kelowna_pics_ogopogo

CFI Okanagan

Welcome to the Centre for Inquiry Canada Okanagan! CFI Canada is one of Canada’s fastest growing communities for humanists, skeptics and freethinkers. CFIC promotes reason, science, secularism and freedom of inquiry in every human endeavor.

CFIC Okanagan offers an opportunity to put your principles into practice by joining other rationalists to work for positive change in society. The Prince Edward Island branch sponsors social events for freethinkers, skeptics, atheists and agnostics.  We organize activism, provide educational resources and network with policy makers to help create a more skeptical and secular Okanagan.

In this time of rising religiosity, anti-intellectualism and political turmoil on ethical issues it is critical that rationalists and freethinkers join together to protect civil liberties, defend reason, and work toward increasing scientific literacy.

Our Priorities

Visit the CFI Okanagan website for more information about local events, activities and priorities.

Get Involved

CFIC Okanagan welcomes volunteers in all of our activities.  To get involved contact evolve@cfiokanagan.ca

 

ScienceChek-Draft03

Hippocrates Health Institution: An Inquiry into Questionable Health Services

 

When Candace Wu, a reporter from The Parksville Qualicum Beach News contacted CFI Canada about a local event that was planned to feature Hippocrates Health Institute’s Brian Clement, CFIC joined BC Humanist Association’s Ian Bushfield in speaking out.  Hippocrates Health Institute has made claims of being able to reverse Multiple Sclerosis and has been notoriously associated with two children, Makayla Sault and J.J., as reported by CBC News,

In documents obtained by CBC News, Florida’s Department of Health says it has probable cause to believe the director of the Hippocrates Health Institute treated two children battling leukemia “with unproven and possibly dangerous therapies.”

Following is a reproduction of Candace Wu’s article.

A rainbow-coloured lollypop sets the backdrop of a poster saying nutritionist Brian Clement will be the featured speaker at Qualicum Beach Elementary School (QBES).

Clement is a Florida-based nutritionist, and co-director of Hippocrates Health Institution, known for allegedly making controversial claims about healthcare, including that he helps patients reverse multiple sclerosis (MS). Clement denied making those claims when he spoke to The NEWS on Tuesday night.

Clement’s presentation at QBES was slated to take place Tuesday from 1:50 p.m. to 2:50 p.m., according to the poster found under the events section of the Hippocrates Health Institution website.

However, QBES principal John Williams said there was “a misunderstanding.”

School District 69 assistant superintendent Gillian Wilson told The NEWS Tuesday morning Clement was not scheduled to speak at the elementary school — ever.

“Our presentations that we have in our school buildings support curriculum,” said Wilson. “We have all types of guest speakers but they go through our school offices… I’d like to reaffirm this individual was not scheduled (to speak at QBES). He was never scheduled.”

Asked how this miscommunication started, Wilson, seemingly baffled said “I have no idea. I just caught wind of it.”

Wilson said the school’s administrator had been approached by “a parent or a community member” about the presentation a few weeks ago, but confirmed “this presenter had not been scheduled to be in our school.”

But Amy Hadikin, a QBES mother who helped organize Clement’s presentation, said “it got cancelled last night because the CBC News called the school and said ‘do you know you have a controversial man coming to speak at the school?’ and they didn’t want to stand up and they didn’t have enough time and they Googled him and said ‘oh yeah, controversial, we don’t want to deal with parents’.”

Hadikin said Clement’s talk at the elementary school was going to be about sugar and how it affects your health.

Responding to the cancellation, or schedule misunderstanding, Clement said he’s “sad for the children.”

On Tuesday night, Clement spoke to a crowd of about 50 people at the Quality Inn Bayside in Parksville for a presentation titled: “The truth they don’t want you to know about vitamins, minerals, and their effects on your health.”

Asked to speak to claims he can reverse MS or cure cancer — widely reported by Canadian media, most notably the CBC — Clement said “they fabricated the whole thing.”

But CBC video clips on YouTube  show Clement speaking at previous presentations making claims such as: “Last week, we had somebody at the institute that reversed multiple sclerosis,” and, “We’ve had more people reverse cancer than any institute in the history of healthcare.”

Tuesday night in Parksville Clement said “I don’t believe we heal diseases… That’s weird.”

He said the institution facilitates a lifestyle, educates people and people report their successes.

Asked to confirm if he’s ever claimed he can reverse MS or cure cancer, Clement reiterated, “Never, never have I… All we do is support the body and the body has magic in it, the body can do some amazing things.”

B.C. Humanists executive director Ian Bushfield said he was concerned to hear Clement might be speaking at QBES, saying public schools should not be promoting pseudoscience.

“Our concern is that any time public funds go to support unproven claims, especially ones related to medical health issues — including the reversal of MS — it’s not just giving people false hope, but it’s essentially scamming people out of money and taking advantage of people,” Bushfield told The NEWS Tuesday afternoon.

Executive director of the Centre for Inquiry Canada (CFIC) Eric Adriaans said when purveyors of pseudoscience are given a platform by schools or other authorities, it lends credibility to the speaker and that can lead to confusion about who really can be trusted to provide valid health information.

“Pseudo-science preys upon the most vulnerable people in our society — the ill, injured, frail, elderly and even parents of very ill children who so desperately seek relief from serious illness, injuries or pain.”

“These vulnerable people are also the people often least prepared to recognize a sales-pitch that isn’t backed up by science,” Adriaans said.

He said CFIC, whose mission is to promote science and secularism, recommends people demand science-based evidence from anybody making a health claim.

“People who choose the kinds of treatments offered by Brian’s institute are usually choosing not to use conventional medicine that could effectively treat their condition,” said CFI director Aaron Bayes, based in Vancouver.  “It is also quite expensive, and some people will spend their life savings on it.”

However, Bayes said he wouldn’t call Clement a scammer or fraudster.

“He might actually believe what he claims and if that is the case then he is no criminal mastermind — just woefully wrong.”

 

Canadians, particularly the vulnerable ill, injured, elderly and children must be in a position to receive trustworthy health information from the sources they trust.

Further Inquiry

  1. http://www.pqbnews.com/news/346871002.html
  2. http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/news/head-of-hippocrates-health-said-institute-could-reverse-multiple-sclerosis-7387956
  3. http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/brian-clement-hippocrates-health-institute-head-ordered-to-stop-practising-medicine-1.2968780
  4. http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/02/21/founder-of-hippocrates-health-institute-sued-successfully-twice.html
  5. http://www.wptv.com/news/local-news/investigations/contradicting-cancer-claims-from-hippocrates-health-institute-director
  6. http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/brian-clement-controversial-nutritionist-claims-institute-helps-patients-reverse-ms-1.3311543
Nick Chiasson

Physician-Assisted Suicide in Canada: The Struggle Continues

Last week, in what turned out to be an incredibly disappointing statement, B.C Health Minister Terry Lake announced that he was refusing the recommendations of an all-party legislature committee that had examined the issue of physician-assisted suicide, and decided instead to delay legislative action until the Trudeau government has the chance to develop its own policies. By rejecting these recommendations, Lake has not only delayed the approaching decriminalization of physician-assisted dying in British Columbia – thus prolonging the suffering of many incurably ill Canadians – but in the process, has also missed out on an important opportunity to prepare the province for the inevitable changes ahead.  

On the 6th of February 2015, in Carter v. Canada, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously to strike down the ban on physician-assisted suicide that had previously existed in the Criminal Code, thereby granting Canadians living in certain conditions the right to choose a medically-assisted death. These conditions were clearly stipulated, and are twofold, the first being that the patient “clearly consents to the termination of [their] life”, and the second, requiring them to have “a serious and irremediable medical condition…that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual.” Recognizing the enormity of this declaration, the Supreme Court also suspended this ruling for 12 months, in order to ensure that both federal and provincial governments had ample time to craft legislation or adopt policies meant to regulate this practice and guarantee their citizens access to this measure. This momentous decision reflected the views of an overwhelming majority of Canadians that support the right to die with dignity.

Since then, the Select Standing Committee on Health, a committee of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, has considered this topic and produced recommendations on the issue of physician-assisted suicide in British ScienceChek-Draft03Columbia. Recognizing that their mission was not to determine whether or not to support this controversial issue, but instead to deliberate on how the province could address the ruling of Carter v. Canada, this Committee considered over two hundred written submissions and numerous presentations in order to propose five recommendations in their interim report. These recommendations, which are progressive yet fair, propose, among other things, the need to craft legislation in order to ensure equitable access to physician-assisted suicide for all B.C. residents, as well as the need to guarantee the right of conscientious objection to any unwilling physicians. These measures were recommended in the hopes that they would be adopted before the February 6th deadline, so as to more swiftly grant anguished B.C. citizens the right to die with dignity, and to avoid being unprepared when this change takes place.  

The Health Minister’s suspension of these recommendations not only represents a blatant disregard for democratic process, but also presents a practical problem. There are a great deal of policy decisions, both legislative and institutional, that need to be formulated and initiated before physician-assisted suicide can be guaranteed to B.C. residents. While Quebec has already passed legislation on physician-assisted suicide, and Ontario has created an expert panel to consider this issue, British Columbia has instead ignored the views of its citizens, as well as the recommendations of its elected officials, and has chosen to further delay the decriminalization of a measure guaranteed to us by our country’s highest judicial body.

This highlights another important issue. While the approach of physician-assisted suicide is imminent, the topic remains a contentious one, and it therefore remains important to avoid the tide of misinformation and sensationalism that often surrounds this issue. Indeed, in light of the legislative struggles ahead of us, it is crucial that we continue to consider this issue critically and as impartially as possible. It is because of this, that the recent comments made by the solitary ‘no’ voter in the Committee, and MLA of Maple Ridge-Mission, Marc Dalton are so contemptible:

“That is based upon what is happening in other jurisdictions, such as the Netherlands and Belgium … for example, Holland has gone from voluntary to involuntary in many cases. It’s been extended to people who are depressed, to youth,” he said.  “I’m concerned about the pressure upon the elderly and I am concerned personally about the weakest in our society, the disabled, the elderly and the infirm … I just feel that we need to ensure those voices are heard.”

There are a number of obvious issues with the above stated concerns. The first, which hopefully stems from confusion rather than wilful ignorance, is Dalton’s misunderstanding of the difference between non-voluntary and involuntary assisted dying. While the former is indeed legal in Holland, and refers to patients who are unable to explicitly consent due to being in a vegetative state or having experienced severe brain damage, the latter, involuntary euthanasia (also known as murder) thankfully remains illegal. However, perhaps the most concerning aspect of Dalton’s comments, is that they either reveal a complete misunderstanding of Carter v. Canada, or worse still, a deliberate intent to mislead. Due to the meticulous wording of the Supreme Court ruling, those seeking physician-assisted suicide must be suffering from an irremediable and agonizing condition and have the ability to clearly consent to this practice, which means that in Canada, this measure could not be used on either a non-voluntary or depression related basis. Finally, the slippery slope fallacy that his alarmist position rests upon is not only incredibly puerile, but baseless, as it implies that the voices of the elderly, disabled, and marginalized in our society have been ignored. However, the Supreme Court addressed these concerns, and concluded that the evidence presented to them confirmed that “a properly administered regulatory regime is capable of protecting the vulnerable from abuse or error,” a position that was later echoed in the interim report that Dalton voted against. Despite strongly held convictions on both sides of this issue, we should always strive to avoid fallacious arguments like the one recently extended by Dalton, and strive to base our legislative decisions on empirical evidence, rather than sensationalism.

Along with the B.C. Humanist Association, I call upon Health Minister Terry Lake to adopt these recommendations and begin preparing for the changes ahead, and I urge all other skeptics, humanists, and concerned B.C. residents to do the same.

Article update (December 3, 2015)

On Tuesday, in a similarly discouraging development, court justice Michel Pinsonnault of the Quebec Superior Court ruled to further prevent Quebec citizens the right to die with dignity.

Bill 52, Quebec’s comprehensive right-to-die legislation, was passed in the Quebec National Assembly in 2014, and was due to take effect on December 10th. The first of its kind in Canada, this legislation was passed with great support from within the Government of Quebec, and respected the conventions of Carter v. Canada, requiring any individuals seeking this measure to be both terminally ill and “capable of consenting.” However, the legality of this bill was recently challenged by the regressive Quebec Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice, which sought an injunction to oppose this provincial legislation. While Pinsonnault did not rule in favour of the Coalition, as was originally reported, his decision nonetheless promises to have lasting repercussions.

Noting that this new legislation would contradict existing provisions in Canada’s Criminal Code, Pinsonnault ruled that federal law must take precedence, and that because of this, Quebec’s right-to-die legislation could not be instituted until after the deadline set in Carter v. Canada. However, this ruling, to delay Canada’s first provincially sanctioned right-to-die legislation, has since become doubly unpalatable, as the federal government has recently petitioned for a 6-month extension of the Supreme Court’s deadline. The result of this unfortunate request means that, despite Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette’s promise to appeal Pinsonnault’s ruling, incurably ill and suffering Quebec citizens may potentially have to wait up to 8 months in order to be guaranteed the right to die with dignity. Again, these developments highlight an inimical trend within provincial and federal politics; despite the enormously supported and cogently formulated plans of two democratically elected provincial bodies, fatally ill Canadian citizens nonetheless remain barred from access to physician-assisted suicide.

While the federal government’s desire to proceed with caution is admirable, as ensuring that there is a coherent legislative framework in place is important, delaying incurably ill Canadians access to this measure is unnecessary; as the CEO of Dying with Dignity, Wanda Morris, has recently pointed out, “existing laws and regulations are sufficient to ensure that assisted dying can be responsibly administered while the provinces and the federal government [develop] harmonized legislation.” The needless delay in the implementation of this ruling — especially in regards to the developments in B.C and Quebec — will not only perpetuate the suffering of many agonized Canadians, but will continue to force others to seek similar measures abroad, or worse still, through more drastic means here at home

 

Nicholas R.J. Chiasson, CFIC Member & BC Resident

 

Further Inquiry

  1.  End-of-Life Decision-Making in Canada: The Report by the Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel on End-of-Life Decision-Making   http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8519.2011.01939.x/abstract
  2. Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Lone ‘No’ Vote  http://www.mrtimes.com/news/341187411.html
  3. Humanists Call on BC Health Minister to Adopt Assisted Dying Recommendations http://www.bchumanist.ca/humanists_call_on_bc_health_minister_to_adopt_assisted_dying_regulations
  4. Interim Report: Select Standing Committee on Health https://www.leg.bc.ca/content/CommitteeDocuments/40th-parliament/4th-session/health/reports/PDF/Rpt-Health-40-4-Interim-Report-2015-10-28.pdf
  5. Euthanasia in the Netherlands: Rick Santorum’s Bogus Statistics https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/euthanasia-in-the-netherlands-rick-santorums-bogus-statistics/2012/02/21/gIQAJaRbSR_blog.html
  6. Assisted Dying in Canada: Where do we go from here? http://centreforinquiry.ca/assisted-dying-in-canada-where-do-we-go-from-here/#sthash.gun4i1Yp.dpuf
  7. B.C. Delays Action on Assisted Suicide Policy http://www.vancouversun.com/health/delays+action+assisted+suicide+policy/11490170/story.html?__lsa=f7ff-74ae
  8. L.W Sumner, Assisted Death: A Study in Ethics and Law http://ow.ly/Us2hj
  9. Support For Assisted Dying is Growing Among Canadian Voters: Poll http://www.dyingwithdignity.ca/new_assisted_dying_poll_canada
  10. Vast Majority of Canadians in Favour of Assisted Dying: Poll  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/vast-majority-of-canadians-in-favour-of-assisted-dying-poll/article20981301/
  11.  Quebec Passes Landmark End-of-Life Care Bill http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-passes-landmark-end-of-life-care-bill-1.2665834
  12. Quebec Injunction Delays Introcution of Physician-Assisted Suicide Law https://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/dailybrew/quebec-injunction-delays-introduction-of-physician-assisted-suicide-law-215830433.html
  13. Federal Right-to-Die Laws will Draw “Inspiration” From Quebec, PM’s Spokesman Says http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/doctor-assisted-death-legislation-trudeau-1.3346960
  14. Quebec End-of-Life Law Contradicts Criminal Code and Can’t Take Effect, Court Says http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-end-of-life-care-1.3345572
  15. Liberals ask Supreme Court for 6-Month Extension to write doctor-assisted dying law http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/liberal-doctor-assisted-death-supreme-1.3349565
  16. New Canada Government Seeks Delay on Assisted Suicide Decision http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/liberal-doctor-assisted-death-supreme-1.3349565
  17. Bill 52, An Act Respecting End-of-Life Care, http://ow.ly/Vsy59
  18. Feds Ask Supreme Court to Delay its Ruling on Assisted Dying http://ow.ly/Vsy59
lance dodes

Lance Dodes Coming to CFI Vancouver!

CFI Vancouver is pleased to announce a speaking event with  Dr. Lance    Dodes, author of The Heart of Addiction, Breaking Addiction and The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science behind 12-step programs and the Rehab Industry.
Lance Dodes, M.D. is a Training and Supervising Analyst Emeritus with the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and was assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (retired). He has been the Director of the substance abuse treatment unit of Harvard’s McLean Hospital, Director of the Alcoholism Treatment Unit at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital (now part of Massachusetts General Hospital) and Director of the Boston Center for Problem Gambling. He annually chairs the discussion group The Psychology of Addiction at the fall meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association. He is the author or co-author of a number of journal articles and book chapters about addiction. His books, The Heart of Addiction (HarperCollins, 2002), Breaking Addiction: A 7-Step Handbook for Ending Any Addiction (HarperCollins, 2011) and The Sober Truth (Beacon Press, 2014) have been described as revolutionary advances in understanding how addictions work. Dr. Dodes has been honored by the Division on Addictions at Harvard Medical School for “Distinguished Contribution” to the study and treatment of addictive behavior, and has been elected a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry.
When:  Friday November 13 @ 12:00pm
Where: Lecture Room 1606
             New Westminster Campus – Douglas College
            700 Royal Avenue, New Westminster  B.C.
Is there a Fee?
There is no fee to attend this event, but we will accept donations to help support CFIC and the branch.
Non-members are encouraged to join CFIC at just $30 per year!
If you’d like to help with this event, other CFI Vancouver activities or for further information, please feel free to reach out to Aaron Bayes at: vancouver@cficanada.ca  or drop a line to Eric Adriaans at ned@centreforinquiry.ca
News

CFI Vancouver Press Releases

Recent Press Releases from CFI Vancouver:

March 05, 2013 11:00 ET
Medical Experts Outraged Over Anti-Vaccination Event at Simon Fraser

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwire – March 5, 2013) – ‘Vaccine Summit: Vancouver 2013′, to be hosted at Simon Fraser University’s Harbour Centre (Vancouver) campus is billed as a “transparent discussion about vaccines”, but according to medical experts it is just a platform for anti-vaccine activists to spread dangerous misinformation which could harm the public. Even SFU’s Faculty of Health Sciences was disturbed that the university would associate itself with such an event and described it as “anti-science and contrary to good public health practice”.

An open letter to the SFU president calls for SFU to repudiate an anti-vaccination conference. The letter was co-signed by the Centre for Inquiry (CFI) Vancouver, Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism, and a number of Vancouver-area medical experts.

CFI Vancouver’s Ethan Clow thinks that isn’t enough: “Simon Fraser University needs to make a clear public statement about the overwhelming medical evidence in support of vaccination, and disavowing the message of the Vaccine Resistance Movement,” he said. “The university made a mistake, and needs to fix that mistake through science-based public outreach and education about vaccination.”

 

Open Letter sent to SFU signed by CFI and Vancouver science and health experts

BC Premier needs to clarify how her faith influences her politics:
National secular organization

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA—(January 22, 2013) – In light of BC
Premier Christy Clark’s upcoming special appearance at the Faith &
Politics Dinner on February 5th, the Centre for Inquiry (CFI) Canada
calls on Clark to clarify how exactly her faith informs her political
decision making in British Columbia.

“There is a worrying pattern here,” said CFI’s National Communications
Director Justin Trottier. “In previous comments Clark cited the Bible
as a source of inspiration for making political decisions and
indicated religion is how ‘we understand ourselves’.”

According in the 2001 census, BC is the least religious province in
Canada, with over one third of residents claiming no religious
affiliation.

“The Premier should explain to her constituents which of the many
varied Biblical values she follows, how they shape her political
views, and whether she is committed to upholding the separation of
church and state and the primacy of evidence-based public policy
should evidence conflict with her worldview,” said Trottier.

Contact Information
Centre for Inquiry
416 971-5676