David Suzuki For Sale?

I respect David Suzuki.  He is a great Canadian (number 5 in the CBC’s 2004 Greatest Canadian contest, as voted by the public), and a visionary that was and is well ahead of his time when it comes to his prescriptions about the environment and global climate change.

Now having worked in the non-profit sector up until very recently, I am aware of the fact that charities have really taken a huge hit in the past year, and in the case of the David Suzuki Foundation, six staff were laid off this past spring and revenues are down from last year.

Could David Suzuki openning up the annual KFC franchisee conference be next?

Could David Suzuki opening up the Association of Kentucky Fried Chicken Franchisees Convention be next?

But is David Suzuki’s choices for speaking engagements and endorsements now being financially influenced by these difficulties?

Last week I detailed how WalMart has secured Mr. Suzuki as the keynote speaker for their Green Business Summit taking place in Vancouver next February.  I also asked whether Suzuki is now ignoring his past concerns about the Walmart business model as a result of this decision.

But now I have just discovered that David Suzuki has been announced as the speaker who will open the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors (OAND) Convention taking place on November 13.

According to the website for the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors:

“naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care system that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. The naturopathic philosophy is to stimulate the healing power of the body and treat the underlying cause of disease. Symptoms of disease are seen as warning signals of improper functioning of the body, and unfavourable lifestyle habits. Naturopathic Medicine emphasizes disease as a process rather than as an entity.”

In Ontario, visits to an naturopathic doctor are currently not covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). And as detailed by the OAND website, the suggested fee per hour for an appointment is between $125 and $180.

Here is the reasoning behind the OAND’s choice of Suzuki:

“Our Naturopathic Doctors are seeing the effects on health of polluted air, soil, water, and food with their patients. Our hope is for this event to be a part of the strategy to improve the health of our planet. As our latest campaign says, ‘We Believe in Health, Healthy People, Healthy Choices, Healthy Planet’” says Alison Dantas, OAND, CEO.”

Ironically, Suzuki’s talk is entitled “”The Challenge of the 21st Century: Setting the Bottom Line,” and admission will cost $37.80.

So if I understand this correctly, David Suzuki is speaking at a conference for an alternative form of medicine that focuses on natural remedies and the body’s vital ability to heal and maintain itself – something that is greeted by great skepticism by certain branches of the mainstream medical community.  Oh yeah, and its treatments cost a pretty penny for those that can afford it.

So rather than promoting sustainability, stewardship and global urgency with the way we are treating the planet, he is speaking as a marketing attraction for OAND.

So, has David Suzuki tainted his reputation as global crusader or is he just getting his word out to a wider audience (even though he has been on television nationally and internationally for 30 years)?

I’d be interested in the responses of reader. 

Jonathan Ross writes the CivicScene.ca blog

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