Health rep Shawn Buckley calls Bill C-36 a "Trojan horse"

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      The fight over the freedom to buy natural health products is far from over, according to a Kamloops lawyer.

      Shawn Buckley, president of the Natural Health Products Protection Association, told the Georgia Straight by phone that he believes Bill C-36, federal legislation concerning the safety of consumer products, is a “Trojan horse” for reintroduction of controls over natural remedies.

      In 2008, the Conservatives didn’t proceed with a contentious health bill known as Bill C-51, which enraged vendors of herbs, supplements, and other natural remedies. “Now, this is just pure speculation, but I think they didn’t want the uproar over Bill C-51 again,” Buckley said. “So they said, ”˜Well, let’s see if we can get half of it through [as C-36].’ ”

      Bill C-36, which has already gone through first reading in Parliament, states that it will “protect the public by addressing or preventing dangers to human health or safety that are posed by consumer products in Canada”, including those that are imported. Products listed in Schedule 1, including firearms and crossbows, will be exempted. Various items in Schedule 2, such as insulation that contains urea formaldehyde, would be banned.

      Section 4 (3) of Bill C-36 explicitly exempts natural health products from enforcement provisions, which include allowing Health Canada inspectors to enter private property if there are “reasonable grounds”, carry out inspections, and seize products for testing.

      Buckley said that even if the food and drug issue weren’t in the background, “Bill C-36 as it is now is a huge sea change in our legal landscape.”

      Right now, Buckley said, “the state cannot take control over your property and gain ownership of it and destroy it and all of these fun things without involving the courts.” However, he noted that Section 21 2 (d) of Bill C-36 allows inspectors to “detain for any time that may be necessary” property found on-site, with no warrant needed and the courts not having to be informed.

      Buckley said he wonders whether or not the Conservatives will reintroduce Bill C-51 and apply the same provisions. Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq was unavailable for an interview.

      Liberal health critic Carolyn Bennett, a physician and onetime health minister, told the Straight Bill C-51 will find a way back. “I think it will, but I am not sure it’s at the top of their priority list, because it caused so much [of a] problem last time,” Bennett said by phone from Toronto.

      But Buckley sees a wider danger. “So it [Bill C-36] sails through the House, and then they reintroduce Bill C-51, and everyone gets all upset and says, ”˜You cannot give Health Canada inspectors all these powers.’ Then Health Canada will say, to the media and to Parliament and to the whole world, ”˜Wait a second, we already have those powers, those very powers you are worried about, for consumer products,’ ” Buckley said. “ ”˜All we’re trying to do is harmonize so there is one set of powers.’ ”

      At that stage, according to Buckley, it will be harder to mobilize opposition against Health Canada’s inspectors if the agency argues that those powers are already out there.

      NDP health critic Megan Leslie told the Straight she disagrees with Buckley on the Trojan horse theory, but she said: “Something has to be done to deal with natural health products to ensure that they are safe for Canadians.

      “Do I think that they should still be treated like pharmaceuticals? No. Do I think 51 was the answer? No. But we still need to have a balanced approach to natural health products. Saying this, I have natural-health-product industries in my [Halifax] riding. I am cognizant of their worries. I want to support them.”¦but we also need to protect the health of Canadians.”

      A good start would be to have an “intelligent conversation” about NHPs, Leslie added.



      Lynette R

      Jul 22, 2010 at 5:58pm

      There are a lot of pharmaceuticals, and common drug store products like aspirin that are more dangerous than food supplements and herbal products.
      Even more dangerous are the petro-chemicals permitted in child and adult skin care, cosmetics, fragrances and household cleaning products. Cosmetics don't even have ingredients listed. Known carcinogens have been promoted for human use for far too long.


      Jul 27, 2010 at 11:55am

      There are also a lot of food "supplements" and herbal products that are more dangerous than regulated prescription drugs, not to mention claims of their efficacy made without evidence. Things like aspirin are already regulated; it's high time that natural "remedies" be subject to some sort of oversight.


      Aug 1, 2010 at 5:30pm

      Morty, which herbal products are more dangerous than prescription drugs?


      Aug 1, 2010 at 8:37pm

      Morty comment is from not knowing.....much. NHP have a history and a historical record of proof and safety and do not come with a list of drug related warnings because they are not drugs. NHP's are apples and drugs are oranges, drugs are derived from something natural but need to be altered to be patent and make trillions of dollars. Would Morty feel safe if the only choice we had was prescription vitamins, minerals, teas, spices, grains, grass, etc?


      Aug 5, 2010 at 8:53am

      Natural Health Product testing has demonstrated time and again, that NHPs pose little to zero human risk.
      Enough said.
      However, SYNTHETIC vitamins and minerals must not be taken under any circumstances.

      It is essential that before any worthy debate can commence, consumers must be made aware of the differences between:

      1) cheap, mega-profit making synthetic brandname vitamin & minerals


      2) whole food derived, safe natural vitamins and minerals.


      Aug 5, 2010 at 1:21pm

      If all companies could be trusted to immediately remove from market any product that showed potential to cause harm, then none of these laws would be necessary. Doesn't work that way though so it boils down to which one you put your faith in, NHP or Big Pharma. I, personally, am more inclined to trust NHP more.

      Andrew Paterson

      Aug 7, 2010 at 6:48pm

      Any questions about the need to perfect your Claim of Right???

      In answer to NDP health critic Megan Leslie: "Thanks, I've already perfected my claim of right to choose for myself. Your offer of benefit is declined and I accept the liability associated with my decisions about what to put in my body."

      If you want to know the effect of a Claim of Right in court, check out the video about the acquittal of the three men who committed property damage to the Waihopi spy base in New Zealand at my site

      k kosak

      Aug 18, 2010 at 9:59pm

      I am an adult and resent being treated like a brainless invalid.I am responsible for myself and what I do. I do not need or want to be protected or treated like a child by the government or anyone else.
      If I wish to use herbs, I will and want the government to leave me
      If I choose not to wear a helmet when riding a stupid bicycle, then please leave me alone!!!!
      and the list goes on...............................................

      Julie B

      Sep 7, 2010 at 3:07pm

      And exactly which herbal product might one suspect to be more dangerous than a chemical cocktail (pharmaceuticals)?

      Julie B

      Sep 7, 2010 at 3:11pm

      Why should anyone else be making the decision as to whether or not I take herbs or supplements, ESPECIALLY when they have no education or knowledge of the topic.