The Health and Wellness Expos of Canada has cancelled upcoming speaking events by an Alberta man convicted in the death of his toddler.
“We came to a mutual agreement that it would be in his best interest to not be here anymore,” Health and Wellness Expos of Canada spokesperson Rick Thiessen said.
David Stephan was scheduled to be a speaker at Health and Wellness Expos of Canada events this month and next in Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton.
Earlier on Sunday, Sobeys and Flaman Fitness said they would no longer sponsor the series of “wellness” expositions because Stephan was a featured speaker.
In an emailed statement on Sunday, a Sobeys’ spokeswoman said the national grocery chain couldn’t support the organizers’ decision to host Stephan as a speaker.
WATCH: Man convicted in son’s death will no longer speak at wellness expos
In a Facebook post, Stephan said trolls are to blame for the sponsors pulling out.
“Why there’s so much drama surrounding it with both the media and online, is because we advertised it online,” Stephan said. “These pharma trolls discovered it and their names are popping up on it. These same trolls that have been trying to take down Truehope for the past two decades.”
Truehope Nutritional Support Inc. is a nutritional supplements company out of Raymond, Alta. On his LinkedIn profile, Stephan’s identifies he’s the company’s director of marketing.
Stephan also insinuated that Alberta Health Services, not he and his wife, were responsible for the death of their son.
“In regards to the headlines you’re seeing about me basically being a baby killer, or being convicted for the death of my son, it’s completely untrue. That is not what went before the courts at all,” Stephan said.
“Because what was actually determined was that the ambulance issue was the cause of his death. That was very strong evidence that came before the jury. And the interesting thing here is that that ambulance was destocked intentionally by Alberta Health Services.”
He also said he’s saddened he won’t complete the health and wellness tour.
“We had nine presentations scheduled in ten days, we got done two of them. The rest will probably be cancelled because of the media chasing down the situation and blowing it out of proportion, (and) being on the puppet strings from the pharmaceutical industry.”
In 2016, Stephan and his wife were both found guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life in their son Ezekiel’s 2012 death from bacterial meningitis.
Their trial in Lethbridge, Alta., heard they treated the 19-month-old boy with garlic, onion and horseradish rather than taking him to a doctor. The Stephans eventually called 911 but the little boy died in hospital.
Stephan was sentenced to four months in prison, and his case is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court in May.
“It’s not my position to judge him and I don’t think it’s any of our position to judge him. I think his family went through a lot of hardships,” Thiessen said.
Some people took to Twitter to call on Sobeys to pull its support of the expo, given Stephan’s involvement.
Sobeys spokeswoman Cynthia Thompson says the company won’t be associated with any future Health and Wellness Expo events.
Sobeys is not the only company pulling its sponsorship of the expos; In a tweet Sunday, Flaman Fitness announced it would follow suit.
Flaman Fitness sponsored Health & Wellness Expos of Canada to help Canadians reach their health & fitness goals. However, we will not support an event which has David Stephan as keynote speaker and have withdrawn our sponsorship of this event and all future associated events.
— Flaman Fitness (@FlamanFitness) February 11, 2018
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.
Representatives for the Health and Wellness Expos did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
© 2018 The Canadian Press