Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was international.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as NDP MP for Burnaby—Douglas (B.C.)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 32% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply February 4th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the member is well aware that one of the tenets of the medicare system is the fee for service payment principle, and that of course was one of the recommendations of Emmett Hall.

I absolutely agree with the hon. member. One of the things we have to look at is whether that is the most effective way to deliver health care services. More and more physicians are talking about the possibility of working in community health centres with a health care team, with nurses and other members of the health care team, on a salary basis as opposed to setting up a corporation, as my friend has spoken of, and billing through fee for service.

He is right. There are other alternatives that we have to look to in terms of the method of payment for health care services, and certainly that is one of them.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply February 4th, 2004

I do withdraw that reference, Mr. Speaker. In my enthusiasm I got a bit carried away.

In closing, because as I said I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Churchill, I want to remind members of the House of a very dangerous development in health care. Just recently the American pharmaceutical drug industry allocated $1 million for a major campaign to try to change the Canadian health care system and move it into a more profit driven, corporate driven system. We see the Liberal government, aided, abetted and pushed by the Belinda Stronachs, moving in that direction, and we, as New Democrats, are going to fight that and fight for public health care in Canada.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply February 4th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and participate in this debate and to particularly focus on what I think is one of the most glaring omissions in the Speech from the Throne. That is any serious response to the landmark recommendations of the commission which was so ably chaired by Roy Romanow and which reported well over a year ago to the government, based on consultations across Canada, with a series of very specific and concrete recommendations to strengthen and improve the health care system in Canada.

New Democrats are absolutely appalled that in the entire litany of promises by the government in the Speech from the Throne there was not a single reference, not a word, about the important recommendations of the Roy Romanow commission. Effectively the government is showing complete contempt for the recommendations that were made and certainly Canadians are going to pass a very harsh judgment on the government when they have the opportunity to do that in the very near future.

Many of those recommendations would make a significant difference in strengthening and improving our health care system. Not the least of course is the issue of funding, the so-called Romanow gap that my colleague for Winnipeg North Centre has spoken on so eloquently, both as health critic and now as finance critic for our party. It is a gap between the promise the government has made with respect to increased funding and the desperate need provinces and territories across the land have to fund health care to the extent that it should be funded and to the extent that it used be funded.

New Democrats, Jack Layton, our national leader, our caucus, our party, are calling on the government to meet that target of 25% which would mean an additional $3.5 billion a year. The government says that it is really cash strapped and that has trouble finding the money. This is the same government, the same Prime Minister, that just found almost $4.5 billion for corporate tax cuts, tax cuts not to small businesses but cuts in taxes to some of the biggest and most profitable corporations in the country. If he can find that kind of money, billions of dollars, for corporate tax cuts surely to goodness he can find money to meet the recommendations of the Roy Romanow commission with respect to funding for health care.

There are a range of issues that have not been dealt with by the government such as pharmacare, which was promised long ago, home care, access to diagnostic services particularly things like the MRI and CAT scans and the international drug agency. These are some of the areas in which significant work remains to be done.

My colleague from Windsor West has been working very hard on the industry committee as well trying to get the government to respond to the concerns about access to affordable drugs, barriers to generic drugs, abuses by big pharmaceutical companies in areas such as so-called evergreening and deliberate delays and court actions that prevent Canadians have access to affordable drugs on a timely basis. There was nothing at all about this in the throne speech.

We know waiting lists are getting longer. We know the emergency rooms are overcrowded. We know as well what the real agenda is for too many people. The reality is that with these difficulties Canadians are experiencing and access to health care in too many jurisdictions, big corporations are waiting and hovering in the wings. They are saying that if the public sector cannot adequately fund health care, they will come in and look after it for us. They say that they will set up what they would call a separate tier or system, a parallel system of health care, and that would be the destruction of medicare in the country.

As New Democrats who were part of a party through the leadership and vision of Tommy Douglas and others to build and create medicare, we will stand and defend it against this kind of corporate attack that would ultimately destroy it.

Roy Romanow was very clear during the course of the hearings of his commission. He said that if someone could come up with evidence the private sector could do a better job, then bring that evidence forward. It was not possible and it did not happen. We know it is the public sector, not just publicly funded health care but publicly delivered health care as well, that is so essential to strengthening medicare in the country.

What is such a disappointment to many of us is that the throne speech refers to a commitment to publicly funded health care, but it is silent on the essential component of publicly delivered health care. Certainly Michael Kirby and Don Mazankowski agree with publicly funded health care because the privatizers want a place at the public trough. They want the public dollars going to pay for private health care. That again would be the death of our public medicare system.

The government talks more and more about the importance of commercialization in the health care system, whether it is commercialization in the research area or in other areas. Again that would mean instead of public health being at the forefront, corporate profits would be driving health care.

One of the gravest examples of this is the current efforts by the federal Liberal government to gut the Food and Drugs Act instead of strengthening that it. To ensure that there is regulation in the public interest, what the federal government is doing effectively is saying that it is going to move to a new system of risk management. It has explicitly said that there is too much focus on safety and not enough focus on risk management.

Recently a public letter was sent by the Canadian Health Coalition. It was an open letter to the Prime Minister expressing deep concern about the Liberal government's proposal to replace Canada's Food and Drugs Act with a new health protection legislative scheme. This would involve abandoning the precautionary principle. It would involve as well putting industry self-regulation for profit, so-called smart regulation, ahead of protecting public health.

On the one hand we have the Minister of State for Public Health, a woman for whom I have great respect, who is talking about how we have to strengthen public health in this country. On the other hand we have the Minister of Health embarking on a course that would effectively lead to corporations calling the shots on drug regulation. Twenty-one outstanding Canadians, including people such as Shirley Douglas, the spokesperson for the Canadian Health Coalition, Margaret Atwood, David Suzuki, Jane Jacobs, Patricia Baird, Ken Georgetti, David Healy and many others, have called on the Minister of Health to take six key steps, which I will briefly summarize.

The first is to adopt the precautionary principle as the governing principle for an assessment of risk. The second is to stop this health protection legislative renewal and uphold the duty of care in the current Food and Drugs Act. The third is to restore the burden of proof on industry to demonstrate the safety of their product or technology before regulatory approval is granted. The fourth is to allow full public access to the information upon which federal regulators base approval of a product or technology because the public has a right to that information. The fifth is to strictly enforce the ban on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs. The sixth, a very important step, is to terminate all partnerships and promotional activities so regulatory agencies regulate only in the public interest and not in the interests of the regulated. Those are very important recommendations. Instead we have the government and the Prime Minister moving more and more.

Recently, for example, the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, who used to be a member of the Canadian Alliance, crossed the floor. He went over and joined the Liberals. He was very excited about joining the Liberals because he said:

The exciting thing on health care that [Prime Minister] has said is that he hasn't trumped up and said he's going to be wedded to the Canada Health Act.

That is unbelievable. He is thrilled that the Prime Minister is not wedded to the Canada Health Act. No wonder the Canadian Alliance was not exactly devastated when he left its caucus if that is his attitude.

The Prime Minister has just hired one of the top lobbyists, Bruce Young, who used to lobby for the False Creek Surgical Centre, as one of his key election advisers as well. We see that Paul Martin is very much on the road to supporting private health in this--

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply February 4th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, first, I want to congratulate my colleague on the birth of her beautiful granddaughter and wish her all the best.

I listened with care to the comments of the member for Nunavut, particularly in the context of my own visit, as she knows, last April, to Iqaluit. I had the opportunity to meet with a number of residents of Nunavut, including the health minister, Ed Picco. He underscored the serious problems in the area of health care, particularly the issue of funding for transportation, which was a huge concern for the people of Nunavut, and many other concerns as well. He raised the issue of the deeply offensive and insulting consent forms that aboriginal peoples were being asked to sign for health care.

I was pleased to bring that issue before the Standing Committee on Health, and to move a motion after having arranged for witnesses from first nations communities. The health committee unanimously called on the government to abandon that policy. Finally, under that kind of pressure and the pressure of my colleagues, like the members from Churchill, Regina and Winnipeg Centre, our aboriginal affairs critic, that offensive policy was dropped, and long overdue.

I want to ask a specific question of my friend, the member for Nunavut. She spoke about young people and the young population in Nunavut, and I believe it is the youngest population in Canada. Yet not a word in the throne speech, no significant action at all on child care, no significant action at all on some key recommendations of the Romanow commission like home care and pharmacare.

I want to ask her, as a representative of the people of Nunavut, how does she feel about this silence on child care, on home care and on pharmacare? Surely, the people of Nunavut deserve better.

Petitions February 4th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is signed by hundreds of people from Quebec and concerns the issue of star wars.

The petitioners are calling on the government not to participate in a star wars program and to strongly condemn George Bush's destabilizing plans.

They are also calling on Parliament to work with its partners for peace and the promotion of arms control and to peacefully convince the international community to bring an end to the production and sale of weapons of mass destruction and to say no to star wars.

Petitions February 4th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of presenting two petitions today. The first petition is signed by hundreds of residents of British Columbia, including those from my own constituency of Burnaby--Douglas, from communities on Vancouver Island, from Kelowna, British Columbia and elsewhere. The petitioners note that same sex couples form loving and committed relationships but are denied the equal ability to celebrate their relationships through marriage in a number of Canadian jurisdictions. They point out that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees equality to all Canadians and that denying same sex couples the equal right to marry reinforces attitudes of intolerance and discrimination.

They therefore call on Parliament to enact legislation that provides same sex couples with the equal right to marry. I know it is against the rules of the House for me to say that I fully support that call, so I will not do that.

Interparliamentary Delegations February 4th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House in both official languages the report of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association, OSCE, which represented Canada at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly fall meetings held in Rome, Italy from October 9 to 11, 2003.

Business of the House February 3rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, where do I start with my friend from Toronto--Danforth? We only have five minutes.

However, he does say when the words are translated into action. Well, some of us remember another set of words that were authored by the now Prime Minister and it was called the red book.

We are still waiting for those words which were more than 10 years ago to be translated into action. Where is the affordable, accessible child care that was promised by this Prime Minister more than 10 years ago? Where is the affordable home care? Just this morning we learned of a study which was published that showed that nearly one in four Canadians suffer a serious complication after they are released from hospital. Why? Because there is no proper home care. This government and this Prime Minister promised that. Cry me a river about the poor suffering corporations that got their big tax increase.

I want to ask a specific question because I know the member would want his constituents of Toronto--Danforth to know where he stands on the issue of equal marriage rights for same sex couples. He ducked the vote on this issue and now he is in the House.

Does he or does he not support the position of his government which is that equal civil marriage rights should be extended to gay and lesbian couples?

Business of the House February 3rd, 2004

Four billion bucks, Dennis.

Health February 3rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, no wonder Gordon Campbell is thrilled with this privatizing Prime Minister.

I have a supplementary question. There was not a word in the Speech from the Throne on the Romanow recommendations and a whole range of areas. There was not a word on home care, pharmacare, the national drug agency and diagnostic services.

I want to ask this Prime Minister, is he seriously committed to the Romanow recommendations, and instead of shovelling bucks to his corporate buddies, will he put some money into home care and pharmacare in this country?