MLA Sturko’s Letter to Minister Farnworth requesting an investigation into allegations of criminal activity and a breach of research ethics

MLA Sturko’s Letter to Minister Farnworth requesting an investigation into allegations of criminal activity and a breach of research ethics

Honourable Mike Farnworth
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General
PO Box 9010 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC
V8W 9E2

RE: Request for investigation into allegations of criminal activity and a breach of research ethics

Dear Minister Farnworth,

I am writing to you today to request an investigation into the allegations of criminal activity and a breach of research ethics at the BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) and the University of Victoria.

As you are aware, the Drug User Liberation Front (DULF) is the subject of an ongoing police investigation. In a letter sent to the Attorney General on October 5, 2023, I outlined my concerns, not only with public funds being used to support DULF and the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) but also with the connection between these organizations and the BCCSU. However, in the time since my initial letter, information has come to light that raises further questions about the decisions made by your government.

Additionally, I have recently become aware that on August 31, 2022, while receiving government funding, DULF trafficked illicit drugs to 15 other community service providers, including at least 10 that are public funding recipients. Furthermore, during a presentation hosted by the National Safer Supply Community of Practice, the Director of Research for BCCSU spoke of his involvement with the illegal and unethical research being done at DULF.

Considering the gross lack of oversight, what due diligence was performed prior to a contract being offered to DULF? When was the contract between Vancouver Coastal Health and DULF initially signed?

The BC Centre on Substance Use receives public funding and provides research and policy advice to the government of British Columbia. Previous media reports also state that drug testing was being carried out for the operations at DULF by the University of Victoria. I can not state more emphatically that we need to ensure that all research, policy direction, and publicly funded institutions are operating legally and ethically.

Does the government have mechanisms in place for the ongoing monitoring of contract organizations to ensure they remain in good standing?

I would also think it prudent to investigate when the Ministers of Mental Health and Addictions, Jennifer Whiteside and Sheila Malcomson, first became aware of the ongoing criminal activity at DULF, and an explanation as to how such a lapse in oversite has taken place in our province.

Considering the seriousness of this situation, and the need for full transparency with the public, it is essential that you launch an immediate investigation into these concerning allegations.

Sincerely,

Elenore Sturko
BC United Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Addiction, Recovery & Education
MLA, Surrey South

cc: MLA Niki Sharma, Attorney General
MLA Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
MLA Adrian Dix, Minister of Health
MLA Michael de Jong, Shadow Minister for Attorney General
MLA Shirley Bond, Shadow Minister for Health

Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Addiction, Recovery & Education

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