alternative medicine has taken decades to gain legitimacy. Many treatments seen as far out just a few short years ago are accepted today by the medical mainstream . But you wouldn't know that from the stir caused by the Consumer Health Organization of Canada (CHOC). The group that calls itself this country's leading promoter of natural health keeps some pretty strange company.
How else to characterize CHOC's inviting Eustace Mullins, who trades in New World Order conspiracy theories about Jewish financiers controlling the world, to its Total Health 2001 expo this weekend?
The group relented and has since dropped Mullins from the speakers list. He was to have given talks entitled The Rockefeller Medical Monopoly: The Hidden Forces Behind The Myths Of Modern Medicine, and Criminality In Banking.
But Mullins wasn't the only unusual character invited to fill the roster. There was also one Bob Baker, a follower of far-right conspiracy fanatic Lyndon LaRouche, another of the Mullins ilk.
These aren't the kinds of characters one would expect pushers of natural health to be cavorting with.
But the connection is no accident.
Scan the glossy promo for CHOC's Total Health expo -- "North America's Premier Natural Health Show" -- and there among the regular alt-health types advocating herbal remedies, the Mitzvah technique, macrobiotic cooking, homemade soap and meditation are a host of New World Order conspiracy theorists.
Among them, a doctor Nick Begich, who claims the U.S. military has already developed electromagnetic weapons for mind control and to cause disease. Wally Dove lectures on freeing yourself from paying taxes.
The eclectic mix even includes a former NASA scientist who claims to have learned advanced healing techniques from extraterrestrials.
Generally, this is the kind of gathering that makes serious devotees of the ancient arts of holistic medicine cringe. It's a distressing turn for Zoltan Rona, a leading local holistic practitioner. Rona's spoken at Total Health gatherings in the past and has attended the shows on and off for 15 years. He won't go this year, though, nor will he leave flyers about the event in the waiting room for his patients.
"There are a lot of things that I don't agree with a lot of fringy therapies that are being advocated," says Rona.
CHOC, he says, has taken on a decidedly political edge over the years.
"At one time, people could go to the show and it was focused on things that were fairly biochemical or immunological, cutting-edge types of things," Rona explains.
But "over the past several years... frankly, I think it's gotten away from its roots. It doesn't look very professional, that's for sure. Some of the things coming out of the show could make good material for the X-Files. I'm certainly turned off."
So, too, are sponsors of the event. Both Noah's Natural Foods and the Big Carrot, two of the show's four backers, have pulled out over the Mullins-Baker controversy.
The question remains -- what were the organizers thinking? Is it a case of political naivete, or a calculation that it would be possible to inject right-wing conspiracy theories into a natural health meet and no one would complain?
Talking to CHOC president Libby Gardon makes me think its going to be impossible to find out. She tells me Mullins et al. are regulars at health expos south of the border, so she invited them here.
Gardon says she's known Mullins for 15 years and "has never known him to be anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish."
She bumped into him, as a matter of fact, at a conference on monetary policy near Belleville recently. But she's not getting into specifics about that.
Her members, she says, are "disgusted" by the pressure from the Canadian Jewish Congress to drop Mullins and Baker.
"People figure, "What right do they have to do that? We have the right to listen to whomever we want."'
The media, she says "twists the truth. I really believe the media is too controlled. I don't know by whom, but a lot of people talk about it."
Doesn't she think inviting New World Order cranks to her conference will destroy its credibility? It's all a much wider issue than just health, she tells me. "I think the medical profession are controlled by the pharmaceuticals," she says, repeating something that's undoubtedly true but fails to justify the strange invitees.
But she's talking about more than the close bond between physicians and drug companies. She's talking about the "illuminati."
*** CHOC's stated mission is "the prevention of disease through nutrition, whole foods, dietary supplements, herbs and other healing modalities." It offers a number of books and audio and video tapes for sale on its Web site. Lifetime memberships cost $1,000. A perpetual membership can be bequeathed for $2,000.
According to returns filed with Revenue Canada, CHOC has collected $1 million from the sale of merchandise and donations in the last three years, about two-thirds of it from the Total Health expo. This year's show will offer its share of product. There'll be 200 exhibitors pushing everything from cures for multiple sclerosis to the healing powers of magnets.
There'll also be a special giveaway -- "a 10-day rejuvenation program" at a private clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, one of about 30 along the U.S.-Mexican border where patients are dishing out $5,000 a pop for what critics call unproven cancer treatments. Directors of the hospital are also scheduled to speak at Total Heath.
But you won't be able to buy the Mullins books that were available on the Web site. CHOC, under scrutiny, has agreed to remove them. Jews killing Christian babies to drink their blood is a theme in his writings. He has also called Jews "parasites."
Books by David Icke, the former soccer star and British Green party member, now a New Age messiah, were also removed from CHOC's Web site. Icke writes in The Biggest Secret that "human-sacrificing, blood-drinking fanatics and black magicians you would not trust to tell the time compiled the law which Jewish people to this day are supposed to follow."
Still, participants in the conference this weekend at the Metro Convention Centre will come upon some useful material on the mind-body connection. Respected doctor Carolyn DeMarco, a leading writer in the alternative health field, is a scheduled speaker. As is former Trudeau cabinet minister and anti-free trade crusader Paul Hellyer.
Hellyer says he had second thoughts after the Mullins blow-up, but has decided to attend.
He'll speak on globalization and democracy and how Canada is about to be annexed by the U.S. "People don't know what's happening to their country," Hellyer says.
But stay vigilant. Also speaking is Len Horowitz, Harvard-educated self-described "independent investigator and internationally known authority on public health education."
Call the library and you're liable to be put on a waiting list for his latest opus, Emerging Viruses: AIDS And Ebola: Nature, Accident Or Intentional?
When I reached him at his office in Sandpoint, Idaho, last week, he launched into a story about the New World Order unleashing a "biological apocalypse" of man-made viruses, contaminated vaccines and tainted blood on an unsuspecting public.
To what end, one might ask? To feed the bottom line of powerful interests bent on capitalizing on human suffering, says Horowitz.
"Yes, indeed, there is a conspiracy," he says. "Do you have to stretch your imagination to say there are secret societies involved? Basically, who makes the money?" he asks. His answer? The Rockefellers, of course.
He's a little put off by the fact that Mullins and Baker were dropped. The idea of barring anyone from speaking at the convention is, he says, "lunacy to the point of being a witch hunt or McCarthyism." *