Contrary to popular belief about Canadians, we can get pretty aggressive with our opinions on things. One man, in particular, is proving that to be true on Twitter. What started as a tweet about needles being improperly discarded has sparked a full-blown Twitter war across the country.
Tristin Hopper is National Post columnist who lives in Edmonton. He took to Twitter, where he has a following of over 9000 people, earlier this week to share a photo of a needle that was left on his lawn. What followed though was a rant involving at least 20 tweets from Hopper himself and hundreds of retweets and replies.
When my wife and I moved to Edmonton from Vancouver 3 years ago, the thing we loved most about the city was that it wasn't strewn with needles. That's over: This was in my backyard today. 2 weeks ago there were two in the front. Addicts are treating my community like a toilet. pic.twitter.com/83dsxnlUTF— Tristin Hopper (@TristinHopper) 27 November 2018
As Hopper says in his tweet, he moved to Edmonton from Vancouver and specifically loved the fact that the city wasn't strewn with needles from people's illegal drug use. He then goes on to say that that's no longer true. According to Hopper, he found three used needles on his lawn recently.
This is innocent enough, as it could speak to a need for more safe syringe disposal boxes. But that's not where Hopper takes it. Instead, he goes on to say that the city of Edmonton isn't properly handling the opioid crisis and hinting that safe injection sites are to blame for a rise in crime and disorder in his neighbourhood.
Meanwhile, they had the unbelievable gall to commission this billboard. I can't shovel snow without kevlar gloves or take my baby for walking practice in public parks, and here's a pleasant cartoon pretending that it's just some fun civic initiative. pic.twitter.com/7OWYatkLTK— Tristin Hopper (@TristinHopper) 27 November 2018
There are literally talks in my neighbourhood of forming a vigilante street patrol to stem the problem before it gets worse. In the face of a city hall who did this to us before cheerfully moving on to gondola talk, I can't say this is an irrational response.— Tristin Hopper (@TristinHopper) 27 November 2018
Safe injection sites and response to the opioid crisis in Canada have been a hot debate topic recently. That's why it's not surprising that Hopper's rant led to a huge debate online.
In response to his lengthy Twitter rampage, people are saying that Hopper is an elitist who lacks empathy. They are also saying that his statements that harm reduction and safe injection sites aren't helping the opioid crisis in Canada.
I dunno if the thing you love most about a city (a whole entire city) is that it isn't strewn with needles you have some fucked priorities to begin with— Bridget Moser (@stuffiamdoing) 28 November 2018
Area Man Furious That Empathy Still Required, Even In Entirely Different City https://t.co/TFPuVL7XZa— Rebecca Tucker (@RebeccaTee) 28 November 2018
While it would have been easy for Hopper to leave it there and let the debate play itself out, he continues to tweet about it. In fact, he even says "And fuuuuck everyone saying that complaining about needles everywhere is obviously a fascist call to indefinitely jail addicts."
In another tweet, he also admits that everyone calling him an arrogant and privileged white male is correct. Based on his own words, and the rest of his Twitter feed this may be correct. Not only is his cover photo of himself photoshopped onto Canadian money, but in his bio, he says he is the "Most influential person of Canada. Canada moral leader. Beloved Canadian role model."
Just hours ago, Hopper tweeted again, defending his position saying if he made any mistake, it was in hinting at the link between harm reduction and crime since he can't prove it. He doesn't say the link isn't there, he just clarifies that his main problem is that authorities don't seem to care.
Outside of his intense Donald Trump-esque Twitter rants, Tristin Hopper is also a columnist for the National Post. He has also written about other hot topics like Canadian criminals who have been freed from prison and why petitions are a waste of time. He has also joked about being a privileged, heterosexual, white, male in the past.