Friday, May 22, 2015


As a community advocate, often I am engaged in trying to establish or influence the public policy agenda. One of the hardest balances is attempting to be judicious when it comes to going public. You shouldn't do this every time; it can make your group look reactionary and whiny.

Over the past year, the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils has been very vocal in trying to convince the provincial government to follow the lead of other provinces  in banning the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.

We stepped up our campaign last Fall after Canada's largest province, Ontario, brought forward progressive legislation restricting the use of electronic cigarettes, treating them much the same as regular cigarettes.

We recommended that Newfoundland and Labrador introduce legislation that subjects e-cigarettes to the same regulatory controls that are in place for tobacco products. These include but are not limited to:

  • All current and future smoke-free legislation and policies should include a statement that e-cigarettes are also prohibited under the policy.
  • No sales of e-cigarettes to those under 19 years of age
  • No sale of flavoured e-cigarettes
  • No display of e-cigarettes in retail establishments
  • No promotion/advertising of e-cigarettes

In November we met with the NL Alliance for the Control of Tobacco and agreed to combine forces to promote the need for regulation of this product which has the potential to addict more of our youth to tobacco and increase the smoking rate in our Province.

We feel electronic cigarettes are a major threat to tobacco control initiatives and they are a possible gateway to cigarette smoking for youth and has the potential to leave youth and others with the impression that smoking is the norm.

We were pleased to meet with the Ministers responsible for Health and Wellness to discuss our concerns. The response was very receptive and positive. In fact, Clyde Jackman, Minister of Seniors, Wellness and Social Development Minister of Advanced Education and Skills was clearly supportive and onside. We left the meeting knowing government was onside, engaged in studying the issues and committed to introducing legislation to act in a decisive way before this gateway to nicotine addiction and smoking initiation got a further hold on our youth.

Since that time vapor shops have popped up like Dandelions, selling all manner of e-cigarette and nicotine juice. Government has been studying the issue. The House of Assembly has been in session but no legislation has come forward.

Earlier this week, in response to questions from Liberal Health Critic Andrew Parsons, Premier Paul Davis said government is  is working on legislation to regulate e-cigarette sales in this province. I can not help but ask, where is the beef? Why has this simple legislation not been drafted and  brought to the House of Assembly? Why the delay? Obviously it is not a priority or it would have been part of the Spring Legislative agenda.

I welcome the reaffirmation of the commitment to join Ontario, Nova Scotia and other provinces but  action speaks louder than rhetoric in these politically opportunistic  times.

Bring forth the Legislation before the House of Assembly closes in June.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


Zebadiah Anderson is seeing red after eating a Chicken McNugget which he claims contained bone shards that injured him to the point where he had to be taken by ambulance to a hospital!

The Illinois man is suing MacDonalds stating "The Subject Chicken McNugget constituted an unreasonably dangerous product when put to use for which it was intended, in that it could not be consumed with safety and without the risk of impaling and/or cutting the consumer in the mouth, tongue and/or throat, and potentially causing additional damage to the stomach, digestive track and intestines of the consumer, due to the sharp bone shards contained therein"

The giant international  fast food company has been sued for many things over the years from serving scolding hot coffee which seriously burned a women to ruining a singers voice.after she allegedly swallowed glass eating a chicken sandwich.  

There have been lots of nuisance suits over the years like the California man  who sued McDonald's for $1.5 million because  he only received one napkin with his order. 

With Billions and Billions served, there is no doubt that the company takes the safety of food served in my restaurants very seriously. 

So what exactly is a MacDonald's Chicken McNugget made of? The answer may surprise the conspiracy crowd. Apparently it's...chicken! 

McDonald's Canada has a  page of their site full of videos and frequently asked questions regarding how their projects are made!

At the risk of being labelled a food Nazi, I believe that  taxing fast food and similar food products would create additional incentive for consumers to eat healthier. There is no doubt  that fast food, based on fat, poor nutritional content, carries risks that can contribute to obesity, heart disease, diabetes  and other chronic health problems. 

People might  purchase  healthier food cheaper and realize it is better for them.

Yes, I know, it is matter of choice, but these choices, often motivated by the lack of low cost alternatives, are contributing to health care crisis that threatens to bankrupt our healthcare system.

Perhaps the proceeds from the sin-tax can go towards subsidizing the cost of doctors, nurses, dialysis, surgeries and supporting farmers to lower costs!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

"The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you."

Neil Degrasse Tyson

Thursday, April 23, 2015


The daughter of a man killed by a member of Premier Paul Davis's security detail is demanding that an independent police force investigate the shooting.

Donald Dunphy's daughter speaking through her lawyer - has lost faith in the ongoing investigation being carried out by the RCMP. 

The Provincial Government has refused to comment on calls for a public inquiry into the April 5th shooting.  Justice and Public Safety Minister, Darin King has stated that he wants to "see the current, ongoing investigation unfold and see what the results are".

 NDP leader Earle McCurdy has publicly called for a public inquiry and Liberal Leader Dwight Ball says he would support one.

The Dunphy families concerns about tunnel vision and a lack of objectivity will only ignite more suspicion about the events leading up to the shooting, the shooting itself and the aftermath.

Abandoning the ongoing investigation would be wrong. Lets see what the RCMP investigation states before truncating the process.  I doubt any process is going to meet the expectations of many considering the political "undertones", reliance on forensics and the shooter being the only witness.

I just think that that the RCMP, with the participation of Justice Riche , will produce a professional, through and unbiased investigation. 

Will involving another police force change anything from an investigative point of view - probably not, but this tragedy has been marred by perception issues since it occurred.