Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to pursue some questions I raised in the House on June 2, 1998.
My question pertains specifically to the issue of Meme breast implants and more broadly about the state of affairs in the health protection branch. The answers to both of my questions were incomplete and certainly not pertinent to the serious situation which I posed to this Chamber.
I raised specifically the concerns about the criminal investigation launched last June into the breast implant issue and asked why the government had taken so long to pursue this very serious issue after it had been raised nine years previously by a former colleague of mine, Joy Langan, from British Columbia.
I further asked the minister about the government's ability to assess and ensure the safety of current breast implant products on the market, along with my colleague, the Leader of the New Democratic Party. In both instances we found that the answers were very superficial and did not deal with the gravity of the situation.
It is absolutely clear that we are dealing with the two-pronged situation of women who suffered the consequences of inadequate protection from the government many years ago with respect to the breast implant product, and of the concerns we have today with respect to products now on the market. We have very serious worries about whether this government is actually ensuring the safety of those products.
Some of the experts in the field have actually said that present day saline filled breast implants are the same design over which a plastic surgeon sued the manufacturer in the mid-1980s. All such devices have the same leaky valves that cannot hold water. They grow algae and fungi like a dirty aquarium.
We would like to hear specifically what steps this government is taking to assess products on the market to ensure that they are safe beyond any reasonable doubt.
We also raised more broadly the issue of the role of the health protection branch because we are not just dealing with the question of a criminal investigation into breast implants, but also a criminal investigation into the safety of our blood supply. We are dealing with serious sworn testimony from scientists about gag orders, about intimidation, about threats, about pressure to approve a bovine growth hormone when they do not believe it is safe.
We are dealing with a pattern of inconsistency and secrecy throughout the department in a number of areas. We are dealing with a situation where the drug approval process is largely paid for by the pharmaceutical industry. This all adds up to a very grave situation that requires the government to take immediate and prompt action.
That is why we have called for a complete investigation into the health protection branch on an urgent basis. We have raised this suggestion on numerous occasions since last spring. We will continue our efforts to implore the Minister of Health to take these concerns seriously and get to the bottom of what many would call a culture of deception in the health protection branch.