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House of Commons Hansard #103 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

Sydney Tar PondsStatements By Members

October 26th, 2001 / 11:10 a.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, we have just learned that there is another delay for the families living near the Sydney Tar Ponds. The anxiously awaited report on the levels of danger to the residents of Whitney Pier is being revised.

This is one of the worst environmental disasters in Canada and nothing is being done about it except studying it to death. Families have been living with uncertainty for months and are now being told they must wait at least another six weeks to find out how great the danger is.

This is outrageous. People's lives are at risk. People are sick and people are dying. The area has one of the highest rates of cancer and birth defects in Canada. A report released in April showed there are at least 35 toxins in the Whitney Pier neighbourhood, including arsenic at 70 times the acceptable limit.

The latest delay amounts to fiddling with statistics while people get sicker. The report must be released now and the issue must be brought before the parliamentary committees on environment and health. We need action, not delays.

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Bloc Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, back in May, the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development presented to the minister a unanimous report on the urgent need to go beyond Bill C-2.

Close to five months later, the Liberal government responded to the 17 recommendations by rejecting all of them. Even though six out of ten people who are unemployed continue to be excluded from the employment insurance program, the minister simply said that everything was fine.

Yesterday, when the minister was unable to indicate the estimated EI surplus, she justified her ignorance by saying that it was a “notional” surplus.

The minister showed once again that she is in over her head as a cabinet member and that she remains insensitive to the workers' plight.

TerrorismStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, since the tragic terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, Canadians have expressed concern about their own security. While we must be vigilant and alert I urge Canadians not to panic. The terrorists seek not only to destroy our buildings and take innocent lives. They seek to change the way we view the world around us and make us suspicious of one another.

The terrorists will not succeed. Canadians will continue to go about their daily activities. We will fly on airplanes, assemble in public places and go on with our business and personal lives.

I reassure Canadians that our government has taken and will continue to take strong action to mitigate the terrorist threat. As a government we will do what is necessary to make sure Canadians are safe and secure in their homes, neighbourhoods, communities and in this great country of ours.

HealthStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, we appear to have the first casualty of the Liberal leadership race. The Minister of Health has been trying to throw out Hail Mary's to get back into the game with the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Industry. He is throwing incomplete passes and may be replaced by the coach very soon.

First, the Minister of Health broke cabinet solidarity by voting against the government on GMOs. Then he completely mishandled the Cipro deal causing great embarrassment to the government. The--

HealthStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. member for Dewdney--Alouette I am sure is aware of the rules that Standing Order 31 statements cannot be used as attacks on an individual member. I think he is stepping over the line here. Even though it appears his tact may be good natured, I have a feeling he is over the line.

Laval Symphony OrchestraStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week, as part of its non-broadcast gala, the ADISQ recognized the talent of the Laval symphony orchestra by presenting it the Album of the year award in the classical music/orchestra and large band category.

The winning album “Mozart” includes two major works of the great composer, namely the magnificent “Concerto No. 23”, which is full of light, softness and joie de vivre, and the “Symphony No. 41”, known as “Jupiter”, which is avant-garde and dramatic.

The wonderful rendition of these works by the orchestra earned it the top awards thanks to the internationally renown pianist Alain Lefèvre and the conductor and artistic director of the Laval symphony orchestra, Jean-François Rivest, who was able to channel the talent of his musicians with his usual energy.

This award confirms the enviable position of the Laval symphony orchestra at the national level.

Lumber IndustryStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Canadian Alliance Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the softwood lumber dispute is continuing to victimize workers and their families and penalize the economies of Canada and the U.S. We have more than 20,000 forest workers laid off across Canada, the North American economy dipping into recession and consumers retreating from spending.

On Wednesday I asked once again for the minister to call a national stakeholders meeting to get the Canadian forest sector on the same page prior to next week's anticipated anti-dumping decision by the U.S. department of commerce. Once again no meeting has been announced by the minister.

Yesterday two U.S. consumer groups urged U.S. and Canadian negotiators to resist lumber export taxes because higher prices hurt consumers.

The minister cannot drop the ball on softwood lumber. When will we have the national stakeholders meeting?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the United Nations national safe list includes those countries from which no fugitive could credibly claim fear of being killed, tortured or persecuted for their religious or political beliefs. Canada, the United States and most European countries are on that list.

This week the government shockingly voted against a Canadian Alliance motion that Canada not accept fugitives running here from the United States claiming bogus refugee status.

Now we learn the government is negotiating an agreement with the United States which in effect would agree with the Canadian Alliance motion, the very motion the government voted against. Is this true?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

No, Mr. Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition clearly does not understand either the safe third agreement or the fact that my officials speak with their U.S. counterparts and have talks about how we can better co-ordinate our activities and better co-operate on a whole host of very important issues.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, very interesting. We will be watching that closely.

The immigration committee wrote in 1998, and I quote:

--it strains public credibility when people who arrive in Canada without travel documents--

That means they have destroyed their documents to get here.

--are allowed to enter Canada and remain at large pending the hearing of their refugee claim.

This is one of the well known weaknesses of our refugee system.

Will the minister and the government have a change of heart and accept the committee's recommendation and the Canadian Alliance recommendation that all suspicious new arrivals, that would be those without documents included, not be--

ImmigrationOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, if we have any concerns that people who arrive at a port of entry, be they refugee claimants or potential visitors, pose any security threat to Canada, if we do not know who they are or if the immigration officers have reasonable grounds to believe they pose a threat, they are detained. That is the fact.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

In actual fact, Mr. Speaker, it does not happen.

One of the essential elements for a bilateral agreement between safe third countries is for there to be a common visa policy. The United States has more stringent policies for issuing visas than Canada does.

Does the minister of immigration intend to harmonize our list of countries with a visa requirement with the U.S. list?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I attempted to explain this fully yesterday at the immigration committee hearing.

We discussed with the United States and other countries, but particularly with the United States, emerging trends in the world where there may be a need for a visa imposition or where a visa requirement could be lifted. That is ongoing business.

I would say to the leader that he gives the wrong impression to suggest that we are not consulting. We certainly are and we always have. Because of our good relationship with the United States, my officials speak virtually every day with our neighbours.

HealthOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian Alliance Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, the health minister is now going to stockpile vaccine against smallpox.

I would like to quote what my medical textbook says about the terrorism threat:

The recurrence of smallpox resulting from a deliberate release of variola virus cannot be ruled out. However, the potential damage of such an act should not be exaggerated.

Why has the health minister not quietly stockpiled smallpox vaccine instead of making a big announcement so that he can divert attention away from his other problems with Cipro?

HealthOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I would have hoped this would be the kind of matter we could discuss in the interests and in the protection of the public and its health.

Yesterday before the committee I responded to a question put by the hon. member's colleague in the Alliance Party about what we were doing in this regard. I responded by being very frank and saying that like other countries, we were taking responsible steps to protect Canadians against all eventualities, and that is exactly what we will continue to do.

HealthOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian Alliance Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, the text goes on to say:

Smallpox does not spread rapidly, and an outbreak caused in this manner (that is by bioterrorism) should be able to be contained within 3 to 4 weeks.

The minister could have easily and quietly stockpiled this vaccine. He could have done what they have done in other countries instead of making a great big fuss about this.

Why did the minister try to divert attention away from his Cipro blunder by bringing up something to scare Canadians?

HealthOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the member should read along farther in whatever he is looking at because if it is accurate, it will tell him that there is no more smallpox vaccine stockpiled in the world.

We have some on hand from 25 years ago. There is more now being developed. When I met with Secretary Thompson in the United States, I told him Canada was interested in working with the Americans on the development of that new vaccine and that we want to be part of the process when it is available. We will do what is necessary once again to protect the health of Canadians.

HealthOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is quite obvious that the Minister of Health was at fault in totally ignoring a report from his own department in June 2000 indicating that Canada was not in a position to deal with a bioterrorism attack. He has just recently not even hesitated to break the law in order to conceal his errors in judgment.

Does the minister realize that the message he is sending to the public is that he will resort to anything to conceal his errors in judgment, up to and including breaking the law?

HealthOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, it is very important for Canadians to know that Health Canada has been working for some months on preparing itself for emergency situations here in Canada.

Among other things, Health Canada inaugurated an emergency centre in July 2000. We now have stockpiles of drugs. As well, we have put in place co-ordinated emergency response measures and will continue our efforts.

HealthOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is all very well for the Minister of Health to use the emergency situation as a cover-up, but there is one thing he cannot get around, something everyone has understood: the favoured approach of the minister and of his government is that the end justifies the means.

Will the Minister of Health admit that this kind of approach is irresponsible and dangerous, particularly in a time of crisis?

HealthOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, what is most important to me and to the government is to protect and ensure the health of Canadians.

This is exactly what we have done. We now have the necessary drugs. A week ago that was not the case, but now it is. We have saved Canadians money.

We are going to continue to do whatever is necessary to protect people's health.

HealthOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the Department of Health, it was because Bayer could not produce the drug within 48 hours that the department decided to break the law and get it from Apotex, which would deliver the order three weeks later.

In what way does the minister think that such a disgraceful manoeuvre would protect public health?

HealthOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, what Canadians expect from us as a government is that we should always act with their protection in mind.

Where bioterrorism is concerned, we must do what is necessary to have access to drugs designed to counter such threats.

All week, the focus in the House has been on what was done. But ultimately, we did what we did to protect people's health and we now have the necessary drugs.

HealthOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, Health Canada contacted Novopharm to ask it to supply Cipro and Novopharm said that it was illegal to do so, which should have alerted the minister.

The question in everyone's mind today is how something that was illegal for Novopharm could become legal for Apotex. Could the minister explain this?