Proposed Law Threatens Natural Health Products in Canada

Are natural products in danger in Canada?

They are, according to an email I recently received:

The so-called Canada Consumer Product Safety Act will be considered by Senators for two sessions starting Wednesday Nov 24th Bill C-36 and its precursors, dating back to 2004, have obviously been lobbied for by the pharmaceutical industry.

Shawn Buckley, a constitutional lawyer and advocate for natural health products, feels C-36 is a Trojan Horse meant to eventually implement illegal state seizures of these products.

This will effectively snuff out small businesses promoting natural health care products. It is ironic that there has never been a death associated with the use of natural health products, whereas every year, many people die from side effects of pharmaceutical drugs.

View the press release here:

To help fight this law, request that Shawn Buckley be invited to address the Senate Committee. (At the moment only Health Canada is addressing the Senate. How corrupt is that?)

A sample letter appears half way down this page:

The most effective way to make your opposition known to the decision makers before before the meeting, is to directly email Senators as listed here: The first block of email addresses are the Conservative Party Senators and the second block are the Liberal Party Senators on the committee.

These can be copied and pasted including the comma separators in the To: field of your email program:,,,,,,,,,,,,

What do you think? Is the threat real? What more information do you have about this?


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About Tad

  • Thanks for posting Tad. We need to keep the pressure up. We are sending Senate committee’s refusal to have Shawn as a witness to the media tomorrow. Even after hundreds of emails (cc’d to our ), or perhaps thousands (un-cc’d) the Senators are not acknowledging the wishes of Canadian’s to have him offer our opinion on this legislation.

  • Thank you for bringing this back on my radar, and for the info including the Heidi Stevenson article you linked in your recent email. I was not aware that this type of legislation had passed in the EU, and this really floors me. It doesn’t surprise me when this goes on in the U.S., and P.O.’d that it’s happening in Canada–again–but really surprised that this has happened in Europe. So many cultures with such rich (and still-in-use) herbal therapy history, concoctions and products. Consumers who won’t tolerate preservatives in their prepared foods, who resist genetic modification, etc. How could this happen THERE? What’s going on? Is anyone else as shocked as I am about this legislation existing, let alone coming to fruition in Europe?!

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  • Deb Buckingham

    Tad, please note there is a large blue button (it says One Click to Send This Message to All Senators). If you click it, your prefered method of email will pop up and you can copy and paste the letter on the website to all the names. There are quite a few more than the ones you have posted above. My email has been sent…thanks for the info! Deb

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  • Hi Tad,

    I think this will just make things go underground. You’ll end up with ‘healing herb’ dealers… Or, people will just start to grow their own. I think this is where nutrition is going to be so important, because if we can’t get healing herbs, we’ll have to heal with food alone. An interesting woman (energy medicine teacher) said that we’d eventually come to a time where we’ll need more than medicine to heal what ails us. We’ll need energy work. I think that this problem may also have people looking into more stuff like that.

    It’s unbelievable that this is happening at all… I thought we lived in a ‘free’ country. I will lose so much respect for our government if they allowed that to happen here. If the pharmaceutical companies start making supplements/herbal supplements, you know it would be full of crap (additives) and they’d charge ridiculous prices.. Anyway… Ranting now, but this topic gets me angry as a holistic practitioner and someone who relies on orthomolecular medicine for healing!

    Thanks for sharing.


  • Tad,
    This requires many approaches all at once. Who is organizing the rebuttal?

    The key to the attack on making herbs illegal in any country is to focus on the inconsistencies, the miss use of science for profit and the history of main stream medicine projecting its self as if its always being right when in fact its always had to change its stance back and forth and up and down. Modern medicine always uses the term “normal treatment for this condition” when what actually happens is that “normal” is a moving Icon of attempted perfection that will get tweaked every year or so.

    I like the idea that people research and find things out, but the fact that they have “proved” that something doesn’t work does not mean that in actuality that it doesn’t work. It just means we are gathering more information that may sort its self out later when there are enough pieces. Take the “bee can not fly proof ” that was over turned first by the bee and then later by some very good camera work that showed how the bee is able to get lift on both directions of its wing stroke. A lot of that happens with science. Asking why the science doesn’t fit what we see or know to be true is good science.

    What I’d like to say is that choosing to modify practices based on new science information rarely works across the entire demographic of people with a similar condition. However, new discoveries in science are not profitable unless scientists can find ways of using them that fit many or most demographics and not hurt too many people in overlapping demographics. This overlap area of people (also known as guinea pigs) is ususally the area that spurs the next area of development in the chain of ever changing medical treatments we just refer to as normal.

    Sometimes the skill in science is not in finding a specific cure, but once a drug is in production finding other uses and ways it can be used in other health problems to keep it’s production profitable. Sometimes there are really good reapplications and sometimes the stretching of the rules warps the good intentions of the original researchers. This is the state of mind in the pharmaceutical world today and as they look at herbal remedies they apply a set of values that doesn’t exist in natural doctors. Herbal doctors have thousands of years of knowledge to fall back on and so costs of research and development have already been paid for in the mistakes their predecessors made centuries ago. Herbalists can be pretty sparton in their ability to work with what is available just outside their door!

    The notion of making profit for all of the research and development makes sense but it also explains why all of the years of effort to get control over herbs was undertaken. In the past it was the church who burned all of the herbalists and there was a good reason for this that I will get to. An international study was done in which Shaman, witch doctors, native herbalists and mom type home cures rates of remission, cure, illness and death due to the illness were compared to Western medicine. The rates were the same world wide whether herbal or pharmaceutical. Look up the rate of iatrogenic death by dispensing problems, incorrect strength of dosage, drug combinations, side effects and allergies then compare those to the same info on herbs. Drugs are very strong and can pull people dramatically from the brink which herbs can’t. But there are many risks with drugs. Herbs are much safer and work best over time so that prevention and chronic conditions are their strength, not last ditch rescues. Comparing the two the death and disease rates pretty much even out.

    With herbs however, people can learn to self medicate. Learning about herbs is the first step to independence in body which eventually leads to independence in thought, actions and deeds. Independent people won’t buy drugs blindly and in the past their thinking was a threat to the church.

    Doctors have also argued that too strict a self care protocol has the negative effect of taking the doctor and drug company out of the loop. If the person has secondary problems beyond what the self medication with herbals can handle but no longer sees a doctor then a lack of inspection and intervention may pose a risk that something serious will slip by undetected. I would argue that both systems need to be in place simultaneously.

    • So, the data that always fascinates me are the comparison studies done from the rare times when doctors have gone on strike. How was the death rate before during and after? Were there more or less problems with natural occurrences like pregnancies, ringworm, lice and childhood ear infections? Dig those up strike stats up. California and Israel come to mind, but there are more.
    • Also, we have the story of Annie Wigmore whose grandmother was a herbalist during the second world war in Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania? She saw how effective simple methods are for people in desperate straits who have nothing. The German and Russian armies relied completely on herbs because they went broke. Lots of garlic. The Aussies of course had melaleuka or Tea Tree oil.
    • The Caribbean Islands had a conference on medicine a few years ago. The big topics were keeping cost affordable and how can we use the people that we already have in place to the best advantage? It was concluded a mix of herbal and pharmaceutical would give them the best cost to benefit solution.
    • 85% of people get well from falls, car accidents and most diseases whether they get treated or not, there fore it’s the odd balls problems that are the ones who need help. However, the more odd the less money to be made. Herbs shine in chronic problems. Drug companies make most of their money off discomfort and symptom masking and not disease. It was when herbs showed an equal ability in discomfort that the war on herbs began.
    • In the 1200’s Tibet was the worlds leader in medicine. All the best ideas were presented at a conference in Llasa and the text from those documents is still available. Interestingly on a documentary about Tibetan medicine a spectroscopic test was done with both the blood of a diseased person and a healthy person. The difference in the content of minerals showed too much of some things and too little of others. When the Tibetan medicine was spectrographically analyzed by a Swiss lab it was shown to have made up the exact difference between sick and healthy blood. When asked how this was done the Tibetan physician explained that he gauged the correct dosage as he was making the mixture by smell! This is a fantastic idea from the point of view of our culture because we know that every plant will provide a different dosage and so more or less needs to be added depending on the make up of the plant. It seems impossible to be exact under such difficult conditions, but they are.
    • Why should we trust humans? Well human equity and perception are developed by situations that make us ask questions. ( education, near death situations, severe personal loss, mystery) The mind once prepared recognizes possible correct answers. This internal system of sensitivity and judgment was tested by an architect on CBC Ideas who wondered if we ask humans to point out what they think is more beautiful or pleasing to the eye will they be able to identify consistently things which are more perfect. In other words is taste in whats appealing random or a well honed survival mechanism? People were able to identify slightly more perfect objects very quickly even when the only improvement was a few tenths of an inch. The objects used were faces, vases, paintings, buildings flowers, but it could have been fruit, a potential mate, a branch to crawl across a river or an opening to step through. His point was that we are amazing at making judgments. In his opinion this is why European cities feel comfortable and why planned cookie cutter neighbourhoods feel wrong. We adjust to make the best possible choice in any situation and if we are allowed balance. So, humans can be trained to know how to judge herbal mixes just like we can learn to hit a basket ball hoop on the move while others are blocking pushing and shoving. Its not cookie cutter medicine that will take care of the 15% of illness that won’t let go easily.
    • I very much recommend the work of Dianne Berrisford Kroeger. She was trained by the Irish elders of her village in the old ways, studied and teaches medical applications of plant biology at the Carlton University in Ottawa. She advocates plants and trees for a million reasons. Listen to her talks also at CBC Ideas and she has several books. Why not have a party based around her little mini doc pod cast?
    The big problems that cause early and preventable deaths are;
    lack of food as starvation is the number one killer
    lack of water or access to potable safe water and sanitation uses is the second killer as diarrhea
    dry clean clothes and foot wear is the third killer as foot rot
    unresolved injuries and plagues are fourth and fifth killers
    Then comes diseases of wealth way down in the pack
    followed by diseases of industrialization
    Disasters, weather, cars and addictions are in there somewhere
    So, most of the worlds health problems are about distribution of resources, not who has the best stick to kill germs or build immune systems.

    I also like to think about the inconsistencies. How many of the worlds new drugs are based on mimicking a naturally occurring chemical in nature. Why don’t drug companies give credit to the bugs trees and medicine men they borrow from?

    It was my hope to be as tangential as possible with my answer to your question You can look up both the architect and biologist as podcast on CBC Ideas.
    ~ robyn

  • Thanks for posting, Tad.

    I’ve briefly included info to illustrate that the bill is worse than
    most people realise BUT! ALSO! I’ve included positivity via re-posting the link about the NHPPA’s current campaign so we can fight this evil bill once again.

    The worst part of the bill is that it sets up Health Canada to get
    bypass constitutional rights, such as the rule of law (i.e.; innocent
    until proven guilty.)

    In other words, it sets a precedent in terms of setting Canada up to
    be more like a police state:

    If the Bill becomes law, Health Canada (who’s budget is heavily
    subsidized by the pharmaceutical industry), will be able to take what
    they want, when they want, not have to keep records of what is being
    confiscated, they will be able to decide on a fine of any amount
    (i.e.; to bankrupt people/companies from staging a legal defense);
    furthermore, their acts of confiscation, etc. will not be subject to
    an appeals process from the Court of Canada.

    In other words, a police state. This is very serious.

    Now the good news:

    it is crucial and time sensitive that as many people as possible act
    on this right away.

    (letter is halfway down page)

  • I’ve made something super easy to forward:

    1) Why Bill C-36 (formerly C-6) is horrible:


    2) What we can do at this particular moment.

    Please write to the senate and cc the nhppa:

    It will only take 2 minutes.

    (from nhppa site)


    There are 12 senators on the Social Affairs, Science and Technology committee. We must reach them all so please contact as many people from the list below as you can! Our NHPPA network is swift and powerful. Please GET YOUR ACTIVIST ON today.

    It’s best to send short, strong and constructive written communication by email or fax.

    Here is a sample letter you can CUT AND PASTE to send as is, modify, or simply take some ideas from, for your telephone call. You have lots of information on the subject.

    We know you can make this count.

    Dear Senator,

    Your Committee is about to consider the approval of Bill C-36 which is a bill that concerns me greatly.

    I am disturbed to learn that this bill has not adequately addressed the objections Canadians have vocalised about Bills C-52 and C-6. I am outraged that, after listening to the public outcry on countless previous occasions, over the past 2 years, my government has chosen to attempt to rush Bill C-36 through without serious debate. A debate that includes legitimate arguments as to why Bill C-36 should be killed completely.

    I realise that Health Canada has issued assurances that C-36 will not represent an assault on my rights as a Canadian, but a detailed examination of the issues demonstrates otherwise. Shawn Buckley gave evidence to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs with regard to C-6. I am writing to urge you to support inviting him to represent my voice at the committee stage of C-36.

    As most of you know, Mr. Buckley is a uniquely qualified individual who truly speaks for the interest of Canadians. He is not only a Constitutional lawyer but also the author of the Canadian Charter of Health Freedom, which is a proposed legislation that nearly 55,000 Canadians have signed a petition supporting, with hundreds more signing on every single week.

    I believe that to proceed with final analysis of Bill C-36 without hearing from Mr. Buckley would be a grave omission. An act that would wilfully disregard the voice of the Canadian public.

    The Senate of Canada needs to hear from its people and through their representatives, not just from government bureaucrats.

    I urge you to hear from Mr. Buckley at the committee stage of Bill C-36.

    I ask that you have the committee clerk contact Mr. Buckley to determine a date that is mutually acceptable.


    Your Name, City & Province Here

    You can call the toll free line and ask for the Senator 1-800-267-7362 but
    if you can afford long distance then call the direct line to each Senator’s office.

    Then let NHPPA know that you did.
    ( )

    All Senators.
    Health Canada’s policy makers responsible for creating and forwarding Bill C-36.
    The Minister of Health.
    Prime Minister.

    Each Senator name below (members of the Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology) is linked to their Parliamentary website. Here you can see exactly who will be responsible for recommending to Senate that Bill C-36 become law.

    T: 613-943-0040 F: 613-943-0083

    T: 613-943-0686 F: 613-943-0693

    T: 613-995-3999 F: 613-995-4034

    T: 613-995-8409 F: 613-995-8432

    T: 613-992-0151 F: 613-992-0128

    T: 613-995-4318 F: 000-000-0000

    T: 613-947-4047 F: 613-947-4044

    T: 613-995-4230 F: 613-995-4237

    T: 613-947-4078 F: 613-947-4082

    T: 613-944-7777 F: 613-944-7778

    T: 613-992-0331 F: 613-992-0334

    T: 613-992-0110 F: 613-992-0118

  • Tad, this is an important issue and I’m glad you’re calling attention to it. In the past, intelligent and well-informed opposition to this type of legislation has resulted in toning it down significantly.

    However, I do believe that the Heidi Stevenson article contains mis-and exaggerated information. If your readers oppose the Canadian legislation based on incorrect assumptions about it, they may simply be ignored. Please, readers, do your own research on this bill before blindly believing anything you read on the internet just because an intelligent and trustworthy friend turned you on to it.

    From the Stevenson article: “This directive requires that all herbal preparations must be put through the same kind of procedure as pharmaceuticals. It makes no difference whether a herb has been in common use for thousands of years.”

    First of all, the directive does NOT require the same type of efficacy drug trial testing procedures as pharmaceuticals. What it requires, for “products that seek to make pharmaceutical claims”, is that they “be registered as THMP under medicines law. In doing this, they will have demonstrated high (pharmaceutical) standards of manufacture and product quality.” The cost to do this can run $100-$150k (funny that the cost was quoted in USD). Not chump change for a small company, but not the tens of millions of $ for a true drug trial.

    Secondly, contrary to the claim that “it does not matter whether an herb has been in common use for thousands of years” – it actually DOES matter – Herbs that have been used traditionally for 30 years or more have a lower threshold to meet for registration: In most cases, efficacy data is not even required, and nowhere did I read of animal or human trials being required as is the case for pharmaceuticals.
    The above article addresses many specific concerns about the European regulations without resorting to exaggeration

    Finally, many traditional herbs can bypass THMPD registration altogether.

    But don’t take my word for it. Do your own research instead of just blindly believing whatever is put before you. I found these 2 articles in about 15 seconds by googling “THMPD” and read them in 10 minutes.

    Also, perhaps consider whether ascribing evil motivations to politicians who are crafting this legislation is potentially counter-productive, and bringing into your body and thought process a world view that could be potentially harmful to you. Without being blind to the fact that corporations and politicians act in their own self-interest, one can be a little more matter-of-fact about disabusing them of incorrect information without the need to pollute yourself with thoughts of their evil intentions.

    I have personally experienced both sides of this issue. An herb that I use, which has been safe and effective for thousands of years, has become unavailable to me in the US because it was made illegal after some idiotic people died from taking 100 times the recommended dose. (People do die from herbal medicine, if only from their own stupidity). On the flip side, a friend was taking ayurvedic medicines imported from India on the advice of her dual-trained physician. She was pregnant at the time. She and her baby both received extreme levels of heavy metal poisoning – the highest levels ever tested on a human in the US, according to the CDC. The ayurvedic meds were tested and they were, indeed, the source. But there had been absolutely no inspection of the manufacturing process, nor any testing to confirm that the products contained what they said they contained. Would this be a good idea? I don’t know, but it’s not something the consumer can do on his/her own.

    I would advise you to look at the actual provisions of the Canadian bill, and then make your oppositions very specific. If you end up opposing aspects or repercussions of the bill that are not even present in the bill because you read and believed some mis-information about it, you will simply be ignored. If you hold an idea in your mind of your Senators as intelligent, well-meaning people, they may surprise you and live up to it.

  • Lisa

    Thanks for posting Tad! I appreciate the thorough information,the links and how easy you made it to take action.

    I’ve been in the nutrition industry for a long time and things have definitely changed and continue to change at an increasing pace.

    I look forward to seeing what happens and doing what I can to share this information and taking action myself.


  • Jackie

    Hi Tad,
    I have an N.D. friend who works for Natural Health Products at Health Canada. I’ve kept checking with her about Buckley’s work. Apparently he was involved with a natural health products company out west in a scandal where there WERE deaths, with the government (and a lot of NDs) believing the company was at fault, while the company is blaming the government. My friend keeps telling me to monitor the Canadian Naturopathic Association’s website, which has a much more moderate list of concerns. The other side of the story is that there is NO regulation of natural health products right now, which means you can be sold natural rat poison as a weight loss support (i”m exaggerating for effect). Imports from China in particular have often been tested to have none of the components they were represented as having, or having quantities of active ingredients way below what’s listed. It’s one thing to buy an herb that supposed to help; it’s another thing entirely to have no quality assurance process in place.