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House of Commons Hansard #109 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.

Topics

Agriculture and Agri-FoodCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

In my opinion, the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

The vote stands deferred until 3 p.m. this day.

United States 9/11 Commission ReportPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to present three petitions.

The first petition is signed by approximately 500 people from across Canada. The petition points out that scientific and eyewitness evidence shows that the 9/11 commission report is a fraudulent document and that elements within the U.S. government were complicit in the murder of thousands of people on September 11, 2001. The petition points out that this brought Canada into the so-called war on terror that has changed the domestic and foreign policies for the worse and that will have negative consequences for Canada.

Natural Health ProductsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from people who are very concerned about what is going to happen with regulations concerning natural health products.

The petitioners believe that these products are essential to the health and well-being of Canadians and that they not only contribute to the treatment of illness, but also the prevention of illness. Therefore, the petitioners call on the Government of Canada to abandon the proposed cost recovery program of Health Canada that would limit the choices for Canadians.

Animal Transport RegulationsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, my third petition concerns the transportation of animals and points out that the current regulations are outdated and in need of revision.

The petitioners call on the House of Commons to amend the animal transport regulations under Canada's Health of Animals Act to be consistent with the findings of the European Union scientific committee on animal health and welfare.

Income TrustsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to present another income trust broken promise petition on behalf of a large number of constituents of Mississauga South.

The petitioners remind the Prime Minister that he promised never to tax income trusts, but he did break that promise by imposing a 31.5% punitive tax on income trusts which permanently wiped out $25 billion of the hard-earned retirement savings of over two million Canadians, particularly of seniors.

The petitioners therefore call upon the Conservative minority government: first, to admit that the decision to tax income trusts was based on flawed methodology and incorrect assumptions, as was clearly demonstrated at the finance committee hearings; second, to apologize to those who were unfairly harmed by this broken promise; and third, to repeal the punitive 31.5% tax on income trusts.

Arts and CulturePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition signed by Canadians from Quebec and Ontario, all of whom are concerned about the provisions of Bill C-10 with regard to the film and video tax credit.

The petitioners demand protection for freedom of expression in Canada and call on the government to take measures to promote and not limit artistic freedom. They note their strong opposition to measures of censorship and their belief that the provisions of Bill C-10 are just that and should be rescinded.

The petitioners are also concerned that Bill C-10 gives the Minister of Canadian Heritage discretionary power to impose her own subjective judgments concerning artistic content.

Finally, the petitioners call for objective and transparent program guidelines that support film and video production.

Arts and CulturePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of many Canadians who are asking that the government rescind a provision of Bill C-10 that allows the government to censor film or video productions under some ill-defined, vague criteria. We have all heard of the impact these provisions will have on the film industry, and there are already laws that contain provisions regarding pornography, child pornography, hate propaganda and violent crime.

These Canadians are asking the government to put in place objective and transparent guidelines that respect freedom of expression when delivering any program intended to support film and video production in Canada.

AsbestosPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present a petition once again from thousands and thousands of Canadians.

They make the point that asbestos is the greatest industrial killer the world has ever known, and yet Canada remains one of the largest producers and exporters of asbestos in the world. They point out that Canada actually spends millions of dollars subsidizing the asbestos industry and even blocks international efforts to curb its use.

Therefore, these many petitioners call upon Parliament to ban asbestos in all of its forms, to institute a just transition program for asbestos workers and their communities, to end all government subsidies of asbestos both in Canada and abroad, and to stop blocking other countries that are trying to save their citizens from being exposed to asbestos, and to stop blocking international conventions, such as the Rotterdam Convention, designed to protect workers from exposure to Canadian asbestos.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

June 10th, 2008 / 1:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the following question will be answered today: Question No. 209.

Question No. 209Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

With regard to funding for the North American Future 2025 Project: (a) has the government provided any direct or indirect funding for the North American Future 2025 Project being conducted under the joint stewardship of the Conference Board of Canada, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the “Instituto Nacional de Estadística Geografía e Informática”; and (b) has the government received any report, from any or all of these parties, following the research they have conducted or consultations they have held, individually or jointly, in connection with the project?

Question No. 209Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Beauport—Limoilou Québec

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, in response to a) The Government of Canada has not provided direct or indirect funding for the North American Future 2025 Project being conducted under the joint stewardship of the Conference Board of Canada, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the “Instituto Nacional de Estadistica Geografia e Informatica”.

In response to b) There are no records in the systems which track correspondence for the Privy Council Office, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Industry Canada or Environment Canada that indicate any reports on the North American Future 2025 Project were received by the government.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from June 9 consideration of the motion that Bill C-51, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Food and Drugs ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-51. This bill has caused great concern among my constituents and other Canadians. Many of them are seniors and ailing citizens.

For several months I have been receiving letter after letter from my constituents regarding their concerns about this bill. They are ordinary Canadians who are worried that they will not be able to get the natural health products that they have been using successfully for years. They are worried that Health Canada will be given police state powers. I have had the opportunity to meet with many of them as well. The bill is alarming people who are not political. A constituent of mine, Johan Ghazali, wrote:

While I don't also get involved in politics, I am concerned about a new Bill that will affect many Canadians including myself. The Bill in question is Bill C-51 that is being ramped through Parliament without much debate.

On the surface, C-51 appears to be about protecting the public health, but has many profound and perturbing implications.

Yesterday we learned in a regular government member's speech that this bill is incomplete. The government will be proposing major amendments to the bill. This proves that the concerns of my constituents are justified.

I am greatly concerned about the issues raised by my constituents. I am committed to improving the safety and health of Canadians. I support measures which will strengthen the regulatory process to ensure that Canadians are able to access the safest and most effective therapeutic products.

I firmly believe that Canadians have a fundamental right to have access and choice in treatment options regarding their health. Time after time, the government's policy has been to bring the message from Ottawa to Canadians. The Conservatives are tight-lipped about the information, never saying anything but the Prime Minister's talking points.

That is not my way of doing things. That is not what my constituents want me to do. My constituents elected me to bring their message to Ottawa. That is what I am doing and it is what I will keep doing.

We should ensure that this legislation does not further restrict the use, sale and distribution of safe natural health products. We need to balance the controls with the danger. My constituents are telling me that the drugs on the market are not a great risk to the health of Canadians.

One of my constituents, Ms. Emoke Szijarto, wrote:

--I have been using “natural remedies” since my childhood instead of taking harmful chemicals. My father who is a doctor has prescribed us natural remedies when we were sick and he is a great advocate of using natural things in healing. I learnt from him, and wish to follow it.

Many more of my constituents use natural health products to improve their well-being, as do many other Canadians. Last Friday I met with a couple in their seventies, Adella and Richard Matthew, who are in good health. They say their vitality comes from the use of these products for the past 30 years, but they are worried. They are worried that they will not be able to get those products anymore. They are worried that they will need prescriptions which would involve a doctor's appointment which is hard to get. They are worried that they will be punished for recommending products to their friends. They are not alone.

My constituents Randy and Terri Pope wrote that this bill:

—goes against everything that the average Canadian citizen believes in, such as freedom of choice and freedom of speech. My mother and father were born and raised in this great Country, and I'm sure my mother would roll over in her grave in disgust if she heard of this outrageous proposal. How dare this Government try to control how I decide to care for my health.

There are many legitimate reasons to use these products. Some of my constituents want to lower the costs of their medication. Others want to avoid unpleasant side effects. Some believe that alternative therapies are simply more effective.

Another one of my constituents wrote:

I am a 31 year old male suffering from sever Sudden Onset Arthritis. At it's worst this disease has totally handicapped my mobility. Not satisfied with the solutions offered to me by mainstream North American medication I turned to the recently provincially acknowledged Traditional Chinese Medicine profession and have been receiving treatment...for the past two years. The success of the treatments has been phenomenal in that I am now mobile again....The TCM treatments I have been involved with have none where as the Mainstream solution had many side effects that I was unwilling to live with.

I support the right to meet these needs with natural drug products.

There is a great concern that the bill will lump natural health products into the same regulatory regime as drugs and be subject to a higher burden of regulation. It would move them and several others into the same heading and not differentiate between drugs and natural health products.

I support the rights of consumers to fair and accurate product information. The claims about health benefits made on the packages and in the marketing of these products must be truthful and honest. They must not mislead Canadians. I support efforts to improve enforcement of these principles.

The government says that it has no intention to permit direct-to-consumer advertising, yet the bill leaves a loophole that could allow pharmaceutical companies to directly advertise drugs to consumers through television, radio and print, as they do in the neighbouring United States of America. This could drive up the health care costs and influence which drugs people take. It would take advertising out of the hands of Parliament. That is a serious concern.

Finally, my constituents are concerned that tighter regulations would benefit drug companies. Natural health products are one of the few competitors to that large, well-financed industry. Undermining them would benefit their bottom line.

My constituent, W.R. Blair, is very concerned about these changes. He wrote:

The language of the Bill is a true reflection of slippery and slimy corporate tactics which should be viewed as criminal conspiracy in my view....

This dirty stinking backroom deal furthers my belief that corporations have bought and paid for legislative compliance...

The government needs to assure Canadians that big pharma is not the driving force behind the bill.

There is work to be done on the existing act. Recent incidents of unsafe food, health and consumer products have underscored the need to modernize the Food and Drugs Act. It was introduced back in the 1950s. I support modernizing the regulatory system. We need to improve the surveillance of these products throughout their life cycle.

Yesterday we learned that the government would propose three major amendments in committee to address these serious concerns. To the best of my knowledge, the Conservatives intend to separate natural health products into their own legislative category, make it clear that the regulation of natural health products is separate, clarify the powers of inspectors and set up an advisory committee.

These are significant amendments, which will dramatically change the treatment of natural health products. This means Health Canada does not have the confidence of any of the government members.

The government is proposing major changes that are outlined in nothing but a speech. It reminds me of the documentation-free unveiling of its defence strategy all over again.

It is my understanding that some of the Conservative MPs wrote a letter to the health committee chair outlining the changes. Yet no members from my party have it. This is shocking. All members were elected to represent the interest of their constituents in Parliament. Does the government think some MPs are more equal than others? That is no way to govern in a minority Parliament situation.

How am I supposed to comment on these improvements when they have not even been drafted yet? We should be debating the real bill. I agree with the member for Mississauga South. If the government is serious, the bill can be withdrawn now, amendments can made and re-submitted to the House so Canadians can have the real bill and we can all have a real debate. I welcome the direction of these amendments and look forward to studying them when they are finished.

I see some of the members on the Conservative bench laughing about this. In fact, it is a laughing stock. The Minister of Health has written a letter to the health committee and it is not available to all 308 members in the House who have equal representation. It is very important from that perspective.

Again, I still welcome the direction of these amendments and look forward to studying them when they are finished, or are made public.

Judy LeBeau, one of my constituents, would welcome them as well. She writes:

The debate surrounding C-51 is an excellent opportunity for the Government to make good on previous commitments to create a third category for natural health products, which are low risk and have demonstrated benefits for the health and wellbeing of Canadians.

From the beginning, the government has failed to reach out to the grassroots. It has been clear for months that ordinary Canadians care about the bill. Yet the government ignored their concerns and refused to have a dialogue with regular people. When the government finally put out answers their questions, it did not make it easy to access that information. Even the elderly couple I met with last week could not find it. Even if people find it, these major amendments, which the minister will propose to the committee, will change the intent of the bill and change all the questions and answers on that website. This failure has worsened confusion in the public and scared ailing and wonderful Canadians.

I support the right of my constituents to have choice in health treatments. Part of that choice is having access to honest and safe natural products.

Food and Drugs ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I guess I want to congratulate the hon. member, but I would like to ask him a question. The reason I guess I would like to do that is I was very confused by his speech.

On one hand, he complained that the government did not go out and speak to people, which we did. That is where the amendments and suggested amendments have come from, because we listened to Canadians and stakeholders. He is wrong, even on some of the things he has said himself.

Why would the member come to the House of Commons with a speech like that and mislead Canadians? I spoke with the member yesterday. We talked about all the amendments. He now pretends they did not exist and the bill is a bad bill, yet he knows full well that we are at second reading. This is what we do in the House of Commons. This is where we have debate with members participating. This is where we come up with ideas to make the bills better.

I do not understand the logic that it is somehow wrong to amend a bill. We have proposed certain amendments that will alleviate all the concerns the member has raised in his speech. The member knew that before presenting his speech. I am curious why the member would stand in the House and mislead Canadians in such a fashion.

Food and Drugs ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, the question of the member for Cambridge is exactly where I wanted to go. I asked the member for a copy of the letter so I could see the amendments. In response he told me that he did not have the letter from the minister to the health committee.

How do we know whether those amendments even exist? We have to assume it. This is exactly the problem with the government. It is very tight-lipped. If it were so open and so honest, then it should share those amendments right here.

The right thing to do is to withdraw the bill and then bring forward the amendments. We should bring the real bill into the House so members can have a real debate on it. It is not only us. My constituents should be able to look at the amendments and make comments on them.

The exact policy of the government is that it does not want to share the information with the grassroots.

Food and Drugs ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I have three short questions and comments.

First, for the experts on the bill who are watching, as I said in my previous speech, it is very important for one of my constituents that Empowerplus continues to be legally available. I hope they would confirm to me by email or some other means that it is the case.

Second, the member for Cambridge, with whom I mostly agree on this bill, has to understand that the reason the members have asked to consider the bill before second reading is there are so many amendments both by the government and others. The experience we have had in the past is when we get to second reading, we cannot change things that much.

We had an example in one committee where something was changed in a clause from year to two years and the Conservative chair of the committee ruled it out of order, it was too much change. Therefore, we can understand people's hesitancy and why they would prefer the bill to go to committee before second reading.

A question I have for the member is from one of my constituents, Drew. It is very short, but it reflects a concern about which other constituents have also written. He says:

I would not be writing this letter if this bill had no “teeth”, but unfortunately (under section 23) it gives government agents unprecedented power to search, confiscate and prosecute people....

Does the member have any comments on the regulatory and enforcement mechanisms in the bill?

Food and Drugs ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Yukon for his work on this bill, for his speech in the House yesterday, and for his commitment to his constituents.

When it comes to enforcement, many of my constituents are fearful that inspectors will be able to go into their bedrooms and kitchens to find these drugs. They will be put in jail and face a big fine.

We are looking for a third category where we can have legislation instead of regulation, so it is clearly defined by Parliament. Inspectors need to have clear direction from Parliament. This is a concern of constituents in Yukon and also a concern of my constituents in Newton--North Delta.

Food and Drugs ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, it has always been my understanding, as a member of Parliament, that when one votes in favour of a bill at second reading, one is voting on the principles of that bill. We expect that the bill will be sent to committee where committee members can work on the details, and work on minor adjustments to the bill to make those principles work. If the amendments are substantive, then the principles are being changed.

In this case the minister has stated both inside and outside the House and at committee that natural health products were not at play in the bill. He said that nothing in this legislation would change the rules for natural health products: the availability, the choice. But I understand from members opposite that the minister now wants to put forward some amendments that would deal specifically with natural health products where they are not involved in the bill now. That is changing the principles of the bill.

I believe that it would be respectful of the House if the minister withdrew the bill, made the relevant amendments, and put the bill forward, so that all members could do an adequate study, receive advice from the Library of Parliament, receive advice from interest groups and professionals prior to our debate at second reading, and well in advance of it going to committee where we would make those moderate modifications.

Does the member not find this to be contemptuous of Parliament? Does he not find it to be disrespectful that members would abuse their privileges in this way?

Food and Drugs ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have had many discussions with the member for West Nova. He was very kind every time I spoke to him about my constituents' concerns. We had a very open discussion.

The question that he raises is exactly what I meant in my speech. The member for Cambridge had explicit information that we did not have and our constituents did not have. Those amendments would change the intent of the bill.

The member for West Nova said the same thing. It would be better for the minister to withdraw the bill, put the amendments into the bill, and let the bill come back to the House, so that Canadians and parliamentarians could have a real look at it. Parliamentarians could then have an open and transparent debate on the bill to bring out the truth--

Food and Drugs ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

You would not understand it, if I wrote it for you.