OTTAWA – A consumer advocate on Thursday warned senators to disregard a lobbying blitz against the government’s consumer-product safety bill, because the group spearheading the campaign circulates conspiracy theories.
The legislation has already won the unanimous backing of MPs, and will become law if the Senate passes it. The upper chamber is being lobbied by the Canadian Coalition for Health Freedom, which says the bill gives government inspectors too much power over businesses. Those arguments, delivered in direct meetings with senators and in thousands of e-mails, have been echoed by some Liberal senators.
The legislation can only become law if Liberal senators get behind the bill, because they hold a majority in the Senate.
Testifying at a Senate committee studying the bill, Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence, said the consumer-protection plan is “light years better than what Canada has at the moment.” He called on senators to “get a move on and pass this bill as soon as possible.”
Smith also cautioned them to ignore the pressure from the coalition by highlighting the group’s connection to conspiracy theories.
The Canadian Campaign for Health Freedom, affiliated with Friends of Freedom International, is currently circulating on its website a news release that says: “Drug cartel exposed creating, releasing, injecting, infecting and depopulating planet with pandemic H1N1/H5N1 viruses and vaccines.”
The drug cartel’s “geopolitical, economic and population reduction activities” are also linked to the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, according to material posted on the website.
Joseph Day, the Liberal critic for the consumer-product safety bill in the Senate, met with the group’s managing director, Trueman Tuck, when he came to Ottawa as part of the group’s lobby campaign.
But Day says his concerns about the “intrusive way of dealing with product safety” and the bill’s “heavy-handed approach to a problem” were not a result of Tuck’s lobby campaign.
“I’m not getting any information from that campaign that’s moving me. Any points that he had made, I had already been on top of, so I guess that’s why he’s suggesting he’s pleased with what he’s hearing from some Liberal senators, because we independently came to the same conclusions,” Day said of Tuck in an interview Thursday.
Later, in response to Smith’s criticism of Tuck’s lobby campaign during the Senate hearings, Day came to the group’s defence.
“We typically don’t put down . . . other potential witnesses that are not here to defend themselves. So when we’ve talked about certain people who might have sent e-mails and messages, I think it’s incumbent upon us now, since they’ve been described as loony people, to have an opportunity to be here and to represent themselves,” Day told members of the Senate’s social affairs committee.
In an interview, Tuck declined to say whether he personally believes in conspiracy theories circulated on the group’s website, but said he found evidence to back up a claim outlined in a book he co-authored called Death by Modern Medicine.
“Our instincts told us that the No. 1 killer was, in fact, big pharma in North America, and that nobody was reporting it, nobody was documenting it, nobody was stopping it and it amounts to a genocide far greater than any genocide of recorded history. That sounds like a pretty bizarre statement, but at least I’m talking about things we can get evidence to.”
Tuck also said between 30 and 40 per cent of his group would consider themselves “hard-core” conspiracy theorists, but Tuck does not promote these ideas when he lobbies politicians in Ottawa.
“I think there’s a lot of evil in the world going on right now that I’m trying to do good things to counteract, and the more relationships I have with people, and if I use extreme words, they think I’m a nutcase and they write me off and they won’t talk with me or meet with me.”