Saturday, October 19, 2013

Who Do You Trust?

Two seeming unrelated stories, both connected by one pernicious element: unwarranted government secrecy.

In this morning's Hamilton Spectator is the sad tale of Marit McKenzie, an 18-year-old Calgarian who died after taking an anti-acne drug known as Diane-35. Often prescribed off-label as a birth-control pill, the drug's side effects can include formation of blood clots, a contingency that led to the girls's death.

Bruce McKenzie would like to know how a controversial acne drug suspected of killing his healthy teenage daughter this year has, in Health Canada's words, "benefits" that "continue to outweigh the risks."

But the report that could explain how the federal agency arrived at this conclusion is a secret. It's one of more than 150 classified safety reviews completed by Health Canada this year alone.

Despite the fact that France has banned the drug, and despite the fact that even the bastion of free enterprise, the U.S., along with the European Medicines Agency, routinely publish details of post-market safety reviews of drugs as a basic accountability measure, Health Canada refuses to provide any details about its alleged efficacy. The reason? According to our government, it is due to "confidential business information."

The implications of this stance are indeed frightening for anyone in Canada on long-term medication, given that the current database for adverse reactions is simply based on voluntary reports from doctors and patients. But at least the health of our pharmaceutical industry will be protected, the obvious priority with the Haper cabal.

On a similar, though ostensibly unrelated corporate note, is the CETA agreement that Stephen Harper is crowing about. Will it be a net benefit or a net detractor of Canadian jobs? Will it be an impediment to environmental protection and other matters crucial to our sovereignty? Who knows? As Tim Harper points out in today's Star,

But no one can say that definitively right now ...This was an agreement in principle, but there was no fine print.

Despite Harper's claim that these negotiations were the most “transparent and inclusive in Canada’s history”, the truth is that they have carried out in a cloak of secrecy that perhaps rivals that which shrouded the development of the atomic bomb. Secrecy, that is, for everyone but business groups who have been in a position to dictate their demands for quite some time.

And as for Harper's promise that affected sectors will be compensated for any losses, such as the probable $2 billion extra that the provinces will have to come up with due to increased drug costs thanks to another gift to the pharmaceuticals, a two-year patent extension on drugs, I leave that to the overly credulous to believe.

Who do you trust? Not this government, and not this Prime Minister who has proven countless times that truth and honesty are merely quaint notions that sound nice on paper, but have little to do with the debased elements by which he operates.


  1. Don't expect details from Mr. Harper, Lorne. All that matters is spin.

    1. Unless Canadians start demanding real answers, Owen, I fear that spin will carry the day.

  2. Harper, along with most media have forgotten that there is only 1 taxpayer.

    1. I think Harper's capacity for misdirection serves him well in this regard, double nickel.

    2. Indeed, it symbolizes his evilness. Sadly, no one calls him in it.