Health Canada's New Powers Put Canadians at Risk of Trespass and Raids

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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

Bill C-36 is sold to us as necessary for our safety

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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 Shaun Buckley, 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, Kamloops-based constitutional lawyer and president of the Natural Health Products Protection Association (NHPPA), originally challenged earlier versions of Bill C-36 (Bills C- 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 (NHPs) 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," and says it goes against 140 years of Canadian history.

Buckley is giving a cross-country lecture tour - Freedom in Crisis - November 18 to December 7 to alert the public about the potential threat to rights and freedoms that Bill C-36 poses, as well as to the negative impact the Natural Health Product Regulations will have on NHP businesses and consumers as the regulations come into full force. Buckley will also be providing a guide for NHP businesses to help vendors understand their rights and protect their businesses in the event of a Health Canada raid.

The tour begins in Nelson BC, November 18, and will include Toronto, Moncton, Winnipeg, Penticton, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

The Natural Health Products Protection Association (NHPPA) is dedicated to protecting access to Natural Health Products and Dietary Supplements.

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