The hero behind the thalidomide exposé

Frances-Oldham-Kelsey

Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey 1914 – 2015

by Roxanne Davies

When Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey (photo, above) applied for post-doctoral work at the University of Chicago, the employer mistook her name for that of a man’s. Sharing with a professor she thought she might be accused of depriving a man of his capacity to support a wife and child, her professor replied, “Don’t be stupid, accept the job. Sign your name and put ‘Miss’ in brackets.”

Thankfully, Dr. Kelsey followed the advice and accepted the job. With an outstanding combination of character and career skills, she would eventually save countless pregnant women and their babies in the US from the thalidomide disaster. Tragically, Canada allowed the drug to be prescribed to Canadian women between 1960 and 1962.

In 1959, the American Food and Drug Agency (FDA) tasked Dr. Kelsey with reviewing thalidomide, a new drug synthesized in 1954 by the German drug manufacturer Chemie Grünenthal. Touted as a wonder drug in Europe to treat insomnia and alleviate morning sickness, which, in some severe cases can last for hours, thalidomide was available over-the-counter in at least 46 countries under many different brand names, from October 1, 1957 into the early 1960s.

Skeptical about the manufacturer’s clinical studies, Dr. Kelsey refused to authorize it for market in the US, noting the company’s arguments for safety were not convincing. Executives from the drug manufacturer wrote, phoned and showed up at her lab to try and persuade her to approve their application, but she would not budge. They called her an obstructionist nitpicker.

In early 1961, Dr. Kelsey spotted a letter in the British Medical Journal written by a Scottish physician who cited incidents of nerve damage among his patients taking thalidomide. Dr. Kelsey asked why the drug’s manufacturer had never mentioned the troubling side effect; she also began to press company officials about the effects of thalidomide on a fetus, for which the drug makers had not done any testing. By November 1961, she was vindicated when the full scope of the thalidomide tragedy began to unfold. News from Europe linked the drug to birth defects, including stunted or missing limbs, heart malformations, deafness and blindness.

Dr. Kelsey was instrumental in ensuring that thalidomide was never prescribed to any pregnant woman in the US. Although thalidomide was withdrawn from the West German and UK markets by December 2, 1961, it is shameful it remained legally available in some Canadian pharmacies until mid-May 1962.

It has been estimated that thalidomide maimed 20,000 babies and killed upwards of 80,000 worldwide. Many families with surviving children filed civil suits, but all the victims had to wait years without support because the criminal trial took precedence. When the criminal trial of employees of Chemie Grünenthal opened in the town of Alsdorf, in the district of Aachen, on May 27, 1968, it promised to be comparable in scale and emotional intensity to the post-war Nuremberg trials. Nearly 700 people crowded the biggest space in the region: a casino. Every day, the judges, lawyers, scientists, press and witnesses passed by three deformed children nursed by Red Cross sisters while their mothers waited inside hoping to learn the cause of their children’s affliction. The trial lasted two and a half years. The trial ended in April 1970 when proceedings were halted because it was deemed there was little public interest in securing a conviction.

More than half a century after the pill’s threat to an embryo was proven, the company that produced the first disaster continued to sell the drug in parts of Latin America, through prescription only, and babies continued to be born with malformations similar to the survivors from the 1960s. Initially Grünenthal had insisted that it was blameless, claiming the thousands of abnormal births were an act of God. The company now admits its role in the drug disaster and that the thalidomide tragedy will forever be part of their history. Grünenthal would eventually provide approximately 100 million marks as compensation for the victims.

Thalidomide is making a comeback as a strictly regulated drug prescribed by doctors to combat serious skin conditions such as leprosy and is being explored as an HIV/AIDS or cancer drug. Celgene Canada, based in Mississauga, Ontario, provides biotech therapies and has rebranded thalidomide as Nightmare Drug to Celgene Blockbuster.

In 2010, the British government officially apologized to people hurt by the drug, after earlier agreeing to pay £20m (US$31m) to thalidomide’s victims. In 2013, a class action suit by Australian and New Zealand victims of thalidomide against the drug’s British distributor Diageo Scotland Ltd. was settled for $89m.

It is unknown how many Canadian women and children were harmed by thalidomide, but in 1991 there were 109 Canadians who could prove they were thalidomide damaged. In May 2015, the Canadian Conservative federal government announced details of the compensation package for the 92 remaining Canadian survivors. They would receive annual pensions of up to $100,000 depending on the severity of their disability for the remainder of their lives. An additional $500,000 was placed in in a medical assistance fund to be accessed by individuals to help with mobility and adaptive tools as required. Prior to the government compensation package, the average thalidomide survivor “survived” on $14,000 a year.

I was humbled by the personal stories and photographs of our Canadian survivors who showed tremendous grit and grace in their daily struggles. It is a sad irony that Dr. Kelsey was not able to save her fellow Canadians, however, remaining survivors have graciously thanked her for her life’s work. Mercedes Benegbi, executive director of the Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada, said the tribute to Dr. Kelsey is deeply deserved: “To us, she was always our heroine even if what she did was in another country.” Dr. Kelsey was born in Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island and was a dual citizen for most of her professional life, visiting often, but returning to Canada in her late 90s.

Compassionate, courageous truth-tellers often are responding to a higher calling, a sense of duty and justice. Sadly, many of these men and women end up experiencing long-lasting problems. An Australian study looked at 35 men and women from various occupational backgrounds, who had uncovered harms to the public. “Although whistleblowing is important in protecting society,” the report reads, “the typical organizational response causes severe and long-lasting health, financial and personal problems for whistleblowers and their families.”

Dr. Kelsey showed strength and courage by refusing to bend to pressure from drug company officials and her actions saved countless American women and their babies. Hailed as a hero, she was the second woman only to be honoured by president John F. Kennedy for distinguished federal civilian service.

On her 101th birthday in 2015, Dr. Kelsey received the Order of Canada in a private ceremony in her daughter’s home in London, Ontario. She died less than 24 hours after receiving the award.

Christy, Justin, Kinder Morgan – Take a hike

Stanley Park seawall

The Burrard Inlet is a damn good reason to say “No” to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. It’s our living room, meeting place, our Malecón and public square.

by Bruce Mason

Whenever our Premier (or PM) crave something “world class,” we recommend Vancouver’s Seaside Greenway, which includes the Stanley Park Seawall. As the planet’s longest, uninterrupted waterfront path, it’s one of humanity’s most inspiring Commons. Awe-inspiring, priceless and free, experiencing it does one a world of good.

But it’s never free from threat, much like many irreplaceable regions – the Peace, Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii, Howe Sound, the once-mighty Fraser – and too many places where Clark recklessly proposes deadly fossil-fuel mega-projects. One has to wonder why anyone would risk screwing up, as the world embraces cheaper, renewable options and better jobs.

Long walks through sacred spots – in ‘our moccasins,’ work boots or flip-flops – should be leadership prerequisites. Contemplate before judging those who Christy calls the “Voices of No.” See clearly why her “Path to Yes” is the wrong direction and a sacrilege.

Disagree? Well, the Burrard Inlet is a damn good reason to say “No.” It’s our living room, meeting place, our Malecón and public square. It’s the stage for Vancouver’s 40th Annual Folk Festival and boasts championship fireworks, decades of polar bear swims, carolling ships and the Kit’s Showboat. Our outdoor rec room for beach volleyball, picnics or just chilling out, where a glimpse of one of 80 endangered orcas – our NHL team logo – is as thrilling as any overtime goal.

I count the freighters constantly at anchor in the port (a raison d’etre for Confederation). Fifteen, 20, more? Start at the head of the Kinder Morgan/Trudeau Black Snake. Christy says it’s now safe to triple pipeline-terminal capacity and increase tanker traffic seven-fold. All converging at the foot of a mountain and major university in a seismic zone. Yet someday, somehow, greenhouse gases will be cut. Highly unlikely (or is it Notley).


stop the pipeline start the music


The Burnaby Fire Department reports, it’s “…not the appropriate location for expansion…” noting, “…significant constraints to emergency/fire response, including safety and effectiveness of firefighters, evacuation, sulphur based gases, toxic smoke plumes and property protection.” Wise advice, recalling 2007 when the existing pipeline ruptured, spewing sludge 40 feet in the air, covering homes, trees and wildlife. It dumped 78,000 litres of crude and poisoned 15,000m of shoreline, requiring the evacuation of more than 220 residents.

Over four hundred Aframax tankers have been approved annually, each 245m long, 100m longer than the Spirit of Vancouver Island ferry at 167m. Longer than Vancouver’s tallest building, the Living Shangri La (200m). Try fathoming that between an index finger and thumb.

Other structural landmark comparisons include the ever-enlarging Alberta tarsands footprint, now the size of Florida. In Calgary, where many cheer the approval of more pipelines, the Husky Tower is only 191m tall, compared to the length of an Aframax tanker (245m). South of the border, outraged resistance rapidly grows in the shadows of the Seattle Space Needle, 60m shorter (184m).

The tankers’ huge mass, inertia and steering difficulty necessitate three tugs, a turning diameter of 2km, and 15 minutes to stop. Depth and beam restrictions restrict their travel to daylight hours and they must have a minimum one-mile-visibility, at a maximum six knots, at high tide, with a volume capacity of maximum 80 percent. They sit 13-metres deep, perilously close – 1.5m – to the prescribed maximum draft. Double-hulls, despite Rachel Notley’s assurances, are little comfort, having breached elsewhere.

According to the independent group, Concerned Professional Engineers (www.concernedengineers.org), it is “a gross negligence of decision makers to not evaluate risks and consequences of hitting Second Narrows Bridge.” Warning of a catastrophic severing of our main transportation artery, they remind us of previous “collisions with the railway bridge by much smaller vessels; twice knocking out service, requiring re-building.”

The possibility conjures up the nightmarish collapse during construction of the Second Narrows Bridge on June 17, 1958, indelibly etched in the minds of those alive then; 19 workers plunged 30m (100 ft) to their deaths. In honour of the lives lost, it was named Ironworkers Memorial Bridge.

Now, the cargo: dilbit. Short for bitumen (asphalt) diluted with petro-products to enable pipeline flow. The exact mix of ingredients is an unexamined trade secret, but tankers hold 30 Olympic-size pools of highly corrosive toxins that sink, unrecoverable, in inevitable spills.

“New approvals are problematic… bordering on irresponsible,” says Wendy Palen from SFU’s Biological Sciences. From universities across North America, she’s just one author of new peer research of more than 9,000 studies.

Their conclusion: claims that a spill can be effectively cleaned up or mitigated are unfounded. No ocean-based studies exist of how dilbit behaves in marine environments, rough seas and changing temperatures.

Christy? Justin? “World leading” science? Is Trudeau’s promised $1.5 billion taxpayer-funded response and recovery a deceitful fantasy? “Permission granted” is a surprise to disapproving mayors and First Nations. Two-thirds of those along the 1,150-kilometre route also disagree; 120 nations from both sides of the border drafted a Treaty Alliance Against Tarsands Expansion. As Trudeau/Clark “conditions” are studied – carefully, this time – numerous court cases are prepared.

This shortsighted, national economic fix is just that: a quick shot-in-the-arm for oil addiction, from stranded assets. From the tens of thousands of jobs promised – mere mumbo-jumbo – 50 permanent may materialize. Millions of dollars for the Canadian economy boast foreign owners, who would turn a barely contained trickle through Canada’s third largest city into their very own gusher, shipped through the Georgia and Juan de Fuca Straits to foreign markets.

From the seawall – built to buffer, but also to enjoy, nature – their deal resembles the long-ago sale of Manhattan for $24 in beads and trinkets when public land, like air and water, wasn’t considered saleable by native inhabitants. A decade ago, a storm devastated Stanley Park. Now, oceans and winds are rising. To risk people’s livelihoods for something that few people (customers) want is way, way too risky. Especially since Trump has approved Keystone XL.

In 1986, I wrote a feature for the Province entitled, “Miles of sea and sand.” I had the incredible experience of talking to folks at many of our beautiful beaches – Wreck Beach, Spanish Banks, Locarno, Jericho, English Bay, Ambleside, Dundarave, Eagle Harbour and Whytecliff. Over and over, people expressed the importance of these landmarks in their everyday lives. For me, these conversations are as memorable and transforming as Expo 86.

Some people know the price of everything, but the value of nothing. With all due – but decreasing – respect, take a hike!


Change agents worth following

Poll after reliable poll shows that the majority of people in BC oppose the Christy Clark/Justin Trudeau fossil fuel mega-projects, as much as two-to-one.

by Bruce Mason

The 1% who have pocketed, and hidden, half of the world’s wealth are delighted by people who think nothing will ever change. In that context, mere optimism is a political act. So, too, is pessimism; acquiescence is one form of obedience. To look at the myriad difficult problems facing humanity directly in the eye, as challenges and opportunities to create a better world to leave to our grandchildren, is somewhat radical in these dark times.

Some say we are in a tomb; others think of it as a womb and suggest we breathe and push. One bright light to follow in our ongoing global rebirth is Stewart Phillip, Grand Chief of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), afnd spokesperson for the international Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion.

Recently, in the fight against pipelines, he has wisely warned: “This is a global movement and not just a fight against another dirty pipeline… This is not simply an indigenous issue; climate change and the catastrophic impacts that we have witnessed to date and the potential impacts that will manifest in the future, are a matter of grave concern of all people around the world.”

The UBCIC

For their rapidly growing number of friends and allies, the UBCIC have created the “Coast Protectors Pledge” at coastprotectors.ca. Another site is RAVEN (www.raventrust.com). However, once again, Phillip notes, “People shouldn’t become too focused on the indigenous efforts and the dimension of the issue and court battles. It creates a false sense of security amongst the general population that they don’t have to be overly concerned because the indigenous people will take the lead and save the day.”

Another person to pay attention to and support is the seemingly indefatigable Shirley Samples whose non-stop posts reached some 20,000 followers on two Facebook pages: “Stop Kinder Morgan” and “We Love This Coast.” Her posts are a clearinghouse of current news and opportunities to fight back.

It is past time to do more than just share information, sign petitions and hit send. Show up and donate as well. Poll after reliable poll shows that a majority in BC oppose the Christy Clark/Justin Trudeau fossil fuel mega-projects, as much as two-to-one.

Here are just some of the organizations to look up on the Internet: Sierra Club of BC, Greenpeace, STAND (previously ForestEthics), Dogwood Initiative, Georgia Strait Alliance, Western Canada Wilderness Committee, Living Oceans Society, Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the Council of Canadians, as well as smaller grassroots groups such as BROKE (Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder-Morgan Expansion) and NOPE (North and West Vancouverites Opposed to Pipeline Expansion).

Bruce Mason is a Vancouver and Gabriola-Island based five-string banjo player, gardener, freelance writer and author of Our Clinic. brucemason@shaw.ca

seawall photo © Steve Smith

People power will stop Woodfibre LNG

protesting the proposed Woodfiber LNG project

Last month, MLA Jordan Sturdy and MP Jonathan Wilkinson hosted a meeting in Squamish with local government and indigenous leaders with the goal “to enhance transparency with respect to progress of the (Woodfibre LNG) project.”

More than 150 supporters stood outside to voice their opposition to Woodfibre LNG, as their representatives walked into the meeting at Squamish Municipal Hall, with banners reading “No Pipelines, No Tankers, No Woodfibre LNG.” People travelled from as far away as Vancouver, Bowen Island, Whistler and the Sunshine Coast, taking time off work on a Friday morning.

“Woodfibre LNG has donated more than $60,000 to the BC Liberals in 2016 alone. That’s pretty cheap to buy a rubber stamp for your environmental assessment. But Woodfibre LNG is not a done deal. Every community around Howe Sound has expressed their opposition to Woodfibre LNG. More than 10,000 people have signed the Howe Sound Declaration in opposition to Woodfibre LNG. People power will stop this project,” said Tracey Saxby, one of the co-founders of My Sea to Sky.

Following the demonstration, supporters wrote messages to their representatives in chalk:
“BC LNG is one big lie.”
“Focus on renewable energy.”
“Save Howe Sound.”
“For our kids.”

LNG tankers put Howe Sound residents at risk

Based on International Safety Standards, we know that Howe Sound is the wrong place for an LNG export facility. Canada still doesn’t have any safety regulations for LNG tankers and the information being used by the Technical Review Process of Marine Systems and Transhipment (TERMPOL) to develop LNG tanker regulations is old or flawed. Public safety is not being taken seriously.

Woodfibre LNG threatens the recovery of Howe Sound

Millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent cleaning up the toxic legacies of previous industries, such as the Nexen chemical plant, the Woodfibre pulp mill and the Britannia Beach mine. As a direct result, Howe Sound is slowly recovering: the herring and the whales are coming back. Woodfibre LNG threatens this recovery through underwater noise, which impacts herring, salmon, whales and other wildlife.

Air pollution from Woodfibre LNG will impact public health at a social cost of over $20 million per year.

Even though Woodfibre LNG is using electricity as the main power source, there will still be significant air pollution during operation. Woodfibre LNG is estimating air pollution emissions of 295.7 tonnes of nitrous oxides (NOx) and 43.8 tonnes of sulfur dioxide (SO2) every year.



Source: My Sea to Sky, a volunteer organization that was started in early 2014 in opposition to the proposed Woodfibre LNG project. More than 10,000 supporters have signed the Howe Sound declaration. www.myseatosky.org

photo by Les MacDonald

Internet freedom: a make-or-break year

photo of David Christopher

INDEPENDENT MEDIA
by David Christopher

2017 is here and it’s clear it will be a make-or-break year for Internet freedom. Around the world, our digital rights are under threat as never before. Let’s take a look at some of the big challenges ahead.

In Canada, the federal government will soon be publishing its response to the National Security consultation that closed in December. It’s abundantly clear Canadians want the government to repeal Bill C-51 and deliver strong privacy rules to make us safe – but will the government listen, especially against the backdrop of a full-on RCMP propaganda campaign calling for even more invasive spy powers?

Also in Canada, the government is under pressure from industry lobbyists pushing a costly, new Internet Tax, a proposal that expert Michael Geist has called a “digital tax on everything.” This is a terrible idea that will deepen the digital divide and force even more Canadians offline, in a country where low-income and rural residents are already struggling to stay connected. If the government pursues this, expect a big fight ahead.

South of the border, Donald Trump’s recent inauguration as president means he has secured, not just the keys to the Oval Office, but also sweeping, new powers to shape the future of the Internet for generations to come.

Based on Trump’s statements, we can expect to see a dramatic expansion of NSA and FBI spying powers. Worryingly, there are very few oversight mechanisms or limitations on what Trump can do with this power. And given that so much surveillance activity takes place under a veil of near-total secrecy, it will be extremely difficult for citizens to hold Trump effectively to account.

With Trump in office, we’re also anticipating a full-on assault on the hard-fought Net Neutrality consumer protections that millions fought so hard for at the Federal Communications Commission just two years ago. Net Neutrality rules ensure that Internet users get to decide what to watch online and when, rather than having giant telcos make those decisions for us.

Without Net Neutrality, your telecom provider could decide which websites to speed up and which to slow down – effectively creating an Internet Slow Lane for everyone except deep-pocketed conglomerates. Put simply, Net Neutrality is essential for a free and open Internet and we’ll need to pull out all the stops to defend it.

Elsewhere, MEPs in the EU are considering controversial proposals from the European Commission to impose a new ancillary copyright fee – effectively a Link Tax – on anyone who shares links and accompanying snippets of information online. The Link Tax will have a devastating impact on access to information and freedom of expression and we’ll be working hard to convince MEPs to block this reckless idea.

With so many tough fights ahead, 2017 will be a pivotal year for digital rights. But if the history of the pro-Internet movement can teach us anything, it’s that the more challenging the times, the more inspiring the response – and there’s no doubt we’ll need to mobilize millions of people around the world if we’re to successfully protect our basic rights over the weeks and months to come.

Keep in touch at OpenMedia.org and on Facebook https://facebook.com/openmediaorg and see our Twitter https://twitter.com/openmediaorg feeds for all the latest.

David Christopher is communications manager for OpenMedia, which works to keep the Internet open, affordable and surveillance-free. openmedia.org

Diluted bitumen unsafe in any waters and should be banned

bitumen

Bitumen, the product being extracted from the Northern Alberta and Saskatchewan Tar Sands operations, is similar to bunker crude. It also must be heated to be pumped. To make it flow in a pipeline a thinning agent is added.

The faulty logic of Trudeau’s Kinder Morgan Pipeline approval

by Merv Richie

For many years now the British Columbian population has endured news, commentaries and protests regarding the prospects of petroleum products being piped across the province and shipped by tankers from West Coast ports. Missing from the debate, including the recent decisions by the government of Justin Trudeau, is the various types of product and the present day dangers the coast faces now with all vessels.

The Nathan E. Stewart, which ran aground and sank at Bella Bella on October 13, 2016, highlights these dangers. Almost every vessel, from small fish boats to dry goods freighters has all their fuel uncontained. The MV Rena, which struck a reef and broke up spoiling the beaches of New Zealand five years ago, was a dry goods freighter. Everyday there are approximately 15 similar freighters moored in English Bay, each with an average of 3 million litres of Bunker Crude in their keel holds. Only 3/4 of an inch of steel separates the bunker fuel from the open ocean and our waterfront. A full 45 million litres or as much as the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. All of this bunker crude and all fuel in almost all vessels waits to be spilled. The Nathan E. Stewart is our wake up call to demand fuel containment in all BC waters.

Most common of the refined petroleum products are diesel and gasoline. Besides the dozens of other products refined from crude oil the remaining sludge, a dirty sulphurous residue, is bunker crude. This is stored as ballast in the ‘keel hold’ at the bottom of all freighters. The consistency is such that it cannot be pumped without heating. When cold, it is like tar; in fact it is exactly the same substance we mix with gravel to pave our road surfaces. All freighters run on this filth after they leave populated harbours.

Bitumen, the product being extracted from the Northern Alberta and Saskatchewan Tar Sands operations, is similar to bunker crude. It also must be heated to be pumped. To make it flow in a pipeline a thinning agent is added. This is where the term Dil-Bit comes from; diluted bitumen. The thick bitumen is diluted with a product called ‘condensate’. Condensate is a very toxic and explosive gas. It is a by-product of wet natural gas wells. Commonly called ‘white gas’ it contains hydrogen sulfide, methanol, ethynol, cyclohexane, naphthene, benzene, toluene, xylenes and ethyl benzene. This product is being imported into Canada by ship and by rail from Kitimat to Alberta for the present pipeline system.

Therefore, we have a variety of substances to consider along with the manner in which these substances are transported. Each has their own hazards and management issues.

When the Lac Megantic disaster happened, the tragic explosion of a runaway train carrying oil, the product was not just oil. It was a mixture of oil and gas. Most adults understand one cannot light a litre of 10W30 engine oil. But if one was to add a bit of gasoline to the bottle we would essentially be creating a bomb. One wouldn’t want to stand too close when lighting it. That is exactly what was on the rails at Lac Megantic: bombs, crude oil mixed with gas.

What happened at Kalamazoo Michigan from the ‘Dil-Bit’ was a different result from the same mixture. When the Enbridge pipeline burst, a spray of pressurized ‘Dil-Bit’ hit the atmosphere. The local population suffered the effects of the toxicity. The suddenly aerosolized poisons of the condensate created neurotoxins.

Dil-Bit therefore is nothing short of an extremely explosive toxic nerve gas bomb.

Raw crude oil, without any added or present gases is difficult to transport by pipelines; for bitumen it is impossible. The added difficulty for Canadian bitumen is the corrosive sediment remaining after initial processing. The life of the pipelines is substantially reduced due to increased wear, much like sandpaper, the bitumen presents.

Transporting bitumen by rail car is not dangerous as long as it is not diluted or heated; shipped cold and raw. Bunker crude is shipped this way today. A derailment would see the product simply stay where it spilled even if a rail car broke open. A fully refined product, Dil-Bit or condensate would pollute flowing freely, vaporize or even ignite.

All these products are loaded onto vessels plying our waters completely un-contained. The rail cars or pipelines fill storage tanks next to the waters or are emptied directly into the vessel at port. This in itself presents a variety of potential for spillage. At Kitimat the condensate is reportedly spilled regularly. Tank farms are known to spring leaks including the one Kinder Morgan operates at Burrard Inlet, and spills occur while filling vessels. In fact most pleasure craft and fishing vessels are filled until the overflow spills out into the waters. All of these hazards and spillages could be resolved by a demand for containment by our governments.

In 1965 Ralph Nader wrote Unsafe at Any Speed. It was a critical examination of the Automobile Industry’s refusal to consider adding safety features such as seat belts. The industry, Nader detailed, sacrificed the lives of thousands by their combined refusal to address the very real and obvious hazards. A clear analogy is obvious here. The automobile industry complained loudly against regulation of their product, arguing the extra costs would bankrupt them or make their product unaffordable. Now safety is one of the auto industries greatest advertising features, adding airbags and protection devices wherever possible.

The petroleum and marine shipping industry could achieve the same result. Just as was required for the auto industry, regulations and changes will need to be enforced.

All vessels must be required to be retrofitted to have their fuel stored in removable containers. In the case of freighters, the rail cars presently delivering bunker crude could be redesigned to be detached from the rail bed, just as containers are today. These could then be lowered into refabricated holds on the vessel. A Panamax freighter would likely require 30 of these removable tank cars. Each could be connected to the fuel system by an electrically operated solenoid valve such that in the case of loss of power or impending disaster, the valves would secure the fuel. The very same fuel containment system must be made mandatory on all vessels. Sealed, removable fuel modules.

Just like a family going out for boating trip on a boat with a small outboard motor, the fuel is generally carried on board in a specially designed fuel tank. The hose is connected and with a couple squeezes on the fuel ball, the motor is ready to start.

Presently most vessels are unsafe in any waters. While there is justifiable outrage at Prime Minister Trudeau’s approval of the Kinder Morgan expansion plans, there is the opportunity to address the dangers present today.

If we demanded an immediate change to all fuel containment systems having bunker fuel and crude or bitumen transported cold and raw in detachable rail cars, sealed from the point of production to the destination, loaded in the same manner as ‘Sea Can’ containers are today, the dangers would be greatly reduced. An added benefit would be the reduced need for importing condensate to make toxic nerve gas and bombs. Dil-Bit needs to be completely banned. j

The Nathan E. Stewart was a wakeup call, as is the still-leaking Queen of the North; and the MV Bovec balancing on a reef off Prince Rupert in 2000 is similar to the MV Rena in New Zealand. British Columbia is just lucky to not have a disaster on its shores. And this is long before more tanker traffic arrives.

Resistance to Arctic drilling worth remembering

standing before an oil rig

From activists who scaled Shell’s rig in April or who stopped one of Shell’s ships this July, to the millions of people all over the world who signed petitions, paraded with polar bears, shared stories and helped organize for real environmental justice, this is YOUR victory.

I’m standing between Shell and the Arctic – join me

by Audrey Siegl

» Audrey Siegl, a Musqueam woman from BC, is a First Nations artist, activist, renowned public speaker and a drummer and singer. In the photo above, she stands in a Greenpeace rhib launched from the MY Esperanza holding her arm out in front her, defiantly signalling Shell’s subcontracted drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer, to stop.

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Let’s mark Canada’s 150th birthday by establishing a Department of Peace

Canadian Peace Initiative logo

There is currently no strategic focus for peace in government, and there has rarely been a greater urgency or a better window of opportunity to consider the creation of a Department of Peace in our country.

by Canadian Peace Initiative

Canada has a proud history of peacekeeping. Now, more than ever, we need Canada to take leadership and open the road to peace for the rest of the world.

The call is out to establish a Department of Peace on our 150th birthday. We have the opportunity to bring a beacon of light to the fragile state of our planet, racked by war, devastation and fear.

This is not a far-fetched idea, but something tangible that the Canadian Peace Initiative has worked on for years. Right now, a unique opportunity is open: You can directly ask Canada to increase its capabilities in peace leadership.

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Issues that demand connection and action

Thanks to donations from readers, DeSmog Canada was able to send photographer Garth Lenz to the Peace to capture the ongoing construction and the landscapes and lives that stand to be affected by Site C Dam.

Connecting the dots

by Bruce Mason

Corporate media may be denying or ignoring their existence, but the world is awash in unprecedented, existential crises: from Syria to Standing Rock, global climate tipping points, to so-called trade deals that enable greedy elites to prevent action, from international anti-nuclear arms initiatives, to the ugly, unwelcome return of the Cold War. The army of so-called mainstream media journalists, increasingly irrelevant and nearing extinction, are paid to prop up the multi-national corporate agendas. Instead of calling it mass media, the more accurate moniker is corporate media.

We turn your attention instead to independent social media; just type the headlines below into your search bar.

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Why we need a Natural Health Products Act!

Common Ground, along with many other organizations, businesses, and millions of natural health products customers across Canada, for decades have demanded that the government of the day leave our very safe natural products alone. They are not drugs and should be respected as such by giving then their own Natural Health Products Act.

Open letter to
Prime Minister, Right Honourable Justin Trudeau;
Minister of Health, Honourable Jane Philpott; and
Deputy Minister of Health, Simon Kennedy

I object to Health Canada’s (HC’s) proposals to classify Natural Health Products (NHPs) with prescription drugs! It is no secret in Ottawa that the pharmaceutical industry exerts massive influence on HC, and HC’s excuses for these proposals, based on safety and claims, are invalid. I urge you to use my tax dollars to support the creation of a new Natural Health Products Act (NHPA) to protect my access and freedom of choice.

In over 60 years in Canada, involving far in excess of 100,000 NHPs, taken by millions of Canadians daily, totalling billions to trillions of doses, the death total is zero (0). This makes NHPs safer than food or water and means that HC legally has no jurisdiction over NHPs since the Food and Drugs Act only grants HC powers over substances that pose a demonstrable risk, not made-up, theoretical risks with no actual occurrences like HC poses for NHPs.

Conversely, according to a report by past MP, Terence Young, as many as 20,000 Canadians die each year from pharmaceuticals, hence, over a million deaths in the same 60-year time period. And HC is proposing to regulate them together based on safety? This is absurd.

Not surprisingly, HC’s proposals come now with the Liberal government signalling they will sign the misleadingly named “free-trade deals” with Europe and Asia, i.e. CETA and TPP, which contain allowances for expansion of pharmaceutical patents and massive losses of Canadian sovereignty in all areas of our lives. See www.canadianbankreformers.ca for an important update and call to action on CETA. Huge pharmaceutical companies such as Bayer hold hundreds of use-patents on NHPs. (Eg: www.google.com/patents/US20140271923) Such patents use the most advanced research and put to rest claims by media and medicine that there is no evidence for NHPs. Big Pharma is running out of drugs, and coming for them. Consider this patent, which outlines a tablet delivery system for several hundred NHPs: http://www.google.ca/patents/US8883205

To create a single marketplace, regulations between Trade Agreement member nations must be “harmonized,” and restrictions on NHPs are being attempted in countries around the globe. This is occurring under the auspices of the International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authority, (ICMRA), and until recently, Health Canada was both chairing and acting as the secretariat for this group. As its regulatory model, ICMRA is using the EU where pharmaceutical companies control all aspects of healthcare.

This is HC’s third attempt to group NHPs with prescription drugs. The first came in 1997 after they were directed to partner with the pharmaceutical industry, and HC immediately came out with the Establishment Licensing Act. Canadians protested vehemently and the Act was stopped. The Standing Committee on Health performed extensive investigations, and in its final report specifically ruled out regulating NHPs as DRUGS. Parliament came out with 53 Recommendations; #1 was to amend the Food and Drugs Act to provide NHPs with a category distinct from either Foods or Drugs.

Yet HC subverted things and placed NHPS as DRUGS anyways. This was a set-up. They tried again to apply prescription drug regulations to NHPs in 2008 with Bill C51. Again, Canadians revolted and again the Bill did not proceed. So now, HC has united the departments for NHPs and OTC pharmaceuticals. As Drugs, NHPs are forced to make approved claims. HC is now using claims they approved as justification for tighter controls.

If these proposals are allowed to go forward, mass suffering will be inflicted on untold numbers of Canadians who rely on NHPs for their health, as their NHPS incrementally disappear.

The time has come for a Natural Health Products Act to protect Canadians’ access and well being, and the groundwork has already been laid. The Committees have investigated. Parliament has already decided what should happen. The department and regulatory system already exists in the Natural Health Products Directorate, and the framework for the new Act has already been written in The Charter of Health Freedom.

As a citizen of Canada, help me protect and make decisions about my own wellbeing that are rightfully mine, and push for a new NHP Act. Preserve my birthright to look after my own health.

Thank you,
www.citizensforchoice.com

Brief to House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security

Submitted by Barrie Zwicker

» 2013 Canada Day terrorist plot was a “police-manufactured crime.” – Madam Justice Catherine Bruce of the BC Supreme Court

If ever two dots needed connecting, it’s Bill C-51 and the historic judgment of the BC Supreme Court in the case of the so-called “Canada Day Terror Plot” in 2013 in Victoria.

On July 29, 2016, Madam Justice Catherine Bruce, in a 344-page ruling, struck down the terrorism convictions of John Nuttall and Amanda Korody, impoverished recovering heroin addicts with mental health challenges. She called the so-called “terrorist plot” a “police-manufactured crime.”

The Mounties devoted more than 200 officers and spent millions to aid and abet the crime. A Globe and Mail editorial on August 4, 2016, observed, “The accused pair could not have managed a bomb attack on the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia without the RCMP’s step-by-step guidance.” Some counter-terrorism.

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