Update on Bill C-51

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Summary of Panel Discussion and Strategies for Further Protest

On June 26th, the Consumer Health Organization of Canada hosted an event in Toronto for the purpose of providing expert information about the proposed federal bills C-51 (to amend the Food and Drugs Act) and C-52 (to amend the Hazardous Products Act). The speakers were:

  • Lawyer Shawn Buckley of the Natural Health Products Protection Association which is spearheading the protest against both these Bills due to his experience in defeating Health Canada in court several times
  • Dr. Shiv Chopra, the former Health Canada scientist who spent more than three decades working to stop harmful drugs, like bovine growth hormone, from entering Canada’s food supply
  • Mike McBane of the Canadian Health Coalition with three decades of experience in stopping similar Bills when proposed by previous governments. The event was streamed live online and filmed by a professional documentary film company for future availability.

A surprise guest was MP Olivia Chow (NDP) who joined the rally prior to the OISE event and informed the attending crowd that any petition containing 25 or more signatures, by law, must be read out in Parliament by the MP to whom the petition was addressed. The more petitions, the less likely there will even be time to pass a publicly contested Bill into law. The text of the petition can be downloaded or obtained by contacting MP Chow’s office.

Hot off the press was my book on these bills, entitled What Part of No! Don’t They Understand? Rescuing Food and Medicine from Government Abuse – A Manifesto (ISBN 978-0-9731945-8-6). Fifty percent of the proceeds from book sales will go towards fighting Health Canada and the government in court and in parliament to stop these Bills. It will soon be available in bookstores (present ISBN) and is presently at The Big Carrot, or call Kos Publishing at 519-927-1049.

Each speaker shared their experiences with Health Canada’s determined regulatory corruption which interfered with those scientists who tried to obey the Food and Drugs Act (Chopra); the government’s blatant disregard for the law in administering that Act (Buckley); and the history of Health Canada’s efforts to deregulate drug and food safety in the interest of industry profits by resorting to secrecy (McBane).

Their consensus was that the current Food and Drugs Act and the Hazardous Products Act are totally focused on consumer safety, but government policy has ignored these acts for decades. C-51 and C-52 are designed solely to remove that “old-fashioned” safety focus which Health Canada in its own publications sees as not sufficiently “industry-friendly”, and “too exclusively focused on safety”, as quoted by McBane. These Bills would get drugs to market faster with little or no safety requirements, initiate direct to consumer advertising, stop research designed to find alternatives to drug therapies, and systematically eliminate the natural food and therapy industry in favour of Big Pharma. Minister Tony Clement’s recent assurances that this is not the intent are contradicted by the wording of the Bills as well as the wording of his own proposed “amendments.”

For hazardous products the safety standards would also be relaxed, not strengthened, and they would proliferate, rather than be regulated to reduce their currently known dangers. The core problem identified by the speakers was a shift from risk “assessment” to risk “management.” The former assesses risks with the view to stop the use of harmful products; the latter calculates how many dead bodies are acceptable to allow the product to remain available.

Especially important was the speakers’ warning that even though C-51 did not make it into Second Reading, primarily because the NDP blocked its debate, before parliament adjourned on June 20th, bill C-52 did make it through Second Reading a few weeks earlier and was sent to the Standing Committee on Health. Just before Parliament adjourned, a motion was put forward by MP James Rojette PC (Edmonton-Leduc) and passed, stating: “That, [if] at any time the House stands adjourned during June or July, the Standing Committee on Health …. has a report ready, when that report is deposited with the Clerk, it shall be deemed to have been duly presented [to Parliament].” This signals exactly what it states: fast-tracking C-52 over the summer when it is difficult to get the whole spectrum of opinions to be heard as witnesses.

Should C-52 make it to Third Reading in September, and maybe even become law, then C-51 can be added to C-52 as a Schedule, due to the inter-relatedness of the two acts. We could wake up to find both bills are law and that C-51 was snuck in without further public discussion. Risk “management” would be the law of the land (not just current corrupt policy, which is at least vulnerable to often successful legal challenge), and our food, medicines, and environment would be at the mercy of Big Pharma and Big Agriculture – without our ability to choose.

My book contains an action kit against both Bills. My website has a short version available (Home Page – alert button).  Email Consumer Health for cards to hand out to MP’s on the barbecue circuit and for mailing. It is essential to keep the heat up during the summer to ensure the Harper government does not force these bills on us by stealth, or there will simply be no limit to the toxic waste the government will force down our throats and into our environment.

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