposed to safe injection sites, yet the minister can overrule the desire of the community.

I don’t support what you’re doing here, Mr. Davies, in your motion or your amendments. However, I am making again the comparison between pipelines and safe injection sites. I may not have explained it quite clearly, but you know what I’m thinking here. It’s very onerous for pipelines, yet you want it to be very simple for safe injection sites.

If you’re willing to make it easier for us in Alberta, we can make it easier for you to put in safe injection sites throughout the country.

Webber was first elected to parliament as a Conservative in 2015 and previously served as a Progressive Conservative MLA for Calgary-Foothills from 2004 to 2014. Between 2009 and 2011 he served as Alberta’s Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. He does not hold a critic position in the Conservative Official Opposition Caucus in Ottawa.

Update: Len Webber issued a statement in response to the backlash created by his comments at the parliamentary health committee.

12 replies on “Len Webber: we’ll give you safe injection sites if you give us oil pipelines”

I am a member of Moms Stop the Harm (MSTH), a network of Canadian mothers and families whose loved ones have died due to substance misuse. I have not been as discouraged and hurt by a politician’s comment since Harper. Our children’s lives for pipelines? Disgusted! I would like Mr. Webber to sit down with some of our Calgary families, who are among the thousands of Canadian families who have lost a loved one due to inadequate support for people using substances.

You should be ashamed of yourself Mr Webber. Comparing pipelines to our kids who have lost there lives. I’m ashamed to say that you are an Albertan. I hope you never lose a child to this horrible epidemic like I have. Go check messenger I sent you a picture of my daughter.

This sort of ideological posturing is exactly what turns off a lot of people about politics. These two things really have nothing to do with each other and each should be judged on their own merits.

Really did I read that right – peoples lives vs pipelines. I’m not even sure if Mr. Webber fully understands how different these two items are. I would ask that you please really look at why Safe Consumption Sites are urgently needed and why we as a society cannot wait years to have these put into place. I live in BC and have lost a child to this epidemic and Alberta needs to be prepared for what is happening in your province. In BC, 914 beautiful souls were lost in 2016, and I can only imagine what the numbers will be moving forward. Safe Consumption Sites save lives. Your pipelines will wait, but people are dying every day from this epidemic, lives are being lost every single day – they can’t wait. Please don’t compare the lives of our children to your need for a pipeline. I would also encourage you to sit down with Petra Schultz and some of the other families to really get a good understanding on this issue.

What’s “tone deaf” is this post. Webber is right to criticize so-called “safe” injection sites which will only serve to increase consumption of deadly drugs. It’s time to stop these hyperpartisan posts, Dave. Webber is to be commended for his resolve.

Your words Mr. Webber were both shocking and callous. I suspect you have a wealth of knowledge where it relates to the effects of a failed pipeline application. Might I suggest you stick to what you do know. I would hope your intent was not to undermine the pain felt be so many as a result of overdose in Alberta, and in fact Canada, and simply a statement of ignorance. If you knew the truth….you would have chosen your words much more carefully. Or perhaps you do understand fully and judgement is your guide.

I am another of the offended “mama bears”……I read this opinion in the Calgary Herald today, and I think it is quite an appropriate commentary to you, following your insensitive, dis-compassionate, shaming, apathetic, and ignorant opinion of the
present crisis. Honestly, the “comparison” is offensive! I suggest you research more before you open your mouth to speak
Young people-our future, are dieing- this is real! Here is the comment-
” There are so many moving parts to this crisis that insipid blather about it not being a state of emergency is literally killing people. Someone needs the power and authority to co-ordinate efforts, cut through fiefdoms, ignore politics and thereby save lives.”. I agree wholly…

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