Who knew Health Canada investigates “garage” sales for consumer safety?

Credit National Post files.

There is a saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Well, who would have believed, when the Conservative government of Stephen Harper unveiled new consumer safety legislation a few years ago, that such a road would be built on the taxpayers’ dime?

Of course, the PM and his Cabinet would not have anticipated such a road, but it was built just the same,  all thanks to career bureaucrats who sit in the their little cubicles thinking of ways to take away our freedoms.

In fact, the new legislation seemed like such a good idea at the time, I even listed it as Item # 13 on my Harper Government Accomplishment List.

Now, however, Marni Soupcoff of the National Post is reporting  (H/T JNW) that Health Canada is taking those regulations so seriously, they have staff who actually check out re-sale classified ads and what is being sold at garage sales. And, if you are found to be non-compliant, you can be sued.

For what you ask? Well, check out this Post article by Tristin Hopper who writes:

“According to the Health Canada website, a garage sale is effectively breaking the law if it includes lawn darts, corded blinds, broken toys, toys with powerful magnets, hockey helmets, tiki torches or any product that has been the subject of a recall. Regulations also call for garage sale electronics to be bundled with “instructions for safe use.”

The regulations are particularly strict when it comes to children’s products. Sellers are barred from dealing in children’s costume jewelry containing lead or cadmium, as well as cribs, cradles and bassinets that do not meet “stringent regulatory requirements.” Any car seat sold more than five months ago may also be subject to scrutiny.” [My highlighting.]

Now, the regulations may have a point about trying to re-sell broken toys or costume jewellery containing lead or cadmium. Although, it is conceivable that a parent could buy all the parts to an otherwise expensive toy and fix it.

Plus, I am not sure how anyone would know, just from looking at a piece of jewellery, whether or not it contained dangerous heavy metals. I mean, as far as I know (and my hobby is jewellery design and beading), the only metals identified are gold, sterling silver, nickel, stainless steel or an alloy of all of the above.   Of course, we know that products manufactured in certain countries overseas may be suspect.

Anyway, I agree with Soupcoff’s suggestion, that with all the public service cuts, perhaps now would be a good time to cut the entire Health Canada garage sale and classified ad department. 

Or, perhaps that department could concentrate on not allowing products from suspect countries into Canada. Wouldn’t that be a better use of taxpayers dollars?

In the meantime, I would recommend making a list of what you plan to sell and check out every single product online, starting at this Health Canada site

Nanny statism indeed!

20 thoughts on “Who knew Health Canada investigates “garage” sales for consumer safety?

  1. Pingback: Soupcoff: You know you live in a nanny state when Health Canada is patrolling garage sales (1) | Jack's Newswatch

  2. If you want to see the nanny state in action, try taking your newborn infant home from the hospital. Unless you have an approved car seat that is less than two years old, you won’t be allowed out the door with the child. And the safety ‘experts’ are forever warning of the perils of buying a used seat which, to paraphrase one I heard, ‘might have been in an accident and so its integrity may be compromised’. No mention how.

    M’self, I think this is just a bunch of bollocks. What magically makes an infant seat unsafe at the years?? Twenty years, perhaps, but TWO?!? All this does is to burden new parents with unnecessary costs.


  3. More government always results in less freedom and less freedom results in less prosperity. Yet over and over people demand that government “fix” any and every little perceived problem Go figure.


  4. How to handle such a situation:

    Health Canada Investigator – “Sir, I see that you have a couple of non-approved articles in your sale. You are not allowed to sell these”.

    Garage sale home owner – “Oh really sir? I’m so sorry. I had no idea! It’s sooooo wonderful of you to show up and show me the proper way to run my garage sale!”.
    “Here look, I’ll take thes items back in the house!”.
    — (Moves items into house).

    H.C.I. “Thank yous sir. Have a good day” – (leaves).

    Home Owner – “Bye! Have a nice day!”

    Home Owner – goes and removes items from house. Puts them back for sale and makes some money.

    Nanny State Problem solved.


  5. John — Until they decide to come back to make sure you didn’t bring the products outside again. LOL


  6. “jewellery, whether or not it contained dangerous heavy metals.”
    Does Health Canada not realise that the CFL light bulbs the environuts keep pushing contains mercury and that mecury is a heavy metal. No doubt all finding its way into land fills ant tha water table.


  7. Frances — Correct me if I am wrong, but if the hospital doesn’t like you carseat, don’t they “rent” you an approved one? I seem to recall that happening to my daughter. If so, they are able to make a little money on the side. Meaning, the whole matter should be considered a conflict of interest.

    Not that either of us wants infants in dangerous car seats of course. But, as you say, two years? I mean, most parents have a couple of years between kids and they sure don’t want to have to buy a new seat for each child.

    We need to be aware of these little things against our freedoms because they add up over time.


  8. Sandy, I suppose you are right.
    But really, they don’t have enough people to enforce such a law and if people decide they simply aren’t going to obey Nanny … then sux2BNanny.

    They have only enough people to harrass a few individuals who unlucky enough, foolhardy enough or just plain dumb enough to get caught. As far as widespread enforcement. That will only be possible if people obey voluntarily.

    If you can’t enforce it; it ain’t a law.


  9. Our condo has a “free table” in the parking area where we can swap our junk and to store items until the annual sale and BBQ (all paid for by our bottle returns!). Must I now post a sign stating the new rules and regulations as regards items for sale and must I now contact the condo insurance provider to see what our liability is? Will our sale notice in the local paper be scrutinized and the GSP (garage sale police) show up to observe our junk … and holy cow what about the burgers for the BBQ? Check the salad honey, there’s been a recall!

    1984 is here!! We have lost our freedom.


  10. WCT yes, condo boards suck.

    I live in a condo and my wife serves on the board and tells me the horror stories. They are just one more pissy-assed level of government. Try making friends with some people who are having garage sales in their yards of their houses. Then the condo board can go shove it.

    I serve as a adult volunteer with a youth group. Every year we have a year end summer gala with a lunch. the local government reps strated lecturing us on liability, professionally cooked burger ect ect. So we said screw you and changed the location of our year end celebration to a local park and made it a bring-your-own-pot-luck. Us 1 Nanny 0 .


  11. And just why is government at any level concerned with consumer safety? Think about it. The human species has thrived for a hundred thousand years without government watchdogs so tell us, please, why we need them now.


  12. Dollops — “Why is gov’t at any level concerned with consumer safety?”

    I can only assume it is because some of the people who make our products are dishonest. Like babies died recently in China because the milk their parents gave them to drink was diluted with a cheap contaminated protein. Can’t remember the full details but that is the point. So, someone somewhere can make an extra buck or two.


  13. As I said earlier, I now have my comment feature on full moderation. But, will approve new ones as soon as I can.


  14. Someone with an axe to grind left a comment that those who develop legislation should anticipate the consequences. I would say that is only partly true since it is the bureaucracy we are talking about now. They obviously sit down at a committee table somewhere in Ottawa and go line by line thinking about what they need to do to make sure the law is applied. The problem comes in when they try too hard. I mean, garage sales and flea markets? In fact, as I understand it, it’s any setting that sells second hand/used goods and materials.

    I went by a house on the beautiful Niagara Parkway this afternoon, near Queenston, and there was a garage sale. Both my husband and I laughed and I said “maybe we had better go warn them.” Of course, it’s a long weekend…..!!!!


  15. John — My husband and I just use good old common sense. If something is so worn out we don’t want it, chances are others don’t either. But, if it is a collection of bottles or cups and saucers, I’d just ignore the whole thing. Plus, if someone buys an old rug or sofa or whatever, all they have to do is get it cleaned.

    Yet, come to think of it, aren’t we supposed to reuse and recycle? The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. That legislation was meant for new product safety, like cribs, car seats, high chairs, strollers, etc.


  16. So what is going on here? First the govt bureaucrats wanted us to become a recycling nation and now they don’t? What nonsense and I say no.
    My garage sale or assisting others is an annual event and there is no way that I will ever bow to these idiotic pencil pushers. They are moronic regulations and for every action there is an opposite or negative reaction and this one definitely fits in that category.


  17. O/T,

    Graphic: How Quebec’s tuition compares

    Jake Edmiston, Richard Johnson May 18, 2012 – 8:08 PM ET | Last Updated: May 19, 2012 12:02 AM

    There’s one fact that usually gets slipped into the bottom of news reports on the Quebec student protests: that the province has some of the lowest tuition rates in Canada. But how low is low? The National Post’s graphics department compares:



  18. Yes, I saw that graphic Jen. Amazing how low some disciplines are in Quebec. Like, look at law and engineering compared to Ontario.


  19. Sandy – you may be right about the car seat ‘rental’, but that still does not solve the problem of having to buy a new car seat even if you have a perfectly good one at home from the previous offspring; and I rather suspect the hospital bureaucrats would pass on such ‘rental’ info to the public health nurse to ensure you conform.

    With respect to the 2008 Chinese scandal, the baby formula was contaminated with melamine, which allowed the product to test well for protein but which caused serious kidney damage. Interestingly, the same product was involved in the March 2007 pet food recalls in North America, Europe, and South Africa. In this case, it was wheat flour adulterated with melamine and other nasties to give the protein profile of the desired product (wheat gluten, rice protein, or corn gluten). We know a vet who was on the front line when this hit; said vet was among the first to post photos on VIN (Veterinary Information Network) showing odd but distinctive crystals in the urine of the affected animals. I guess the moral of that story is be very careful about buying food from China.


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