MP denies knowledge of endorsed organization's ties to Scientology

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Raffy Boudjikanian
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Scientology denies ties to anti-drug organization

MP denies knowledge of endorsed organization's ties to Scientology

BY RAFFY BOUDJIKANIAN

raffy.boudjikanian@transcontinental.ca

West Island Liberal MP Bernard Patry defended his recent endorsement of anti-drug organization Narconon Trois Rivière's prevention campaign despite the latter's supposed links to the Church of Scientology. "I did not know that they might be tied into the Scientology church," said Patry, who represents the Pierrefonds-Dollard riding. "As a former physician, when I started looking into this, I just wanted to try to find out what type of treatment the drug addicts are getting."

Some anonymous e-mails of complaint were sent to The Chronicle's inbox about two weeks ago, after the newspaper's website ran an article about Patry signing a promotional banner, pledging to a life without drugs. The banner campaign was spearheaded by Narconon Trois Rivières, an organization that runs a drug rehabilitation centre in Trois Rivières and preaches drug prevention to schoolchildren.

Globally, the Narconon network has run into problems in several countries in the past. In 1988 in Madrid, Spain, 11 members of the Church of Scientology were arrested, according to the St. Petersburg Times, and a local judge decried how Narconon swindled its clients and lured them toward Scientology. In 2003, the state of Oklahoma in the United States narrowly voted down a resolution honouring the work of Narconon Arrowhead, reported the Tulsa World. Last year, the United Kingdom's prison systems ombudsman recommended Narconon not to be allowed in jails due to its connection to Scientology, reported the Sunday Times.

Jean Larivière, a local Scientologist and spokesperson for its church in Montreal, said the trials in Spain ended with victory for the Scientologists. They were also officially recognized as a religion in that country in late 2007. Though personally unaware of situations in Oklahoma and the United Kingdom, he said Narconon runs into trouble due to opposition from doctors and psychiatrists. He called Narconon a completely separate, secular organization from Scientology. "Narconon uses a very specific, very minor part of the writings (of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard)," he said.

According to Larivière, medical and psychiatric institutions oppose groups that use non-medicinal approaches to cure drug addicts. "Narconon is at the forefront of these groups," he said. That is why it constantly finds itself targeted by the aforementioned institutions, who use the group's origin as a “scarecrow,” said Larivière.

However, one sociologist does see a connection between the church and the anti-drug group. "Scientology tries to get politicians to endorse Narconon," said Dr. Stephen Kent, a sociologist at the University of Alberta who has studied the religion for years. "The pattern is long-standing," he added. "I will not respond to that at all," Patry said about Scientology targeting politicians. "I'm a Catholic," he added. "There are Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews and all kinds of religions in my riding."

Larivière dismissed Kent's charges, accusing him of being biased in his research and cherry-picking facts that suit an anti-Scientology agenda.

Some other politicians have signed the banner. Jean Patrick Laflamme, a political attaché to ADQ MNA Hubert Benoît in Montmorency, said Benoît did not know of any ties between Narconon and Scientology when he undertook that action. No politician would knowingly support an organization linked to Scientology, he added.

According to Carole Arvisais, community relations director for Narconon Trois Rivières, their program is open to any alcohol or drug addicts 18 years of age or older. Over the course of four or five months, patients go "cold turkey," replacing their drug intake with vitamins and proteins. They then begin to undertake three to four hour sauna sessions to sweat out drug toxins that get stuck in body fat tissues, she said while at Patry's riding office last month. Patients come to Narconon Trois Rivières from all over Canada and different countries. "It sounds pretty pseudo-scientific," said Joseph Rochford, an assistant professor at the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University who had not heard of Narconon before being contacted for this story. "It's going to depend a lot on what drug people are taking," he said. "Some drugs are lypophillic," he added, which means they are susceptible to get absorbed into body fat. However, alcohol does not have this property, he said. He advocated for a blend of medicinal treatment and social and psychological follow-ups for drug addicts.

Narconon boasts of a 70 per cent success rate. "The average (in the field) is under 50 per cent," Rochford said.

Founded by American science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s, Scientology teaches its adepts that humans are immortal beings that have not fully realized their potential. Scientologists start off with a very basic level of knowledge of its scriptures and it has been reported they may only progress further by paying money to learn more. A church exists in Montreal on Papineau Avenue, and there are about 1,000 local members.

In small letters on the back of a promotional pamphlet aimed at children called '10 choses que tes amis ne savent peut-être pas sur les drogues,' (10 things your friends might not know about drugs), Narconon Trois Rivières acknowledges it does use methodology based on Hubbard's work. "When a person thinks about something," one page in the pamphlet reads, "he sees an image in his mind (…) the mind registers 25 images per second and classifies them to solve all problems in life." "I think you can find similar stuff to that (in Scientology scriptures)," said Larivière, but he maintained that the excerpt sounded quite secular to him.

A glossary at the Church of Scientology's official website defines mental image pictures as "three-dimensional pictures which are continuously made by the mind, moment by moment, containing colour, sound and smell, as well as other perceptions. They also include the conclusions or speculations of the individual."

Narconon Trois Rivières did not return several telephone requests for follow-up interviews or a press release addressing issues raised in this article.

Organizations: Church of Scientology, St. Petersburg Times, Tulsa World University of Alberta Department of Psychiatry McGill University

Geographic location: Spain, Oklahoma, United Kingdom Montreal Madrid United States Montmorency Canada Papineau Avenue

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Recent comments

  • Marie St. Rogers
    February 08, 2010 - 11:15

    I caught the first piece on the drug prevention works of this group and was fascinated that they are using such forward-thinking psychological data in and easy to understand fashion, to help kids understand how the brain works and what the harmful effects of drugs are on the operation of the brain and creating mental pictures. The specific mechanisms that the brain uses for mental representations are well documented. Kids need to know these dangers as harming the brain can be a powerful factor in deterring drug use! The following articles on Mental Imagery may be of interest: Mental Imagery of Faces and Places Activates Corresponding Stimulus Specific Brain Regions. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 2000;12:1013-23 Mental Imagery and the Third Dimension. Journal of Experimental Psychology. 1980 Sept;109 (3) 354-71

  • Pork Chop
    February 08, 2010 - 11:15

    Mr Patry has displayed a dissapointing lack of concern for the individuals this "drug treatment" organization is supposedly helping. His defense of his endorsement for this program is unacceptable. A cursory search of the internet quickly reveals that the treatments that Narconon patients are subjected to have never been supported by independant research and in fact Narconon's claims of a 70% success rate are outlandish and unproven. Saunas are all well and good for sore muscles but I have a hard time believing that they can do f-all for drug addicts, especially when the medical community at large remains very skeptical. But even worse, the quantities of Niacin that the patients are forced to take can cause liver damage. Mr Patry is quoted in this article as saying, "When I started looking into this, I just wanted to find out what type of treatment the drug addicts are getting" This is terrible, as a former physician Mr Patry should have done his research BEFORE endorsing this organization, not afterwards! Then he would have known that this is not a real medical treatment facility but in fact a front group with more interest in making money off vulnerable families and creating converts than actual treatment of drug addiction. How many young people will suffer liver damage because of these treatments, simply because Mr Patry did not do his research beforehand? This shows a startling lack of concern for the well being of young people who are struggling with drug addiction. These people need real, proven medical care. Shame on you Mr Patry. I hope that all the politicians who have given their endorsement to this organization take a step back and do their research before more people are put in danger!

  • John McVoit
    February 08, 2010 - 11:15

    Scientology is not a religion or charity but a for profit business, they charge their members increasing fee's for "auditing" sessions. Members will have payed a much as 100+ thousand dollars ($100,000+) before even hearing about the alien spirits. Knowledge is our weapon, get involved help us help others to be aware of this scam. see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientology_as_a_business visit xenu.net or youfoundthecard.com

  • John Wetzel
    February 08, 2010 - 11:15

    In 1993, when the IRS gave the Church of Scientology its religious tax exemption, it named all of the Scientology front groups which were under the total control of the church. Narconon is listed as a major front organization of the Church of Scientology. Persons should be aware that former Surgeon General of the U.S., C. Everett Kropp stated that Narconon was "junk science". And within the last three years the State Superintendent of Public Education in California, Jack O'Connell, after a detailed independent investigation, order it our of all public schools in California. The state of Oklahoma had a similar finding. When Norconon finally found a way to open there, the State held to its origional finding. Before supporting Narconon, one should search the internet for additional findings and stories written by persons who have very tragic experiences in the organization.

  • Been There Done That
    February 08, 2010 - 11:15

    Narconon is a front group for $cientology. It uses all the same technology written by L. Ron Hubbard that is used within their so called religion. Narconon is a stepping stone to becoming a memebers. If you past Narconon, you are then allowed to join the church. They do this in order to avoid any negative press about addicts in their mist. Narconon has a less then 50% success rate, but they don't tell you that. They only want to print the successes.. not the failures.. because Hubbard can't be wrong and his "tech" always works.. if someone fails to be drug free after Narconon, then it's their fault.. not the tech. The tech is correct. The program also teaches you their cryptic language that Hubbard made up and exposes you to their processes. If you accept it at face value and don't question any of the idiotic writings of his man, then you're obviously a great candidate, because you're not allowed to question anything that Hubbard wrote. Everything he said is the true and definitive word. Hubbard IS GOD to these people. No-one else has the answers. ;-) Yeah right. It's a scam at global proportions.

  • John Franks
    February 08, 2010 - 11:15

    The author of this article has either done woefully little research on Scientology, or purposefully censored himself in fear of retaliation from the Scientologists, which are known for harassing journalists with private investigators, frivolous lawsuits, identity theft, etc. For real information about Scientology, their fronts such as Narcanon, and the documented criminal nature of their organization, one needs but type 'Scientology' into Google and examine the many resulting web pages that expose the cult/mafia nature of this organization which is actually outlawed in many western European countries! After you inform yourself, you might want to join in protests against Scientology by the group "Anonymous". Their first protest on Feb 10 attracted close to 10,000 protesters around the globe, including in Mtl. The next protest will be held March 15.

  • Phoenix Risen
    February 08, 2010 - 11:14

    Jean Larivière "called Narconon a completely separate, secular organization from Scientology. "Narconon uses a very specific, very minor part of the writings (of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard)," he said. MINOR part? In reality, Narconon's training courses and procedures for "patients" are the exact same courses and procedures as are used in the Churches of Scientology throughout the world. The only difference is that they have been "secularized" so as to appear non-religious. But the procedures are the same -- from the sauna program, to the courseroom drills, to the staff's organizational and administrative procedures and policy. Narconon may be "separate" and "secular", but it's the same thing as Scientology.