House of Commons Hansard #150 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was safety.


Opposition Motion—Survivors of thalidomideBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely appropriate that Canadians understand that we are no longer living in the 1960s, that there is a rigorous process for reviewing drugs, in which independent public servants make decisions on our behalf.

Having said that, we always have more work to do and, having said that, vigilance has to always be eternal. We can respect Vanessa's law, but it is only a starting point. We need to do more on all sides of the House to strengthen drug safety.

Opposition Motion—Survivors of thalidomideBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to also thank my hon. colleague, friend, and neighbour from Victoria for his speech. I am also thankful for the actions that I think all MPs are taking today in the House as we stand together in a non-partisan way. I thank my hon. friend, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, for his question about Vanessa's law.

I find it absolutely shocking, as we redress the wrong that was done to thalidomide victims. There is much more we can do to make sure the pharmaceutical industry is held to account, not just for past wrongs but so that we more adequately test and study drugs before they become registered.

I want to ask my hon. friend if he is aware of the fantastic work of the Therapeutics Initiative at the University of British Columbia and whether we should not bring in more of its approach. It does not allow itself to accept even a free lunch from the pharmaceutical industry. For every doctor in Canada, there are three drug sales people. Should we not ensure that there is no conflict of interest in the registration of pharmaceutical drugs?

Opposition Motion—Survivors of thalidomideBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is about redress and address. Redress is what we are here to talk about today, and we have to do the right thing for these victims, but as I said in my remarks, we need constant vigilance going forward.

At the Therapeutics Initiative in British Columbia, Dr. Wright and his colleagues are doing remarkable work. It is frankly shocking to me that there is no similar organization at the national level. This organization has to do it from British Columbia, for British Columbians. That kind of root-and-branch work where is absolutely none of what I would call cross-contamination from big pharma is what we desperately need at the federal level as well.

Opposition Motion—Survivors of thalidomideBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before we get started, I will let the hon. parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration know that we only have about seven minutes remaining before the time for statements by members. We will get started with his remarks, and he will have the remaining time when the House next gets back to this question.

Opposition Motion—Survivors of thalidomideBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Richmond Hill Ontario


Costas Menegakis ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with my colleague, the member for Huron—Bruce.

I want to begin by saying that nobody who is not a thalidomide survivor or a relative or a friend of a survivor can begin to comprehend the pain and suffering the thalidomide tragedy caused. Nothing can ever undo the pain and suffering inflicted. It is a tragedy that made governments around the world fundamentally rethink how they protect their citizens' health and safety.

The government in Canada too learned from this tragedy. The tragic event from the 1960s reminds us why we need to take drug safety so seriously. Since that time, we have collectively resolved that Canadians deserve nothing less than one of the safest drug approval systems in the world.

As parliamentarians, we continue to strive to strengthen patient safety in this country. We continue to make changes to the drug safety system to enhance its rigour and reduce the risk that this kind of terrible event could occur again. That is why this House so recently united to support Bill C-17, Vanessa's law. It is too often that we experience terrible events like the impact of thalidomide from its use in the early 1960s and, more recently, the death of Vanessa Young to call us to action.

In the case of Vanessa's law, all parliamentarians recognized Health Canada's need for appropriate authorities to ensure that unsafe products are identified and dealt with quickly. We recognized how important it is for regulators to be given the tools they need to protect Canadians from unsafe drugs.

In the wake of the thalidomide tragedy, laws were enacted to require manufacturers to file more detailed submissions with Health Canada, the federal regulator, to receive authorization before a new drug could be marketed. These submissions contain substantial information and data about the drug's safety, effectiveness, and quality, as well as warnings and precautions about side effects.

Products with an identified risk, such as the potential to cause birth defects, or products that are used in vulnerable populations, such as children or pregnant women, are treated as high-risk products and are subject to increased scrutiny, monitoring, and risk mitigation.

These were critical changes to the drug safety system; however, it became apparent that addressing safety concerns at the pre-market stage was not enough. Health Canada needed the tools to take appropriate action if a serious risk was identified after a drug was on the market. That is why all parties in this House and in the other place endorsed Vanessa's law, which received royal assent on November 6 of this year.

This legislation will protect Canadian families and children from unsafe medicine by enabling the Minister of Health to require health care institutions to report serious adverse drug reactions and to report incidents related to medical devices, to recall unsafe products, to apply to the courts to impose tough new penalties for unsafe products, to provide the courts with discretion to impose even stronger fines if violations were caused intentionally, to compel drug companies to revise labels to clearly reflect health risk information, and, finally, to compel drug companies to do further testing on a product, including when issues were identified with certain at-risk populations.

Vanessa's law has also introduced new transparency measures that when in force will require Health Canada to make both positive and negative regulatory decisions publicly available, as well as the reasons for those decisions. These reasons will include a clear statement of benefits a drug may confer, the harmful side effects that some patients may experience, and areas where there are gaps in knowledge.

Transparency regulations will enhance the current transparency requirements in Bill C-17 by placing an obligation on drug companies to disclose more clinical trial information publicly.

Canadians will also be consulted during the regulatory development process about the types of information that could be made available.

As an example, clinical databases show what clinical trials are taking place in Canada for drugs that treat a particular disease or condition. They also provide information about a point person who can provide information for that particular clinical trial. Going forward, a clinical trial registry could indicate whether a trial has been conducted or if it has been terminated prematurely. At the conclusion of a trial, a registry could provide a summary of the results.

The information could be important to patients and health care providers in making treatment decisions. It could be helpful to academic researchers in doing further assessments relating to patient safety. It could stimulate thinking about new areas for research.

In developing Vanessa's law, the government consulted broadly with patients and experts about how to best update Canada's drug safety laws. The new measures substantially strengthen the safety and oversight of therapeutic products throughout their life cycle. They improve Health Canada's ability to collect post-market safety information and ensure strong and active oversight once a drug is on the market. Equally important, they improve the department's ability to communicate important safety information to Canadians and their health care providers.

I will continue my remarks after question period.

Opposition Motion—Survivors of thalidomideBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. parliamentary secretary will have four minutes remaining for his remarks when the House next returns to debate on the question, and of course the usual five minutes for questions and comments.

Forces et démocratieStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Forces et Démocratie

Jean-François Fortin Forces et Démocratie Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to confirm that Forces et démocratie met all of the criteria set out by Elections Canada and is now a recognized party.

Ours is a party that will support the development of all regions, including the metropolitan region, and that is prepared to work together with every other political party to achieve tangible results.

Ours is a party where there is no party line, but rather a common objective of providing for people's well-being and ensuring the vitality of all regions of Quebec.

It is a party where the loyalty of every MP will be first and foremost to his or her constituents and where the MP will be a representative with freedom of speech. It is a party that believes in decentralization through adjusted and adapted federal policies.

The public needs to have a say between election campaigns, and that can be achieved through participatory democracy, democratic reforms and a different approach.

In fact, we are proposing a coalition of people of all political stripes who want to do away with doublespeak and kowtowing and who refuse to play by the outdated rules of today's politics.

I invite you all to join forces with us.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Bernard Trottier Conservative Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Act Against Slavery was passed in the legislature of Upper Canada on July 9, 1793, making Upper Canada the first British colony to abolish slavery.

John Graves Simcoe, the then lieutenant-governor, had been a long-time abolitionist. When he was a British MP, he described slavery as an offence against Christianity. The British parliament finally abolished slavery in the Empire in 1833.

It is appalling that in 2014 we still have slavery in the world. According to NGOs and media reports, thousands of women and girls in Iraq have been forced into marriage and sexual slavery by Islamic State fighters. An Islamic State document obtained by Iraqi news outlets in October indicates that Yazidi and Christian girls aged 10 to 20 years old are sold for $129, while those aged 1 to 9 years old are sold for $172. This barbaric practice must be stopped.

I applaud our government, along with those of our like-minded allies, for intervening. When the world faces a regime as evil as the Islamic State, we know that doing nothing is not an option.

Sawmill RiverStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Sawmill River runs through beautiful downtown Dartmouth between the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Banook as part of the Shubenacadie Canal system. However, unfortunately it has been buried since 1972.

A grassroots campaign to daylight the Sawmill River is gaining momentum, and that is a great idea for the following reasons. Water quality would improve dramatically and fish passage to Lake Banook would enhance the river's economic, cultural and ecological value. Residents and visitors would also enjoy the benefits of increased heritage interpretation, tourism and recreational opportunities.

I want to thank Walter Regan from the Sackville Rivers Association and Jocelyne Rankin from the Ecology Action Centre for championing this important idea.

I am committed to working with other levels of government to support this goal and see this wonderful dream come true for Dartmouth.

Legion of HonourStatements By Members

2 p.m.


David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, recently I had the privilege of being present at the Orangeville Legion for the awarding of the French Legion of Honour to a distinguished World War II veteran in my riding, Mr. Fred Heber.

Mr. Heber was a gunner with the Royal Canadian Artillery from 1941 through 1946. He served in the U.K. and continental Europe during some of the most ferocious fighting of the war.

The Legion of Honour dates back more than 200 years to Napoleon Bonaparte, and is France's highest honour. More than ever, we owe it to our veterans, especially those who gave their lives for Canada, to honour and remember their service and sacrifice. This honour is a fitting tribute to Mr. Heber from France for his role in liberating that country.

This year, as we mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, the 75th anniversary of the start of World War II and the 70th anniversary of D-Day, it is to Canadians like Mr. Heber who we must pay tribute. His service, dedication and sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Camp LibertyStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is said that all evil needs to triumph is for good people to do nothing. Unfortunately, too many good people are sitting back refusing to stop the atrocities now occurring at Camp Liberty.

Camp Liberty is a refugee camp in Baghdad that now houses thousands of MEK members, Iran's primary opposition. These people were fighting for democracy, but now they are fighting daily torment and the very real threat of execution.

If we are to help foster democracy in places like Iran, we need measures that guarantee the basic security of Camp Liberty residents. The Canadian Friends of a Democratic Iran want the UN to send Security Forces to Camp Liberty today. I want to add my voice to that chorus.

Canada has always stood for what is right, and I ask the government to step up. Inaction should not be a death sentence for those fighting for peace.

TaxationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Maurice Vellacott Conservative Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, our government has announced our family tax cut, several new tax relief measures to help make life more affordable for Canadian families. A key component of this family tax cut is the enhancements to the very popular universal child care benefit, or UCCB.

Starting on January 1, 2015, we are increasing the UCCB for the youngest children so parents will begin to receive $160 per month instead of the $100 per month currently received for each child under the age of six. We are also expanding the UCCB to children six and over so parents will begin to receive $60 per month for children aged six to 17.

With the enhancement of the UCCB, we are ending the child tax credit, which is not to be confused with the Canada child tax benefit. The Canada child tax benefit, or CCTB, remains untouched with our new family tax relief proposals, so parents will continue to receive that benefit as well.

All Canadian families with children will benefit from these new measures that our Conservative government is implementing to start off the new year in 2015.

History of WomenStatements By Members

November 27th, 2014 / 2:05 p.m.


Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey, born in Cobble Hill, British Columbia, began her work with the American Food and Drug Administration in 1960.

In her first month at the FDA, she was pressured to approve the release of a sleeping pill for pregnant women called thalidomide. She had seen data that women who used the drug repeatedly experienced dangerous side effects.

In 1961, when British reports of severe birth defects in children started, that was the information Dr. Kelsey needed to block approval of the drug in the US, which eventually led to its ban around the world.

Dr. Kelsey should be recognized as a person of national historic significance. In fact, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada says it that wants to direct more attention to the history of women. However, its guidelines state that a person must be deceased for 25 years before being recognized.

Dr. Kelsey is still alive today, at 100 years of age. It seems wrong that 53 years after her scientific work saved so many, we may have to wait another 25 years for her to be acknowledged.

I urge the minister not to delay and to take the necessary steps to honour Dr. Frances Kelsey.

B'nai Brith CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to recognize the contributions that B'nai Brith Canada has made to our country since its founding in 1875.

Many Canadians, including myself, my family and friends, have grown up participating in B'nai Brith programs. From attending summer camp to youth organizations and sports leagues, B'nai Brith is a rite of passage for most Jewish youth in Canada.

However, B'nai Brith is more. The organization is one of Canada's premier defenders of human rights. Their annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents is an important tool for policy-makers and law enforcement. They also assist low-income families with housing and food, and just recently opened a state of the art Alzheimer's residence and research facility in York Centre.

Tonight on Parliament Hill, MPs, senators and staff will come together to commemorate this important Canadian institution. We will also honour B'nai Brith's outgoing CEO, Frank Dimant, and the contribution he has made over the last 36 years defending Canadian values.

Incoming CEO, Michael Mostyn, has now taken the helm of B'nai Brith. A lawyer, accomplished businessperson, Michael has been a strong voice in the community. We wish him mazel tov.

Canada is a better country because of B'nai Brith. I wish the organization a yasher koach and may it enjoy many more years of great success.

Henry J. Harper and Randy PayneStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past summer I was honoured to take part in two 401 bridge dedications in my home town of Gananoque, in my riding of Leeds and Grenville.

The first honoured Constable Henry J. Harper, an OPP officer killed while directing traffic around an accident in 1957. He was a distinguished kayaker who represented Canada at the 1948 Olympics in London, England. He became a police officer because he truly wanted to help people. Gananoque resident Jerry Carmichael was instrumental in gaining Harper this recognition, and I pay tribute to his hard work over a number of years.

The second bridge was dedicated to Corporal Randy Payne, a fallen military police member killed while serving with a close protection team in 2006 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Corporal Payne was remembered as a dedicated solider, a passionate family man who doted on his wife, Jody, and their children, Tristan and Jasmine, and as a good friend who always had a broad smile and a ready laugh.

Mabe CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 2012, 737 workers in the Mabe Canada appliance plant in my riding, Hochelaga, learned that they would lose their jobs and that production would gradually be moved to the United States and Mexico.

After 60 years, the plant closed its doors for good last June, and the employer promised to protect the workers' pension fund.

However, on Monday, some 200 angry employees gathered in front of the closed-down plant to express their displeasure following Mabe Canada's announcement in August that it had declared bankruptcy.

Now, in addition to losing their group insurance, they have seen their pension benefits slashed by 22%, which is the equivalent of$35 million in worker savings.

The federal government has a responsibility here. It could make pension funds a priority when a company goes bankrupt. If the Conservatives are unable to keep good jobs here, it seems to me that they could at least take action and protect the workers' savings in the event of bankruptcy.

Firearms ActStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Liberal leader claimed that the common sense firearms licensing act that we introduced, which cuts red tape for law-abiding hunters and sport shooters, was dangerous. He even sent out a fundraising letter to the Liberal elite, asking them to join his fundraising pitch to stop this safe and sensible bill. Let me be clear, the Liberal leader's claims about this bill loosening safe transport regulations are absolutely false.

Our Conservative government is about cutting red tape and ensuring that unlicensed and untrained people do not have access to firearms, at the same time ensuring that we do not ostractize law-abiding Canadian gun owners and sport shooters.

The Liberal leader hides his disdain for Canada's hunting heritage under the pretense of public safety. However, all Canadians know that it is this Conservative government that will stand up for public safety, stand up for law-abiding Canadians, hunters and sport shooters and collectors.

There is only one thing the Liberal leader needs to answer to Canadians about right now. Will he come clean and admit that he did not read the bill before he made his comments about it, or is he just misleading Canadians?

Child CareStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, according to a recent study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Hamilton has the eighth most expensive child care rates in the country.

These findings likely come as no surprise to the many families in Hamilton that pay up to $1,200 a month for each child in child care. These astonishing rates are making it harder and harder for families to make ends meet.

The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction CEO, Tom Cooper, has said that without access to child care services, many parents and children will not be able to escape the cycle of poverty. Families in Hamilton know they need a child care plan that works for them.

As the Hamilton Spectator made clear in an editorial earlier this month:

Income splitting won't do it. Neither will increasing the universal child tax benefit. Those are Band-Aid solutions that don't address real disparities...

That is why many people in my community of Hamilton Centre are excited about the NDP's $15-a-day child care plan. They know this plan is an investment in their family, their community, and an investment in our Canada.

Firearms ActStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government is committed to standing up for law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters.

Hunting is an important part of our Canadian heritage. Previous Liberal governments have tried to put a stop to this way of life by smothering hunters in red tape.

Our Conservative government believes this is wrong. Hunters are strong conservationists and should be encouraged in their efforts to protect our environment. The NDP disagree.

I was so disappointed yesterday when the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca said that all gun owners were “law-abiding until they are not”. Is he really saying that anyone who owns a gun is a potential criminal, just for having the gall to enjoy going hunting in the fall?

I would ask that the member apologize to my constituents who he has just called criminals.

Archibald JohnstoneStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize the passing of Senator Archibald Johnstone recently.

Summoned to the Senate in 1998, Archie was most proud of his work for veterans, and especially the all-party committee report with ideas to assist fellow veterans.

He served as a crew member with the RCAF heavy bomber squadron, flying sorties over Europe during World War II. Returning home, he worked with his father to develop Woodleigh Replicas and originated Rainbow Valley, both being some of P.E.I.'s beloved tourist destinations.

Showing active leadership, he served as president of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture and as director of the Island Tourism Association. An entrepreneur at heart, he was involved in wholesaling, heavy construction and many other business ventures.

Retired, he never slowed down, and at age 77 took to writing books, publishing several on topics ranging from bomber command to collections on well-known Islanders.

His love for his wife, Phelicia, showed through in all he did.

TaxationStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Chungsen Leung Conservative Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, thanks to our new family tax cut, 100% of families with children in Willowdale will be better off. Every parent in Canada, like the Scrafton family in my riding, will now receive just under $2,000 per year per child.

While we are giving back to Canadian families, the opposition has already promised it would take money away from families. While we are cutting taxes, the Liberal leader wants to raise taxes. While our plan helps 100% of families with kids, the NDP plan helps only 10% of families.

Our tax cut plan will benefit every family in Canada with children, and that is well over four million families. Only this Conservative government can be trusted to put more money back into the pockets of each and every family with children in Canada.

Official LanguagesStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government opened two new Twitter accounts, one in English and one in French, that it is marketing as Canada's voice to the world.

It is obvious that the English account is rather awkward, even grating, but the French account is an absolute disaster. I do not even know where to start—maybe with the sketchy French.

For example, one tweet talks about “captivating” the public's attention rather than “capturing” it. After that, there are several tweets that are nothing but word-for-word translations of jokes written in English.

The worst tweet of all goes like this: “@AuCanada est maintenant sur Twitter, Ouais!”

Once again, this shows the Conservatives' deep lack of respect for francophones. If they want to tweet and put Canadian culture out there, they need to think and write with the proper level of respect for both cultures or they will demonstrate an utter lack of sensitivity toward francophones and Quebec.

Still, that is what we have come to expect from the Conservatives for some time now.

TaxationStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, Statistics Canada has confirmed what we already knew: Middle-class families are better off under our Prime Minister than under previous governments.

The Liberal leader has promised to reverse benefits for middle-class families, as he believes that the government knows better than parents on how to spend their hard-earned tax dollars. Under our family tax cut, 100% of families with children will receive an average benefit of over $1,100. A single mother with two children earning $30,000 will benefit by $1,500 per year. We know that for the important decisions that affect the lives of children, the decision-making power should be with moms and dads, not with government.

We know that, as families, we are better off in my riding of Niagara West—Glanbrook under our Conservative government. We know that, as families, we are better off in my province of Ontario under our Conservative government. We know that, as families, we are better off as Canadians under our Conservative government.

HealthOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec


Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, over 30 years ago, Quebec banned all advertising directed at children under the age of 13, including advertisements for junk food. This led to a very interesting outcome. According to a recent study, the weekly consumption of junk food in Quebec has dropped by 13% in that time. Quebec has one of the lowest childhood obesity rates in Canada. That is good for health, good for the health care system and good for kids.

If the Conservatives really care about children's health, will they do the same thing, yes or no?

HealthOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta


Rona Ambrose ConservativeMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, we have been very focused on this issue.

As the member reflects, one in three Canadian children right now is obese, and we are concerned about that. That is why we have not only been investing in research on the issue, but we have also been investing in programs on the ground, like The Play Exchange, which is a competition to design new ways to get kids off the couch and into play. There is also our air miles reward program, which basically gives rewards to people who exercise. People are exercising more.

There is a lot more to do, but we are very focused on this issue.