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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was water.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Davenport (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 67% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Endangered Species April 30th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, it is most unfortunate that the first recommendation under the new species at risk law by the scientific panel, COSEWIC, aimed at protecting 12 species of cod and other aquatic species has been postponed by the Minister of the Environment. Apparently the Fisheries Council has intervened and objected to the professional opinion of COSEWIC, which is the scientific panel whose only motivation is to protect endangered species.

I urge the Minister of the Environment to reconsider his decision, or at least accelerate the consultative process so as to reduce to a minimum the damage caused to these aquatic species at risk.

Canada Marriage Act April 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for giving us the brief history on this issue and the developments that have taken place over time. I am glad that she also included the fact that the legislation, which was approved by this chamber and by the Senate in 1982, was never proclaimed.

I would like to share her belief and the government's belief in the ability of voluntary agreements to reach the desired targets of reducing emissions by 25% by the year 2010, but I cannot share it. I am glad to hear that the parliamentary secretary in her intervention has recognized that there is a need for improvement. The question is how do we get to this reduction of 25%.

I would submit to the parliamentary secretary this observation. By relying on a voluntary agreement, we will not get to that destination and we will not achieve the desired results. We will discover that when it will be a little too late.

The tax incentives that have been provided by British Columbia and Ontario have not been matched or emulated by the federal government. I would ask the parliamentary secretary to comment on this aspect.

Canada Marriage Act April 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, on March 30, I asked the Minister of Natural Resources when he would recommend to cabinet the proclamation of the 1982 Motor Vehicle Consumption Standards Act. Given that reaching the Kyoto targets on climate change will require considerable improvement in automotive fuel efficiency, I thought that was an appropriate question at that time.

The minister's reply was not very encouraging. He provided no evidence of future regulation, but rather support toward the continued reliance on so called voluntary measures. It seems to me at this point that the reply given by the minister was not sufficient, given the following reasons.

First, according to a recent report by Environment Canada, greenhouse gas emissions from all personal vehicles has increased by 16% from 1990 to 2001, and within that figure, emissions from SUVs in particular, as well as pickup trucks and vans have increased by 79%.

Second, as verified by Transport Canada, Canadians are driving more than ever, with large relatively fuel-inefficient cars such as trucks, vans and SUVs becoming the fastest growing segment of the market. At the same time, rising gas prices have been met with popular demand for hybrid vehicles that has been outstripping current supply. That is an interesting development.

Third, if links with the automotive industry south of the border are an important consideration, it is interesting to note that both President Bush and likely presidential candidate Kerry have recently spoken out about promoting alternatively fuelled cars, with Mr. Kerry campaigning on increasing mandatory fuel economy standards to 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres by 2015. It is evident that without mandatory standards, the 12% of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions attributed to automobiles and light trucks will only continue to grow.

This evening, could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources tell us when a decision will be made to introduce mandatory standards for fuel efficiency?

Mandatory standards to substantially improve fuel efficiency in the automotive sector are indispensable. They can be particularly effective when accompanied by tax incentives. For example, British Columbia and Ontario already offer $1,000 to each purchaser of a new hybrid vehicle. Ottawa, namely the federal government, presently offers no incentive whatsoever.

The frequently mentioned reduction of fuel consumption by 25% by the year 2015 is possible, but industry needs a lead time to adjust production plans. Therefore, the government, namely the Departments of Transport, the Environment and Natural Resources need to make a decision this year or at the latest next year.

I therefore urge the government, because of its commitment to the Kyoto agreement, to announce a mandatory fuel efficiency program together with a national tax incentive program to encourage the purchase of hybrids and any other vehicle performing efficiently.

Patent Act April 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, in putting forward some thoughts on the discussion of Bill C-9, I would also like to put on the record an observation made yesterday in this chamber by the Minister for International Cooperation, because it seems to me that she made a very important point which ought to be repeated.

She said that the legislation before us in this chamber, namely Bill C-9, otherwise known as the Jean Chrétien pledge to Africa, is one that recognizes, on Canada's part, a “moral imperative”, that is, the imperative that we have to make available those medical treatments that are required, and in African countries in particular, to the millions of people who are suffering from these pandemics, in particular, of course, the pandemic of HIV-AIDS.

That point was elaborated on further by the Minister for International Cooperation with regard to voluntary licensing, when she said that “the amendments eliminate the requirement that patent holders be given the right of first refusal”. That was of course an amendment of considerable significance and importance during the deliberation at second reading.

In the discussion before question period, the member for Palliser made reference to Stephen Lewis, and quite rightly so, because this Canadian at the United Nations has been actively engaged in advancing the cause of helping African countries and the population there with respect to HIV-AIDS on that continent.

Mr. Stephen Lewis made a statement a few days ago which I would like to put on the record because it gives further background as to why we are engaged with this legislation and why we have developed such a unique parliamentary cohesion and unanimity behind it.

On April 6 of this year, in New York, Stephen Lewis, the United Nations special envoy on this matter, made the following statement:

I wish to join today with the legions of activists and advocates in Africa and worldwide who salute the quite remarkable collaboration on the provision of anti-retroviral drugs, jointly announced by The Clinton Foundation, The World Bank, UNICEF and the Global Fund. This initiative...could well spell the turnaround of the...pandemic in Africa.

Simply put, the Clinton Foundation will negotiate the drug prices, UNICEF will employ its procurement capacity, and the Global Fund and World Bank will provide the funding. There will be protocols and administrative requirements, of course, but nothing should now stand in the way of rolling out treatment to hundreds of thousands--soon to be millions--in the immediate future.

The best dimension of all of this is the price tag to be paid. We're talking of fixed-dose combinations of generic drugs, pre-qualified by the World Health Organization, to be purchased overwhelmingly from generic companies...at prices as low as $140 per person per year. It falls entirely within the World Trade Organization consensus agreement negotiated on August 30th, 2003. And it puts to rest the self-defeating jousting between generics and brand name pharmaceuticals. Clearly, when you have the power, the imprimatur and the dollars of the Clinton Foundation, World Bank, UNICEF and Global Fund weighing in behind generics, the debate is over. These four bodies make it clear in their statement that brand name companies are free--indeed, invited--to tender, and to meet the low prices. But it's equally clear that huge numbers of African lives will be prolonged and saved by generics...generic drugs at one-third to one-half the cost of the patent drugs. Just think of how much further the money will go.

Mr. Lewis concluded by saying:

This is all tremendously exciting, and it will be made even more so if WHO finally receives the seed money it needs--$200 million over two years--to help to coordinate the interventions at country level, to train the tens of thousands of additional people, to provide the emergency technical assistance, to keep the drug supplies flowing and to address the ongoing problems of infrastructure. In a phrase: to achieve 3 by 5.

Namely, that would be putting three million people into treatment by the end of 2005.

It seemed to me quite appropriate to put this statement by Stephen Lewis at the United Nations within the larger context of the Jean Chrétien pledge to Africa, namely Bill C-9, because it fits perfectly in it and it also gives us a broader picture as to why we are all engaged in this global effort, which is really bringing out the best in humanity and definitely appeals to the basic and most positive constructive sentiments that inspire the global community in every country.

I would like to congratulate the government for having persisted in bringing the bill to a happy conclusion despite all the technical difficulties. We look forward to third reading approval and to the speedy processing of it by the Senate so that it can be promulgated at a very early date.

The Environment April 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the International Joint Commission has identified 15 hot spots in the Great Lakes region yet to be cleaned up, plus the phenomenon of infestation by zebra mussels and other foreign species.

The Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy presented yesterday to the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development a number of recommendations for the Government of Canada.

Prominent among them were: first, the conversion of tax incentives to promote sustainable instead of unsustainable practices in the Great Lakes; second, the requirement of pollution prevention plans for industrial discharges to waste water treatment plants, also in the Great Lakes region; and third, the restoration of funds to ensure the cleanup and monitoring of the remaining 15 heavily polluted areas of the Great Lakes by the year 2015.

I urge the government to act on these recommendations without delay.

Patent Act April 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank the House for giving me this opportunity today to speak to Bill C-9.

The purpose of this bill is quite clear and simple; the bill amends the Patent Act to facilitate access to pharmaceutical products to address public health problems afflicting many developing and least-developed countries, especially those resulting from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other epidemics.

I would like also to indicate that it would be quite appropriate in this discussion to congratulate the member for Algoma—Manitoulin, the chair of the industry committee, for the outstanding work that he has performed in getting this bill through. There were, I am told, over 200 amendments and they were dealt with very thoroughly through hard work and extended hearings. Finally, the bill was reported back to the House for third reading yesterday. It recognizes the dedication of the chair and the members of the committee to this cause. It is only appropriate that we should recognize this because the working committee is seldom publicized and brought to the attention of constituents.

Next, it is desirable to indicate that while the title of the bill reads in a rather cut and dry manner, an amendment to the Patent Act and Food and Drugs Act, which would be very obscure unless it was explained at large, it also carries a subtitle to which other speakers in this debate have already made reference. The subtitle, which is in brackets, and I am very glad to see it, reads “The Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa”.

I find this most appropriate and desirable considering the tremendous effort that the former prime minister made in advancing the cause at international fora, particularly at the G-8 meetings, to the dramatic and tragic situation of the African continent. He did that on a number of occasions, particularly in Kananaskis in 2002, when the NEPAD policy was launched with the support of the G-7. Africa was put on the political map of those gathered at Kananaskis with complete support, by way of funding, by all the leaders who met on that occasion.

It seems to me, and I take into full account the comments just made by my colleague from the NDP, that perhaps there are many who have advanced the cause of dealing with pandemics in Africa. It is most appropriate that the leadership of the former prime minister be recognized and given appropriate exposure in this legislation and hopefully also beyond Canada's boundaries.

The purpose of the legislation is of course much larger than just the scope of the bill. The legislation intends to be part of a larger government effort intended to provide aid and medicinal assistance to countries in need. It is my understanding that Canada has already committed $100 million to the global fund to fight HIV and AIDS, and in addition to that some $62 million to the Canadian fund for Africa.

Therefore, we can see that the legislation is coming in as a reinforcing element within the framework of a broader policy effort, and it is most appropriate and timely. It is also a demonstration that the global community is taking on a responsibility for a problem that is hundreds of miles away, but nevertheless touches us all because we are all members of a human community that ties us together.

The situation in Africa is desperate. It is important to put on the record some data. It is a fact that there are some 36 million people apparently who are affected by AIDS at the present time. Two-thirds of these 36 million souls live in five countries: Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. In five other African countries, namely, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, one adult out of five who registers positively on tests for AIDS or has already incurred into the AIDS pandemic. This data is from the World Health Organization.

As a result, the average life expectancy in many African countries has been reduced by 23 years. When we are witnessing a trend in the opposite direction, namely longer and longer life expectancies, we have a continent where the life expectancy is going down and being reduced as a result of this pandemic. There are other countries which seem not to be completely exempt from this terrible disease. Reference has been made to the Bahamas, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, Guyana and to Haiti where it is expected that the average life expectancy is to be reduced by at least three years.

These statistics necessarily are cut and dry, but they hide another very important social reality. That is that as a result of the deaths within a population, there is a dramatic decrease in the number of teachers in the schools, workers in agriculture and in industry, clerical workers, people in the health care sectors, in hospitals, et cetera. Therefore, the fragile and limited structures in these countries are affected by this disease. In other words, there is an impact on numbers and social structures in the countries I mentioned earlier. These are poor countries which lack the resources to remedy the situation, in particular to provide, acquire and purchase the medicines and drugs necessary to stop the spread of this pandemic.

Therefore, we have these initiatives by Canada and other like-minded countries in trying to come to grips with getting to the root of the problem and to prevent the spread of this disease. In this respect we are all very proud of the fact that Canada is in the forefront of this initiative. This is why this bill is so important, why it has received the support of every party and why there is an element of urgency attached to the bill itself.

I would like to continue in my presentation by adding some words on the intervention yesterday by the Minister for International Cooperation. However, since you wish me to recognize the clock, Mr. Speaker, I will yield the floor and perhaps resume my comments after three o'clock.

Foreign Affairs April 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister of Spain, Jose Luis Zapatero, has made a decision of great political importance by deciding to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq.

He has at the same time put into question the assertion by the U.S. and U.K. governments that the basic mission of the coalition troops is to bring democracy to Iraq. The question is, can western democracy be imposed with armed forces?

Mr. Zapatero's decision is based upon impeccable logic. Governments of countries, such as Denmark, Italy and Poland, may well wish to reflect on and adopt Spain's sensible decision. Parliamentarians in Denmark, Italy and Poland may well decide to press their governments because it is becoming more and more evident that the presence of foreign troops in Iraq is not helping the cause of democracy.

Migratory Birds April 22nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, it being Earth Day today, this statement is devoted to migratory birds.

In February 2002, the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, on behalf of eight environmental groups, claimed that the Government of Canada was failing to enforce the Migratory Birds Convention Act, thereby allowing the estimated destruction of 45,000 migratory birds and nests in the year 2001 alone.

In March of this year, a full investigation of the complaint relating to clear-cut logging operations causing nest destruction was ordered by the NAFTA North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, based in Montreal.

Given that 21 species are already listed as species at risk in the Ontario boreal forest, I urge the Minister of the Environment to ensure that the Migratory Birds Convention Act is enforced by the Canadian Wildlife Service.

The Environment March 30th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Given that reaching the Kyoto protocol objective requires a considerable improvement in automobile fuel efficiency, when will the minister decide to overcome market barriers and recommend to cabinet the proclamation of the 1982 Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act?

Agriculture March 30th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Wheat Board, which represents 85,000 Canadian farmers, says there is potential economic danger in the introduction of genetically modified wheat into Canada.

Given that European, Asian and other markets are closing their doors to genetically modified wheat sales, the prairie farm economy would suffer even further than after the mad cow crisis.

In addition, the biotech industry would not benefit from the introduction of genetically modified wheat in the marketplace if there were no interested buyers.

Canada is putting at risk a $3 billion industry for a product that has already been rejected by our primary market sources.

Because of these consequences, I urge the Canadian government to stop the introduction of genetically modified wheat in Canada so as to avoid the widespread opposition it would face in the global marketplace.