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N.B. not ruling out notwithstanding clause in bill to force people into drug care

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs says he has not ruled out using the notwithstanding clause to adopt legislation that would allow authorities to force certain people into drug treatment.

Higgs told reporters Tuesday the Compassionate Intervention Act is not ready to be tabled, but he wouldn’t exclude using a clause in the Constitution that protects bills from court challenges over Charter rights violations.

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Last week, Public Safety Minister Kris Austin said the idea behind the bill is to force people with severe drug addiction into treatment if they are not in a mental state to make that decision voluntarily.

Austin deflected a question of whether such forced treatment would violate Charter rights, saying the justice minister would be better able to answer.

This year’s budget includes startup costs for a 50-bed drug rehabilitation facility, and Higgs said in January the new centre would be able to treat up to 140 people at a time depending on their length of stay.

The Compassionate Intervention Act is scheduled to be introduced in May.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 3, 2024.

&copy 2024 The Canadian Press


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