I was shocked and appalled to learn that Qualicum Beach Coun. Neil Horner made a sign that said, “Please don’t give money to junkies…” and stood outside of Qualicum Foods holding it. He also used the term “junkies” during the council meeting June 18 and again in an online comment where he credited himself for scaring off the two homeless folks well known in QB stating, “The junkies are gone. You’re welcome.”
This kind of derogatory hate has no place in the current conversations we are having in Parksville Qualicum Beach about important social issues; it reduces people to a stigmatizing stereotype and undermines public understanding of people who use drugs and the issues they face. It is worth noting that most medical professionals today recognize that drug dependence is the result of underlying mental health issues and often trauma.
While we may discuss, debate and even disagree on effective responses to these difficult issues, our words and our actions must respect the dignity and humanity of all people. Mr. Horner’s decision to repeatedly use a slur like “junkie” in public spaces reveals his ignorance and severe lack of judgment. To think that he would stand a few feet away from another human being and boldly communicate to them that they are disposable human garbage — because that is what a word like “junkie” insinuates — is unconscionable.
This councillor’s language and actions suggest that he cannot serve as a democratic representative of our community as there is no evidence that he could truly be open to all sides of this debate, let alone represent those human beings who use drugs, or those that love and support them. After contacting Mr. Horner directly, he doubled down with a spiteful, childish response and an assertion that he stood by his actions. It’s either time for some personal reflection, or time to move on from public office.