In an ominous move that must worry proponents of the Vancouver safe-injection project, the Conservative government has cancelled funding and killed a pilot program that provided safe tattooing services in prisons around the country. Knowing that it increases the threat of the spread of hepatitis C and AIDS, the satirically-titled Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said:
Our government will not spend taxpayers’ money on providing tattoos for convicted criminals. Our priority is to have an effective federal corrections system that protects Canadians, while providing inmates with access to acceptable health-care and treatment programs.
Demonstrating the vast intellect that brought us the Flinstone view of human history, he argues that risking an increase in the spread of AIDS and hep C is going to somehow protect Canadians. I’m not sure I follow the logic, but I think it’s similar to the argument that you don’t fight the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases with condoms. What’s the next step, sending chaplains into the prisons to provide tattoo abstinance education?
The reality is that prisoners are going to get tattoos whether we give them safe access or not, and what this project does is potentially prevent the addition of untold numbers of victims of incurable contagious diseases onto an already heavily-loaded medical system. The math should be pretty simple, but I suspect it might be too long-term for Stockwell, who has a demonstrated problem understanding long periods of time.
Perhaps what Stockwell means is that he is protecting his kind of Canadians. His kind of Canadians by and large don’t end up in jail and his kind are less likely to come in contact with those that do. However, his kind desire tax cuts over just about anything else, and what this cut will do is save taxpayers $6-million. Yes, $6 million at the expense of a population of Canadians that are ten times more likely to get AIDS and thirty times more likely to get hep C at a time when the government is again predicting billions in surpluses.
This is ample demonstration of what is at the heart of this government, and it is not what is best for Canadians. It is the neo-con Christian view that punishes behaviour it doesn’t approve of at all costs. That they will kill a health program to save a few dollars because it gives the appearance that the government is providing tattoos for convicted criminals makes me wonder if we’re not already a few steps down the path paved by Karl Rove.