Why I cannot support the Conservative Party

I don't like keeping one political party in power for too long. The incumbents can become lazy or corrupt and it's good to replace them every so often. Keeps them honest. But the problem is when there are not many choices, and one of those choices is the Conservative Party of Canada. A party who has so many wrong ideas.In 2005 virtually all sitting Conservative MPs voted against gay marriage. Now, they are at it again. A recent private-member's bill was drafted which sought to explicitly protect transgender rights. Arguably these rights should already exist under the Human Rights Acts protecting discrimination against sexuality or disability. However, new legislation was deemed necessary to clear up confusion on this issue because, let's face it, it can be a confusing issue.

The bill passed, which is surprising because it was an NDP bill in a Conservative parliament. But look at that vote breakdown:

I think that graphic speaks for itself. 

(Image source: CBC)

Traditional Chinese "Medicine"

So it seems that Ontario is going to start regulating practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Starting April 1st it will be illegal to practice TCM without being a member of the College.
The college will establish the scope of practice and professional registration, and handle complaints brought by the public. The profession is currently unregulated, but the province in 2006 passed legislation to create a regulatory body to ensure public safety.
Naturally, practitioners of this trade are up in arms:
Peter Lam, a spokesperson for the ad hoc Committee to Support Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario, said “We have consulted with two lawyers. This is against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is illegal.” In addition to a lack of English proficiency, many current practitioners inherited the knowledge from their ancestors and do not have the formal academic credentials to qualify for the registration requirements, Lam said.
I'm not particularly upset that the province is ruling out "my dad taught me" as a proper method of teaching medicine. We don't allow that for many professions, so why would this one be special? Anyway the legislation was passed in 2006. Seems like plenty of time to get your paperwork in order, no?

On one hand, regulating this field is better than the status quo, where anyone with a box of needles can call themselves an acupuncturist, and anyone with a box of powder can practice TCM. Now, you'll at least have to demonstrate that you understand certain basic safety instructions. Like sterilizing the needles first:
3/15/2004: The Quebec government is asking 1,200 people to undergo a blood test for HIV and hepatitis after needles were used more than once at a Montreal acupuncture clinic
Or making sure that peddlers of powders and herbs actually know what they are selling you, and what they're made of, so that they don't accidentally give you cancer:
Ying "Susan" Wu, 48, of Holland-on-Sea in Essex, has been on trial at the Old Bailey for selling pills containing aristolochic acid to a civil servant. Patricia Booth, 58, took the pills, bought at Chelmsford's Chinese Herbal Medical Centre, for over five years. She was in her mid-40s when she first sought help from the centre in 1997 for stubborn patches of spots on her face. The products had been advertised as "safe and natural".
But they contained a substance - aristolochic acid - which when she was first sold them, should only have been given under prescription, and which was later banned.
So hopefully the college can impart a basic degree of safety which is apparently currently lacking in this industry.

On the other hand, we won't see any degree of accountability for improving patient outcomes. The thing is that acupuncture and  TCM do not work effectively to treat illnesses.  Acupuncture is a waste of time with the potential for physical harm, and TCM is taking random, untested ingredients and hoping for some kind of drug effect. Both are based on a mystical notion of Qi, a life energy which flows through your body. Simply put: this notion is nonsense. Any non-placebo effect that TCM has is due to actual chemicals doing things in your body. And as Ms Wu found out in the UK, some of those chemicals are pretty dangerous. Some of them do nothing at all. Who can tell what effect a particular medicine will have? Not even its practitioners.

Elevating acupuncture and TCM from unregulated nonsense to a regulated profession will add credibility to this quackery. Instead of simply regulating them for safety, they should also be forced to prove their claims using the scientific method. Heck, even explaining their supposed method of action using real concepts instead of magic would be a start.

But at least fewer people should be poisoned, or exposed to pathogens now that it's being regulated, right?