How I Became a Marketing Change Agent in the Public Service

I thought it might be interesting to some of my readers who presently work in a public sector organization to learn how I defeated the dragon called bureaucracy and what I did to slay the dragon by becoming a change agent in my years as a Marketing Director in the Federal Government.

change agentBackground

Before joining the federal government I spent over ten years in the private sector and was recruited to work in Ottawa by a former colleague from the private sector, starting off at Canada Post when it was still part of the government and pre-privatisation and eventually moving on to work at a number of federal government departments .

Frankly I was a bit naive when I first joined the federal government. For example, my first day, as I was hanging pictures in my new office, I was told I needed a public works requisition to hang pictures on my wall. That was my first introduction to the bureaucracy and the red tape associated with it.

Later on I learned what was involved in hiring staff and contracting for outside services and wondered how anything gets done in the government system.

As someone who came from the private sector, I realized early on if I was ever going to be successful in the government bureaucracy I was going to have to break some rules (usually in the grey area and not serious breaches of regulations) and if caught ask for forgiveness as I was new and could say I was ignorant of the rules.

Also I learned in the public service, there are rules, and there are guidelines which are not rules and there are rules that people “make up” to demonstrate their power (e.g. admin staff).

I thought I would start off this blog with a few of my experiences in the quest to slay the dragon called bureaucracy.

Experience 1 _ Canada Post Corporation (formerly Canada Post)

OK so let’s start off with my first year in government. The Canada Post marketing team from across Canada are meeting with headquarter staff to be briefed on marketing activities for the coming year. This is my first presentation of a marketing plan at Canada Post where I was responsible for postal and retail products. I was co-presenting with my colleague who was responsible for business to business products and services. So we are on stage both presenting our marketing plans. My plan featured a few key deliverables developed by a painstaking strategic marketing process. My co- presenter on the other hand had a long list of deliverables. Note that both of us had about the same number of staff.

After the presentation, I confronted my colleague and asked him how he possibly could deliver on all the deliverables he presented.

His answer was my first lesson on how the bureaucracy works,  he stated that he presented the same deliverables every year but there was really no expectation that any of it will get implemented. Coming from the private sector I found it hard to believe that a marketing manager could present a laundry list of deliverables to all the Canada Post marketing people and not be accountable to implementing the plan? I then asked, what happens when you present your marketing plan to the same team the following year? His answer was that they forget what you said the previous year and you present the same stuff year after year and if it gets done fine, if not, you provide reasons in your year-end report why it was not done.

This was an opportunity to be a change agent. I realized that Canada Post marketing needed some changes on how it operates so all of our marketing plans were accompanied by a comprehensive work-plan with milestones so that everyone in the regions and headquarters knew what and when to expect the deliverables. Sounds pretty simplistic but there was lot of resistance to the idea as accountability was not on a firm foundation at Canada Post marketing at the time.

Also we set up a feedback system for the national marketing team to receive market intelligence on the products and services we were offering as this was not done previously. This became invaluable for marketing planning in future years.

Experience 2 _ Federal Government

When I left Canada Post and joined my first federal government department I realized that marketing was not really appreciated or understood. There were few people who were doing marketing in the federal government at the time and those who were, tended to be involved with selling products and services (and they did not call it marketing).

However, selling government policies and programs was virtually unheard of and social marketing for behaviour change was not on anyone’s radar screen. Some of my colleagues actually thought that marketing was “the enemy “.  I spent a great deal of time talking to colleagues and trying to convince them that by taking a marketing approach to some of their programs would lead to better results.

I also found that the only way you can convince people to adopt marketing is by doing a small project, which involved developing a marketing plan with your internal client and hopefully achieving success as nothing succeeds like success. In order to ensure success, I learned that quick wins are important so it was important to ensure that goals and objectives were realistic and attainable. However, once you achieve success and meet your goals and deliver for your internal client, your credibility is enhanced and you become a “go to person”.

A change agent is fueled by passion, and inspires passion in others, Change is hard work. It takes a lot of energy. Don’t underestimate this. Without passion, it is very difficult indeed to muster up enough energy to assault the fortress of status quo that seems to otherwise carry the day. A change agent must understand people. At the end of the day, change is about people. Change will really “stick” when people embrace it. Therefore, change is part sales, part counseling and part encouragement.

Building a team of passionate people was something I learned pretty quickly is needed in a public sector environment and also came to realize very quickly to slay the dragon I would have to recruit from outside the public sector. This is a very sad commentary when I think back but that was the way it was. I tended to recruit people who were from the private sector, new to government and not tainted by the bureaucracy. I also recruited young marketing /MBA students out of business school.

Experience 3 _ Health Canada Social Marketing

When I landed at Health Canada marketing was non-existent although they were running some ads. While I was in my previous government department , Energy Mines and Resources I had learn about something quite new in the marketing field… social marketing and thought it would be a perfect fit for what we were doing at Health Canada at the time.

Trying to implement social marketing was quite a challenge particularly when the word marketing had a negative connotation to staff working at Health Canada (probably as a result of tobacco, alcohol and food marketers who were universally disliked by health professionals). What we did was start off small and build. Nobody will buy into your program and/or give you human and financial resources unless you can demonstrate success. So when we started, we took on a few projects, and worked like heck to make sure they were successful. I knew if we failed with our initial social marketing initiatives we may not get a second chance. We also made sure to hire communication and marketing contractors who were innovative and produced creative material which was very different from the typical stuff you saw from government at the time.

Our first efforts had some success, but they were small.  But we kept on building and improving and continued to hire staff who had strong skills in marketing and more important were passionate about social marketing. We were very focused on measurement as we knew that if we were to grow we had to show results and were able to contract with very competent  “marketing researchers” (as opposed to experts in public opinion research which was the norm at the time).

What I found was when implementing a major culture change; you need to start planting seeds in various parts of the organization. You have to be on the constant lookout for 1) opportunities for small wins; 2) new allies; and 3) ways to change the language used to discuss our area of expertise. The key is to take advantage of small opportunities when they present themselves—and to persist. If you tend to these things, your initiative can more quickly blossom when you do achieve high-level support for it.

Experience 4 _ Health Canada Strategic Alliances and Partnerships

After a number of years at Health Canada it became very apparent that we needed to start looking at alternative ways to get our message out to our target audiences.

We realized that when developing tactical plans it is always a good idea to consider how you can expand the reach of your messages through strategic alliances and partnerships. Partnerships between governments, non-profits and private sector organizations are clearly an effective way of reaching and influencing individuals. We believed it could be an integral tool for delivering cost-effective messages to the audience(s) identified for our campaigns.

Our reasoning was that both the tangible (e.g. communications and distribution networks) and intangible (e.g. credibility, associative) value of partnerships could be substantial and would be leveraged to deliver targeted, positive and sustained messages to our audiences. In addition, while Health Canada may be a trusted source of information the target audience may likely respond more positively to information and endorsements from credible third parties as a means of providing balance to an initiative.

An expanded communications network composed of private sector, government, NGOs, would we thought, improve credibility tremendously over a single-source marketing campaign. i.e. saturate the media while spreading the cost across all sectors. At the time no one we knew in government was doing marketing partnerships with the private sector, perhaps because of the risk involved and bureaucrats tend to be risk-adverse.

So senior management suggested we hire a consultant to do a feasibility study on government partnering with private sector organizations for marketing campaigns. Then the kiss of death… we were forced to use a consultant who had zero knowledge on marketing, communications and partnerships. As expected the consultant’s report stated that government and private sector partnerships and strategic alliances for marketing campaigns was not a good idea and recommended we should not go forward. The rationale was very weak but here we were with a consultant report which stopped us from doing what we wanted to do.

Well we convinced our management after a number of discussions to go ahead with private sector partnerships in spite of the consultant report. One of the first things we did was develop guidelines for working with the private sector in conjunction with our Legal Services. We wanted to protect ourselves and more important give senior management a “comfort zone”. In the bureaucracy if you establish rules and regulations everyone breaths easier.

We went on to develop many strategic alliances and partnerships which turned out to be a major success in attracting millions of dollars of private sector in-kind support and really helped us with our marketing programs. I recently received a copy of a marketing presentation from Health Canada and noted that they are still using private sector alliances for many of their programs.

 Experience 5 _ Health Canada Internet

In the early 90’s there was a lot of talk about the internet/web. At the time the only web site in government was an experimental site at Industry Canada. One day one of our team members came over to me and said Jim we have to get Health Canada online. (Keep in mind that a very small percentage of the population were on line at the time). It was obvious that the internet would grow in the coming years and we needed to move into the area, although a few members of my management team thought that the internet was a fad and wasn’t going to be a factor in communications and marketing. (Hard to believe now but that was the view at the time)

Now came the challenge, how would we get management to buy into the development of a web site? How would we be able to get the resources to do this work? The solution, I knew my boss hated the amount of money we spent on printing. When I mentioned that we can send our print products online and eliminate printing over the short and long term she was sold and allocated lapsing funds to get the ball rolling. So we worked very hard to develop Health Promotion On-Line which I believe was one of the first “marketing websites” in the federal government and we were on our way and later on we moved on to develop the Canadian Health Network .

The lesson learned was that change agents need to be prepared to do a lot of the groundwork to actually implement changes. A lot of ideas go nowhere simply because the boss is already too busy with other things. If you take a great idea to your boss and show him/her that they won’t have to do much more than say, “Yes,” your chances of getting the idea approved will improve dramatically. And of course you need to make a strong business case.

Experience 6 _ Centre for Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM)

For many years I gave some thought to what I would do when I left the public service. I always felt that  marketing programs in  government were not executed very well. In an era when governments need to be more responsive and accountable to the needs of the public, I felt strongly that marketing can help government accomplish this goal.

With governments, crown corporations/agencies and other public institutions spending significant dollars delivering programs and services, I felt that there was a need for more marketing in the public sector.

So in 2005 I worked with Bernie Colterman to create the  Centre for Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM). We also had great support from Mike Kujawski who later became a partner in our organization and Claire Mills our Managing Director. It was a bold move as we had no idea if the public sector would want to buy specialized marketing consulting services which did not include creative or advertising services. However we have been in business for close to twelve years and have successfully served hundreds of clients with our consulting, training and speaking services.



So what does it take to become a change agent? As Don Jacobson points out in his excellent article Tips for Change Agents , what is it that you really want to accomplish? Do you have an end goal? Keeping the end goal in mind is critical to forward movement. You will experience many setbacks on the way as some of things you will try to do will fail. However you can’t dwell on the latest setback otherwise you will become frustrated. Move forward. Don’t dwell on your failures, yes learn from them but move on.

A change agent lives in the future, not the present. Regardless of what is going on today, a change agent has a vision of what could or should be and uses that as the governing sense of action. To a certain extent, a change agent is dissatisfied with what they see around them, in favor of a much better vision of the future. Without this future drive, the change agent can lose their way.

Here are a few tips on how to be a change agent in the public sector:


If you are looking to implement a major culture change like introducing some new digital marketing techniques or tactics, you will need to start planting seeds in various parts of the organization. Be on the lookout for:

  • opportunities for small wins
  • new allies
  • ways to change the language used to discuss your ideas.

Don’t get hung up on terminology, if I had an internal client who was dead set against marketing, I would still do marketing but call it something else like a public awareness, public education or that dreaded word used in government “outreach” instead of social marketing. Sometimes it just does not pay to hit your head against a brick wall.

The key is to take advantage of small opportunities when they present themselves—and to persist. If you have been working on the small opportunities eventually it will blossom and you will achieve high-level support for it. Quick wins are important so make your goals attainable.

Networks are key enablers for the change agent. The network can be members of your own team, employees from other parts of the organization, or even contacts from other agencies or contractors. Members of a network can provide each other encouragement, ideas, and other support. They can also provide leverage by building support for change in diverse parts of the organization, replicating changes throughout the organization, and continually expanding each others networks.


Cultivate Credibility: To be an effective change agent, you need to establish credibility in your organization. One of the key things we did was making sure that the marketing team “knew their stuff” accomplished by extensive training both internal and external.

New employees have a fresh pair of eyes and good ideas and managers need to listen carefully to their suggestions. Another critical part of establishing credibility is cultivating a constructive relationship with your boss that involves a healthy mix of support, tact, and candor.

Leaders have “character and credibility”; they are not just seen as good people but that they are also knowledgeable in what they are speaking about.

No matter what field you work in credibility is key to being successful so it is important as a marketer or communicator to be up to date on the latest marketing/communication strategies, tactics and techniques, you don’t ever want to be in a situation when your client knows more than you do. So continually update yourself, courses, training, marketing literature, books webinars etc. Don’t fall behind.


Strong relationships built on trust –If you do not have solid relationships with the people that you serve they will not want to buy in if they do not trust the person that is pushing the change.  Be open minded, approachable and reliable.

Trust is also built when you know someone will deal with things and not be afraid to do what is right, even if it is uncomfortable. Trust is built when you choose to do what is right for your organization and not yourself.

When you work in an organization you need to understand the environment you work in and more important what the culture is of the organization.


Change is hard work. It takes a lots and lots of energy. Don’t underestimate this. In my experience, without passion, it is very difficult to muster up enough energy to assault the fortress of status quo and bureaucracy that seems to otherwise carry the day.


There will be many days where everyone around does not understand and will not offer any support. The change agent needs to find it within themselves to get up every day and come to work and risk being misunderstood and misappreciated, knowing that the real validation may be far in the future and may be claimed by someone else. Yes I went home many evenings wondering why I am trying to change things and why not go with the flow but that was not in my DNA.


Playing organizational politics means taking advantage of the system of power and relationships in the organization. Taken to an extreme, you would be a manipulative deal-maker. On the other end of the spectrum, some change agents would prefer to ignore politics altogether. However, pretending the system doesn’t exist means you are blind to the way the organization works – the very organization you are trying to change. The effective approach to politics is somewhere between ignorance and exploitation. The challenge is choosing whose power to leverage (and how) without damaging relationships.


Leadership is a choice. If you see a problem, own it. And fix it. All too often, people see problems but wait for someone else (e.g. the boss) to fix them. It’s important to remember that the boss might not even be aware that the problems exist—and even if they do know about it they might not have the time or energy to do anything about it.


What would happen if your change initiative is implemented and then fails miserably? How would that impact your organization’s ability to perform its mission? How much money and energy will have been wasted? Will it cause public embarrassment? What are the chances of failure? These are some of the things that decision-makers will worry about. The answers to these questions can help you identify ways to strengthen your proposal and mitigate the potential downsides. That’s why it is important to do a business case that deals with potential downsides.


Remember that a “Yes” From the Top Means the Real Work is Just Beginning.

If you are fortunate enough to have the boss sign off on your major change initiative, remember that the decision point is only the beginning of the real work for implementing your initiative. Just because a change initiative is blessed by the leader(s) of the organization does not mean anything will actually happen. And even if the initiative is implemented, you cannot assume that the effort will continue or have the intended effect.

A change manager must have unshakeable determination and tenacity. Deciding what needs to be done is easy; getting it done is more difficult. Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous impatience. Once implemented, they can be easily overturned or subverted through apathy or lack of follow-up, so a continuous effort is required. Too often, important problems are recognized but no one is willing to sustain the effort needed to solve them.

“The devil is in the details.” But when the details are ignored, failure is not far away. One of the main things I looked for when hiring staff was their ability to pay attention to details.

For many organisations, the challenge is how to empower people who come up with ideas and nurture them in such a way that they are realized. Marketing is perhaps one of the most fertile grounds for innovative ideas that can drive change. It’s uniquely placed as a bridge between the organization and its clients. “Change agents” aren’t a new phenomenon, but when enabled by technology, people with ideas, conviction and passion are able to better drive important programs.

The role of marketers has evolved rapidly over the past decade as the range of digital services and technology grows… this is a big opening for marketers. Now marketers have to create new strategies and campaigns in order to reach and influence audiences who are more demanding, more vocal, wider spread and sometimes tougher to reach. Campaigns have to be fast-moving in order to keep organisations ahead of an ever changing landscape. Technology is becoming instrumental to deliver modern marketing campaigns, at speed, involving social media, digital, real-time monitoring, big data, and changes in target audiences.

Marketers are known to be skilled in generating revenue for non-profits and enhancing the image of public sector organizations. But they can and should have a role to play in high-level operations of organisations. They can do this by becoming synonymous with market intelligence and helping to guide the strategic direction of the organization.

Marketers have this once-in-a-generation opportunity to combine their thinking with the rapid deployment of technology to elevate their ideas and standing within the organization. The role of a real change agent in marketing requires persistence and passion.  It requires a belief in the value of the ultimate vision.  The inertia of public sector and non-profit organizations will be to maintain the status quo.

“Being a change agent is not always a fun job.  Marketing people today need to have a great deal of courage if they’re truly going to lead organizations to a different place.  “If things are just humming along great, you’ve got to ask yourself what I need to fix, because things are always going to have to be changing.  If you’re not changing, you’re stagnating and if you aren’t declining now, you will decline…so I think that people who are not satisfied with the status quo, no matter how good it is, are people who are going to be more likely to succeed.”

So, the ability to be an agent for change and to help lead an organization through the obstacles you encounter, whenever there’s change, including just the human resistance to change, I think is very, very important.”

Can you train a person to be a change agent? It would seem to be difficult.  How do you train someone to balance the brashness of a new idea with the sensitivity to get things done without breaking too much glass?  How do you learn to have such confidence in your vision that you can push through all the barriers that will inevitably be in the way?  And how do you know that in making the changes you are making that you’re not throwing the baby out with the bath water?

I hope this blog is helpful to those of you who hope to become or are a change agent in the marketing area. Please feel free to comment on my blog as I am looking for feedback.




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Role of Advertising in Government

I spent many years directing major government advertising campaigns for the federal government. I am a very strong believer in government using advertising campaigns to promote programs, motivating audiences to improve their health and other important issues. During my career in government, I can honestly say that the motivation for the campaigns my team were involved with focused on important topics and issues particularly social marketing campaigns in the health area whose main objectives were to change attitudes and behaviours.

I have always felt that the advertising techniques used to promote commercial goods and services can be used to inform, educate and motivate the public about non-commercial issues, such as health, energy conservation and the environment. Advertising, in its non-commercial guise, is a powerful marketing tool capable of reaching and motivating large audiences.

However there has been some controversy in recent years on how advertising is being used by the Canadian government. Bruce Anderson recently wrote in the Globe and Mail “I’m not naive about government advertising or against it in every form. Earlier in my career, I worked on ad campaigns about the deficit, national unity and the GST, among others. Looking back, I’m not certain that some of the campaigns I worked on didn’t cross the line I’m drawing in this column. But each of those campaigns was at least about trying to build momentum behind an important and difficult change for the country.

But an ad campaign to vilify cellphone companies? To tell us something vague about a war fought 200 years ago? To let me know, just in case I was wondering, that the government truly cares for veterans? I’ve no quarrel with governments advertising to make people aware of programs and services, to encourage socially useful behaviour, and to build knowledge around important national issues.”

Government advertising can be controversial if it conflicts with citizens’ views about the proper role of government. Yet some government advertising is accepted as a normal part of government information activities.

According to the federal government website the Government of Canada’s approach to advertising is guided by the principles of value for money, transparency and accountability. According to the federal Treasury Board directive, advertising is an important way for the Government of Canada to communicate with Canadians about policies, programs, services and initiatives, public rights and responsibilities, and risks to public health, safety and the environment.

So one has to wonder why the government has launched a $4-million national ad campaign celebrating the Fathers of Confederation and a country that has become “strong, proud and free” more than two years in advance of Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.

Alex Marland, a political science professor at Memorial University in St. John’s, N.L., is currently doing research on how the brand message of governing parties gets entwined with government advertising.

He compared the current Canada 150th birthday ads with those commissioned for the country’s 125th anniversary under the Brian Mulroney government in 1992. Marland states that “the Canada 125 ads were designed by politically correct bureaucrats; the 150 ads are designed by experienced marketers.”

He goes on to say that “It’s very smart marketing because it’s reinforcing other messages the government is sending out.” The ads emphasize the importance of strong leadership, highlight hockey and embraces the Conservative party history-based patriotism. Source

The government has spent more than $7-million on a 10-week, anti-drug advertising campaign. The TV and Internet ads by Health Canada ran parallel to a partisan radio ad campaign, paid for by the Conservative party, which attacked Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau over his promise to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana.

As someone who was very involved in Health Canada campaigns dating back to 1981, there is no question that Health Canada has been communicating the dangers of drugs for many years and should certainly continue to support parents with the tools they need to ensure children to live drug-free lives. This is a very important mandate. This is particularly important now because Canadian youth are the biggest pot consumers in the western world, according to the United Nations.

What is unfortunate is politicizing an important effort to reduce drug use. The government which has for decades involved health organizations in their health campaigns attempted to involve three very prominent health organizations in the campaign, however, they publicly distancing themselves from the campaign because they felt they were political in nature. Source

The government spent $14.8-million in 2013 promoting “Canada’s Economic Action Plan,” a catchphrase first created by the government to promote stimulus spending. As I pointed out in a previous blog this campaign has clearly not been very successful and has been tainted as partisan advertising.

The $2.5-million campaign to advertise a job grant program that did not exist is also questionable use of advertising by Government.


SCREEN GRAB - Canada's Economic Action Plan website -   video still -The Canada Job Grant  0520-jobs-grant-ads

This past week we learned about a multimillion-dollar campaign to market Canadian oil in the U.S. The Maple Leaf was plastered on the walls of subway stops in Washington, D.C., and it popped up in all sorts of American publications with messages such as “America’s Best Energy Partner” and “Friends and Neighbors.”



The $1.6-million (U.S.) ad campaign launched in 2013 was followed up by a $24-million, two-year international program. One can dispute if this was an effective use of ad dollars and perhaps there were better communication tactics that could have been used in this campaign.

The results of the campaign showed most D.C. respondents had seen the ads. They didn’t quite agree, however, on what they’d seen. The most popular take-away message, at 17 per cent, was that Canada and the U.S. were friends and energy partners. Building Keystone XL got 11 per cent.

One federal government official stated the ads were never designed to sway people about Keystone. They were there to spread a broader message people could remember and repeat, about an energy partnership with Canada. According to the government the ads were there to help create the political space for a (Keystone) approval which Canada has not yet received.

Let me know what you think.


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“Whitney Legacy” social marketing campaigns focusing on prescription drugs

It was a tragic end for Whitney Houston who possessed a rare ability to sing like an angel. The sad spectre of drugged-out musical legends dying at a young age surrounded by pill bottles, booze and their enablers is well known; Judy Garland at age 47, Elvis Presley at 42, Michael Jackson at 50 and so on.  Even in the case of Houston, her death spiral had been in public view for many years. In all the coverage this weekend in the media, there was very little discussion how this singing legend had fallen into disrepair. Canadians will remember how Houston cancelled a Toronto show at the CNE grandstand, along with her entire Canadian tour in the 90’s. Her people blamed a “persistent throat condition,” though a week from show time only 11,000 of 20,000 seats had been sold. By decade’s end, Houston’s diva status was wobbly. Reports of erratic behaviour and drug addiction intensified after she was fired from performing at the 2000 Academy Awards.

A notorious 2002 interview with Diane Sawyer further stoked speculation as an alarmingly thin, fidgety former diva. A massive publicity blitz included a two-hour sit-down with Oprah Winfrey in which Houston revealed that she and her abusive husband Brown smoked crack. A 2010 European tour, her first in 11 years, was a sad spectacle of missed high notes and cancelled performances. In May 2011, she’d returned to rehab as an outpatient, citing drug and alcohol problems. Recently it was reported she’d been offered a position as a judge on Simon Cowell’s The X Factor. But her personal demons held more interest. The day before her death, the YouTube entertainment show Hollyscoop reported that a “disheveled” Houston—blood on her leg and scratches on her arm—had to be escorted from a Hollywood club with her 18-year-old daughter. The next day she was gone. Source

What can we learn from this past week? Is there a “Whitney Legacy”? Will Americans and Canadians take heart from this terrible tragedy and start numerous social marketing campaigns focused on prescription drugs? Will  The Partnership at formerly known as the Partnership for a Drug-Free America who has been beating the drums for drugs for decades refocus their efforts on prescription drugs and alcohol? Will social marketers who for years focused most of their attention on illegal drugs start major campaigns across America and Canada on prescription drugs?

According to the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse evidence suggests that Canadians are among the heaviest consumers of psychotropic medication in the world. Will the federal and provincial government initiate campaigns in this area?

Early on in my career, the federal health department produced a number of publications warning about the serious problems with Benzodiazepine and other prescription drugs.  For example in 1981, Health and Welfare Canada published a guidebook, “It’s Just Your Nerves” and in 1982 published and distributed a lengthy document entitled“The Effects of Tranquillization: Benzodiazepine Use in Canada” both expressing considerable concern with benzo use in Canada, extent of use, inappropriate prescribing and serious side effects.

Regrettably, since these publications were produced and distributed, (30 years ago) Health Canada and other stakeholders in Canada have done very little since that time to address the issue of misprescribing, misdiagnosis and mistreatment surrounding these drugs, which has reached epidemic proportions in Canada. Health Canada has produced some information on the misuse of prescription drugs especially opiates but frankly this is woefully inadequate considering the problem.

I certainly hope that in the coming months and years we see a significant uptake in campaigns addressing the serious issues related to prescription drugs. Let’s hope that this becomes “Whitney’s Legacy” besides her wonderful music.