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Last updateFri, 19 Apr 2019 10am

Supervised drug consumption site proposed for Drumheller Institution

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A supervised consumption site for illicit drugs is being considered for the Drumheller Institution by Correctional Service Canada, the correctional officer union president says.
The prisoner service is exploring an overdose prevention program where inmates would inject smuggle needle drugs under the supervision of medical professionals, expanding their drug harm-reduction measures.
“The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is still in the early stages of exploring overdose prevention sites, as another harm reduction measure available to inmates to manage their health needs,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
While the CSC did not confirm if Drumheller was a proposed site, Jason Godin, president of the national correctional officers union, confirmed so and says they have lobbied for years to “get needles out of cells.”
“We’ve been advocating that needle exchange is not a correctional officer issue, it should be a health care issue. We have enough operational and security issues we don’t need to be responsible for something that is quite frankly a healthcare issue,” he said, adding the union “continues to advocate for 24-hour-a-day health care in our institutions.”
Drumheller is the only proposed site for the pilot safe consumption program. Godin says Drumheller has the highest rates of drug overdoses in the country. There were 39 incidents of overdoses or suspected overdoses at the Drumheller Institution from April 2015 to March 31, according to numbers provided to the Mail by Corrections Service Canada in November. The type of drug involved in each overdose was not provided.
“Creating a drug-free environment to help offenders work towards rehabilitation and a successful return to the community is of the utmost importance for CSC and one that means greater public safety for all,” the service said in the statement.
The Drumheller Institution and correctional services continue to grapple with their inmates’ drug use. This month an institution civilian staff member was caught bringing methamphetamine and quantities of the cannabis product ‘shatter’ into the prison. Last year an inmate was caught bringing nearly 40 grams of carfentanil into the institution.
The needle exchange programs launched at other Canadian prisons is aimed at reducing the risk of inmate exposure to HIV and hepatitis C by providing them with sterile syringes. Inmates undergo a threat and risk assessment, and if approved, the inmate would be allowed to keep an injection kit in their cell.
While the union is supportive of safe drug consumption sites, Godin says the union is “fundamentally against” the existing needle exchange programs at five institutions elsewhere in the country, and he admits it is unclear what a safe consumption site will look like.
“There’s supposed to be intolerance of drugs and correctional officers are frustrated by being put in this situation. They want us to keep drugs out and at the same time we’re going to hand out needles and we’re going to condone drug use. We’re caught in a conflict of interest, but it’s better to get needles out of the cells,” Godin said, adding statistics suggest 79 per cent of inmate overdoses occur inside cells.
Godin says the safe consumption pilot program has been discussed and the service had issued an internal release, but there are still operational and infrastructure issues to be addressed.


Six on ballot in Drumheller-Stettler for provincial election

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    The slate of candidates has been set for the provincial election.
    Candidates had until 2 p.m. on Friday, March 29  to register with a Returning Officer. In Drumheller–Stettler there are six candidates who will appear on the ballot. They are (in alphabetical order) Holly Heffernan of the Alberta NDP, Greg Herzog of the Alberta Advantage Party,  Nate Horner of the United Conservative Party, Jason Hushagen of the Alberta Independence Party, Mark Nikota of the Alberta Party and Independent candidate Rick Strankman.
    Holly Heffernan is a retired Registered Nurse and spent her nearly 40-year career in the health care system in Calgary. She was involved with the United Nurses of Alberta for 37 years and she volunteered in many areas including the Calgary and District Labour Council and served as president in 2009, and the United Way Labour Partnership Committee.
    She ran federally for the NDP in Calgary Southwest in 2006, 2008 and 2011. She was a provincial candidate in Calgary-Glenmore for the NDP in the 2004 and 2008 provincial elections.
    Greg Herzog of the Alberta Advantage Party is a fourth generation farmer and business owner from the Delia area. He sat as a director on the Wildrose Constituency Association for more than five years and then the UCP board when the parties united. He joined the Alberta Advantage Party, as he felt this most strongly reflects his beliefs in a grassroots political party.
    His goal if elected is to make sure communication happens between the people who live in the Drumheller-Stettler riding and those who run government. He feels transparency and accountability are paramount.
    Nate Horner won the nod from the United Conservative Party in September of last year and has been busy campaigning ever since. The rancher and family man from the Pollockville area is an avid volunteer and held board positions in a number of community organizations. He was president of the Highway 9 Breeders Association and co-chair of the Hardgrass Bronc Match.
    He says his goal is to help Jason Kenney and the UCP make Alberta the most competitive jurisdiction in North America, shrink government, decrease the regulatory burden and stand up for Alberta and its industries.

 Jason Hushagen is running under the banner of the Alberta Independence Party. While the oilfield consultant, who is based in the Stettler area, has always had an interest in politics, this is his first time stepping in the political ring. He felt rather than complaining,  he would do something about it and try to make a change. He feels independence is a simple issue of dollars and cents.
    “I feel we would be better off to go in that direction because of the simple fact that we would be saving the $50 billion a year we are sending over to the federal government for basically nothing. We are not getting a lot back and not getting a lot of help,” he said.
    “That, and we would actually have a voice as Albertans.”

   Mark Nikota has been busy on the campaign trail as the candidate representing the Alberta Party. He served as Mayor of Hanna from 2010 to 2013 and is currently the CAO of Delia, and is finishing off his Masters in Business and Public Policy. He also spent many years working with the Progressive Conservative Party before joining the Alberta Party.
    He feels the party adds a moderate voice in a very polarized political climate. He says the party is looking at balancing the budget while at the same time preserving the programs that Albertans rely on.

   Rick Strankman has served the Drumheller-Stettler riding as MLA since 2012, as a member of the Wildrose Party and then the United Conservatives. He lost the party’s nomination to Horner last fall and in January announced he would sit in the legislature as an independent.
    The Altario area farmer has a passion for property rights and is focused on advancing democratic freedom. He says by running and winning as an independent it will enable him to restore the priorities of the people of Drumheller-Stettler and bring them to the front line of the legislature.
    The provincial election is on Tuesday, April 16.

Search warrant results in charges

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A Drumheller man is facing property related charges after police executed a search warrant.
On Saturday, March 30, Drumheller RCMP executed a search warrant on a black Ford F250 truck. During the search, it was discovered the VIN on the dashboard of the truck was replaced with a fraudulent VIN.
During the investigation of the newly recovered VIN, it was determined that it too was fraudulent and with the assistance of the Southern Alberta Auto Theft Unit, police were finally able to uncover the true VIN of the vehicle. In total there were three separate fraudulent VIN documents on the truck. Once the real VIN was uncovered, the truck was determined to have been stolen out of Olds, Alberta in January of 2019.
John Douglas McConnell (36) of Drumheller has been charged with possession of property obtained by crime over $5000, alter/remove/tamper with VIN, and breach conditions of recognizance.
He is in custody on additional charges and will appear in Calgary court April 3, 2019, for a release hearing.
If you wish to provide any information to police you can contact Drumheller detachment at 403-823-2630 or If you want to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), by internet at www.tipsubmit.com, or by SMS.


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