House of Commons Hansard #110 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was producers.


MarriageOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Mount Royal Québec


Irwin Cotler LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, any notion of a backroom deal is the figment of either the hon. member's website or imagination. There have been no backroom deals. All discussions are open. All meetings with the caucus are of a continuing nature. We will continue with this process.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.


Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, the uncertainty the Minister of National Defence is allowing to surround the matter of the Cap-Chat cadet summer training centre is totally irresponsible. The centre is threatened and at risk of closing, if nothing is done in the short term. If this happened, it would mean the loss of 70 jobs in an area already hard hit by unemployment.

As he has already made a commitment, why is the minister not meeting representatives of the community who want to eliminate the uncertainty surrounding the future of the Cap-Chat cadet camp?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario


Bill Graham LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member and all members of the House that armed forces officials are very actively preserving the role of our cadets within the Canadian system. They are working with officials at the Cap-Chat camp and other camps to ensure our cadets have a place to work and learn during the summer. The nature and discipline of our armed forces is a very good thing for the country and for Quebeckers.

HealthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.


Susan Kadis Liberal Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health regarding an issue that impacts Canadians on a national scale at an increasingly alarming rate.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, an estimated 149,000 new cases of cancer and 69,500 deaths will occur in Canada in 2005. On average, 2,865 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer every week and 1,337 Canadians will die of cancer every week. Cancer is the leading cause of premature death in Canada, taking an incalculable toll on Canadians.

Would the minister outline what specific steps the federal government is taking to address this catastrophic disease?

HealthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Vancouver South B.C.


Ujjal Dosanjh LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, $300 million was allocated in the last budget for an integrated disease strategy across the country. We are determined to enhance our focus and collaboration in fighting cancer.

Last year the Canadian Institutes of Health Research invested $94 million in cancer research. We gave $10 million to the Terry Fox Foundation for cancer research.

We have been collaborating with the provincial and territorial governments, NGOs and support groups since 1999 in developing a cancer control strategy. An action plan describing priorities was released in 2002.

National DefenceOral Question Period

3 p.m.


Guy Côté Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, things are not getting any clearer as far as the contamination of water by pollutants at Valcartier base and the neighbouring municipality of Shannon is concerned. In fact, they are getting murkier. DND is refusing to make a preliminary report public, and Environment Canada is doing the same with a report on the Jacques-Cartier fish habitat, which may be at risk.

What is the government waiting for before releasing these two reports in order to reassure the public? They are entitled to know where they stand.

National DefenceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario


Bill Graham LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is well aware that we have worked with the neighbouring community on this. We have provided drinking water for all homes where there were problems. We are cooperating with the community and trying to pinpoint the source of the problems. We will work with the community to rectify the situation. We have already given funds to the municipality and we will continue our efforts, despite totally unfounded accusations like this one.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I wish to inform hon. members that pursuant to Standing Order 128, the House shall meet tomorrow Wednesday, June 8, between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. for the consideration of Government Business No. 15 in relation to a resolution rescinding subsection 36(2) of the Ontario Fishery Regulations, 1989. This resolution is contained in the second report of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations presented to the House on Monday, May 9.

I would ask hon. members to notify their colleagues that the debate will take place tomorrow from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

After question period yesterday several hon. members rose on points of order related to the statement I had made before question period relating to the inquiry now undertaken by the Ethics Commissioner concerning the hon. member for Newton--North Delta and the hon. Minister of Health.

I would like to respond to these points of order with one single statement, which I will make as promptly as possible, given its immediate repercussions on the way hon. members will handle these matters in the days to come.

The power of the Chair with regard to the Ethics Commissioner's work is very limited. Informed by the commissioner that an inquiry has begun under his terms of reference, I will then formally communicate that information to hon. members so that they may govern themselves accordingly.

As I said yesterday, I will then do my best within the purview of my authority to enforce the moratorium on comments about the issues under inquiry, as requested by the commissioner and as stipulated in our Standing Orders. That purview does not go beyond the proceedings here in the chamber and perhaps those in committee when they are reported back to the House by committee.

I can offer no solace to the hon. member for Abbotsford or the hon. member for Delta--Richmond East with regard to what might go on beyond this chamber, nor does the Speaker have any mechanism to address the worry voiced by the hon. member for Edmonton--Sherwood Park about a possible conflict of interest faced by the Ethics Commissioner himself.

The hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona cited section 72.05(5) of the Parliament of Canada Act, which provides an express protection against the work of the commissioner “limiting in any way the powers, privileges, rights and immunities of the House of Commons or its members”.

I agree entirely with the hon. member. However, as I see it, in adopting those amendments to the Parliament of Canada Act along with the Conflict of Interest Code that is now included in our Standing Orders, the House decided to be governed by the Ethics Commissioner in certain matters.

Part of that discipline, it appears to me, is akin to the House abiding by the sub judice convention: when a matter is before a court, the House will await the determination of the court before discussing that matter publicly in the course of its proceedings.

Similarly, when issues are the subject of an inquiry under the mandate of the Ethics Commissioner, members are enjoined from discussing those issues, so that the inquiry can proceed untrammelled by public comment from members.

The Speaker has no control over what goes on outside the House, in the media here in the capital, or in members' own ridings. That is left to each member to manage as a matter of conscience. The rules have been drawn to the attention of the House. I would hope that hon. members will be mindful of them in their conduct outside the chamber.

I know that these are difficult issues for all hon. members and they do not admit of simple solutions. The system may not be a perfect one, but it is the system the House has adopted as part of its Standing Orders and upholding those Standing Orders is the responsibility of your Speaker.

I would ask for the cooperation of all hon. members to ensure that our work can be carried out with the seriousness and fairness that Canadians expect of us.

I thank the House for its attention and hope this clarifies the matters raised by hon. members yesterday.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised by the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Social Development (Social Economy) concerning comments made by the hon. member for Portage—Lisgar during question period on Friday, May 20, comments that were critical of the former Chairman of Canada Post, the hon. André Ouellet, and the hon. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

I would like to thank the hon. member for raising this matter as well as the hon. President of the Treasury Board, the hon. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the hon. deputy House leader of the official opposition and the hon. member for Calgary--Nose Hill for their interventions.

During question period on May 20, the hon. member for Portage--Lisgar posed a question containing a comment about the former chairman of Canada Post who had appeared before the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates on May 17.

Following a reply by the hon. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the member asked a supplementary question in which he stated in reference to the minister “every burglar needs a good inside man”. He continued on to accuse the minister of being “an accomplice in Mr. Ouellet's tax avoidance”.

Following question period, the hon. parliamentary secretary rose to express concern that the comments about Mr. Ouellet and the minister were unparliamentary and to ask that the hon. member withdraw them.

In his intervention, the hon. deputy House leader of the official opposition remarked that the hon. member for Portage--Lisgar had made similar sardonic comments about the former chairman of Canada Post outside the House and that it was “political language”.

The hon. President of the Treasury Board took issue with the comments, asserting that the member had accused the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans of complicity and fraud. The hon. member for Calgary--Nose Hill refuted this argument, stating that no accusations had been made. Finally, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans also argued that the comments directed toward him were inappropriate.

The Deputy Speaker undertook to look at the blues and, if necessary, return to the House.

In my opinion, there are two issues that must be addressed here: inappropriate language referring to someone who is not a member of Parliament and inappropriate language about a member of Parliament.

As Marleau and Montpetit point out in House of Commons Procedure and Practice at page 524, there is a longstanding tradition in the House that hon. members should exercise great caution when they refer to individuals or groups, particularly when they are unable to defend themselves.

Historically, when a member has made a remark considered unparliamentary or inappropriate, the Speaker has asked the member to withdraw or rephrase. Over the course of this session, the Chair has been asked to rule a number of times on unparliamentary language. In particular, I refer hon. members to rulings on November 4, 2004, May 4, 2005 and, most recently, May 11, 2005.

First, I wish to deal with the comments made with respect to the former chairman of Canada Post. As stated in Marleau and Montpetit at pages 503 and 504:

One of the basic principles of parliamentary procedure is that proceedings in the House of Commons are conducted in terms of a free and civil discourse.

The Speaker has often reminded hon. members that freedom of speech is one of the most important privileges we enjoy. But with such an important right comes a duty to use it responsibly. While members have the right to exercise their freedom of speech, the Chair urged, as I did on May 11, to be moderate in the language they use, whether it be political or not, when referring to individuals who are not members of the House and who do not have the opportunity to defend themselves in this forum. As stated in Marleau and Montpetit at page 524:

--Members should avoid as much as possible mentioning by name people from outside the House who are unable to reply and defend themselves against innuendo.

The second issue arising from the hon. parliamentary secretary’s question of privilege concerns remarks that brought into question the integrity of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. As hon. members know, Standing Order 18 prohibits disrespectful or offensive language against a member of the House. As Marleau and Montpetit states at page 522:

Remarks directed specifically at another member which question that member's integrity, honesty or character are not in order. A member will be requested to withdraw offensive remarks, allegations, or accusations of impropriety directed towards another member.

One of the cornerstones of our parliamentary traditions has been respect for the integrity of all members. In recent weeks, the House has been under a magnifying glass, even more than usual, and judging from the correspondence received by the Speaker on the subject, the public does not condone disrespectful behaviour in its elected representatives.

In a ruling given on December 11, 1991, found at pages 6141 and 6142 of the Debates, Speaker Fraser urged members to respect the conventions and traditions of this place and to conduct themselves with the civility becoming the elected representatives of the Canadian people. He pointed out that unsubstantiated allegations can linger and have a suffocating effect on the fair exchange of ideas and points of views. Anything said in this place receives wide and instant dissemination, and leaves a lasting impression.

Speaker Fraser noted that while words may later be retracted, the inferences or offence the occasion caused may be withdrawn, denied, explained away or apologized for, the impression is not always as easily erased. He went on to state:

The Chair wishes to emphasize that a major element of this civilized conduct consist in refraining from personal attacks. There is good reason for this. First of all, in a general sense, respect for the person is the building block upon which our society is structured. Second, few things can more embitter the mood of the House than a series of personal attacks, for in their wake they leave a residue of animosity and unease.

As the Speaker noted in his ruling of November 4, 2004, partisan feelings can run high during question period and members quite enjoy exchanging barbs. And while all members enjoy the cut and thrust of question period, I would ask all hon. members to be judicious in their language and avoid personal attacks on other members, so that they do not bring themselves and the House into disrepute.

In the situation before me, while I cannot find that there is a prima facie question of privilege, I do believe that the comments made by the hon. member for Portage—Lisgar with respect to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans went beyond the limits of what is permissible. I would ask, therefore, that the hon. member withdraw his remarks.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

June 7th, 2005 / 3:10 p.m.


Brian Pallister Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would not in any way want to discredit or disparage the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. I would want it on record that I in no way intended to have my remarks reflect on him. My remarks were directed toward the minister responsible for Canada Post and the Minister of National Revenue. That being said, I accept your ruling without equivocation and withdraw my comments.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I thank the member for Portage—Lisgar and others who participated in that.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.


John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am rising to add to the point of order yesterday by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

Yesterday the parliamentary secretary raised a point of order after question period challenging my private member's Bill C-259 as amended and reported back to the House of Commons as being out of order.

This was not a surprise to me. The government has opposed this bill in every forum on almost every occasion, even though it passed second reading on January 31 without opposition and with support from many members of all parties.

The reality is that the government opposes my private member's bill in any format. If it were the same as the original wording at second reading, it would say that it did not include watches. Therefore, it is not inclusive and, therefore, it is inconsistent with the application of the excise tax to jewellery.

As amended at committee, the government has said that the inclusion of watches is outside the scope of the bill at second reading in the House of Commons because it expands the bill to include watches as jewellery.

To respond, I would first like to correct the statement made yesterday by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance that Bill C-259, as reported back to the House of Commons, repeals the excise tax on jewellery, watches and clocks. This is not correct. Clocks are excluded by the wording of my amended Bill C-259. It is extraordinary that the parliamentary secretary could get this so wrong.

The central argument that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance is making is that watches are defined separately from jewellery in the Excise Tax Act. Therefore, the bill is out of order because it deals with jewellery in the original text and not watches.

I submit there is clear language in the Excise Tax Act which includes watches as jewellery. Section 23.11 and section 43, which I will quote, clearly support the notion that the term jewellery is intended to include watches by providing the following enumeration, “watch, clock, ring, brooch or other article of jewellery”. If watches were not supposed to be included in this enumeration of items of jewellery, then it would have been written as, “he shall, for the purposes of this Part, be deemed to have manufactured or produced the watch or clock, or ring, brooch or other article of jewellery in Canada”. This construction would have clearly excluded watches from the enumeration of items of jewellery, but this was not done.

Bill C-259 deals with section 5 of the Excise Tax Act, which consists of three paragraphs. On the issue of whether section 5 is separately defining jewellery, I submit that it is clearly not. Legislative counsel argues at worst it leaves the term undefined. Therefore, it is within the jurisdiction of committee to decide for itself whether the amendment to Bill C-259 that was reported back to the House is within the scope of the bill at second reading.

Legislative counsel has dealt with the issue of whether the amendment was out of order both with my office and at committee. I am sure that the Speaker may also wish to seek their counsel or perhaps you have already done so.

Legislative counsel was in attendance at committee and was consulted. I think it is fair to say that legislative counsel was under considerable pressure to clarify his position and was very careful in the choice of language as a result.

I can quote from the last meeting of committee at which Bill C-259 as amended was adopted. That was the meeting of May 19 of this year.

As the sponsor and as a witness at that meeting, I said:

What I would like to do at this time is ask legislative counsel, who is here today at my request, to explain further as to how the term “jewellery” is an undefined term in legal language.

Mr. Doug Ward, legislative counsel, law clerk and parliamentary counsel officer of the House of Commons said, and I quote from the minutes of the meeting:

It's just a straightforward fact that in this particular act there is no definition of jewellery, so jewellery just has the ordinary everyday meaning of that term. There's really nothing more to that point than this.

Later Mr. Jean-François Lafleur, procedural clerk, stated at the same meeting:

When we are dealing with an amendment to a bill, the first rule is that the amendment must respect the section in the bill under consideration. In the bill that concerns us here, C-259, there is an amendment to section 5 of Schedule 1 to the Excise Tax Act. At that point, section 5 is open. It is not just paragraph 5(c). That is the first rule.

The second rule, as the Chair said and as you were saying--

He was referring to the member for Mississauga South:

--is that there is still the question of the scope of the bill. That is the second rule.

[The member for Vancouver Island North's] amendment is fully consistent with the first rule, in that it is an amendment to a section that is already open. There is no problem in that regard.

As for the whole question of the scope of the bill, excuse me for repeating myself again, and I know that you might not like this. I understand full well that the purpose of the bill is to do away with the excise tax on jewellery, but the definition of jewellery would have to be clear. That would enable us to determine precisely what the parameters of the scope of the bill are. But in this case, the definition is not at all clear, as far as I am concerned. An attempt was made to come up with a definition, but it could not be done. That is the conclusion I drew after a few consultations.

That states my case. The finance committee considered all the arguments and the committee chose to amend the bill and report it back to the House. The lack of clarity of the language of the Excise Tax Act, which is demonstrated by this discussion and point of order, is demonstrable of what is a nightmare for the industry also.

For example, three different Canada Customs and Revenue Agency audits of the same set of business activities by the same company have come up with three vastly different results. These results were a multi-million dollar reassessment or tax billing in the first instance, a revised tax assessment of about a half a million dollars in the second instance and a credit from the government in the third instance. This is a matter of public record.

Adoption of Bill C-259, as amended and reported to the House and up for report stage debate today, would terminate this confused state of affairs. The committee, by voting that the amended version of my bill was within the scope of the bill and was consistent with the advice of legislative counsel, has now placed the House of Commons in the same position. I cannot comprehend why this advice would be any different to the House of Commons than it was to the finance committee.

I ask the Speaker to reject the request by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister to Finance to rule Bill C-259 out of order. The bill is in order and I request the Speaker to so rule.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Yesterday, as the hon. member for Vancouver Island North has said, a point of order was raised by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance relating to an amendment reported from the Standing Committee on Finance to Bill C-259, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act, elimination of excise tax on jewellery. Submissions on the matter were also made by the hon. member for Peace River and the hon. member for Mississauga South. Now we have the comments from the hon. member for Vancouver Island North for which I thank him.

The question raised is essentially whether the committee exceeded its authority in amending the bill by adopting changes which went beyond the scope of the bill.

As Marleau and Montpetit point out in House of Commons Procedure and Practice , at pages 661 and 662, any amendment made by a committee may be challenged, and I quote:

--on procedural grounds when the House resumes its consideration of the bill at report stage. The admissibility of the amendments is then considered by the Speaker of the House, whether in response to a point of order or on his or her own initiative.

In eliminating the excise tax on jewellery, Bill C-259 technically amended paragraph 5(c) of schedule I to the Excise Tax Act. That paragraph provided for taxation on:

--articles commonly or commercially know as jewellery, whether real or imitation, including diamonds and other precious or semi-precious stones for personal use or for adornment of the person, and goldsmiths' and silversmiths' products except gold-plated or silver-plated ware for the preparation of serving of food and drink...

There are two other parts to the section in question. They provided for taxation on other items such as clocks, watches, and articles made, in whole or in part, of semi-precious stones.

The amendment adopted by the committee combined together all the paragraphs of the same section, which is amended by the bill, but maintained the tax solely on clocks. The effect of this amendment was to exempt watches, articles made of semi-precious stones, and jewellery from the tax.

Did this amendment reach beyond the purpose of the bill or go beyond its scope?

In terms of our procedural rules, the amendment did not stray from the section of the act which was open to it. In terms of the subject matter, it appears to the Chair that the amendment respects items which are commonly considered to be jewellery. To highlight this, I note that the committee specifically did not include clocks as items of jewellery which could be exempted.

Therefore, it is my conclusion that the amendment adopted by the Standing Committee on Finance and reported to the House is indeed procedurally admissible.

The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.


Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague, the member for Charleswood St. James—Assiniboia. He has brought many significant initiatives to the House of Commons and to Parliament in his very early stages of being elected to the House. The initiatives related to health care and this particularly strategy reflect his ongoing vision and his passion to carry out that vision and to implement a strategy that would benefit all Canadians. I ask for support from all sides of the House for this initiative.

Cancer, which is the area of disease that I want to look at under this larger umbrella and discuss for a few moments today, continues to be one of the scourges of our time. Yes, it is true that gains have been made in cancer research. Certain types of cancer are now controllable and beatable and yet it remains that many areas of cancer continue to take their tragic, painful and awful toll upon society and upon people. I do not think any of us can think of anyone who has not been affected either directly or indirectly from this terrible disease.

The frustration that goes with this, the frustration that the disease continues to be a scourge, is the fact that we have a health care system which was intended initially to prevent people from being hit with the catastrophic effects of a disease like cancer.

We often talk, in great glowing terms, about Tommy Douglas as being one of the founders of our Canadian health care system. It was his intent that Canadians not suffer from the catastrophic effect of a disease or a tragic accident. Added to the frustration is the fact that today many people who are afflicted with cancer, in any of its various forms, are also saddled with the catastrophic costs that go with its treatment. We need to discuss these things today.

It is for that reason I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Central Nova.

One of the approaches that can be taken to deal with this tragic irony of our health care system today is the development of a Canadian strategy for disease control in this particular approach. It is one of a number of strategies that need to be taken.

In this particular development to this stage, we are looking at something like over 700 volunteer experts, cancer survivors, allied health professionals and care givers who participated in the creation of this strategy. What is so positive is that this has not been developed at the bureaucratic level.

Too often we make derogatory remarks related to the bureaucrats but they are there to implement strategies. There is no pejorative intent in my comments. However what gives this strength and credibility is it has been developed by a variety of people across the broad spectrum, people who know the day to day realities of what we are talking about.

What we are asking for in terms of the cost of the strategy is $50 million per year over five years, plus $50 million for research. The priorities are that we would have national standards and guidelines.

Without information sharing, then the practices that are being implemented and the things that are being tried become devalued because only people in a small circle know whether they are successful or not. We have to find out what works, why it works and what does not work.

To put something in place and find out it does not work is not a loss, it is a gain. Other jurisdictions can learn from that and not apply resources to something they know does not work.

Primary prevention is something that has to be looked at so we can look at the best ways to reduce the exposure to cancer risks and increase the impact of the protection factors.

We need to look at rebalancing the focus. We consistently and constantly focus on in-hospital care or hospital-centric care. That is a mistake. Yes, of course some things have to happen within the context of a hospital but it is outside of the hospital where the needs continue to be great and where citizens afflicted by cancer, once they have moved outside of the hospital, are looking at ongoing treatments.

It is through ongoing treatments that they have to bear some of the most exorbitant costs, whether it be intravenous costs for certain drugs at home, which they would not have to pay for if they were staying in the hospital, or whether it is the costs naturally incumbent with the taking of various treatments in facilities not close to the patient's home.

I meet with constituents who are overwhelmed by all of the ancillary costs that go with treatment, whether it is a recuperative period or an ongoing treatment. This is supposed to be a health care system where people are shielded and sheltered from those costs.

It is about rebalancing this focus so that the needs of individuals and their families, the needs that often cannot be catalogued on an accountant's ledger, can also be met. We need to look at the research priorities so we can expand in the areas that are successful.

Canada is ideally suited for this type of a national cancer strategy. Health being a provincial jurisdiction, each province in itself can, in some cases, experiment and, in some cases, initiate certain practices, research, certain treatments, and other provinces can learn from that. Despite claims made by the Public Health Agency, there is in fact no national cancer strategy. That is an incredible state of affairs and one that is not acceptable.

We need to ensure that fewer Canadians develop cancer. We need to improve the treatment and care of all Canadians. We need to help them cover the costs that go with that and add greater efficiencies to heath care delivery right across the provinces.

We do not want this to descend into a partisan dispute because the reality of cancer and how it affects lives, families and communities is too painful an item but we do need to acknowledge some political realities. The Liberals have had 12 years to implement a national strategy for cancer and yet it has not happened. They have shown a profound lack of leadership and accountability on these issues. There is no way to track the money that has been spent and to determine its effectiveness.

I know the federal Liberals have a practice of not auditing in general. The Auditor General talks about that great omission on their part. However it is not acceptable. I am not trying to be political here. All I am saying is that it is one of the great failings of the Liberal government and it needs to be corrected.

The Liberals say that disease specific strategies are ineffective. That simply is not true. Disease specific strategies have worked very well in a number of countries. Britain, France and many other EU nations have funded national disease strategies. The strategies they have funded have not been implemented by their governments but, in a similar fashion to what we are proposing here, by expert groups across society who have experienced both the effects, the gains and the losses of cancer. These strategies are at the forefront of every government's health care policy.

Our Prime Minister and his government say that we cannot do this and yet national leaders, including French president Jacques Chirac, British prime minister Tony Blair, New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark and Australian prime minister John Howard, have publicly announced national disease strategies. Why can we not do it here in Canada? Simply put, we can. We just need the will to do it.

We heard a complaint and a disclaimer that due to the complexities of federal-provincial relations implementing a national disease strategy would be too difficult. However just the opposite is true. It is a great advantage that various provinces have tried various things that we can explore.

Cancer takes a terrible toll. Between 5.2 million and 6.6 million people will develop cancer over the next 30 years in Canada. The cost to the economy will be $540 billion just in wage based productivity. There is no way to measure the human cost, the tragic effect on families and on communities, of this terrible disease. It is time for a national strategy.

It is time to put aside partisan differences and say to members, like my colleague, the member for Charleswood--St. James--Assiniboia, that it does not matter what political stripe one is, this is a good idea and it is something worth pursuing. This is something that could reduce the effect of cancer, provide breakthrough research and cover all of the costs that individuals face when they are stricken with this disease.

This is something that is worthy of support. Let us set aside partisan differences and move ahead in this fight against cancer and win it.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.


Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague from Okanagan--Coquihalla for his remarks and thank him for splitting his time with me on this very important debate.

He mentioned the need to bring about a national specific strategy which is very much the spirit of this particular motion put forward by our colleague from Manitoba. He also mentioned the fact that agencies and groups across the country dealing with heart and stroke, mental illness and cancer, which he spent the majority of his time talking about, completely and thoroughly embrace this initiative. They have been imploring the federal government for years to do this.

My colleague pointed out, very appropriately, that the government has had over 12 years to take action. There has been talk and all sorts of commitments and promises made on this and other subject matters, and yet it was the Conservative Party that brought the motion forward. Even now it is unclear whether the federal government is prepared to actually move in this direction.

He spoke to the need to be non-partisan, and I completely agree with that, and yet when one looks at the need for a disease specific strategy and one compares that with some of the other government initiatives, including a regional vote buying strategy, like we saw in the Liberal sponsorship scandal, oddly enough there is a comparable amount of money involved, as identified by the Auditor General, $250 million in that case, spent over that same period of time of approximately 10 or 12 years. Think of the money that could have gone toward research, development or support programs for cancer victims and those afflicted with other illnesses envisioned by the motion.

Would my colleague comment further on the lost priorities of the government when we examine the actual spending initiatives it has taken, the horrific waste of money it has demonstrated in a number of programs and the undeniable need for cancer patients, their families and the cancer survivors to have this type of support network and long term commitment for this type of spending initiative?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.


Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, with his usual insight, the member for Central Nova has really zeroed in on something very important.

A finite number of dollars are available for any purpose. Some people think money grows on trees. As a matter of fact, one Liberal told me that it does grow on trees because it is made of paper so it should be spent because trees keep growing. This showed the limits of their fiscal understanding.

Various Auditors General have commented on the fact that the government does not properly audit its spending. It spends many times on impulse for the momentary satisfaction of appealing to a particular consumer group or an advocacy group just to placate their concerns for the moment but there is no sense of the order of the magnitude of the spending, where it went or what the results were.

My colleague mentioned other groups that are supportive of this type of strategy and share our concern. We applaud the leadership of the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. These are not small groups or organizations. They are large groups and they know what it is to be good stewards of the money they are given.

Do members know when we see these people? We see many of the volunteers from these organizations in the evening when they knock on our doors to raise money. They take time out of their busy schedules, their businesses and from their families to raise money the hard way. They do not have the same ability, as the government does, to simply, by fiat, go into the pockets of taxpayers and extort the money. They must go house to house using a variety of fundraising avenues in our communities to raise every dollar. These organizations must monitor where the dollars go. They must show results to their volunteer boards.

I would suggest that the federal government look at how these agencies control their money and how they value every dollar and start to consider that every dollar it has taken it has taken it out of somebody's pocket. Somebody worked hard for that money. Somebody sweated to raise that money. It should be properly spent and audited, especially when we are talking about people's health.

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3:40 p.m.


Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to follow my colleague from British Columbia. I again congratulate my colleague from Charleswood--St. James—Assiniboia for his leadership and initiative in bringing the motion before the House, and his continued efforts to inspire through his actions and work in the House of Commons.

This debate is of critical importance. It is not only a positive and extremely forward looking issue, it is a compassionate issue. It is one that Canadians feel passionately about because it affects the lives of so many. We can talk about the quantifying of the money involved, the program spending and the way in which many of these strategies may be implemented when it comes to cancer, heart disease and mental illness, but it is the human impact that cannot be lost in the debate.

It is fair to say that just about everybody in the House, if not everyone, including the pages and other people who are working here today have had their lives touched by one of these horrible afflictions. They have had their lives or someone around them impacted by these afflictions.

With respect to cancer alone, on which I may spend a disproportionate amount of time, one in three Canadians is affected by cancer. There are members of the House who are currently affected by cancer. The human costs are staggering in any way we calculate it. It involves children, families, parents, brothers and sisters, all of whom may have lost their lives too early because of cancer.

If there is anything that could be relayed from this debate, I hope that Canadians will realize that despite the partisan din that emanates from within these walls, there are people here working in their interests and are trying to bring forward something positive as the days in the House grow to a close.

Last weekend in my riding of Central Nova in Nova Scotia, I attended a national cancer survivors day with Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm. The theme was “Celebrate Life”, as a reminder that there is life after cancer, that there is an opportunity to celebrate those who continue to struggle with this illness.

It is fitting that the motion today calls on the government to fully fund and implement the Canadian strategy for cancer control in collaboration with provinces and stakeholders.

Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm just last week spoke before a gathered audience about the continued crisis in health care and specifically cancer as an area that is in need of attention, government support and funding. That sentiment is found in every province and at every level of government. When faced with an opportunity now to do something positive, there is hope that the federal government in its wisdom will support this initiative, but more important than that, that the government will actually follow through on a commitment. That is where it appears the government continually falls down. Although it may decide to vote for this motion this evening, there is great concern that this is disingenuous support as we have seen in the past from the federal Liberal government. It will vote for a motion or initiative, or promise it in one of its many campaign booklets as it did to abolish the GST or to get rid of free trade, and it did not happen.

This is a marker firmly placed in the ground calling upon the government to fully fund a cancer strategy, fully fund a strategy around mental illness, and heart and stroke. Those stakeholders watching now should be watching in the future very closely as to whether in fact the government does the necessary follow through.

To work on developing a national strategy with respect to cancer one has to look at previous efforts done by the agencies and the stakeholders. It goes back a number of years. In 1999 and again in 2002 a council was formed to lead the strategy development. The council was made up of more than 30 members including representatives of provincial and territorial cancer agencies, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute of Canada, Canadian Association of Provincial Cancer Agencies, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Cancer Advocacy Network. There are so many groups as my colleague referenced that have been doing incredible work in this regard and impacting on people's lives in a substantial way.

While there has been some meagre financial support from the federal government for this strategy, both federally and provincially, and from many individual Canadians who continually give generously, what I hear repeatedly is there is a lack of political will to put a strategy in place. The council itself said:

A lack of political commitment and significant dollars has severely hampered the ability of CSCC to put its ideas into action and to reduce cancer incidence in Canada, improve the treatment and care of Canadians living with cancer, and achieve greater efficiencies in health service delivery across provinces.

Today in the House we have an opportunity to demonstrate that that political will does exist. Today we can vote to support a strategy that will reduce this deadly disease, that will move toward a cure and that will, in a very real way, impact upon people's lives who continue to struggle. The often repeated phrase of hope that cancer can be beaten, embodied in the person of Terry Fox and other brave Canadians who continue to deal with this, could actually move toward fruition.

As I stated, I was at a dinner this past weekend and there was an individual there who was very inspiring, a man named John Hanna from Cape Breton who is currently battling cancer. He was an original six hockey player. He played for the New York Rangers at one time in his career. Having finished a life in hockey, in more recent years he has dedicated his life to working with children and community programs. I send to him and his family our personal best wishes as he continues that battle, the fight of his life.

Another speaker at the dinner, a friend of mine, Will Njoku, spoke of the need for spiritual health which is also an important aspect of a person's ability to fight and survive cancer.

I want to mention as well our colleague in the other place, Senator Mike Forrestall, who placed a private member's bill before the Senate, which calls upon the government similarly to develop a national research driven strategy around cancer control. I commend him for his ongoing efforts.

Although the statistics are there, it is again the human impact. Thirty years from now, between five and six million Canadians will develop cancer. Between 2.4 million and 3.2 million will die prematurely from the illness. Prevention, early detection, proper treatment, healthy living, anti-carcinogenic foods, drug strategies; is there anything in life more fundamental than health? Mr. Speaker, you know that, having done some training recently. Is there anything more basic than a quality of life when it comes to health?

The economic productivity at risk because of cancer is significant. Again there is a need to consider these aspects. Over the next 30 years the Canadian economy will lose approximately $540 billion as a result of lost productivity due to cancer. Tax revenues to cancer are expected to be in the range of $248 billion as a direct consequence of health costs and lost productivity.

Again I put those statistics on the record only to show that there is a huge economic impact as well. This is why it is such a meagre investment to be earmarking money at this point, knowing that it will be exponentially in favour of improving these economic impacts, but more important again, the life impact. It cannot be stated or repeated often enough. It cannot be quantified.

As envisioned by the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control, there are three basic goals: first, to reduce the mortality of cancer through preventative measures including tobacco control, physical activity, healthy nutrition, increased surveillance and early testing; second, to improve access to health care by reducing waiting times for treatment; and third, to increase the quality of life for Canadians and their families living with cancer through reducing physical discomfort and emotional distress and improving pain and symptom control. All of these have added benefits for the patients' loved ones who suffer as well.

The strategy would accomplish these goals by setting up systems and processes that allow the stakeholders to tap into the best practices and techniques that have been used around the country. This information is shared between provinces.

The Canadian Cancer Society says that cancer is now the leading cause of premature death. Prostate cancer is one of the more common causes. On average, 394 Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer each week.

Members may recall there was a prostate cancer research initiative, an awareness day here on the Hill. Research is an important aspect to all of this, as are these preventative measures, including the need to have a PSA blood test done. Prostate cancer will actually surpass breast cancer as the leading type of cancer in Canada in very short order.

The dedicated work of many Canadians, including a citizen of my community, Darrell Rushton, and others makes a tremendous difference in the lives of those around them.

Breast cancer remains the leading cause. The Canadian Cancer Society predicts that this year an estimated 21,600 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and over 5,300 will die. These statistics speak volumes. They speak for themselves.

We need to do more. This is an opportunity to do just that. This is an opportunity to perhaps restore some lost lustre and credibility in this place. More important, this is an opportunity to have an incredible impact on the cure for cancer and to assist in every way the lives of those Canadians who continue to struggle with this affliction.

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3:50 p.m.


Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to react a little to the Conservative party motion.

First I would like to say that, before being a member of Parliament, I worked in the health sector for 18 years. I am therefore very sensitive to questions of cancer prevention, heart disease and mental illness.

In Quebec, as in the other provinces, we know that cancer, cardiovascular disease, mental health problems and other illnesses are posing ever greater problems. The needs in Quebec are also very great. However, all the infrastructure, programs and services exist to meet the needs of people living with illnesses such as those mentioned by the Conservatives.

We have hospitals, independent hospitals, research services, community organizations and CLSCs that provide prevention programs all across Quebec. We also have our own strategies for fighting cancer and our own mental health policy.

I have a question for my Conservative colleague. I was very surprised to see this motion introduced by the Conservatives because we had been hearing some talk recently about them wanting to respect provincial jurisdictions more.

Since we already have all the infrastructure and services we need in Quebec, what we want now is money. There are needs of course. But we already have the infrastructure, programs and services. We therefore want more health transfers for our province. I am surprised to see this motion introduced by the Conservatives because a strategy to fight cancer and other illnesses would duplicate what we are already doing in Quebec.

My question is therefore as follows. Does my Conservative friend not see a certain contradiction of the political progress they have made recently toward respecting the jurisdiction of the provinces and Quebec over health services?

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3:55 p.m.


Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, is there a contradiction? Not at all, absolutely not. Our party has enormous respect for provincial jurisdictions and for Quebec. It is not a partisan or regional question but a question of finding substantive solutions. It is also, of course, a matter of money. The purpose of this motion is to provide money for the cause and find a solution to this problem.

I am saddened to think that the Bloc or any party would try to somehow hive off a partisan interest and not see the greater good in this issue, not look to their communities, as I have to my own in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, and see the tight-knit support network and caring communities that develop around persons suffering from cancer or mental illness or heart and stroke, along with the incredible effort that groups and survivors make every day in trying to cope with these afflictions.

I think of the Women Alike Abreast a River, a dragon boat team that has had incredible success not only in their races but, more important, in raising money and awareness in providing a focus to the efforts to combat cancer. I think every year of the numbers of Canadians who continue to struggle with this illness knowing that the government has it within its discretion and within its coffers, its banks, to fund programs that are going to have such a real and significant impact on their lives, yet chooses, through whatever reason, whatever misguided attempts it might make to just cling to power, not to fund a national strategy.

Do members know that this country will be hosting an international conference in October and we do not have a national strategy that we can point to? We will be going into that conference without the ability to say that we in this country are taking great strides to combat the afflictions of cancer.

I again salute these individuals and I salute organizations like the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow and others. They continue to do their level best and inspire with their actions, words and deeds. I again call upon the government to similarly step up and fund a national strategy for cancer, mental illness and heart and stroke.

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3:55 p.m.

Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca B.C.


Keith Martin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.

Let me say at the outset that I want to congratulate the member for bringing up this motion. There is not a family in this House, or indeed in Canada, that has not been touched by the savagery of cancer or mental illness. Both of these of the collection of diseases have an effect on our country, on individuals and families, that is beyond the pale. It is clear that we in this House and indeed the country have a commitment to put our best efforts forward to deal with these problems in an effective and cost effective way.

It is interesting to note, though, that the opposition has not mentioned much about what this government has been doing, which has been quite extensive and quite exciting for the last few years. We have worked with the provinces to develop a number of exciting initiatives that I am going to talk about.

Before I do that, let me preface what I am going to say by looking at the big picture. Research done by the World Health Organization clearly tells us that the burden on health care and on individuals in the future will largely be from chronic diseases, be they cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, both type 1 and type 2, or indeed that collection of diseases that we know are cancers. We know that cancers by and large are mutations in genes and we can have a hereditary predisposition for this, so our genetics are extremely important, but what is also important is that we can do a great deal to prevent a lot of the chronic diseases that are affecting us right now, all of that collection I mentioned.

It is the simple things. It is risk factors: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inactivity, obesity, poor diet, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption. These are a basket of behaviours which if modified would have a dramatic and profound effect upon individuals' lives, their health and indeed the bottom line for governments, the cost to the taxpayer in terms of health care.

When we look at that collection, that basket of behaviours, we can also see that some very simple interventions can be used to address them and, in doing so, address the problems that we are talking about today.

If we increase our activity and have moderate physical activity every day, if we eat properly, if we reduce our consumption of alcohol to moderate at best and if we do not smoke, if we do all of that, we will have a profound impact upon 90% of the chronic diseases that affect us.

Indeed, that is what the government is doing. We are working with the provinces, which are the primary managers of health care in our country, to try to address this. We have invested quite considerably in a number of initiatives.

The first I will be talking about is the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. If members ever have a chance, they should take a look at the work they do. The head of CIHR, Dr. Alan Bernstein, and his team do an extraordinary job. They fund some 442 research projects, representing 8,000 researchers across the country. Those projects are on the cutting edge of dealing with the cancers as well as an array of other diseases.

As I have said, we know that the cancers are by and large a collection of diseases that have at their root the mutation of genes. We have a hereditary predisposition for that. They can occur singularly. They can occur sporadically. They can also occur through our activities and behaviours as individuals. It is a complex mix.

What is CIHR is doing with the funding that we have engaged in, which is over $180 million? We are working with CIHR to work with researchers across the world to address and find cures for the cancers, and we have come a long way.

With respect to sequencing, which is done at Genome Canada, we are one of the world leaders in this area. In fact, Canada is one of the top five countries in the world for medical research. For example, Canada was the first country to sequence out the coronavirus that causes SARS. Our genetic capabilities are going to be extremely important to our ability to address the cancers.

However, we are also working with the provinces on how we can make people more active. This is particularly important for the kids. Our country has one of the greatest preponderances of child obesity in the world, which will have a profound impact in the future, not only on the lives of Canadians but also on our health care costs.

It is simple to do. When working with the provinces, what I would personally suggest is that the provincial health ministers and the ministers of education work with the school boards to make physical activity obligatory for kids up to the age of 11. This is critically important.

Another intervention we are doing with the provinces is the early learning program that the minister is sponsoring. So far, five provinces have signed on. Why? Because if we get kids early, in the first eight years of life, if we can ensure that they live in a loving, caring environment where they are subjected to reasonable discipline and have proper nutrition and the kind of environment where parents are actually engaged with their children, that has a profound impact upon the development of a child's brain, and particularly, as I have said, in the first eight years of life.

We know that in the first eight years of life the neuroconnections take place in a way that does not happen at any other time in an individual's life. If we subject a child to neglect, poor nutrition, sexual or physical abuse or violence, the neuroconnections do not take place very well, which has a profound impact upon the health of the child in later years. If we remove those factors and give the child loving care and a secure environment with the proper nutrition, as I mentioned, along with engagement, the child has the best chance of becoming a self-actualized, integrated member of society.

We know that there is a $7 savings for every dollar invested in the head start type of programs. Kids stay in school longer. There is a 99% reduction in child abuse rates, a 60% reduction in youth crime and a 50% reduction in teen pregnancies in those programs. All of which is to say that this kind of simple, easy preventive measure has a profound impact upon health care and upon a range of health care problems, which is why our government is doing it.

I would also beseech those who are viewing this to please have regular health care checkups. Women should have mammograms and they should have colonoscopies to pick up on bowel cancers early. People should have their cholesterol and blood pressure checked. They should eat properly. They should see their family doctor about questions they may have in other areas. A few small changes can have a profound impact upon one's life. This is certainly about living longer, but it is also about living healthier and about the quality of life.

We have an exciting program in our province of British Columbia. The B.C. cancer agency has been a world leader in preventing a lot of problems and improving the health of Canadians. Indeed, in my province there is a 12% better outcome for those who are affected by cancer.

A case in point is smoking cessation and not smoking in the workplace. The city of Victoria in my riding was a national and indeed an international leader on the issue. The banning of smoking in the workplace and in other environments has had a profound impact on a range of cardiovascular and respiratory problems. It has had a dramatic effect on the health of British Columbians. I am happy to say that Health Canada has been an international leader on this issue as well. Not only are we doing things in Canada, but we are also exporting the knowledge around the world.

Lastly, to speak on the issue of mental health, this is a very difficult problem. Indeed, it is one that has vexed and challenged all of us. It will become a larger problem as time passes. The WHO did a very good analysis of this issue. It may come as a surprise to viewers that depression will be the second leading cause of morbidity in the world in the next 10 years. Also, the burden of dementias on our western world is going to be huge. There are some exciting things that can be done to prevent some of this. I am running out of time, but I will be happy to take any questions on this issue.

Canada has done exciting things. Our government is working with the provinces to deal with these very challenging issues. Can we do more? Yes. Will we do more? Absolutely.

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4:05 p.m.


Steven Fletcher Conservative Charleswood—St. James, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about working with the provinces, but what about working with the stakeholders? The stakeholders in the cancer community, for example, have come up with a game plan. They have the expertise. They called for a Canadian strategy on cancer control, yet the government has refused to fund it. He talks about $300 million for chronic care. The plan that we are talking about here will cost about $260 million over five years.

On the one hand, we have some members saying that they would support it, then on the other hand, it is clear that the government has no intention of funding it. There is an intrinsic contradiction here. It is very sad that the government would try to mislead Canadians again on an issue that is so important. The member also spoke of national strategies but he does not recognize that disease specific strategies are the way to go in a situation such as cancer.

Will the government fully fund the cancer strategy as outlined in the motion and use it as a model for future initiatives?

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4:10 p.m.


Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would challenge the hon. member on his disease specific approach to this because the cancers are a collection of diseases. Indeed, they have at their root cause some very interesting commonalities. It is not appropriate to deal with the cancers as individual cancers. They need to share their information because that is a more appropriate way of doing this.

In budget 2005 we put an initial investment for the Public Health Agency of Canada of about $300 million over five years which is better than what the member has asked for. The purpose of this money is to promote healthy eating, encourage physical activity, healthy weight control, and to provide national strategies for the prevention and addressing chronic diseases, exactly what the member is asking for. In fact, we are actually going beyond this. We are going beyond what the member has asked for by a factor of two.

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4:10 p.m.


Brian Fitzpatrick Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I was just looking at some of the outcomes of the strategy, one of which is over a 30 year period. Something like 420,000 lives would be saved if this strategy was implemented and the cost would be $50 million or $60 million a year which seems to me to be very good value for money if we are getting those kinds of results.

The member was a leadership candidate for the Canadian Alliance and I recall him talking about the dreadful gun registry and the terrible waste for this registry and how that money could be better spent. We spent $2 billion on that. I remember Allan Rock, the minister of justice, saying that if it saved one life, it was worth the $2 billion. It has cost us $125 million a year to maintain the gun registry with no results to show for it. All the statistics would indicate that it has not saved one life. It is impossible to make that argument. This would save 426,000 lives.

I would ask the member opposite, with his great knowledge as a former Canadian Alliance leadership candidate, would the $125 million a year that we are wasting on the gun registry not be better spent on a strategy like this which would save thousands upon thousands of lives if it were implemented?