Wellness expo backlash continues amid David Stephan controversy
Professor urges science, evidence-based community to be vigilant
A long-time vendor at the Winnipeg Wellness Expo Show says he won't participate this year, or ever again.
"I'm out. It's too little, too late," said Graham Todd, who owns Reliable Mobility and is speaking out because he's angry.
"It's my own ethics, and where I believe the ethics of my company lie, as well," Todd said. His company provides people with healthcare equipment such as medical grade compression, raised toilet seats and complex rehab seating structures.
Todd had signed up for the conference a year ago, before he knew who the speakers would be. Furthermore, he said there is a healthy place for controversy, and it can be used to start conversation, but this was too out of line with his personal ethics.
Todd said he's been a part of the Winnipeg expo for around five years, and said he contacted the organizers for an explanation. He wasn't satisfied with the response.
The Winnipeg Wellness Expo 2018 is scheduled Feb. 16 to 18. Organizer Rick Thiessen did not respond to CBC's request for comment.
Stephan on schedule 'highly inappropriate': professor
Initially, the organizer of the event defended the decision to have Stephan as a speaker. He had said he judged his vendors based on their products, not on their personal lives.
Soon after, key sponsors such as Sobeys and Flaman Fitness withdrew from the event.
Sobeys has withdrawn its sponsorship from Health and Wellness Expos of Canada and will not be associated with future events.—@sobeys
"It's really disappointing that someone like him was being given a platform to pass on his views about health," said Timothy Caulfield, who is a professor and Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Alberta.
However, Caufield said the community's reaction to the situation and the removal of the speaker was promising. Furthermore, he said circumstances like these highlight the need for the science community to be vigilant.
He said people should be cautious of the information and products they find at events like this.
"These events legitimize pseudoscience. There's a lot of nonsense, and a lot of that nonsense leverages fear," he said.
If people want to attend events like the Wellness Expo, Caufield said they should be wary of products that claim to cure several different ailments and be suspicious of products that rely on testimonial and anecdotes for evidence.
"We know how to live a healthy life: you don't smoke, you exercise, you eat real food, you get a good night sleep, you wear a seatbelt and you surround yourself with the people you love. There's no magic."