Then-Alberta Jobs Minister Lori Sigurdson appears at the legislature in Edmonton on Monday, June 29, 2015. NDP Opposition members are resigning from a committee to examine safe drug supply over, calling the committee a "political stunt" by the government instead of meaningful work to address spiking drug overdose deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dean Bennett

‘Political stunt’: NDP members resign from Alberta safe drug supply committee

‘Political stunt’: NDP members resign from Alberta safe drug supply committee

NDP members resign from Alberta safe drug supply committee

EDMONTON — Opposition NDP members resigned Friday from a committee tasked to examine a safe drug supply, saying it’s a “political stunt” by the Alberta government instead of meaningful work to address spiking overdose deaths.

Lori Sigurdson, the NDP critic for mental health and addictions, said she believes this is the first time the Opposition has refused to sit on a legislative committee.

“It’s warranted because of the rigged process before us,” she said.

The committee was struck in December to look at the benefits and consequences of safer alternatives to street-level drugs. Four of its 12 members were NDP members of the legislature.

In a letter sent to Speaker Nathan Cooper, the NDP caucus said United Conservative committee members are not studying safe supply in good faith.

“Instead of studying this important question of public health policy in good faith, UCP members are clearly intent on staging an extended political stunt. This is unconscionable,” said the letter.

“We refuse to take any further part in it.”

The letter referenced UCP members’ conduct during committee meetings, previous statements made against harm reduction, and what the NDP considers to be biased speakers on the topic put forward by the government.

NDP resignations come one day after the province released a list of the more than 20 people it asked to present to committee members.

It includes author Michael Shellenberger, who wrote a book called “San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities” and Stanford professor Dr. Keith Humphreys, who served in the Office of National Drug Control Policy under former U.S. presidents George Bush and Barack Obama.

Alberta Dr. Rob Tanguay is also on the list. He previously served on the UCP-appointed panel to review supervised consumption sites. The panel’s final report has been dismissed by academics, harm reduction advocates and scientists from across Canada.

“The intent of the committee is not to study safe supply, it is to discredit it,” said Sigurdson, who was part of the committee with NDP members Kathleen Ganley, Janis Irwin and David Shepherd.

opioid crisis