VANCOUVER -- Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said he would expand supervised-injection sites to other communities and criticized the Conservative government for agreeing to fund the Vancouver facility only until the end of this year.
In a two-day swing along the West Coast, Mr. Dion visited Victoria for a $125-a-plate fundraiser Wednesday and finished the trip last night at a banquet hall in Fraserview before a crowd of supporters, including many from the Indo-Canadian and Chinese-Canadian communities.
They were eager to welcome the new head of the party to his first visit to British Columbia as the Official Opposition Leader.
In Victoria, Mr. Dion met with Mayor Alan Lowe, who has said that a supervised-injection site would be beneficial in his city.
"I would give the funds to continue the experience and work with other mayors if they want to replicate this experience that has been successful."
He said that if he becomes prime minister, he would look at funding other supervised injection sites for municipalities that ask.
In a speech yesterday to the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Dion, as he has in previous talks, focused on Canada's abilities to play a leadership role in climate change.
But some in the business crowd had other issues.
Chamber president Dennis Marsden said residential neighbourhoods have witnessed an increase in organized crime using million-dollar homes for marijuana grow operations and crystal meth laboratories.
The implications for safety in the community are being felt and have a direct impact on businesses, Mr. Marsden said.
Mr. Dion said his government would be very strong in the fight against crime and the sources of crime.
The current government's stand of being tough on criminals is not effective, Mr. Dion said, because it's the U.S. approach. "It's a boom for jails. We're going to invest in the fight against crime, especially in social housing and homelessness and the fight against poverty."
The Liberals' platform on crime appears to be in its infancy, Mr. Marsden said, and jail as an option needs to be addressed, although he said the party is taking some good steps. In the last election, he said, it was clear that voters expressed their opinion that they wanted safe communities.
Mr. Dion's staff said the Liberal Leader does not know Perley Edmund Holmes, a union official arrested last week and charged with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine allegedly worth $4.3-million (U.S.).
Mr. Holmes contributed $100 (Canadian) to Mr. Dion's campaign when he was running for the leadership and attended the Montreal convention as an observer, said Bill Cunningham, the former president of the Liberal Party in B.C.
But Mr. Dion does not personally know Mr. Holmes, according to Mr. Cunningham.
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Dion supports More Funding for Safe Injection Sites