House of Commons Hansard #53 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was artists.

Topics

Improving Trade Within Canada Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, the previous speaker just does not get it. This is a bill that could actually help his constituents.

I am from Fort McMurray and, of the almost 10,000 Albertans who live in my city, most of them are from somewhere else in Canada. This was a huge issue for my constituents in the previous election, the previous one to that and the previous one to that. Most of my constituents are from areas closer to his home town than my home town. I cannot tell the House how much my constituents want this legislation. It means jobs and it would add to Canada's economy.

I would like the member to tell me how he thinks his constituents feel about this legislation, because it would affect the jobs that they want in order to take money back to their families and establish new lives in Alberta and elsewhere.

Improving Trade Within Canada Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, as the Edmonton caucus chair for the Conservative Party, I have had the opportunity to meet with several business groups, employer groups and many constituents. One of the top concerns that I hear time and time again is that they cannot find the labour they need in Alberta right now. At a time when Canadians need jobs, and there are still Canadians who are looking for work and need jobs, in excess of the 600,000 net new jobs that we have created, there is a place where jobs are available. However, we need to ensure we have measures in place to encourage labour mobility in this country.

Back in 2009, the Prime Minister made an agreement with the provinces and territories on this issue. The legislation that we are talking about today would put teeth behind that agreement. It puts penalties in place if the federal government does not meet its commitment in regard to that agreement.

This is not a long piece of legislation but it is important. We hope that we can count on the support of members of all parties in the House to get it passed quickly.

Improving Trade Within Canada Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary did not include a description of the current progress or lack of progress on issues surrounding chapter 11.

In 2007 there was agreement between the first ministers of the 10 provinces and 3 territories and the federal government to conclude work on an energy chapter. Would the parliamentary secretary be able to provide an update to the House as to whether t a comprehensive energy chapter will soon be completed and included in the internal agreement on trade?

Improving Trade Within Canada Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, the agreement on internal trade is an evolving process and it will continue to evolve. This government will continue to be focused on all factors within the agreement.

In regard to energy, it is not helpful when members of the New Democratic Party travel down to the U.S., our largest trading partner, and lobby against the interests of Canadians. That is absolutely not helpful when we are dealing with issues on energy security.

What is also not helpful in the area of our energy sector, which tends to be driving the Canadian economy and the social programs that we hold so dear here, is parties proposing things like a carbon tax, which the hon. member's colleague from Vancouver Island just recently raised again. It has been part of the election platforms of both the Liberal Party and the NDP in previous elections. That is not helpful to the Canadian economy.

Improving Trade Within Canada Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to address Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Agreement on Internal Trade Implementation Act and the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act, which proposes amendments.

I am pleased because, regardless of what members opposite may say, the NDP supports the removal of domestic trade barriers, the expansion of internal trade and also labour opportunities and mobility. More specifically, we support the parts of this bill that will facilitate the movement of Canadians from province to province to get work. So, we think that some aspects of this bill are worthwhile.

As the hon. member knows, the Agreement on Internal Trade is an agreement between the provinces and the federal government that was signed in 1994 and came into effect in 1995. Since then, it has been amended several times. We are currently addressing the content of the 10th amendment. An 11th amendment has since been proposed and negotiated. We must recognize—and this is the point that I tried to raise in my question to the hon. member—the importance of striking a balance in a free trade agreement like this one, because this is really what it is.

It is a free trade agreement that is more similar to the one negotiated under NAFTA than to those that were ratified at the World Trade Organization. It is also obvious that an agreement like the Agreement on Internal Trade results in a loss of sovereignty for the provinces. That is the foundation of the accord. The provinces have signed it, and they have accepted it. However, the fundamental issue has to do with balancing that loss of sovereignty. I will elaborate on this later on.

We should also expect that agreement to harmonize standards between the provinces which, in many cases, may be a good thing. However, a lack of balance in this regard could trigger relatively serious problems for certain sectors. Indeed, it could create obstacles to a province's ability to legislate on the environment, workplace safety and other issues that may not constitute a trade barrier as such, but may have to do with specific concerns in the province involved.

There have been cases under the Agreement on Internal Trade. There was one that pitted Ontario against Alberta and British Columbia concerning substitutes and dairy blends. In fact, Ontario banned the sale and manufacture of various products that resemble or imitate products made out of milk or milk ingredients. The 2004 panel formed to talk about this issue found that Ontario's Edible Oil Products Act contained measures that were not compliant with the Agreement on Internal Trade. The 2004 panel found that the measures were discriminatory, that Ontario’s dairy products constituted a like product and that Ontario gave them better treatment.

The panel also found that the measures interfered with the right of entry and exit, as the Edible Oil Products Act restricted or prevented the movement of goods and related services between provinces and created an obstacle to trade. After the report of the panel formed under the Agreement on Internal Trade was issued, Ontario had until February 1, 2011, to comply.

I want to know whether Ontario was denied its ability, not to protect its dairy sector, but to establish a distinction between the consumption of dairy products and edible oil products, which are different but try to imitate dairy products or milk itself.

Ontario still claims that protecting its dairy sector, not from a commercial point of view but from the consumer's point of view, is a legitimate objective. This also raises another question about supply management. We know that supply management in Canada affects the Maritimes, but it mostly affects three provinces: Ontario, British Columbia and, naturally, Quebec. Quebec and Ontario alone account for 50% of dairy production in Canada.

These two provinces are strongly committed to fully protecting the supply management system. What does the Agreement on Internal Trade say?

The chapter on agriculture allows parties to adopt or maintain measures concerning supply management systems that are regulated by the federal and provincial governments as well as measures concerning marketing boards governed by the provincial governments, which are not technical specifications.

According to the agreement, a technical specification is a technical rule or standard, a sanitary or phytosanitary measure or a compliance evaluation procedure. Based on that definition, is supply management protected? We are not entirely sure.

A technical specification is a technical rule, a document or a legal instrument that sets out characteristics of goods or their related processes and production methods, including applicable administrative provisions, and compliance with it is mandatory under the law. It may also deal exclusively with terminology, symbols, packaging, marking or labelling requirements as they apply to a good, process, or production or operating method.

What is the point of supply management then? Can we protect the milk market? Perhaps, but we cannot regulate its manufacturing process, labelling, production method or characteristics in order to keep people from skirting the system by using analogs.

I am raising the issue of supply management because an agreement such as the Agreement on Internal Trade will surely have ramifications in terms of the free trade agreements we negotiate overseas. All of the rules that we want to apply to internal trade here are closely followed by our international trading partners. They can see the potential for loopholes and could ask for elements that were protected or were not on the negotiating table with the Government of Canada in the past.

As with any free trade agreement, it is crucial that there is a clear framework regarding the responsibilities of the parties. It is even more important to have the flexibility to protect sectors that are central to the economy of the parties, such as supply management. And this issue also brings up the question of programs that promote eating local. This is not a public health issue or a consumer protection issue. According to the Agreement on Internal Trade, it might therefore not be a legitimate objective.

Will these policies be challenged under the Agreement on Internal Trade because they give local products a higher profile? We are in favour of introducing exceptions so that the groups created under the Agreement on Internal Trade to judge cases can consider some of these exceptions. Once again, these exceptions are not there to impede commerce or to cause problems in terms of interprovincial trade. We are more in favour of a real response to the specific needs of several provinces.

Many of the concerns raised by the government and these groups warrant our attention and, accordingly, the NDP would like to call expert witnesses in committee in order to get some clarifications on the potential impact of such a bill.

As I pointed out, it is important to understand that the Agreement on Internal Trade is similar to NAFTA in terms of its structure. One of the things about NAFTA that worries us—and it still worries us because NAFTA is still in effect—is chapters 11 and 19, particularly the provisions on investor states. Those provisions allow investors to sue foreign states directly. Thus, an American investor can sue the Canadian government or the Mexican government for anything it considers a constraint on its ability to do business in a country or its ability to make a profit in that country. Of course, some exceptions exist in NAFTA, but they seem pretty weak.

This brings me to the measures that were the subject of the question I asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry. We are talking about companies that launch lawsuits against certain governments for reasons that are not necessarily trade-related, but that aim to prevent a given country from enacting completely legitimate, pertinent legislation, in this case, on the environment.

I will give two examples. Dow AgroSciences sued Canada for $2 million because Quebec prohibited the use of pesticides manufactured by that company. We all agree that pesticides are a basic environmental issue that has been around for at least 40 years. A number of products sold by various companies are recognized as being harmful not only to the environment, but also to the health of people who live close to areas where these pesticides are used.

Dow AgroSciences has tried, and continues to try, to sue Canada for $2 million because of the ban. This is not the only such suit. The Crompton company has also sued Canada for $83 million because some municipalities have banned the use of the pesticide lindane. These two examples clearly show the weakness or the lack of balance in investor-state provisions when it comes to the state's ability to protect public health.

The Agreement on Internal Trade contains provisions that allow a person or a business to sue another province for decisions, regulations or laws that it deems to be contrary to its interests and to its ability to do business in that province. These aspects are dealt with in the agreement in effect negotiated between the provinces and the federal government. We will continue to talk about these aspects and any provisions of international or domestic agreements that do not uphold environmental rights or workers' occupational health and safety rights. We want the provinces to always have the opportunity to regulate their environment and to protect the health of their people.

We are in favour of the Agreement on Internal Trade to a certain extent, as long as it addresses all the points that I just raised. We want the bills related to the Agreement on Internal Trade or to international agreements to avoid encouraging policies that force deregulation or privatization on the provinces and territories. We want these bills to avoid pushing the federal or provincial government to have power of attorney over certain interests of an industry or major investor.

We also want to prevent the bills from seriously reducing a government's ability to buy products from local suppliers. That is an element that is very important, particularly when it comes to the strategy for economic recovery. We want to avoid limiting the provinces' and territories' ability to help their provincial companies and industries as part of an employment or economic recovery strategy, or preventing them from doing so.

In any free trade agreement, there must always be a balance between the various interests. Bill C-14 includes provisions that are encouraging in some respects. I mentioned the legal action taken against Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement. At least, this bill limits the potential impacts of such legal action. We are talking about economic impacts of approximately $5 million for a fairly large province like Ontario, Quebec or British Columbia. On a per capita basis, the maximum fine would be less depending on the size and population of the province to prevent what is often frivolous legal action from being brought against the provinces and to produce what I call the litigation chill effect and avoid things like the $83 million dollar case that I just mentioned. There are even cases that involve several billion dollars. Yet, I feel encouraged that a limit such as this one was imposed.

Another one of our concerns about this bill pertains to the composition of the panels, to those who are presented by the parties to hear a specific case.

Of the five members who can be presented by the two parties involved, only one must be an expert on Canadian commercial law. The other four individuals may have other expertise not necessarily related to the case at issue. We think that is a problem, and it should be corrected.

The other problem is that only one of these five individuals must be bilingual and be able to work in French and in English. Why only one? This means that if there is one bilingual individual in a group and the other four members do not speak French, the discussions will take place in English. If we were dealing with different commercial laws, we could have required, for example, that a good proportion of members be bilingual and able to carry discussions in French and in English. However, I do not see the justification for having only one bilingual person on either side, just like we fail to see why only one individual should be an expert on Canadian commercial law.

Therefore, the NDP will definitely support this bill at second reading, so that we can discuss it in committee and correct some flaws, such as a certain lack of balance. We notice a lack of definitions or limitations that could apply to some people, businesses or provinces to prevent the possible use of the investor-state provisions. These provisions can sometime have a chill effect and result in a province being reluctant to make undertakings, to agree or to legislate, even for the good of its citizens, on environmental issues or on their own stimulus measures. I am thinking of municipalities among others.

That is why we want to take a closer look at this bill. We will have a chance to do so in committee. I really appreciate this opportunity to present our views on this legislation.

I will be pleased to answer any questions.

Improving Trade Within Canada Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, it is not often that I have a chance to stand up and speak after such a great discussion by my colleague. I am pleased to do so.

We are all in favour of improving trade within Canada, but sometimes it does not work that way in the more remote regions of the country where, in order to provide services to people, we have to give businesses opportunities to compete. In many cases in communities across the far north there is a business incentive program. An incentive is provided to a business that locates in a community and pays the high cost of putting up an office building or a facility in a community where the costs are so much higher than anywhere else. Then that business is expected to compete with southern businesses that act like carpetbaggers. They come up and skim off all the good business. To avoid that issue in the Northwest Territories we have always had a business incentive policy that encourages businesses to actually provide services to the people of the region in their own communities.

How does the member see that this particular internal trade bill would work for the people of the Northwest Territories, the people whom I represent and want to see have the same opportunities as others across this big country?

Improving Trade Within Canada Act
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Western Arctic for his question.

The issue that he raised also exists in my riding, which is considered to be a remote region, since it is far from large centres. I think that the hon. member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, whose riding is close to mine, could say the same. These are particular situations. Because these regions are remote, the trade reality is not the same as it is in large cities like Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal or Halifax.

The reality is different because the level of competition is not the same. If we want to promote emerging or developing local trade in the regions—which, until now, was less developed but which is trying to expand—we must also be able to rely on local initiatives. It is in that sense that the agreement may be problematic. Resorting to fines like this one, even though they are less heavy and have some cap, can become problematic for some regions—and I am thinking of the Northwest Territories, where the hon. member hails from—for the future ability of the territories to develop their own economic policies. I fully agree with my colleague on this issue. I have the same problems in my riding and those problems also exist further east in Quebec.

Improving Trade Within Canada Act
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Jacob Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, does my colleague think that there is no longer such a thing as “small is beautiful”?

With respect to farmers, will Bill C-14 directly threaten small producers and small specialized markets which, if I understand correctly, will now have a harder time setting themselves apart? This bill will give more powers to people who do not view prioritizing local markets and agri-food identity favourably.

In my riding, there are vineyards and small-fruit farmers who produce apples, blueberries, pears, raspberries, etc. They will no longer be able to sell their products effectively. Also, if we penalize the markets, SMEs will have fewer chances to obtain contracts to provide goods and services, since priority could no longer be given to local businesses. I would like to ask my colleague whether this will do more harm than good for farmers and SMEs.

Improving Trade Within Canada Act
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question.

The question is not necessarily whether this is going to help or hinder. It is a question of balance. Once again, we are more likely to find a possible problem at the heart of the Agreement on Internal Trade in the future, the possibility of using the agreement to determine, for example, that Quebec's supply management and marketing practices could be disputed by a province that is not necessarily involved in dairy production, but is aiming to enter the market by trying to pass off its product as a milk substitute. As far as the agricultural sector is concerned, the Agreement on Internal Trade makes it hard for one province to apply rules on labelling, marking, marketing, etc. It is because of the potential abuses of the agreement that we do not see eye to eye with the Conservatives and the interpretation of the agreement.

There have not been any abuses yet, but that does not mean they could not happen in the future. The bill mentions that fines could be imposed on provinces and territories that contravene a panel decision. That could convince a province not to further protect sectors that are essential to Quebec and its regions.

Improving Trade Within Canada Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like the hon. member to tell us how he imagines the 2009 protocol, which is dealt with in the bill, would affect his riding. What other changes does he think will occur in this protocol or for the internal trade agreement between the provinces?

Improving Trade Within Canada Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question. My riding of Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques is fairly remote and it is considered a resource region. Quebec implemented certain measures that benefit my riding, including a tax credit for resource regions. According to the terms of the agreement itself and not the bill, if a province can make the decision, it can be challenged.

However, the agreement also has some advantages. I said that we were in favour of a greater flow of goods and services and of improved labour force mobility. Domaine Acer, a company in Témiscouata, produces alcoholic beverages made of maple sugar or sap. They are quite delicious, by the way. This company would like to be able to export its products more freely outside Quebec, and that is a commendable goal.

In that sense, the bill could have positive effects by facilitating the trade of certain products. However, it could have more negative effects on my region's ability to apply the rules to develop its commercial sector differently than that of the larger centres, given its distinct character. If such is the case, according to the bill, there could be penalties imposed on Quebec in order to convince it not to go in that direction or to prevent the municipality or my region from doing so.

These are the types of questions that we want to be able to discuss in committee. That is why we are going to support this bill at second reading so that we can continue to discuss these issues in committee.

Improving Trade Within Canada Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, in southern Ontario there is an innovative program where farmland that is being underused is matched with young farmers who have been encouraged to come to southern Ontario and experiment with crops that people in Toronto, especially in the ethnic communities, want to buy. These are crops that they would normally would have to ship in from the Caribbean, Latin America or India and Pakistan.

It is an exciting program, reflecting interesting niche markets and a diversity of business opportunities. It serves a real market.

I am wondering if my hon. colleague, who has done such a great job with this overview, could speak to the concerns around this diversity of access for farmers.

Improving Trade Within Canada Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I come from a riding where there are a lot of farmers. This type of proposal or initiative from a region or province is completely commendable, especially in times such as these when our businesses and our agriculture industry in general, particularly family farms, are having difficulty. If we want to diversify and fine-tune our research and our methods, this type of initiative is a very good idea.

Honestly, I hope to see this type of initiative implemented more often in Ontario, Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. Based on the provisions of the Agreement on Internal Trade, I do not see any major problem because I do not think that this gives Ontario or the region any particular advantage in this case. According to some analyses or interpretations of the agreement, it could eventually be the subject of a frivolous lawsuit, which is a concern for us because we want to avoid this type of imbalance.

Improving Trade Within Canada Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Multiple Sclerosis
Private Members' Business

November 24th, 2011 / 5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should help ensure that patients suffering from Multiple sclerosis (MS), and their families and caregivers, have access to the information they need to make informed decisions in the management of their condition by ensuring that: (a) the MS monitoring system currently being developed by the Canadian Institute for Health Information contain specific and useful information, accessible directly to patients, on the risks, benefits, and other relevant aspects relative to undergoing surgical treatment for chronic cerebro-spinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI); (b) departments, agencies and programs work closely with provincial and territorial counterparts, with health professionals associations, such as the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, and with patient groups, such as the MS Society of Canada, on the sharing of up-to-date research-based information on the nature of CCSVI and its link to MS; and (c) the government’s two advisory boards dealing with MS ensure the patients’ concerns and views are well represented and heard at future meetings.

Madam Speaker, I note that it is a very complicated motion. I would have preferred a simpler one, but I think it was required to get the message across.

I am honoured to speak to my private member's Motion No. 274. It is a motion to help ensure that patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, MS, and their families and caregivers have access to the information they need to make informed decisions on the management of their condition.

In most situations, of course, they would get this information from their doctors. However, for some MS sufferers in the advanced stages of the disease, they simply cannot get the information they need in order to make the decision on whether to have the liberation therapy or CCSVI treatment. If they have already decided to have the surgery, they need to decide where to have it done. I will explain why their doctors cannot give them this information.

First, this treatment is not available in Canada because it has not been approved as a treatment for MS. It is simply too new.

Second, most doctors simply do not know enough about the treatment to give patients advice on it. Because the science is not complete, it would be difficult for doctors to advise patients to have a procedure done outside Canada.

The purpose of my private member's motion is to establish an information portal to allow MS sufferers who are considering having the liberation therapy outside Canada to get anecdotal information from others who have already had the procedure done. This would also allow people who have already decided to have the treatment to obtain information about the process, particularly about the results, in various clinics outside Canada. Of the many people suffering from MS that I have talked to, especially those who have had the procedure done, there seem to be different results from different clinics.

To be clear, my private member's motion is meant to fill a desperate need for information, just over the next two to three years until the scientific processes are complete or at least far enough along to release the information to the public.

What is MS?

Despite the amount of research to date, little is known about the disease or what causes it. While there are different theories, there are still questions about what causes MS.

There are four types of MS identified and a wide variety of symptoms for MS patients. It is an unpredictable disease that can affect a patient's vision, hearing, memory, balance and mobility. The most common form of MS is defined by attacks which are followed by complete or partial recovery. Eventually, the part of the body that is affected by the attacks loses its ability to recover and scarring begins. This can lead to more permanent damage. At the point when MS is diagnosed, the severity, the progression or the specific symptoms that might be suffered simply cannot be predicted.

For some types of MS, a sufferer will be immobilized to the point of needing constant care. Even if the MS sufferers are still very young, they are often put into institutions intended for disabled elderly people. They find this to be very difficult to take and they are looking for some way to get around it. These are primarily the people who are looking to this liberation therapy for help.

In June 2009, Dr. Paolo Zamboni from Italy published his first study that involved approximately 65 patients who underwent the CCSVI treatment. The CCSVI treatment is also referred to as liberation therapy or liberation treatment. It is a surgery that improves blood flow in certain veins which carry blood from the brain or upper spinal column. CCSVI itself is actually a restriction of the flow of blood drainage from the brain and spinal column. The treatment frees up this flow.

Dr. Zamboni's treatment initially came from the concept of standard angioplasty which is used widely in Canada and around the world. This is a procedure where doctors use balloons to open blocked arteries that carry blood from the heart. Dr. Zamboni teamed up with a vascular surgeon, Dr. Galeotti. They began treating patients to see if endovascular surgery using these balloons to open veins would repair flow in the vessels and reduce MS symptoms. The study resulted in patients' experiencing a reduced number of attacks, fewer brain lesions that define MS, and most importantly, an overall improvement in the quality of life of many of the patients.

Unfortunately, when the veins start to narrow again, the patients' symptoms start to return. Since Dr. Zamboni's first study, the process has evolved and is different in different clinics. Therefore, when people are considering getting this procedure done, or have decided to have it done and are deciding where, they will benefit from even anecdotal information about the results achieved at different clinics in the United States or around the world. This procedure is unavailable in Canada.

Why have I chosen this topic for my private member's motion? Because I will only get one chance in the four and a half years of this Parliament to put forth a motion and have it debated. In fact, probably not everyone in the House will have that opportunity, even in this Parliament which will be longer than usual. Why have I chosen this motion on this issue? It is for many reasons, and the most compelling reasons come from my constituents. Groups in Lloydminister and Wainwright, and individuals from across my constituency have contacted me to tell me how desperate they are for information to help them make this decision.

For several months, I have been meeting with not only constituents, but with the Minister of Health, representatives from the Canadian Institute for Health Information or CIHI, doctors researching CCSVI treatment and other treatments, representatives from the MS Society and a lot of other people.

From these discussions, it was clear that there is great hope in the CCSVI treatment. People from around the world are working to get more answers regarding the treatment. In fact, our government has implemented a very comprehensive plan which is being implemented on an accelerated timeline, beyond anything I could have imagined done by government, to determine the potential of this procedure.

The people in the Lloydminster group are great people. They presented their case so well and I simply could not say no. That is why I am here today debating this issue.

The CCSVI treatment is new. It has brought new hope to many MS sufferers, particularly those in the later stages of progressive types of MS. Because the treatment is not yet offered in Canada, Canadians seeking this treatment must travel to the United States, Mexico, Poland, Cost Rica and a wide range of countries. Despite the high cost of getting the treatment abroad and the difficulty in travelling, MS patients are forced to undertake the cost in order to get their lives back. This is the kind of terminology I have heard from people who have had this therapy and from others who are looking at the possibility of it.

Our government is currently working on clinical trials, studying this liberation therapy and its potential at an unprecedented rate. We are including information from around the world. Despite all the work being done, Canadians with MS are questioning whether they should have the treatment and if so, where. The purpose of my motion is to provide this information portal where people considering the process can read testimonials based on a wide range of fairly comprehensive and specific questions.

Individuals can then take this information and have at least something to help them with this difficult decision. Information is available right now online, but it is very limited. The Lloydminster group was very lucky. About a dozen people have had this procedure someplace around the world. People can talk to them, and they do that, but they are looking for more information. That is the purpose of my private member's motion.

This database would be confidential, of course, and would not advocate that patients have this liberation therapy done. The procedure has not been well enough proven to do that. It is simply meant to be testimonials by people who have had it done.

Instead, it would allow people to access information that may assist them in their decision-making process. This information would come from others who have had the therapy done at various clinics and can comment on such things as the clinic, the doctor, how long ago the therapy was done and all the various things that make a real difference.

Unbelievably, Zamboni only came out with his study of this result a little over two years ago. In that two years, there have been incredible progression and improvements and changes made, more in some clinics than in others. That is the type of information that is meant to be provided on the database.

It is extraordinary that a report released just two years ago has had this kind of impact. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the results, but it is impossible to ignore the results.

I have spoken to MS patients and their families first-hand about the effects of this treatment, and most of them have found quite remarkable improvement, especially in clarity of thinking. We can imagine living in a fog for years and all of sudden being able to think clearly. That is one of the greatest impacts. So is improved mobility. There are many benefits, although I have spoke to a couple of people who did not have any noticeable results, so this is not a panacea. It is not perfect, but it is something.

In describing this to me, some have said they don't know what the findings will be after the trials are conducted, but what they do know is that this CCSVI treatment has given them hope. They say they have something to live for again. Others have said it has given them their life back.