Last modified: Sunday, January 11, 2004

Empowerplus officials still waiting for word if search was legal

Documentary about health supplement airs today on Discovery Health


Lethbridge Herald

Officials of a southern Alberta company raided by RCMP last summer for records concerning a nutritional supplement are still awaiting a judge's decision on whether the search and seizure, initiated by Health Canada, was legal.

"If the judge rules in our favour, they will have to return everything to us they took that day," says Tony Stephan, co-developer of Empowerplus and co-founder of the non-profit company, Truehope Nutritional Support Ltd., based in Raymond.

"They took nine boxes of files with confidential client information, all our hard drives, our server -- we told them to go ahead, we had nothing to hide."

Stephan and his partner David Hardy believe the raid was a retaliatory move by the federal department, since it came about 30 days after the men filed a lawsuit against Health Canada.

That battle, which accuses the feds of breaching the Constitution, was expected to get to court this month but has been delayed until next fall.

Truehope, a mental health support organization with a staff of 55, provides continuous support to EMpowerplus users through a Raymond call centre and the Internet.

They say -- and research appears to support their claims -- the formula can be used to treat bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism, panic attacks and anxiety, and other illnesses.

Discovery Health Channel's documentary on EMPowerplus, Impossible Cure? will air today at 3 p.m. Mountain Time.

Health Canada ordered RCMP to raid the Raymond office over allegations EMpowerplus was being sold without government approval. Health Canada says vitamin and mineral supplements cannot be promoted as medical treatments without a Drug Identification Number (DIN).

Before DINs can be issued, Health-Canada approved research has to show evidence to back the health claims.

Truehope has its detractors. Two men wrote a book debunking the supplement. These men and others have often shown up at venues near a Truehope event to speak against them. These opponents have been openly sponsored by pharmaceutical firms.

But clinical studies by reputable scientists at major Canadian universities are piling up. Some have even been stopped early, the results are so dramatic. And while the men won't divulge details of some current overseas work until it is published, they say the international research is duplicating Canadian findings.

Treatment is so effective, they say more than half of patients are able to completely abandon psychotropic medications in favour of the nutritional supplement.

In a soon-to-be published study completed at the Canadian Centre for Behavioral Neuroscience in Lethbridge, Dr. Bryan Kolb and Celeste Halliwell achieved enhanced tissue recovery in brain-injured rats who were fed EMPowerplus.

"(The investigators) can hardly believe it," Hardy says. "It's significant to us that when you give the body what it needs, it can do some amazing things. The theory that we've introduced to the world is that so much of chronic illness is from deficiencies. The theory of depletion explains everything we see."

Potential key word to rejuvenating city's downtown core: professor


Lethbridge Herald

When Avi Friedman looks at a back alley in downtown Lethbridge, he sees more than dirty, bare walls, cracked pavement and garbage bins.

The professor of architecture from McGill University in Montreal sees a street of cobblestone, sidewalks and entrances to new apartments. Single-level buildings become three- and four-storey apartments housing families, students and senior citizens.

Friedman and a group of his architecture students toured several downtown blocks Friday. Armed with cameras and lots of ideas, they made note of existing buildings, empty lots, vacant stores and landscaping which will aid them as they begin developing designs to help rejuvenate the downtown core.

"The word potential is the key word," Friedman said. "You have good, old buildings that have good architecture design."

He was particularly impressed with several buildings along 3 Avenue which have been restored to their historical glory.

"Look at this beauty," he said of the newly renovated Dove Christian Supplies.

He was similarly impressed with Catwalk hair salon and spa, which has also undergone major changes inside and out.

"It shows you what is the potential."

There are also some challenges, however, and Friedman said the city needs to "solicit" the type of businesses -- boutiques, hair salons -- which attract people downtown and steer them from big box developments that "Suck the life from this area."

Filling the many empty stores downtown is another challenge.

"This is a bad sign," Friedman admitted as he peered at one of many dirty, vacant windows lining the streets.

He said Lethbridge is experiencing a generational change and the city needs innovative ideas to help pump new blood into the heart of downtown.

"When you don't have ideas, you don't have solutions."

Although Friedman and his students are just beginning to work on concept designs as part of the city's downtown redevelopment project, they have already been working on designs for affordable housing in residential areas of the city.

Friedman unveiled nine designs for affordable housing in Lethbridge which his students developed at the School of Architecture in Montreal. The designs were displayed at City Hall Friday and Saturday. Friedman also spoke Saturday on common sense neighbourhoods and the affordability of housing, and he's expected to present highlights of the affordable housing project during city council Monday. He will also speak at the University of Lethbridge at 6 p.m.

Small steps all that's needed to help benefit environment


Lethbridge Herald

You don't have to be a tree-hugger or beatnik protester to help protect the environment.

Pat Letizia, executive director of Alberta Ecotrust, says taking small steps such as buying local produce, reducing consumption which in turn decreases waste, composting and recycling are all positive actions that help benefit Mother Earth.

"We must have a healthy environment to have a healthy community, a healthy economy," she says. "That can't happen without conscious intent by citizens to keep (environmental issues) important."

For example, Letizia explains choosing a locally grown tomato from a farmers market or friends garden over one grown in another part of the world can help reduce chemicals seeping into the soil because home-growers are less likely to use harsh pesticides as well as reduce emissions that would be released during transport of an import product.

"The resources that go into one tomato can have a huge impact."

Members of Alberta Ecotrust were at the University of Lethbridge Saturday to identify positive environmental strategies and solutions to a variety of problems such as urban sprawl and water quality and quantity.

Alberta Ecotrust is an environmental grant maker which started in 1992 as a partnership between corporations and environmental groups. The co-operative organization grants funding between $2,000 and $20,000 to various environmental projects.

Saturday's dialogue day at the U of L was the group's first visit to Lethbridge but Letizia says she hopes it will return.

The dialogue day program, where community members come together to brainstorm about problems facing the urban environment, was first piloted in Calgary last year and has since taken off as a way for everyday citizens to help effect positive change.

"Urban initiatives were not really rising to the top," says Letizia, adding prior to the dialogue day sessions, most of the grant money the organization handed out was for conservation projects outside cities.

The goal of Alberta Ecotrust is to open up the channels of communication between experts, citizens, corporations and environmental groups and provide funding assistance when possible.

"There is help out there," says Letizia. "It's not as onerous to get grants as most people think."

For more information about Alberta Ecotrust visit