Poilievre says he would sue Big Pharma, won't comment on supervised consumption sites

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre says that if he became prime minister, he would sue pharmaceutical companies as a way to fund drug treatment ⁠— but he won't say what he would do about supervised consumption sites.

Poilievre made the pledge today in Metro Vancouver, a region of the country he has routinely criticized on its approach to the opioid crisis, once calling the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood "hell on earth."

The Tory leader says the federal and provincial governments are contributing to the problem by offering a safe supply of drugs to some users and decriminalizing small amounts of certain illicit substances.

Drug policy experts say such measures are needed to mitigate a toxic drug supply that has led to thousands of preventable overdoses and deaths.

Poilievre says he opposes offering "taxpayer-funded drugs" that he argues are "flooding our communities," and says he would instead focus on providing users with more recovery and treatment options.

He says that to pay for that, he would launch a $44 billion lawsuit against the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the prescription drugs that many users are addicted to.

Asked whether he intends to change the current rules around supervised consumption sites — where users can bring drugs to inject or inhale under the watch of staff — Poilievre would only say that "the existing overall system has failed."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 14, 2023.

The Canadian Press