House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was children.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Thornhill (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2008, with 39% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Health Care June 17th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, health care is a top priority for Thornhill residents. From packed emergency rooms, to wait times, to locating a family doctor, they expect and deserve better results from the Conservative government.

In 2004 the federal government, provincial health ministers and aboriginal leaders signed a historic 10 year plan to strengthen health care. The plan aimed to improve areas such as catastrophic drug coverage, aboriginal health, primary health and home care.

Yet since 2006 the Conservative government has systematically neglected the accord. It is ideologically opposed to a national health care system, writing a blank cheque with little accountability and few reporting mechanisms to assess progress.

Shockingly, when asked recently about home care, the health minister responded, “We're not going to get involved”.

Health care is a shared responsibility. Canadians deserve a federal government that takes the lead on health care. Instead, we have a government and a minister that fails to act, denies responsibility and will not get involved.

Ethics June 10th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, Tom Zytaruk is adamant that the tape is unedited. He said he would swear an oath to that effect. The parliamentary secretary continues to deny that the Prime Minister's own words discuss financial considerations to Chuck Cadman even though Dona Cadman has sworn there was an offer.

Will the parliamentary secretary tell us who were the two operatives cited by Dona Cadman who made the offer on May 17 or has he even bothered to ask what really happened that day?

Ethics June 10th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, the bizarre press conference the parliamentary secretary for public works held last week on the Cadman tape has been mercilessly mocked by the media.

One fact has not gotten the attention it deserves. Dona Cadman has now sworn an affidavit that two Conservative operatives made a financial offer to her husband on May 17, 2005, but the parliamentary secretary will not even admit that a meeting took place at all. Now, with a sworn affidavit, is the parliamentary secretary suggesting that Dona Cadman committed perjury?

Conservative Party of Canada June 9th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, there are so many Conservative scandals out there, that it is hard to choose where to start.

First is the so-called Mulroney-Schreiber public inquiry that the Prime Minister promised seven months ago and still nothing.

Not to be outdone by NAFTA-gate, the government investigated itself in this matter and surprise, surprise, it was found innocent.

Then there was the security breach of the former foreign affairs minister. The Prime Minister and ex-minister refused to appear before the committee to testify on this issue. What are they trying to hide?

Just when we think the Conservatives could not get into any more trouble, they bring back the Cadman affair, where Dona Cadman confirms, in an affidavit, that financial considerations were made to Chuck.

That is the only party in the history of our country that brings up old scandals to detract from its new scandals.

My list of Conservative scandals could go on with the in and out scheme, the Ottawa light rail project, income trusts and untendered finance contracts, but unfortunately I only have 60 seconds.

Food and Drugs Act June 9th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, many of my Thornhill constituents have also raised concerns with me about the impact that Bill C-51 will potentially have on natural health products. Among other concerns, Thornhill residents have suggested that Bill C-51 will place unfair regulations on vitamins, limit their access to natural health products, restrict their ability to grow herbs, and will potentially hurt small business owners.

I would like to ask my colleague to elaborate a bit more on the impact that Bill C-51 will have on natural health products and what response he would like to give to these concerns raised by residents of Thornhill.

Earthquake in China June 4th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, in the recent earthquake in Sichuan province, thousands of people have perished, been injured and been displaced. Canadians are standing in solidarity with the victims, offering their support to help alleviate the suffering and provide a lifeline of hope.

Last week I was proud to stand with Dr. Ken Ng, chair of the Federation of Chinese Canadians in Markham, as together we launched a campaign to raise funds to help families to rebuild their lives.

I would like to acknowledge the exceptional efforts of our colleague, the member for Richmond, who is on his way to China now on behalf of the Ice Breaking Care Society and Health Partners International Canada with critical medical supplies for local hospitals.

This massive heartbreaking disaster will require our continued long term support in helping to rebuild shattered lives.

We are all connected as part of the human family. I call on the government now to increase Canada's aid to Sichuan province in our long-standing proud tradition of compassion and humanitarian assistance.

Holocaust Monument Act May 14th, 2008

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-547, An Act to establish a Holocaust Monument in the National Capital Region.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to introduce in this House today my private member's bill, An Act to establish a Holocaust Monument in the National Capital Region.

This proposed permanent monument here in the nation's capital will ensure that Canada as a nation will never forget the Holocaust and the millions of people who died at the hands of the Nazi killing machine, including over 6 million Jews. This monument will serve to forever remember the victims and survivors and inspire everyone to be vigilant and take action against acts of hate, anti-Semitism and racism.

We must not forget that at the time there was a universal belief that a mass genocide like the Holocaust could never happen, which was proven wrong in the most heinous and tragic way possible. This monument will serve as a memorial to the past and a beacon to the future. I hope every member in this House will support this important bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Israel May 13th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, last Thursday, I, along with thousands of Canadians, celebrated the 60th anniversary of Israel's statehood at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto. Generations stood together to support Israel and its people. Together we celebrated the remarkable accomplishments of Israel.

As the Liberal leader said recently:

Since its official establishment in 1948, Israel has not only inspired the international community with its commitment to democracy and freedom, it has enriched our world with its vibrant culture and traditions.

Canada's longstanding friendship and support for Israel is unwavering.

Israel has a fundamental right to exist in a secure and peaceful Middle East. Canada, as always, stands with Israel against threats to its existence. May it go from strength to strength.

Holocaust Memorial Day May 1st, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to remember the millions of innocent victims, survivors and their families on National Holocaust Memorial Day.

The Holocaust is one of the darkest chapters in human history and its horrific crimes against humanity shook the very foundations of modern civilization. We must never forget that every victim had a name.

The Holocaust taught us, painfully, that we cannot remain silent in the face of hate, anti-Semitism and racism. We must speak out and take action against increasing anti-Semitism in Canada.

Last month, a housing development in Vaughan, in my area, was vandalized with anti-Semitic slurs. It is, therefore, imperative that we take a united stance against hate in all its forms and Canada must take a stronger leadership role in the international community to stand firmly against the genocide in Darfur and the egregious threats of Iran's regime.

Today we honour the victims of the Holocaust and strengthen our resolve to not allow any sanctuary for hate in the world.

Treatment of Rare Disorders April 14th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to address and fully support Motion No. 426, a motion to address the lack of a rare disease drug policy in Canada.

Health care is always among the top concerns of residents in my community of Thornhill and, of course, all Canadians. From access to treatment to quality of care, residents in my community and all across Canada want a health care system that is there when they need it and that is inclusive.

I am very proud to speak in support of the motion by my colleague from North Vancouver, which has been very much inspired from his own very difficult, sad family experience and has been used in such a positive fashion to help others in the same predicament. I am very proud to support all of his efforts. We were all very moved today to hear the story that he shared, as well as other members' personal experiences.

His motion would move Canada toward a system where Canadians with rare disorders would receive the same standard of care as patients with more common disorders. As a breast cancer survivor for 16 years, if I had not had the drugs available to me at that time, I cannot imagine what would have happened to me. The same is true for many others. I can well understand all those who need to be part of our system. When we consider that other countries are doing so, it is vital that we move together. I am happy to see there is some consensus.

As a member of the health committee and part of the common drug review, it was very clear from the organizations and advocacy groups that this issue has not been adequately addressed. The time has come to do so now.

A telling example was brought to the committee's attention, and it was particularly disturbing. It revolved around Nexavar, a drug to treat kidney disorders. It was rejected by the CDR essentially because it was too effective. The interim data from clinical trials of Nexavar were producing stellar results and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that patients in the control arm of the study should be allowed to enter the treatment arm. It was the obvious ethical choice.

Many patients in the control arm of the study, obviously enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to receive this new, groundbreaking drug, but because most U.S. patients had left the control arm, there was not enough data left to satisfy CDR requirements. The placebo data was determined to be statistically insufficient and the drug was rejected on these grounds. Clearly, the placebo data would not be forthcoming and access to Nexavar, available to those suffering in the U.S. and Europe, was severely hampered in Canada.

There is not much motivation in these kinds of cases for Canadian biotech companies at this time to simply duplicate a clinical trial that has already proven to be successful elsewhere. That is one of the other dilemmas.

Because data from trials conducted in other countries is not accepted by the CDR process presently, patients are often forced to wait years for clinical trials to conclude in Canada while patients in other countries, as I have said, have already had access to the drugs being tested. In Canada, patients with rare disorders are forced to wait for no logical reason and to their detriment, except for the rigid requirements presently, in this case, in the CDR process.

Drugs that are often covered by private drug plans to treat conditions such as gigantism, Fabry disease, Fabrazyme, MPS, Gaucher disease and kidney cancer have been rejected by the CDR and are not accessible to those with public drug plans.

Who is being denied treatment the most often? The sad reality is that in many cases it is Canadian children who have rare childhood disorders. In fact, it is those children and their families who are being denied access to treatment. Even in cases where drugs for rare disorders have been approved through Health Canada's progressive licensing framework, often CDR will stand in isolation and essentially reject the conclusions of Health Canada and numerous international studies.

Motion No. 426 asks the government to consider the establishment, and rightly so, of centres of reference for specific rare disorders that would be comprised of national and international experts who would develop the criteria for treating patients based on scientific evidence and patient impact. They would provide ongoing surveillance into the real world safety and effectiveness of these treatments on individual and group bases so that we could consider supporting internationally accepted standards for the conduct of clinical trials in rare disorders appropriate for the challenges inherent to very small patient populations.

By expanding the CDR and developing a separate process for the consideration of rare disorder drugs, we can even the playing field as so many other countries have already done, be it in the U.K., the U.S. The examples are everywhere. It is time for Canada to follow their lead and embrace the international framework model that has proven to be so successful.

Many countries, such as France and the U.K., and others in the EU have successful models of separate bodies that consider treatments for rare disorders. Canada must take a hard look at the cooperation that is happening in these countries as there is much it can learn from their experiences. The time has come, again with our collective resolve, to do so.

It was suggested to our committee that changing the CDR process to allow for the pooling of limited Canadian data rejected by the CDR with rare disorder patient groups outside Canada would likely set the stage for more approvals of treatments of rare disorders, which is what is necessary.

The testimony the health committee heard on this issue was compelling. When our final report on the issue was tabled, included in it was the recommendation, as referenced today by the government, that the government look at options. We are happy to see the government has accepted that recommendation favourably. Again, we will very much be looking to see this is implemented and moved forward in a very expeditious fashion. Often we hear there is interest by a government, but it does not always moved on it. In this case there is no other acceptable option but to move on it.

Clearly there is consensus, as I have mentioned, including the government and the health committee, that a new approach is required and that the one currently taken by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health in approving drugs for rare disorders is not yet there.

When the government tabled its response, I was pleased it was received well. I very much look to see that this has everyone's total support and that we will see action in this area, which is so vital. It is predominantly affecting children and other Canadians.

I fully support this, and again commend my colleague for moving on and taking leadership forward. We want to see this happen not in a long period of time, but in the very near future so those suffering currently will feel they are part of our health system in every fashion and that they do not have to look elsewhere.