Voting Green? Read This.

We’re in the midst of an election campaign, which means all of the parties are putting out updated versions of their platforms. One of my friends was skimming through them, and pointed out some terrible science in the Green Party’s health care platform. You can find their full platform here.

Full disclosure: I don’t consider myself a supporter of the Canadian Green Party. However, I had always considered their policies well intentioned, if not a bit idealistic. After reading through the health care section of their official platform, I now have serious concerns about some of their policies. I don’t necessarily mean to single out the Green Party (it’s fully possible/likely that the other parties support bad policies in their platforms); but these are some pretty egregious claims. Here are some of the highlights:

Greens understand that health is about more than “health care.” We are in the midst of a cancer epidemic, and no one is willing to speak of it out loud. Hundreds of chemicals used in our everyday life carry risks of increased cancer, infertility, learning disabilities and other intellectual impairment, and damage to the immune system. There are less-toxic substitutes for these products, but industry lobbies to maintain their registration and legal use drown out the voices of concerned health professionals and families concerned about health. (p. 67)

This document published by the Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and Statistics Canada clearly and unambiguously states that “increases in the number of new cancer cases are due mainly to a growing and aging population” (p. 1), and Figure 4.1 on page 37, “New Cases and Age-Standardized Incidence Rates (ASIR) for All Cancers, Canada, 1981-2010″, clearly shows no rise in rates of cancer over time, when the numbers are standardized for age.

There is no cancer epidemic, and this type of conspiracy-mongering from a major Canadian political party is worrying, to say the least.

After reading the above, I suppose what follows is less of a shock, but it’s still pretty bad. The following points are all part of the Green Party’s health care platform:

Provide funds to expand provincial health insurance to cover proven alternative therapies that are less expensive and invasive such as chiropractic, massage, acupuncture. (p. 68)

We will promote complimentary health care – through support of chiropractic, naturopathic, homeopathic, and other non-western practices. The Green Party of Canada recognizes the value of good health as a fundamental human right, and also the key to the most vibrant, inclusive and sustainable Canadian society possible. (p. 71)

Expand healthcare coverage to include qualified complementary/alternative health professionals such as naturopaths, acupuncturists, homeopaths, licensed massage therapists, chiropractors, and dietitians. (p. 73)

I think it’s pretty obvious how the authors at Skeptic North feel about using naturopathy and homeopathy as part of health care, but if not, a quick search should give you a good idea. (Hint: we’re not the biggest fans.) It’s good to see that the Green Party supports better health care for Canadians, but the route they plan on taking to get there seems less-than-ideal.

Work to reduce the use of pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics and other chemical and pharmaceutical agents in agriculture. (p. 72)

Promote environmentally sustainable, organic farming practices that protect the health of the land, farmers, and consumers. (p. 72)

This seems to be little more than vague fear mongering about modern industrialized farming practices. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t support the idea of “environmentally sustainable” farming that protects the “health of the land, farmers and consumers”, but there’s no consensus that organic farming practices are the best way to achieve that goal. And no evidence I am aware of that pesticides, growth hormones, and antibiotics present any danger to either the sustainability or safety of our food supply.

And, of course, there’s just some weird stuff in here. Listed under “ACHIEVE BETTER HEALTH THROUGH PREVENTION” (p. 69):

Prohibit by law human reproductive cloning and require a Health Canada license for any organization or institution that performs genetic manipulation for commercial or scientific purposes.

Not only does this seemingly come out of nowhere, but I have no idea what this has to do with prevention.

Now, all of this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t vote for the Green Party. This is only a small sample from a 128 page platform document. However, a bad policy is a bad policy, regardless of the politics of the party. The Green Party needs to be called out on making these types of claims in its official platform — especially by those who support them.

The Green Party isn’t alone in their scientifically questionable health care policies. The Conservative platform states:

The Conservative Party supports enhanced freedom for Canadians in their choice of natural health products and complementary treatments, with proper safeguards for public safety. (p. 19)

Though I couldn’t find any mention of any alternative or natural medicine in the Liberal’s health care platform, they are largely responsible for our current natural health product regulations. If you know of any other good examples, feel free to leave them in the comments.

62 Responses to “Voting Green? Read This.”

  1. It’s amazing how many skeptics are so gung-ho about this party. Sure, they’re one of the only parties that’s against the funding of the Catholic school board in provinces like Ontario, but the rest of their policies, especially when it comes to health, farming, and energy is so full of wishful thinking or even pseudoscience.

    It just goes to show you that pseudoscience isn’t limited to the right end of the political spectrum, which is what a few skeptics and most atheists think.

    While the Conservatives put a creationist/chiropractor as our minister of science, they haven’t put in their platform the policy of funding chiropractictors!

    • Durr says:

      Yeah, I hate when people make rash generalizations of groups… like when *most atheists* assume that only right-wing politics can embrace poor science!

    • Scott Shannon says:

      Speaking for myself the health/farming issues are serious thing that make me question the party. Frankly you would expect that from a party like this though considering the current people who vote for them, its good ol’ pandering to the base.

      Otherwise though I think their platform seems quite down to earth.

      I don’t think their energy strategy is wishful thinking in the technology sense. When you do a full life-cycle analysis of fossil fuels and added those costs (health, pollution) a very bold policy could shift our energy to renewables relatively quickly.

      It would be a herculean effort and it may be politically wishful thinking but as most climate scientists say, we actually really need an Apollo type problem to stave off 4,5,6+ degrees plus of warming this century.

  2. Brad says:

    Thankfully there’s a Pirate Party candidate in my riding. :)

  3. Michael says:

    Unfortunately, you’ve made rather a large leap in your analysis: your claim is that because overall cancer rates are not increasing, therefore nothing in our environment causes cancer. This is clearly false.

    Rather, our industrial lifestyle has resulted in decreased cancer risks from some causes (everyone uses sunscreen) and increased risks from other causes. The Greens are simply suggesting that we ought to pay attention and regulate unsafe products.

    “And no evidence I am aware of that pesticides, growth hormones, and antibiotics present any danger to either the sustainability or safety of our food supply.”

    Then you are simply and utterly unaware of any aspect of this topic, and therefore should refrain from commenting upon it.

    • Obviously I’m not stating that their are no environmental causes of cancer. That would be silly. What I’m saying is that there’s no “cancer epidemic”.

      I don’t think anybody would object to the regulation of unsafe products. Well, maybe some people, but we don’t really take them seriously.

      All of this is speculation, though, in lieu of scientific evidence to show that “everyday chemicals” cause cancer and that organic food is a necessary component of a healthy diet.

    • JJ says:

      “Rather, our industrial lifestyle has resulted in decreased cancer risks from some causes (everyone uses sunscreen) and increased risks from other causes.”

      It bothers me when such strong statements are presented as simple truths. This is an unbelievably complicated issue, many many many sources of data to draw upon.

      Especially since, without evidence to convince me otherwise, it’s much easier to look at a constant cancer rate and say it indicates very little instead of indicating that rates are somehow fluctuating up and down in near-perfect balance. And, even still, to know WHY they are fluctuating up.

      Moreover, what if I consider (just to pull something out of the air or some other 3 letter ‘a’ word) that our detection methods have improved _drastically_ over the last 30 years. To the point where we have to step back and ask ourselves if we’re actually screening TOO much. In which case I could say, entirely offhand and as though it’s a simple truth, that since detection is so very much better and rates are fairly constant that perhaps cancer rates are declining and the appearance of stability is an amazing balance between our declining cancer rates and increasing detection ability.

      That would be entirely unfounded and probably wrong. But it’s very easy to say such things as though they are the obvious truth.

  4. Iain says:

    Mitchell,

    Your points are well-taken. There is obviously a strong correlation between strongly-held environmental beliefs and acceptance of “natural” alt-med quackery and other pseudoscience. Many who believe that mankind is destroying the environment with modern technology also believe that we are destroying our own health with drugs and chemicals. And those on the left are also more likely to buy into the claims of big corporations putting profits ahead of health and safety. (For this reason, I would be very surprised if the NDP platform didn’t also contain nods to the alt-med/organic crowds. Conservatives have their own pet pseudosciences – including most of their economic theories – but are generally saner on these issues.)

    However, I was a little surprised by your lumping in of claims about the dangers of industrial farming practices with the quackery. Although you are right that organic farming may not be the answer, there are a lot of widely accepted environmental problems with modern agriculture. Indiscriminate use of pesticides has been linked to all sorts of problems, from dead birds to poisoned rivers and lakes. Run-off from excess use of chemical fertilizers causes algal bloom, destroying many marine ecosystems. Blanket treatment of healthy animals with antibiotics has been linked to the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria. The list goes on….

    I am prepared to believe that a significant proportion of this is hyped-up conspiracy-mongering, but I would be astonished to learn that it all is. I certainly don’t see this as “vague fear-mongering” with “no evidence”. If I am wrong about this, and I’ve fallen for a bunch of pseudoscientific scare stories, please show me the evidence.

    • My intention was not to say that modern farming practices are perfect; merely that the Green Party’s platform seems vague in the best possible interpretation (who can say no to “sustainable” farming? [and what is "sustainable" farming?]) and harmful in the worst possible interpretation (organic farming is a superior method of farming).

      Given the context of how these points are usually raised in debates about agricultural practices, I’m a tad unwilling to charitably assume that they’re just being well-intentioned yet vague.

      • Iain says:

        “Sustainable farming” is the name of a movement within agriculture which, though somewhat vaguely defined at the edges, is certainly not the vacuous pablum you suggest. Intensive monoculture with massive use of oil-derived chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, leads to steady degradation of soil, destruction of ecosystems, and pollution of down-stream and down-wind systems, along with depletion of non-renewable resources. This is clearly not “sustainable”, but it is highly profitable in the short term. Clearly, lots of people can say no to moving to a more sustainable system, for the non-sustainable system remains dominant. And just as clearly, the different political parties place a different priority on making changes. So even if they are wrong about some of the details, I’d say the Greens have the most sane general approach to agriculture.

        Where the Greens seem to be wrong is in equating “sustainable” with “organic”. Spraying liquefied animal manure from planes counts as organic, but is about as harmful as the non-organic version. And there is a clear role for chemicals and pharmaceuticals in agriculture – when a cow is sick, it should be given real medicine, for example. And genetically modified organisms probably need to play a substantial role in sustainable agriculture, although most environmentalists are opposed (as they are to nuclear power, another irrational stance).

      • You seem to be putting words in my mouth. I didn’t call sustainable farming “vacuous pablum” — I called it vague, which you seem to agree with.

        Also, I could be wrong, but I don’t think a lot of modern farms practice “intensive monoculture with massive use of oil-derived chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, lead[ing] to [a] steady degradation of soil, destruction of ecosystems, and pollution of down-stream and down-wind systems, along with depletion of non-renewable resources”. Granted, I’m no expert in farming, but I do think farmers are interested in maximizing their profits, which means taking care of their farms/soil/potential to produce future crops.

        But here’s the problem I have: is the Green Party talking about sustainable farming in the same way you are? Their platform is too vague to tell.

      • Zachary Cameron says:

        Sustainable farming is farming which is not accelerated by the use of fossil fuels.

        I didn’t come with the facts, apologies, but here’s a flow chart.

        Sustainable Farming
        People live somewhere -> Plant food nearby -> wait -> Eat food, save seeds, etc. etc.

        Unsustainable Farming
        People live somewhere -> Plant food thousands of miles away where labour is cheaper -> Speed it up with genetic modifications, oil based fertilizers, chemical pesticides, etc. -> Ship food thousands of miles, via boat, train, truck, all running on oil products -> Store food in supermarket -> People drive to supermarket, buy food.

        Its actually an extremely simple concept to grasp. Ethically, and logically, growing your food thousands of miles away makes absolutely zero fucking sense, and is only allowed because of the extreme prejudice with which we use our fossil fuels.

      • “Its actually an extremely simple concept to grasp. Ethically, and logically, growing your food thousands of miles away makes absolutely zero fucking sense, and is only allowed because of the extreme prejudice with which we use our fossil fuels.”

        Sorry, but that’s just untrue. There may be certain distortions in the way we currently produce food, but economies of scale combined with the ability to produce some foods more efficiently in some parts of the world than others (good farm land, climate, secondary industries, etc.) means that there are ethical, logical AND economic reasons for growing food thousands of miles away.

        Not to mention, your idea of sustainable farming seems to be nothing more than an antiquated idea of food production.

      • Dave says:

        Actually yeah, monocultures have become the norm for farming. And most farming is undertaken by larger companies that might not have the deep concern for maintaining their soil integrity etc that you feel they do. Iain’s assessment of agbusiness is pretty bang on.

  5. locklin says:

    I was briefly a member of the Green Party. I felt nauseated when I read their platform in entirety. They are just as anti-science as the Conservatives on pretty much every issue other than climate change. I think a lot of supporters would turn away if they learned more about the party.

    • Battman says:

      locklin
      Could you please show us which parts of the Conservative’s platform is anti-science?

      • Sean B says:

        Chiropracter as minister of science… Sums it up I think.

      • Erik Davis says:

        A creationist chiropractor technically. Not to mention the long form census, a law & order policy that defies statistics, and the muzzling of federally-employed scientists, and the refocusing of the NRC.

      • Steve Thoms says:

        A creationist chiropractor, yes. But just as a clarification, Gary Goodyear is not the Minister of Science. He is the Minister of State for Science and technology.

        The difference is, essentially, a Minister of State advises senior cabinet ministers, but does not write/enforce regulations themselves.

        In the case of the Minister of State for Science and Technology, Mr. Gary Goodyear’s department falls under the purview of the Ministry of Industry.

        Canada also has a Minister of State for Sport (which falls under the purview of the Department of Canadian Heritage), and a Minister of State for Seniors (under Human Resources and Development Canada). (For more information, click here)

        But yes, a creationist chiropractor is advising our senior cabinet, and by extension, our Prime Minister. I’m not talking about anything beyond the science here, but the Conservative Party of Canada, like the Green Party of Canada, have some decidedly pseudo-scientific people and policies.

  6. Paul Paddon says:

    Mitchell,

    I find your article lacking in many ways. Cancer is a multifactorial disease. As others have noted, the study does not disprove the statements by the Green’s that “chemicals used in our everyday life carry risks of increased cancer.” It wasn’t designed to test that at all.

    Secondly, you jump to the conclusion we are not in an “epidemic”. The study only goes back to 1981 which is not in any sense pre-industrialized agriculture. So the accumulation of chemicals hypothesis is consistent with the data. Go back further than 1981 and you will find *data* that supports the opposite, that we are in fact in a long and continuing epidemic.

    The article does say that 20 people will be diagnosed and 8 people will die every hour. Maybe you should check whether corrected for population growth and aging this is epidemic compared with 1900.

    Do your research!

    • JJ says:

      “Maybe you should check whether corrected for population growth and aging this is epidemic compared with 1900.”

      In 1900 disease was half of the top 10 causes of death in the US, taking the #1, #2 AND #3 spot while life expectancy was below 50 for both genders.

      I suspect it’s tricky to adjust for aging when the population wasn’t expected to live long enough to get diseases of old age.

    • The short answer: I find your comment lacking in many ways.

      The long answer: I won’t pretend to have any expertise in the field of cancer research or treatment, or have access to any simple truths on the matter. All I can do is read what the experts publish, and trust (for good reasons, in my opinion) that they know a lot more than I do. There have been in the past (and may be in the future) research that supports certain products or environmental variables do cause cancer. What we don’t need are vague claims about society writ large, which can’t even be answered using a scientific approach.

  7. Ian says:

    The Greens have long been pretty anti-science in the expected ways. They’re anti-nuclear because it’s scary, they’re pro-organic and anti-genetically modified foods (in all cases).

    As for other parties, we mostly know about the creationists in the Conservatives (although they also have a number of chiropractors). The NDP dabbles in woo here and there, while some honest-to-goodness skeptics try to pull them away from it.

    The Liberals are a big tent and include a bit of everything (including a number of pro-lifers). My local Liberal MP is Joyce Murray, who sits on a number of naturopathic boards and stood in the House last year to recognize Naturopathy Awareness Week.

    It’s really time for a party based on science, reason and empiricism to come into play.

    • Andréa says:

      “It’s really time for a party based on science, reason and empiricism to come into play.”

      I second that notion.

    • Rawrs says:

      Basing politics on purely science is not all that different than one based on religion. A hundred years ago, the “science” said black people were not as evolved and lesser human than white people. Until the last twenty years science completely dismissed Native medical practices as quackery until it was actually fully studied and found that the ritual components and one-to-one relationship developed between healer and patient helped reduce stress and promote healing in the body much like good bedside manner (except to a greater extent).
      Basically, in science, anything not yet proven is worthless of no value for making decisions. This is dangerous because it leads to conclusions that led to slavery, the “re-education” of native peoples (and banning of their cultural practices), and countless other oppressions that were only later proven to be harmful.
      Religious political parties have the same problem – until they are enlightened to alternative ways of looking at things, they cause great harm to those they don’t understand.

      • Kim Hebert says:

        What, no Hitler? You disappoint me…

      • Scott Shannon says:

        “Basically, in science, anything not yet proven is worthless of no value for making decisions.”

        Unless you are talking about the arithmetic and other math used in government almost nothing is ‘proven’ in the sense that you use it. Governments have to make decisions based on the best available data. Climate change isn’t “proven” per say but it is highly probable that we are causing it based on all the evidence and therefore we should do something about it.

        If you have a better method other than science of making decisions based on the natural world I think most people will eager to hear it. Science is the best we have.

      • Steve Thoms says:

        “Basing politics on purely science is not all that different than one based on religion.”

        Mitchell did no such thing. This is a ridiculous statement, and I suggest you re-read the article.

        Mitchell’s piece is *only* about how the Green Party advocates certain forms of pseudo-science and relies on a poor scientific understanding, and nowhere did he suggest that this one stance is justification for not voting Green.

      • Dave says:

        @Steve Thoms: it’s pretty obvious Rawr’s not merely replying to the article itself but also the various replies that have come before. Including a couple that advocate founding a party based entirely on “science, reason and empiricism”.

        Nice glib dismissals to Rawr’s points though people. Great to see that skeptics are open to questioning their own beliefs. Oh wait…

      • dave says:

        good points all!, but it does not end there.
        Even if science provided us with perfect ‘facts’, policy would still need to be driven by philosophy, and informed by scientific, and other data.
        Consider the role of ethics and even existential questions that are required to drive policy as it (whether we like it or not) serves to play a part in shaping our society.

  8. Composer99 says:

    From the Green Party’s platform pp 71 (as cited by Mitchell):

    We will promote complimentary [sic] health care – through support of chiropractic, naturopathic, homeopathic, and other non-western practices

    It seems bizarre that the three examples of “non-western” practices they give are all invented by Westerners.

  9. Karl says:

    I started to look into their material about the whole “North American Union” and “SPP” and “NAFTA superhighway” stuff. At first blush it struck me as typical Alex Jones level stuff. Just seeing them waste time on such notions gave me pause.

  10. Brian Lang says:

    If you can, please do similar articles looking at the other platforms put forth by the other parties. Before the election would be best ;)

  11. Sirthinks says:

    There is nothing wrong with Conservatives allowing better access to homeopathic products to those QUACKS who CHOOSE to use them. Using them is paramount to refusing medical care which, as we all know, we have the right to do.

    Why should any government stand in the way of people who wish to kill themselves and their children? Of course this is tongue in cheek

    • Kim Hebert says:

      But of course, we’ve heard this argument before in all seriousness, so it’s hard to tell the difference. Some fail to consider that there is an important difference between people being able to choose substandard care if they want it vs. the government tacitly promoting and funding ineffective practices on the public dime (i.e., making non-evidence-based “care” a part of the mainstream health system).

  12. Rawrs says:

    Nice try, but when you make broad claims like “there is no cancer epidemic” you ignore some pretty clear cause-and-effect situations such as the (gasp) cancer epidemic in Fort Chipewyan that the government was recently forced to admit existed after years of fake & misleading studies. If it can happen in one place, it can happen in many.

  13. Hal says:

    Has no one seen Elizabeth May wearing that big honking Cross around her neck?

    Check out her wikipedia page:

    Personal life

    May lives in Sidney, British Columbia with her daughter, Victoria Cate May Burton (born 1991). She is studying theology at Saint Paul University, and describes herself as a practicing Anglican.

    She has indicated that her path towards becoming an ordained minister with the Anglican Church does not clash with her role in the Green Party of Canada, and sees a clear separation between religion and politics.

    At least Ignatieff is on the fence leaning on the atheist side:
    He had said, “I’m not an atheist, there were times in my life where I found much solace in churches, but I can not say I am a believer.” It sounds like he is closer to an atheist because he is definite that he does not believe. Sounds like a politician…….

  14. Thanks for this. The intersection between environmentalism and science is an area of significant interest to me. As a scientist and a skeptic, and also as an environmentalist and local environmental activist (greennewwest.blogspot.com), I am constantly trying to keep the local environmental conversation science-based, and not to let us lose focus fighting wi-fi or GMOs.

    I have softened my support of the Green Party in recent years for the very reasons you point out: I just can’t take the Woo. But it is a question of holding your nose and taking the best of a bad lot. The conservatives are absolutely destructive to the environment and demonstrably have no interest in sustainability. The Liberals campaign with some concerns, but have a terrible track record of actually doing anything positive when they have the majority (Kyoto anyone?). The NDP are caught in the untenable position of being “for the environment” but are not willing to sacrifice and old-labour job security to protect it. So my position has been to support the Greens in order to get these issues into the spotlight, then I will fight the homeopaths when that issue hits the legislature.

  15. jordan says:

    I thought most of those policies were spot on. Sorry to be outside of the echo-chamber guys. Sceptic North looks like a cool site though. I’ll read further.

    Jordan

  16. George W. says:

    Full Disclosure: I have given my time in past elections to the Green Party, and have written a post on my blog that endorses them. I will still vote Green in the coming election.

    With that out of the way, I have to say that I am disappointed any time a party I support takes an anti-scientific stand on an issue. The conservatives count among their ranks climate deniers, the Liberals have supported alternative medicine and shown no signs of being motivated to change a policy of ambivalence toward climate change, the NDP has it’s woo peddlers too.

    It appears that I am not going to find a party that agrees with me on every issue of importance. If this were the case there would be thousands of parties vying for my vote. To my mind, getting something done with respect to reducing our dependance on fossil fuels, addressing carbon emissions and our environmental impact is the most pressing of issues. Who am I to vote for? The Greens will not form the next Government. That is an ironclad fact. Yet the next Government will have to wrestle with a growing Green party vote count, millions of people have a voice. I doubt that the next Government is going to look at the Green Party’s numbers and say “See! People do want homeopathic medicine, GM bans and other woo!” There is one central concept the Green Party stands for, and that is sustainable environmental policy. That is my pet issue and that is where my vote will go. I hope that Harper or Ignatieff is listening on election day.

  17. gregthesquare says:

    There is a growing consensus that small-scale and ecological farming methods actually can increase food production and help address serious economic issues amongst many impoverished farmers.

    It’s all here:

    http://www.srfood.org/index.php/en/component/content/article/1-latest-news/1174-report-agroecology-and-the-right-to-food

  18. scott says:

    thanx for the green party clarity. the avg molicule of food that bc ers consume travels 3000 miles. we want our exotics in winter. we are selfish people as a whole. many asian families that come to canada see that. an all to common reply i hear about the dangers of chemicals is innocent until proven guilty with years of research. baby bottles for instance. air quality, dumping waste into rivers. the energy thing is a whole other matter. however history rarley favors the pigs of the planet and we wont change our ways till it affects us personally, in the wallet. inflation is comming and will begin the domino effect of change. i sure would like to see a party come out one day that effectivly covers every side of the spectum instead of the fence approach. i will vote green for the only fact they were left off the debate and no other party manned up to try to get them in. that was the system i want. a democratic system. greens will never win until they get big oil behind them or something equally impressive.

  19. I agree with George W., above.

    To stand by every principle and not vote for parties based on their faulty science means not voting. I vote Green and only with support can they have a voice that is heard.

    Besides, don’t like the pseudoscience in their platform? Tell them. Tell your Green MP. We’ve all got one.

    • Steve Thoms says:

      @Glendon:

      I think you mean to say that we’ve all got a Green candidate, since there are (as of this writing, before election 41 day) no Greens in parliament.

  20. e says:

    You’re cherry-picking some of the lamer stuff from the Vision Green policy document. I agree that there’s some woo in there, but there’s also good stuff, like:

    Restore funding for critical food safety testing and new product approvals processes. (p 76)
    Work with the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) to immediately establish qualification standards and on-the-job mentorship programs to fast-track certification of foreign trained health care professionals. (p72)
    Expand healthcare coverage to include basic preventive dental care. (p77)
    Institute a GST Health Benefit Exemption for those products/services deemed to have significant health benefit such as sports equipment, fitness centre fees, and some health-promoting health services. (p76)
    Require reporting of side-effects requiring a doctor visit or hospitalization due to prescribed drug use. (p72)

    I’ve been (peripherally) involved in Green Party policy and platform work in the past. For the most part, the people involved have the right idea and have good evidence for their point of view. There are some folks who don’t, but you’re going to find that in every party.

    • I don’t deny that. Nevertheless, it worries me that these policies are in the green platform at all.

    • Steve Thoms says:

      @e:

      Mitchell’s piece wasn’t about admonishing the Green Party in totality, nor to suggest these platform positions are a reason to not vote Green.

      His article points out some decidedly pseudo-scientific policies that they support. Whether or not this is enough to convince anyone to vote one way or another, that is for the voter to decide. Mitchell was simply providing analysis of a party platform as it relates to scientific skepticism. I think this is fair game.

  21. Rob Chamberland says:

    Just because there’s a few examples of bad science in their platform and some of their members are of the “holistic science” variety doesn’t mean the party is anti-scientific.

    Wow, what a leap in logic!!

    Does the fact that a few skeptics here make this claim mean skeptics are illogical?

    If the Green party is anti-scientific, it follows that skeptics are illogical.

    • Erik Davis says:

      That might be true, if it were even an approximate representation of what Mitchell actually said. But it’s not, and in fact, he was pretty careful not to paint them with broad brush you allege:

      “Now, all of this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t vote for the Green Party. This is only a small sample from a 128 page platform document. However, a bad policy is a bad policy, regardless of the politics of the party. The Green Party needs to be called out on making these types of claims in its official platform — especially by those who support them.”

      Read first, comment after.

  22. DC says:

    I’m with you on homeopathy. But you haven’t done your homework on the unsustainability of industrial farming practices. Artificial fertilizers and pesticides are fossil fuel derivitives, and as such are finite resourses and not sustainable. David Suzuki is not antiscience and would say the same.

  23. Thylacine7 says:

    I’m amazed at all the comments on this site that simply take the global warming stance at face value as the “scientific consensus.” There is NO theory of climate. We know bits and pieces about literaly thousands of factors that influence climate – mostly celestial influences, by the way – but we have absolutely nothing remotely approaching a unified theory of climate. Climate is a chaotic system, and to think that we can detect the “signal” of the human finger-print in all the “noise” of natural variation is plainly preposterous. In actual fact, scientists have hardly “settled” any significant point in the long chains of reasoning that lead to man-made global warming. “The science is settled” is repeated like a religious mantra by sheeple who know next to nothing about climate science.

    • Steve Thoms says:

      Thylacine7:

      The comments in this blog that support the current scientific consensus of anthropogenic global warming stems from most people’s lack of expertise in climate science. I’ll hazard to guess here that you’re not a climate scientist either?

      It’s indeed true that climate models are incredible complicated (and it’s telling that one of the first tasks of supercomputers is to perform climate modeling). But to say that our current understanding is incomplete is misleading at best.

      < (click here, if my embedding worked) This page nicely explains the problem of climate modelling to those of us without expertise.

      And this page nicely explains your charge that there is no scientific consensus.

      If you have better evidence, I’d be happy to view it. But if you call anyone “sheeple” again, I’m afraid I’ll have no interest in a discussion with you. Thanks.

    • Composer99 says:

      Thylacine7:

      You have hardly demonstrated any significant understanding of climate science yourself. How about some references to the peer-reviewed literature to back up your unsubstantiated assertions?

      Since reference to empirical & experimental evidence is required for an idea to make headway in science, any scientific consensus that has emerged in climatology & related disciplines regarding annthropogenic global warming has done so because there is first a consensus of evidence.

      I strongly recommend you review the website Steve links to, which accurately represents the scientific evidence surrounding climate change.

  24. Ashley Zinyk says:

    Age-adjusted cancer rates are level, but I’m a little surprised/worried that they aren’t going down. The number of Canadians who smoke dropped 14% since 1985. We also substantially cleaned up smog with catalytic convertors, started using radon detectors, became more conscious of medical radiation, and banned or regulated a bunch of carcinogens in the same period. Shouldn’t that reduce the number of cancers?

    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/tobac-tabac/research-recherche/stat/_ctums-esutc_fs-if/2003-smok-fum-eng.php

    • Steve says:

      But with obesity rates going up that will increase cancer. Just because smoking goes down it doesn’t necessarily mean cancer rate will directly follow (although that is what one would hope).

  25. Rick says:

    It’s a half a billion dollar question- If we keep funding Catholic Homophobia, our education system suffers. The more our education system suffers the more NaturoholiWoo Twaddle people will swallow. The best place to get people asking questions is in school. An educated populace is the best defence against tyranny, even the tyranny of Quackery. At least the Greens are against government funded Roman Catholic Indoctrination.

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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.