The great nation of Canada is experiencing birth pangs and an identity crisis induced by the free exchange of vaccine information. In January, I gave a vaccine presentation to a large group of holistic farmers in Ontario, Canada. There were about 250 people in attendance, including numerous Mennonites. Much like the Amish, or Pennsylvania Dutch, Mennonite families lead simple lives, often avoiding modern technology, including vaccination.
This vaccine conference was hosted by the owner of a family-owned Canadian company that supplies natural, GMO-free products supporting sustainable agriculture. They also provide consultation services for livestock and crop production. The owner of the company became aware of vaccine problems when several of his own cattle became severely sick after cattle on an adjoining farm were vaccinated. Both the vaccinated and unvaccinated animals were affected.
Only two speakers were invited to this conference: a homeopathic veterinarian and myself. The veterinarian lives in upstate New York and drove across the border at Niagara Falls. She was held up by customs agents for one hour because they claimed she was taking jobs away from Canadians (by giving a two-hour talk). The agents even went online to find other Canadian veterinarians whom they believed could give the same presentation at the conference. Later, after telling me this story, the veterinarian and I suspected that the agents were not happy that her talk was on vaccinations. (Providing homeopathy for horses and cows probably didn't help either.) Perhaps Canada is protective against nefarious American influences!
A few days before I gave my talk in Ontario, I was invited to give another talk in Canada, this time in Vancouver, British Columbia. (I love Vancouver, Canada. I vacationed there a few years ago and came to appreciate the land and people. The Canadians seemed so genuine and civilized.) Joel Lord, who was organizing this event, invited me to speak at his Vancouver Vaccine Summit. However, he told me that he was on a shoestring budget and couldn't afford to fly me up there but that I could give my presentation via Skype. Darn! I always welcome opportunities to share my vaccine knowledge and I readily agreed to participate but I was disappointed that I wasn't going to visit Vancouver once again.
Joel began organizing the one-day event in January and set the date for March 12. He rented out a space for the conference at Simon Fraser University (SFU). One week before the conference, the Centre for Inquiry, a "science-based atheist group," wrote a scathing letter to Andrew Petter, the president of the University, calling for the University to "acknowledge its mistake in allowing the promotion of inaccurate information and dangerous quackery to happen on its grounds." Several members of the University's Faculty of Health Sciences and some local medical doctors also added their signatures to this letter and exerted pressure on the president to deny endorsement of the conference.
Although SFU president Andrew Petter was being pressured to prohibit the vaccine conference from occurring, he stated: "We have a university policy. It says we support freedom of expression. It doesn't mean we endorse the views. One of the reasons we endorse freedom of expression is because we believe the views that are expressed that are false or unthinking will be exposed as such through an exchange of views."
Petter's response did not quell the impending firestorm. Several newspapers picked up on the controversy and fanned the flames. For example, CBC News wrote that scientists believe the conference "is a threat to the health of children and the community." Nearly 400 comments were posted in their online forum. Many of them called for shutting down the conference and censoring the free exchange of information. Others were downright nasty. For example, one person claimed that anti-vaccinators "would rather see kids dying and getting disfigured from old world diseases, just as long as those evil corporations don=t make a profit."
The forum was pre-moderated. I tried to post a comment but the moderators would not allow it to be posted. Here is what I wrote:
"Canadian health authorities recommend 9 vaccines — hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, rotavirus, pneumococcal, Hib, polio, and meningitis C — for 2‑month‑old infants. Yet, this combination of vaccines was never tested for safety in any scientific study. The individual vaccines were put through clinical trials but the synergistic effect of combining them during a single pediatric visit was not studied for toxic synergy. Thus, the Canadian immunization schedule is not evidence‑based; it is not based on science — it is pseudoscience. The pro‑vaccinators on this forum who are criticizing anyone who questions vaccines by calling them 'anti‑science' need to provide scientific evidence that the childhood immunization schedule is safe. Provide one study that was conducted to confirm that injecting 2‑month‑old infants with a battery of 9 drugs simultaneously is safe."
The moderators were allowing pro-vaccine propaganda to be posted but they were apparently censoring some comments, so I wrote to the moderators:
"Moderators, why are so many people on this forum allowed to call non‑vaccinators idiots or anti‑science? Their derogatory comments are permitted, yet you censor my very pertinent comments addressing the non‑scientific immunization schedule. I weep for Canada. If the censoring you have exhibited at CBC News is typical of other media outlets in Canada, I don't see how freedom of speech and democracy can survive. The great nation of Canada will eventually fall. You have my email address. At least be kind enough to tell me your reasons for stifling the free exchange of ideas."
I never received a response from the CBC News moderators. That was too bad because I could have also provided them with a recently published peer-reviewed study that I co-authored with Dr. Gary Goldman. We analyzed more than 38,000 official reports of infants that had adverse reactions following their vaccinations. We compared the number of vaccines each infant received to the severity of the adverse reaction. Infants who received the most vaccines were the most likely to be hospitalized and die. Our study confirms the dangerous practice of administering several vaccines simultaneously to infants. Our study also confirms the unscientific nature of the childhood immunization schedule: studies have not been conducted to determine the safety (or efficacy) of administering multiple vaccine doses in a variety of combinations as recommended by CDC guidelines. You can read our entire study here.
In the midst of all the pre-conference hysteria, I was contacted by the producer of a prominent radio station in Vancouver. The host of one of the shows wanted to interview me. Once on the air, he went into a frenzy about Dr. Wakefield and how he lost his license. Apparently, that was all the "proof" he needed to confirm that vaccines are safe and that anyone speaking out about them is crazy. He also told his audience that if the conference were allowed to proceed, it would cause huge epidemics throughout Canada and around the world, and would eventually lead to the end of civilization as we know it.
Meanwhile, demonstrations against the university and against the conference were being planned. Extra security was required and Joel Lord was forced to pay for it or lose the site. I was starting to feel good about not being in Vancouver, and my planned presentation via Skype from the safety of my home made sense.
When the conference finally started, there were technical difficulties with the sound and two of the presenters dropped out. I was asked to start my presentation early, right after Dr. Tetyana Obukhanych, a research immunologist. I had prepared a powerpoint presentation on the American and Canadian immunization schedules, ingredients in vaccines, and overdosed babies. However, due to technical difficulties I had to give my presentation without my powerpoint slides. (That didn't bother me too much since I have all the information in my head.) I also summarized the two vaccine studies that I co-authored with Dr. Goldman. (Our study on international immunization schedules and infant mortality rates can be read here:)
Following my presentation, I opened up the floor to questions. The audience could see and hear me on a big screen. I could see the audience as well. I answered questions on numerous topics including some that were clearly from pro-vaccinators. My talk lasted 90 minutes and ended with exuberant applause. Everyone left the conference more knowledgeable than when they arrived.