In the spirit of Festivus, the annual celebration of complaint, raspberries go to prohibitionists, supply managers and health zealots

Dear friends, every year on Dec. 23, we gather to celebrate that most cherished of holidays: Festivus. Festivus was invented in the 1960s in the New York suburb of Mount Pleasant by Dan O’Keefe, a curmudgeonly editor at Reader’s Digest. It quickly became an O’Keefe family tradition. And after young Dan, Jr., became a writer for the hit 1990s comedy show “Seinfeld,” it became a global tradition. In a “Seinfeld” episode of December 1997, the show’s chief curmudgeon, Frank Costanza, father of George, introduced the holiday to the world, and it has been honoured by curmudgeons everywhere ever since.

Celebrated every Dec. 23, this strange fest usually involves an unadorned aluminum pole, a Festivus family dinner, feats of strength and the ever-important “Airing of Grievances,” in which, after dinner, every member of the family explains how all the others have disappointed them over the past year.

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Ahem! If I may be so bold as to speak on behalf of Canadian consumers and direct my sentiments at our public officials, what I want to say, borrowing the immortal words of Frank Costanza, is: “We got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re going to hear about it.”

Friends, if you want to indulge in any alcoholic beverages this Festivus, remember, don’t have more than three drinks per week! That’s what “the science” says, the science paid for by Health Canada and published by the Canadian Centre for Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA), that is. According to the CCSA, anything more than two drinks a week — a week! — significantly increases your risk of pretty much everything that’s bad. But the good news for those who may wish to break the CCSA’s guidance and raise a glass or seven is that what this agenda-driven group really wants is a neo-prohibitionist future where no one drinks at all.

Oddly enough, the authors of the CCSA report are members of a temperance organization called Movendi, which is so hardcore in its war on alcohol that its members must take an oath “to lead a life free from the use of alcohol and other intoxicating drugs.” Paying alcohol-free activists for research on drinking is like paying members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for a report on healthy meat consumption!

Sticking with public so-called health, federal Health Minister Mark Holland deserves extra scorn this Festivus. A new legal smoking cessation tool, nicotine pouches, recently came onto the market in Canada. The emphasis on “legal” is important, because illegal nicotine pouches were so widely available in Canada that more than three years ago Health Canada had to issue a health safety information notice about them.

You would think a health minister who has championed harm reduction for virtually everything else would celebrate a new legal reduced-risk product to help smokers quit for good. Unfortunately, consistency is in short supply in Ottawa. In fact, Canada’s health minister says “We were duped” about nicotine pouches and “I do not want this out in the world.”

Shame on him! Nicotine pouches don’t have to be inhaled. In fact, they can’t be inhaled. Which makes them significantly less harmful than smoking and a very useful tool for quitting. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) published a comprehensive review of nicotine pouches and determined they were 99 per cent less harmful than smoking — exactly the same risk as the nicotine patches, gums and sprays that Health Canada is wild about.

According to the BfR, these products are not that attractive to minors or people who have never consumed tobacco products before, with only 11-12 per cent of that group showing interest. On the other hand, 75 per cent of smokers are interested in nicotine pouches. Both numbers, the low number for non-smokers and the high one for smokers, are good news. Lay off, minister!

A (dis)honourable Festivus mention also goes to Toronto Mayor Oliva Chow for attempting, yet again, to cap ridesharing in the lead-up to the holiday season. Who doesn’t love longer wait times and higher prices? Supply management for rides will be as perverse as it is for everything else. Which reminds me that Trade Minister Mary Ng also deserves grievances sent her way for her steadfast commitment to defending supply management, despite the fact that it artificially inflates prices at the worst possible time for ordinary Canadians, given the state of food inflation these days.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a proper Festivus without mentioning Environment Minister Stephen Guilbeault, who, after the courts overturned Ottawa’s attempt to label all plastic items “toxic,” decided it would be appropriate to waste everyone’s time and money appealing what anyone who’s not an enviro-zealot recognizes was the right decision.

That’s it for grievances for this year — though only because space is limited. And could somebody out there puh-lease do something about that! Geesh! The people who run this page! The stories I could tell you!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone. And a happy Festivus for the rest of us!

Originally published here



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