Problems Within Canadian Skepticism

Right now, a war is being waged in the halls of Ontario legislature as to whether or not naturopaths should be given the privilege of writing medical prescriptions. While there are a number of huge problems with this, I am neither a doctor nor a pharmacist and, as a result, know very little about the topic. I will defer commentary on this issue to smarter men than I.

What I wanted to touch on this week is a related problem in Canadian skepticism.

Shawinigan Handshake
The most controversial thing to ever happen in Canadian politics.

Canada’s political climate tends to be extraordinarily moderate (in stark contrast to our meteorological climate). This isn’t to say that Canada doesn’t have a diverse political landscape; merely that the different viewpoints expressed in any controversy tend to be rather moderate. Not to minimize the importance of our national issues, but outside of people who are interested in the politics for the sake of politics, they tend to garner little attention.

Obama and Harper
Yay Canadian politics.

For those of us not fascinated by the inner workings of our political system, Canadian politics can get a little boring, on occasion. The problem is that this boredom manifests itself in the form of apathy, such that when a legitimate target for outrage comes along, we fail to respond appropriately.

Allowing naturopaths the right to prescribe medication is a major blow to science-based medicine, but there’s little appropriate response from those without a vested professional interest in the outcome, even though medicine and health care is something that affects everybody in very real ways.

Of course, allowing naturopaths the ability to prescribe medicine won’t bring society to a screeching halt overnight. Nor will it instantly result in thousands of preventable deaths. However, allowing non-medical professionals (naturopaths) to prescribe medication would be a huge blow to the quality of medical care in our province. Because of this policy, people can get hurt, some may die, and yet most people remain largely apathetic, because either they haven’t heard about the issue, or they don’t see why the issue is important.

If we’re going to make any headway as a skeptical organization within Canada, we have to break free of our preconceived notions about the lack of importance of Canadian politics. Unlike so many other things skeptical, we could learn a thing or two from our neighbors to the south and collectively become more vocal about the issues that matter to us.

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  • Mitchell Gerskup

    Mitchell Gerskup recently graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Economics and Philosophy. An avid atheist and skeptic, he has served as the President of the University of Toronto Secular Alliance, helping to promote science, reason and critical thinking around Toronto. He also volunteers with the Centre for Inquiry’s Ontario branch, and currently sits on the CFI’s Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism. Mitchell is also an accomplished competitive debater, having debated all across Canada. In addition to issues of economics and philosophy, Mitchell is interested in the fields of science and technology.