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Health and Alternative Dietary Supplements in Canada

By Catherine Whelan Costen,
Canadian Action Party, Vice President & Candidate
July 17, 2005

Truth, is said to be the first casualty of war, I believe that to be a fair assessment. If you believe that statement, then it would follow that you could understand the ‘war on drugs’ follows that ideology. The ‘real’ war on drugs is not the media spin, or the common expectation that it is a war on addictive, destructive hardcore street drugs like cocaine, heroine etc, but rather a war to establish a society dependant upon pharmaceutical drugs. As with any war, there are two sides, the good guys and the bad guys, depending on your perspective.

Certainly there are a great many advances in medical science which supports the use of pharmaceutical drugs. There are the cures for common illness, the better quality of life drugs, the pain medications for chronic pain, or intense surgical pain, the anesthetics and of course the antibiotics. Most people would not argue the importance of such improvements. The real dilemma begins when we find that our health is no longer the primary concern for our government’s regulators, nor is finding a cure the driving force behind new prescriptions drugs, nor is the motivating ideology ‘do no harm’.

As the early pioneers in modern medicine found penicillin, cures for tuberculosis, plagues, and numerous other critical illnesses, we assume they felt tremendous joy and relief that human suffering would be reduced, that children would no longer die at birth, or mothers during the birthing process. We consider the modern world of health so advanced, that in fact illness, should be nearly wiped out and that our quality of life should be optimum. So why isn’t it? Why do we see increased numbers of children suffering from obesity, to the point that childhood diabetes is at an alarmingly high rate, that teens are having heart attacks, and cancer continues to thrive in North American, and children are starving, dying of AIDs, water pollution related illnesses in the Third World? Why are young children developing reproductive cycles, prior to the expected age of puberty? Why are so many Canadians using anti-depressants, sleeping pills, and diet pills?

The people of the planet went from helpless victims, to critically ill with a chance of survival, to hopeful patients, to healthy, educated people and as that became evident as a pattern for the people of the world, something had to change. When the field of medicine became more of an industry than a discipline or calling, and profit and shareholders dictate the direction of medicine, we became victims all over again. Any good business person will tell you that if you want to be successful, you must find a market and fill it, but if there is no market, you must create it.

This is evident in the push for two-tiered healthcare in Canada. If the system was not broken, it would never need the private sector to fix it. If people are healthy, they will not need pharmaceuticals, and there goes the market with its profits! If you don’t believe there is money in illness, go to your local pharmacy and pick any illness you want, (never mind the drugs available by prescription) now look at how many drugs are available for whatever ails you. Cold medicine, gas medicine, skin tonics, eye irritation solutions, etc.; not only will you find many products, you will need application tools, bandages, droppers, special scissors and tape, and so on. Before you buy, your over the counter medication, read the instructions, the side effects and contraindications. Now every time you need a prescription drug, read the side effects etc that are included, or when you hear a new drug advertised on television, listen to the side effects. (Many will say something like this, ‘may cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, or drowsiness, should not be taken with, and consult your doctor before using, ask your doctor about this medication, and don’t forget, tell your doctor if you have liver or kidney problems’) The last one always makes me laugh, ‘ya, doc, I did a little test this morning and suspect I have a problem with my liver’.

Much of the population has become more educated and aware of health risks in our environment, our food and medications. Rather than our government ensuring that those areas of our lives are made safer with new technology, they are creating legislation that contributes to an unhealthy environment, and keeps us dependant on pharmaceuticals, by reducing our choices. It is my contention that, to complain that the healthcare system is unsustainable, while at the same time assist in creating an environment that, is unhealthy at best, is a paradox indeed.

What do I mean by assist in creating that unhealthy environment? The government of Canada, through Bill C-28 an Act to Amend the Food and Drugs Act, is not protecting the people, they are promoting an industry. I quote from The Hill Times, April 25,2005, Guest Column, Michael McBane(the National coordinator of the Canadian Health Coalition
“With all eyes on the Gomery Inquiry,the Government of Canada is sneaking a very nasty piece of legislation through Parliament. Bill C-28, an Act to Amend the Food and Drugs Act, will accelerate the adulteration of Canada’s food supply with cancer-causing chemicals, pesticides, food additives and veterinary drugs like growth hormones and antibiotics. During second reading debate the Parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Health, Robert Thibault, told the House not to worry, the bill is “not related to food safety,” but is a “technical” matter. Mr.Thibault added that C-28 is “in line with the ongoing intent of the Government of Canada’s smart regulation initiative.” He added that the bill: “will support ongoing work under the North American Free Trade Agreement Technical Working Group on pesticides.”

Along with Canada’s ties to various treaties and trade agreements including NAFTA, WTO we become tied to CODEX regulations. Bill C420 is an attempt to stop the CODEX recommendations from becoming the law of the land, which would prevent the public from buying alternative medicines including vitamins, minerals etc, and/or at the very least make them by prescription only and at very low doses, thereby removing their therapeutic effects. At the time of this writing, July 17,2005, I am unable to ascertain the outcome of Bill C420, it is my understanding that it made it to second reading, but it would require third reading and Royal Assent to become law.
This quote is taken from , ‘The Basics On Codex by Helke Ferrie, March 2005
“Codex can dictate its guidelines to Health Canada because HC is subject to all the food rules of Codex, as of 1995, when Canada became a WTO member state. Both Codex and Canada are also members of the World Trade Organization and Codex can enforce Canadian compliance by going to the WTO court. Canada can do the same and take anybody else to the WTO if they perceive anti-competitive activity with regard to imported food or food exported from Canada . How that works is easily verified by going to the WTO website or by getting a summary from Council of Canadians whose website provides all the details on these trade rules. The purpose of Codex in general, since its establishment in the early 1960’s, is facilitation of food trade. Other sub-committees of Codex deal with related issues, such as rules for packaged foods, labeling of packaged foods, maximum residues of this and that in packaged foods, or on fresh foods, and so on.”

A very good analysis of this situation can be found at


There are unlimited sources on this issue, and yet most health food stores that I have contacted, are unaware of this threat. Most people who use vitamins and minerals are unaware of this threat to their way of life. Health Canada, the Health Minister and those behind the Smart Regulations Plans, don’t seem willing to respond to my requests for clarification. If our government continues to allow unsafe products on the market and reduce alternative health sources from consumer’s choices, we will inadvertently become more dependant on the health system.

It is my understanding that government’s role in our lives is to govern in such a manner as to create safe, viable communities, to protect the public, to enhance the environment so that it can sustain human life, in harmony with other species on the planet. As Canada still reels from the impact of BSE, our government wants to allow (Bill C-28) the use of six hormones. I quote again from Michael McBane, of Canadian Health Coalition: ‘Health Canada approved the use of six hormones used in beef production that are banned in the EU: estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, trenbolone, zeranol, and melengestrol acetate. According to the EU’s Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures Relating to Public Health: “no threshold levels can be defined for any of the six substances.” Estradiol is linked to DNA damage, early puberty among girls, and breast cancer in women.The human epidemiological studies point to estradiol as a carcinogen adding approximately three per cent breast cancer risk per year of estrogen exposure. The EU asked the WTO for Canada to supply the risk assessment data upon which Health Canada determined that these six hormones banned in Europe are in fact safe for human consumption.’

We know that Europe will not trade in our cattle because of the use of hormones, the people of Canada do not want these hormones used in their food and yet our government still allows them to be used! Who does government work for? Trade deals which influence health standards, that create dependency on an industry, are detrimental to the quality of life of human beings, and prevent the people from having choices with regard to their health, are not in the best interest of the people. Full consultation with the public is promoted on the government of Canada’s website, and yet the majority of people are unaware of the issues, and those who are, do not seem able to get information, nor are their opinions seemingly considered. As long as our governments are influenced by corporate profit margins, and are not held accountable by the people of their respective countries, we will not have a good quality of life. We must ask ourselves who pays for these trade deals, drug laws, and decisions? Who incurs the illness, who pays for the healthcare costs? There used to be a saying, ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune’, isn’t it time that we started calling the tune? There is definitely a war going on, and the truth indeed, is the first casualty!

Other sources:
Codex Alimentaris Ends US Supplements in June 2005

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