Updated: Vancouver drug-user activist says BC Liberals ad ‘weaponizes’ his words

Garth Mullins says an ad from Vancouver-False Creek candidate Sam Sullivan quotes him without permission

BC Liberals Vancouver-False Creek candidate Sam Sullivan | Facebook/Sam Sullivan

Drug-user activist and Crackdown podcast host Garth Mullins has asked BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson to eject former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan from the party’s caucus, claiming an ad from Sullivan’s campaign ‘weaponizes’ his words against a proposed overdose prevention site in Vancouver.

“Sullivan’s misrepresentation of my position is defamatory and damaging,” Mullins wrote in a letter to Wilkinson.

The ad, still live on social media at the time of writing, quotes Mullins as saying he is “not going to stand at an open hole digging a grave with John Horgan.”

According to Mullins, the quote was part of an interview with The Tyee where he said the BC NDP government needs to expand harm reduction and safe supply. He withdrew from a provincial overdose crisis response committee earlier this year.

Mullins says the quote was used without his permission and that the ad implies he is against a proposed overdose prevention site at 1101 Seymour St. in Vancouver. He is in favour of the site.

“Using my words in this way is the definition of bad faith but also shows bad judgement. This is an unbelievably crass approach to an issue that is killing thousands of British Columbians,” wrote Mullins.

The activist has asked Wilkinson to remove the ad from social media. In the ad, Sullivan calls the BC NDP “dangerous for the drug-user community” and says that 4,000 people have died of overdose deaths “under their watch.”

BIV has reached out to the BC Liberals and the Sullivan campaign for comment.

In an emailed statement, Sullivan said the accuracy of the quote has been confirmed, and that the quote was "put forward in proper context regarding frustration with the NDP's ineffective handling of the drug problem in our city and was made in the public domain. For these reasons I have decided not to remove the quote from the video."

"I will continue to oppose NDP policies that make our neighbourhoods less safe, especially the proposal to put a supervised injection site across from a children’s playground."

Sullivan said he will address the issue further in a community Zoom meeting Monday (October 19) at 4 p.m.

This article was updated to include a comment from Sullivan.