A federal bill purporting to make Canadians safer will actually make them less safe and, if passed, will likely face a barrage of constitutional challenges in the courts, according to a leading constitutional lawyer and a growing number of concerned citizens, health consumer groups and legislators.
Bill C-36: The Canada Consumer Product Safety Act gives Health Canada sweeping new powers, shifts control to bureaucrats and puts Canadians at risk of trespass and raids by Health Canada, without requiring government officials to go through the courts. The bill has passed 3rd reading in the House of Commons and is now before the Senate.
Shawn Buckley, a Kamloops-based constitutional lawyer and president of the Natural Health Products Protection Association (NHPPA), originally challenged earlier versions of Bill C-36 (Bills 52 & 6) that died due to widespread opposition from health consumers and vendors of natural health products and/or when earlier parliamentary sessions were dissolved or prorogued. Responding to outrage from consumers and vendors of natural health products, the government and MPs from all parties backed off, specifically exempting natural health products in the latest version: Bill C-36.
In spite of the exemption, Buckley remains concerned that Bill C-36 is still a “Trojan Horse” that will ultimately pave the way for government to re-introduce the same sweeping provisions that by-pass the rule of law to apply to Canada’s natural health industry, which has been under siege since natural health products (NHP’s) were included under the Food & Drug Act in 2004. As a result of Natural Health Product regulations, thousands of products have become unavailable to consumers, restricting access to healthcare alternatives.
“Bill C-36 is sold to us as necessary for our safety,” says Buckley, “but if I’m correct, this bill represents one of the most unsafe legal moves – certainly in my lifetime.”
Senators Elaine McCoy (PC), Joseph Day (Lib), Celine Hervieux-Payette (Lib), George Furey (Lib) and Tommy Banks (Lib) – all lawyers – have expressed concern that the bill is a breach of civil liberties and will probably not stand up to what will likely be many court challenges, should it pass. Banks says, “It is undoing 400 years of common law.”
Fasken Martineau, one of the country’s leading law firms, has also expressed concern about the impact of Bill C-36. Peter Pliszka, a partner with Fasken Martineau’s Toronto office, says, “Bill C-36 will introduce a revolutionary upheaval in product regulation in Canada,” noting it goes against 140 years of Canadian history.
The NHPPA is dedicated to protecting access to Natural Health Products and Dietary Supplements. www.nhppa.org
“Freedom in Crisis” lecture tour
Shawn Buckley, president of the Natural Health Products Protection Association (NHPPA) is one of a few lawyers with the expertise to explain the laws that could extinguish our freedom to choose vitamin, mineral, herbal and traditional natural health products. Buckley’s cross-country lecture tour “Freedom in Crisis” began on November 18 and continues to December 7. Throughout the tour, Buckley has been alerting the public about the potential threat to rights and freedoms that Bill C-36 poses, as well as informing people about the negative impact the Natural Health Product Regulations will have on NHP businesses and consumers as the regulations come into full force. Buckley has also provided a guide for NHP businesses to help vendors understand their rights and protect their businesses in the event of a Health Canada raid.
The more people the NHPPA can reach, educate, get angry and get active, the better chance it has to re-set this unfair trajectory. Health Canada’s NHP Regulations have been set up to begin greater enforcement in 2011. It is not ‘too late.’ It is not an exercise in futility to ‘challenge the government.’ In the face of such powerful opposition we all have a tendency to accept the status quo. But we can change; we need not be quieted into submission.
Canadians’ outrage has moved the government before.
Listen to the live 30-minute taping of Nelson Before Nine (at www.nhppa.org) to hear how Bill C-36: The Consumer Product Safety Act continues to threaten our constitutional rights.
Shawn Buckley in Vancouver: Monday Dec. 6, Integrative Medical Centre, 601 W. Broadway, 7 PM.
In Edmonton: Tuesday December 7.
In Calgary: Wednesday December 8. See full tour schedule at www.nhppa.org