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Sobeys drops support for health expo because of David Stephan’s health seminars
Published Sunday, February 11, 2018 12:21PM MST
Last Updated Sunday, February 11, 2018 6:28PM MST
A national grocery store chain says it has dropped its sponsorship of a Western Canadian health and wellness expo because of its connection to a former Southern Alberta man convicted of killing his son.
David Stephan was listed as a speaker at the Health and Wellness Expos of Canada, an event that brings together companies, groups and individuals who promote health and wellness products.
Sobeys, one of the sponsors of the event, said that it was dropping its support of the show because of the listing of Stephan as a keynote speaker.
The expo website says Stephan works for a "research-based" organization that offers "nutrient supplementation" in an effort to improve brain and thyroid function naturally.
In an emailed statement, Sobeys said:
Sobeys has withdrawn its sponsorship from Health and Wellness Expos of Canada and will not be associated with future events. Supporting the wellbeing of Canadians is central to our purpose as a Company. We entered a sponsorship with the best intention of advancing our focus on eating well, but cannot support the choice that Health and Wellness Expos of Canada has made on the selection of David Stephan as keynote speaker. We are conducting a review of our processes and governance on these types of sponsorships.
In 2016, David Stephan and his wife Collet were both found guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life for their son Ezekiel, who died in 2012 from complications that arose from bacterial meningitis.
During the trial, the court heard that they treated the 19-month-old with natural remedies that included garlic, horseradish and onion instead of taking him to see a doctor.
Ezekiel was eventually taken to the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary where he later died.
David was sentenced to four months in jail while Collet was sentenced to three months’ house arrest in connection with the boy’s death.
Their sentences were stayed, pending a ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada scheduled in May.
According to the expo website, Stephan has already been removed as a speaker from the Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg shows. He only spoke at one of his three scheduled appearances in Saskatoon.
Rick Thiessen, the owner of Health and Wellness Expos of Canada, said that he met Stephan last year.
"He approached us and asked us to participate in all of our shows this year across the country. We thought that it would be a good idea because his message was clear and his message was good. At the time, we did it based on our experience with him last year and the amount of people that really enjoyed listening to him and the response that we got from our customers."
Thiessen said that the products at his shows aren't all good for everybody.
"They are basically good for some people for some things. That's why we do the Wellness Expo. It's an interactive way to find out about products and services. It's more legitimate than the Internet."
He says that on Saturday, he engaged in a conversation with an individual on social media about Stephan's involvement in the expo this year and that soon snowballed into a letter being sent to every corporate sponsor of Thiessen's event.
"It put a lot of corporations in a position where they have to protect their best interests so, as a result, we lost two of our major sponsors of the show this year."
Thiessen said that he had a conversation with Stephan afterwards and came to the decision that it would be best if he no longer appeared at the show.
"He is cancelled from all our tours in the country for his own sake and our own sake," Thiessen said. "It's not for me to judge, but I just told him that I cannot do, in all reality, I can't support that kind of criticism."
Stephan recently spoke at another health expo in Calgary and Vancouver.
(With files from the Canadian Press)