Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Health Protection vs Health Freedom

Last night I attended the FREEDOM IN CRISIS LECTURE TOUR lecture by Shawn Buckley.  It was a very interesting, enlightening presentation.  Shawn is a tireless (and as far as I can determine, mostly 'paidless') worker for health freedom, with great knowledge, insight and initiatives. There were many threads, and perhaps because I have researched health freedom - only one shocked me with it's intelligence. 

In Canada, as you may know, our governments are pressing for strong 'consumer protection' legislation.  Our government wants, not only the arbitrary restriction of your rights to purchase foods, medicines and even teddy bears - they also want very strong rights to order product recalls, to trespass and seize products deemed to be 'offending the regulations'.  

Shawn gave many examples of government's attempts and ability to protect us from healthy living. The True Hope story, where our government acknowledges that suicide deaths resulted from product restrictions.  The heart disease cure that brought hundreds of people back to health - how Shawn protected the seller in a legal challenge from the BC Medical Association.  And finally, how our government shut down production and sales of a Teddy Bear - because it has a heat pouch containing white rice, a dangerous health risk. 

Then Shawn reminded us about peanut butter.  Of course we all know about peanut butter.  Every year, people die from peanut butter.  But anyone can go to the supermarket and buy a big jar of peanut butter.  We need to ask, how can our government justify protecting us from white rice teddy bears, while allowing purchase and consumption of peanut butter.  

But then he took the leap that surprised me. Shawn has issued 'access of information' requests when he wanted information about government reasoning and activities.  Shawn is a lawyer - and legal processes are his forte. 

He has issued an 'access for information request' about risk.  But not what you might expect. You might expect Shawn to ask for the governments 'risk analysis' on several restricted products.  But no, that would be to simple.  Although it is clear the government has not done any risk analysis - it might be possible for them to create a risk analysis to justify the restrictions. 

Shawn Buckley has asked the government if they have assessed the risk created by restrictions!

Brilliant!  If the government is going to restrict our freedom because of a potential risk, they need to assess both sides of the risk. 

If our government is sincere about protecting our health, they need to demonstrate that sincerity with analysis and processes that protect us from regulatory errors.

We know that, in the case of the True Hope product, EmPowerplus, our government actions to 'protect the public' resulted in suicide deaths of several bipolar patients.  Government actions were taken against EmPowerplus without an assessment of the 'risk to the public'. And they were also taken without an assessment of the 'risk to the public' presented by the government regulations.  In the end, the courts decided in favour of TrueHope, and issued a ruling:
court ruling
‘The Defendants [Truehope] are not guilty’

Necessity. ‘The Defendants were overwhelmingly compelled to disobey the D.I.N. regulation in order to protect the health, safety and well-being of the users of the micronutrient treatment [EMPowerplus] and the support program.’ 


Truehope was compelled by the courts to disobey the government regulations.  Our government did not appeal.  

If governments are to create regulations that restriction health freedoms, it is important that they:
 - weigh the risks associated with the regulation
 - weigh the risks associated without the regulation (eg. health freedom)
 - make a decision based on a comparison of relative risks
and be prepared and have a process to re-evaluate all restrictions when new information comes to light.

Or our courts will continue to tell our citizens to ignore the regulations to keep our health freedom.
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: