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Progress On Vanessa’s Law, But Time Is Running Out!

In this update:
  • MPs are arguing our points, supporting amendments!
  • Bad Science Watch submitted by an MP as a witness
  • Conservative MPs may force Bill C-17 before session end!
  • Write the Committee and share the campaign!
  • Five Hundred Dollars

Your Emails are Working, and MPs are Asking Tough Questions!

The Standing Committee on Health met to discuss Bill C-17 for the first time yesterday morning. It was clear from the pointed questions asked of the Minister of Health, Rona Ambrose, that the Committee members have listened to your emails, and are taking in our arguments.

Libby Davies, Vancouver East, NDP

Ms. Daves mentioned that people had written in (that’s you!), and asked the Minister for the rationale of what products were included and what were excluded from the bill’s definition of “therapeutic products”, to which she did not get a clear answer.

Dr. Carolyn Bennett, St. Paul's, LIB

Dr. Bennett asked for an explanation of why toilet-bowl disinfectants were included in the bill but NHPs were not. The Minister began her answer with “to be frank, I struggled with this one because I thought that everyone should be under the legislation”, but that they didn’t include them because of the case made by “the natural health products community” was that their products were “low risk”.

When Dr. Bennett pushed the Minister to address concerns about contamination and lacing of herbal products with pharmaceuticals, the Minister said “we are regulating natural health products”. This is hardly a satisfactory excuse, as they are also already regulating drugs and medical devices! Again referring to the NHP “community”, she said “their belief is they are low risk, so they shouldn’t be treated as pharmaceutical products”.  Dr. Bennett voiced further concerns about labeling, and adverse reaction reporting. Incredibly, the Minister suggested the Committee “ask the experts when they come to committee if there is [sic] adverse reactions from a natural health product”.

Dany Morin, Chicoutim - Le Fjord, NDP

Mr. Morin asked of the bill, “do you think it will put a lot of burden on those companies that say that they produce safe therapeutic products”? The Minister of Health said they anticipate the changes will have “a limited impact”. Mr. Morin replied, “Thank you, Minister, and I agree with you… So are you still insisting that even those low-risk products should not be included in that law? Because, as you said, the burden of this law will not be cumbersome...”. The Minister dodged the question again, and said “I’ll leave it up to you to question the experts on that. The recommendation to me was that these are considered to be low risk and the pharmaceutical industry and pharmaceutical products is what this law applies to.” Mr. Morin finished with a statement of his belief that NHPs should be covered by the bill.


In general the Minister of Health and her accompanying witnesses faltered under these questions, referring to unspecified ‘experts’ and failing to directly address the concerns raised by the MPs.

It was very encouraging that MPs also spoke strongly in support of public disclosure of clinical trial results, to which the Minister responded that she was open to amendments of that type.

Video and audio of the meeting can be found on the Committee website.

Have You Written The Committee Yet?


Bad Science Watch Submitted by MP as a Witness

The office of Ms. Libby Davies informed us yesterday that they had submitted us as a potential witness for hearings on the bill. With luck, Bad Science Watch will be going to Ottawa next week!

We have already drafted a brief to the Committee which we will be submitting regardless of whether we will be able to make a presentation. The brief needs to be translated into French first, but we will make it available on our website for you to read, share, and forward to your MP within a couple of days.

BREAKING: Government May Attempt to Force Bill C-17!

We have heard in the last few hours from MP staff that the current parliamentary session may be brought to an end as early as Friday 13th, and the Conservative MPs may use their majority to simply force the bill through the Committee. This wouldn’t leave sufficient time for debate and hearings, and Bill C-17 may not be amended at all, despite the Conservative Party’s previous assurances that they are open to amendments.

Increase the Pressure!

It is essential to keep emailing, sharing the campaign webpage, and encouraging everyone you know to write the Committee and their MP. We must not let this opportunity for equal protection of all health care products, and the establishment of a public clinical trial database, slip through our fingers!

Five Hundred Dollars

That’s how much it is costing us to get a professional translation of our Brief to the Standing Committee on Health on short notice. That’s $500 that can come from only one place: you.

We are counting on your support so we can afford this project, and more like it in the future. Every little bit helps, so please give what you are able today. You can make a difference.

Copyright © 2014 Bad Science Watch, All rights reserved.

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