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Editorial: Government must get ruthless with toxic drug traffickers

What is the difference between the sodium nitrite Kenneth Law is accused of selling and people trafficking enough fentanyl to kill dozens or hundreds of people?
One B.C. judge likened trafficking fentanyl to loading a gun and playing Russian roulette.

The ongoing toxic drug crisis and the massive death toll seen in Prince George and across Canada is a public health issue but that doesn’t mean the lawyers and the politicians have nothing to contribute.

The opportunity for decisive federal government action came Tuesday when an Ontario man was charged with 14 counts of second-degree murder for selling lethal substances to people who later took their own lives.

What is the difference between the sodium nitrite Kenneth Law is accused of selling, sometimes to minors according to police, and the men and women trafficking enough fentanyl, meth, and other tainted and toxic drugs to kill dozens or hundreds of people?

A law degree is not required to realize the answer is nothing at all.

In both cases, the buyers are vulnerable individuals and their plans with the drugs are irrelevant. Their problems with addiction and/or mental health are being exploited by the seller for monetary gain.

The type of drug cocktail the seller is offering is also irrelevant. If it is sold in a quantity that kills, that should come with a second-degree murder charge, with the number of counts dictated by the number of people that could die from the amount being trafficked.

Furthermore, the federal government could reverse the onus on a convicted toxic drug trafficker charged with second-degree murder. That would make it up to the trafficker to prove no one would have died from the quantity being sold, rather than police and Crown lawyers having to build a case that someone did, in fact, die from the addictive poison sold by that trafficker.

And why stop there? A convicted second-degree murderer for toxic drug trafficking that fails to demonstrate remorse and that they have used their time in prison to turn their lives around is not only ineligible for parole but is given the dangerous offender designation and the indefinite incarceration that comes with it.

If this sounds like the government giving itself excessive legal power, who would be hurt? Law-abiding citizens, addicts trapped in their illness, or drug traffickers who don’t care how many people they hurt and kill selling their garbage, so long as they get paid?

Government should keep safe supply and harm reduction policies in place to help and support people suffering under the disease of addiction. That is the compassionate thing to do.

But when it comes to treating the cancer on society that the traffickers of toxic drugs are, government shouldn’t hesitate locking these people up for many years to protect all citizens. That is the just thing to do.

Neil Godbout is the Citizen’s editor.