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To Manage Its Reputation, Canada Needs To Stop Toxic Souvenirs

More than a year after lead-laden toy scandals broke,  toxic toys are turning up in the worst possible incarnation: Canada-branded souvenirs.

Health Canada ordered a recall of  toys like miniature hockey sticks and stuffed toys dressed as Mounties after an investigation by the Toronto Star found they contained dangerous amounts of lead.

It looks terrible on Canada that souvenirs-momentoes of our country that will be brought back to countries around the world-are poisonous and could seriously harm a visitor to our land.  It’s even worse that lead is turning up in souvenirs that are aimed at children.

Perhaps its time for the government to do more than monitor and recall products containing lead (not that, obviously, they’re doing that very well.)   If the government wants to manage Canada’s reputation among visitors, it should do more to regulate the sales of souvenirs.

Anyone is free to create and sell Canadian souvenirs at the moment.  Perhaps a little more government involvement would ensure that the knick-knacks and toys meet regulations and come from reliable sources. Many of the recalled souvenirs came from dollar stores and were made overseas.  Considering the current state of the economy, it would be better to create more jobs at home anyways.

For now, the government better hope no one who has visited Canada gets sick back home.  I doubt anyone in Finland or India is going to hear of a Canadian recall.


It is damaging to the country’s reputation as a whole to allow toxic souvenirs to be sold.  It will require the government’s intervention to restore it.


Our family was affected by a toy recall and the lack of information on the recall and the level of frustration I experienced when trying to obtain information on the recall prompted me to begin a toy recall site. Health Canada does not actually "order" toy recalls, Health Canada can only 'issue' a recall notice because many of these tainted toys are from U.S. manufacturers or distributors and are protected from different laws. n nIn Canada, if a product has been identified as hazardous (lead, barium, etc.) and a recall notice has been issued it is often left to the retailer to manage the recall and to remove the affected product from the shelves. That is to say, even if the retailer was notified of the recall! n nI agree with you that it looks terrible on a global stage that souvenirs of Canada were tainted with lead. But our laws are doing little to protect our children from the severe health consequences of these products both from an import and an export perspective.

Christie Adams

Hi Sarah, n nThanks for your reply. This is a case where it won't take a PR campaign to fix the problem-but it could take a communications campaign to address the root of the problem. n nLobbying-government relations as opposed to just public relations-is key to get our leaders to strengthen our laws or put in checks and balances where they can. Perhaps there's a toy watchdog group out there in need of the right agency to get their message out?

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