Group claims Bill C-51 could be lethal
A Kamloops-based constitutional lawyer believes Bill C-51’s overarching enforcement powers and limiting of access to natural health products will result in the deaths of thousands of Canadians.
And according to Shawn Buckley, president of the Natural Health Products Protection Association, “there is no way it will be limited to tens of thousands.”
Buckley was speaking at a June 2 event, organized by the Health Action Network Society and Common Ground magazine, to push for a massive membership and letter-writing drive to abolish Bill C-51. The bill is from the Health Ministry and seeks sweeping amendments to the Food and Drugs Act, including greater enforcement powers and more stringent licensing and labelling requirements for purveyors of natural health products (NHPs). C-51 was introduced on April 8 and sits at second reading with one week left in the parliamentary calendar before Ottawa’s summer break.
According to Michelle Hancock, the HANS researcher signing people up as they entered St. Andrew’s–Wesley United Church off Burrard Street, just under 500 people “including volunteers” showed up. Buckley attacked Bill C-51 from many angles, but he particularly wanted to debunk what he called the government “lie” that “[NHPs] are dangerous and we need to regulate them off the market.”
“Taking them off the market is probably one of the most riskiest things we could possibly do as a society,” he said to applause. “And yet most of those people outside of those doors are happy the government is protecting them. How many lives in the next 10 years are going to be saved by these regulations and Bill C-51? We have just gone 140 years without a single death [caused by NHPs], so probably in the next 10 years the answer will be ”˜zero’. How many lives will regulations and Bill C-51 cost by taking away our freedoms to access those products? Is it going to be measured in the hundreds of thousands? Or is it going to be in the millions? Well, there is no way it will be limited to tens of thousands.”
Buckley cited EMPowerplus, the controversial supplement—consisting of a mixture of vitamins and minerals—made by Alberta-based company Truehope Nutritional Support Ltd. Even though the product was available in the U.S., he said, Health Canada went to great lengths to stop its use in this country and initially prevented shipments coming north
In July 2006, the Alberta provincial court forced Health Canada to reverse its position and allow the sale of EMPowerplus, but Buckley said there were social costs in
“People had made suicide plans,” Buckley said. He explained that EMPowerplus had been shown to work very well on people with chronic bipolar disorder and they could not face the prospect of “going back again”.
Health Minister Tony Clement did not respond to a message by Georgia Straight press time. However, in a May 6 phone interview, Clement insisted Bill C-51 “was all a result of the scares that Canadians have had to endure when it came to the safety of products”.
“Those scares have involved pharmaceutical products like Vioxx, other manufactured products, like children’s toys, and also food products like spinach from the United States,” Clement said at the time. “All across the realm of products there have been some problems. Bill C-51 requires hospitals to report any adverse reactions that are serious involving a prescription drug. I don’t know why the natural health products industry would ever think this legislation is targeted toward them. This is targeted toward safe products and safe usage.”
When asked if the pharmaceutical lobby had influenced his decision, as many at the HANS event later claimed, Clement answered: “No.”
Buckley spoke for more than an hour before fielding questions. In closing, he called on people to write letters to their MPs asking that Bill C-51 be abolished, not reformed.
“Send a message that you will not vote for any MP supporting Bill C-51,” he said, before adding: “We cannot afford to send a mixed message to Ottawa.”
Gabriel Yiu, spokesperson for A Coalition Against Bill C-51, also expressed concern that natural health products, many coming from traditions evolved over thousands of years, could be under such attack.
Coalition founder and Vancouver-based acupuncturist Johnny Lin told the Straight that Bill C-51 “will affect people’s choice”.
“The main thing will be when people need the herbs,” he said after the meeting. “It will affect the choice. No herbs, no vitamins, and when we do prescribe products we will pay more [due to increased regulations], and so people will also have to pay more.”
Buckley also discussed the concern that “our system is geared toward the treating of sickness” as opposed to preventing illness or curing sickness. He said this is a separate concern centred around the modern-day dominance of pharmaceutical-based “allopathic” care over homeopathic remedies. According to Buckley, this means alternative treatments are geared toward the wealthy.
“Those of us that are on welfare, or the working poor that don’t have spare cash, they are not free to choose the alternative health field because the state will pay for them to go to an allopathic hospital,” he said. “The state will pay for the chemical pharmaceutical drugs. The state will not pay for them to go to a naturopathic or homeopathic doctor or purchase natural health products. Why? I guess the state is deliberately not giving the disadvantaged in our society the freedom to choose. So those of us that are middle class or upper class in this room, understand that you only have the choice because of your social position, that our government has a social policy that denies the lower parts of our society any choice at all.”
Jun 5, 2008 at 1:57pm
Shawn Buckley has said it again. Without stating one thing that he could substantiate about the present, past or future of natural health products in Canada he comes up with the absurd notion that Bill C-51 will kill people.
Sorry Mr. Buckley, you are a lawyer and you need to consider the facts in the case and stop ragging on the Parliament of Canada. It's been over 10 years since the government established the NHPD, and they have been dragging their heals with toothless regulations.
Now the government decides to put real penalties in place for offenses and you claim that it will kill people. Unfortunately for you and your brothers and sisters who ply their trade on the unsuspecting public it's time for a much needed change.
Bill C-51 will enable the prosecution of those who import, produce, or manufacture dangerous herbal and natural health products, AND devices.
The NHHPA has met its match, and the public will soon be the winner.
Terry Polevoy, MD
Jun 6, 2008 at 10:31am
Clearly, the figures given by Mr Buckley for the number of deaths potentially attributable to Bill C51 are hysterical, baseless speculations. His logic is absurd: "There is no way it [loss of life] will be measured in the tens of thousands" -- so are we talking in the tens? No, we must be talking in the hundreds of thousands or the millions, why? We're not told. This is a shoddy argument, disingenuous at best, dishonest at worst.
How fascinating that Mr Buckley cites the case of EMPowerplus. What, I wonder, is the relationship between EMPowerplus (a multi-million dollar for-profit"supplement" manufacturer which operates multi-nationally) and Mr Buckley?
Small or Medium Pharma with financial stakes in disseminating "information" is at least as untrustworthy as "Big Pharma" -- in these cases, size doesn't really matter.
There's a link that your readers might find informative which lays out the relationship between EMPowerplus and this campaign and takes a sober and disinterested look at the proposed regulations.
go to: <a href="http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/08-05-28.html" target="_blank">www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/08-05-28.html</a>
For the Article "A Triumph of Astroturf: Grassroots Protest Turns out to be Astroturf."
I suggest that whenever you are sent an email opposing Bill C51, you reply with this link. The public should be aware of all the facts in the situation, not just the facts as they are presented by the people with a financial stake in the debate: Big NHP.
Jun 6, 2008 at 11:44am
I have read through this entire bill A-Z, it is UNDENIABLY Nazi.
Follow the money and look at the ENTIRE chess board, not just a few squares... wake up sheeple.
This Bill flys in the face of the sacred geometry of life and will foster more fear and doubt.
I absolutely applaud and support Shawn Buckley on this. Even if he is associated with a Natural health business... more power to him.
Jun 10, 2008 at 1:48pm
As usual Mr. Polevoy is full of his usual quackbuster jargon.... filler with no substance.
NHPD guidelines and Health Canada guidelines adequately protect Canadians. Why we'd want gestapo-police state - law with them able to seize your assets both business and personal, no court supervision, $5 million in fines, etc - boggles the mind. Asking taxpayers to spend $100million+ in the first year and $500million over 5yrs to implement this new law is ridiculous. It has fast ferries and gun registry written all over it. The Health Minister said he wants to weed out the 1% of bad companies..... this is like squashing a mosquito with 100 greyhound buses.
Since 1867... confederation of Canada there hasn't been a single death due to NHPs or vitamins in this country. Perhaps Mr. Polevoy would like to setup a Peanut Products Directorate to regulate the peanut industry as a handful of people die every year of peanut butter.... perhaps enforce the requirement to have a $30,000 double-blind study to make sure it is in fact "creamy & smooth" when the label says so. You are more likely as a Canadian to be bitten by a shark than harmed by an NHP. So lets just get those facts straight. When you realize this you'll see what a waste of time Mr. Polevoy is.
Sir... how many people are harmed by pharmaceuticals every single year? What.... 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 emergency room visits are from harmful reactions to drugs. Gee... what a good safety record they have.
The last pandemic to sweet North America was 1918. If you went to an allopathic hospital then 80% of those died. If you visited a homeopathic hospital you had 80% survival rate. The next pandemic is overdue... there is nothing western medicine can do for you. 1 in 5 on the globe will die.
Please.... Mr. Polevoy.... grab a brain and stop wasting everyone's time.
The solution to health is wide and encompassing. Allopathic medicine is not the only solution, it among other modalities is part of the solution. As soon as you realize that this is a team effort and MDs, NDs, chiropractors, homeopaths, DTCM, etc work together in the patients best interest then we have a good open honest medical system. Anything else is a compromise and laughable at best.
Stop Bill C51 and it's homeland security backbone.
May 12, 2009 at 2:15pm
Mr Terry Polevoy MD (first comment),
After reading your hate web-sites and the very low scored that your own patients have given you, it is impossible for me to believe anything you say.
Jul 31, 2009 at 12:04pm
It is truly unimaginable and unfortunate that Polevoy thinks he has some form of useful contribution in this discussion. He is a hateful, ineffectual little man whose only means of communication is abberant and limited to the internet. He propagates a baseless position that is driven by his dated and limited mantle, "I'm a doctor".
The only appropriate response is "doctor heal thyself".