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Jun 13, 2002

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vol. 24, no. 4

PM cancels trip to Vancouver
Southam News, June 6

Prime Minister Jean Chretien abruptly cancelled a Vancouver trip to ensure he is in Ottawa for a crucial vote. Since the vote involved a money bill, the Liberal government could fall if enough supporters of ousted finance minister Paul Martin voted against it. SFU business professor Lindsay Meredith predicts a heavyweight leadership fight. “I think we're going to see a lot of blood still,” says Meredith. “We're talking two foxy politicians. The question is, where do we go from here?” Meredith says the big losers are Liberal party members. “This is just bizarre,” he says. “They have no external threat whatsoever, but they are having this internecine warfare which could rip the party in half.”

Bee world all abuzz
Calgary Herald, June 3

Honey experts and producers have bees in their bonnets over two smuggling stings at the Alberta border - and the industry buzz is recent shipments are just the tip of the honey comb. There is speculation that some Alberta keepers have been moving thousands of bees illegally from the U.S. It has been illegal to bring bees into Canada from the continental U.S. since 1987, over concerns about the Varroa mites and other treatment resistant diseases. SFU bee expert Mark Winston says Alberta beekeepers are notorious for their longtime battle against the federal government's regulations. He suspects some keepers make a beeline for the border in hopes of getting caught and testing the law. “Keepers in northern Alberta have been talking about certain strategies,” says Winston. “They have consistently failed in political lobbying attempts to have the border open, and that is the only province in Canada that wants it to open up.”

Seniors drowning in drugs
Victoria Times-Colonist, May 23

Many seniors, both in facilities and at home, have shopping bags full of pill bottles they must draw from each day. According to Statistics Canada, about one quarter of them take at least three to four different medications at once, despite the risk that serious interactions from drug combinations rises exponentially with each additional drug. Are seniors overmedicated? Gloria Gutman, director of SFU's gerontology research centre, says our prescription drug culture exists partly because physicians are pressured from both ends to prescribe. “As consumers, the population tends to look for a magic bullet. They want a pill that will fix them. Then there's the pressure from the pharmaceuticals.” Gutman says there are medications that are needed, and people live longer because of them, but “people tend to be too quick to ask for them, and doctors are too quick to prescribe.”

Women flock to alternative medicine
Elm Street Magazine, Summer 2002

Hundreds of thousands of Canadian women are turning to therapies at the fringe end of alternative medicine. They have become convinced that toxins and chemical imbalances are making them ill and that these treatments hold the answer. Statistics Canada found 2.2 million women use non-mainstream medical therapies. The medical profession has dismissed many of the therapies provided by alternative medicine clinics. “Alternative clinics are driven by emotion,” says SFU psychology professor Barry Beyerstein, who also belongs to the B.C. Skeptics society. He notes that for the culturally creative, science is part of a world “that is a very mechanistic thing that must feel psychologically threatening and unfulfilling.” Beyerstein says as a result, stepping away from that world isn't an effort, it's a relief.

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