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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was know.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as NDP MP for Surrey North (B.C.)

Won her last election, in 2006, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

May 30th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, on May 2 I asked the Minister of Health about his government's promise to compensate people who were infected with hepatitis C through Canada's tainted blood supply. I hope the minister will be able to provide us with two detailed answers instead of the rhetoric that we heard last time in response to the question.

During the last election campaign the Conservatives promised they would “immediately compensate all victims inflected through tainted blood products”. That included people who were outside the window from 1986 to 1990. That was more than four months ago.

I do not know what the dictionary definition of “immediately” is, but I expect if I looked it up, it would not be four months. Certainly four months was not the timeframe envisioned by the people who have hepatitis C, who were encouraged and perhaps voted for the Conservatives because they were promised that kind of assistance. Those people placed their trust in the Conservative government. They trusted that they would have resources to raise their families, to send their children to school, to pay the mortgage and maybe even go back to work. All those hopes have been dashed.

In question period the Minister of Health said, “We made a campaign pledge and we intend to keep it”. He assured us his government was moving with alacrity. That was four weeks ago. Both “immediately” and “alacrity” seem to have different definitions now.

It is time for direct answers to direct questions. The Conservatives said to the people with hepatitis C, “Trust us”. People believed that hope was just around the corner. The only thing that has been around the corner for some people is death.

The government promised immediate compensation. Why has that party not kept its word after more than four months in office? The Prime Minister, the Minister of Health and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health have all said they consider this to be a top priority. People who have been waiting for four months do not feel that they are a top priority. When will the government take action?

Victims of the tainted blood tragedy continue to lose their jobs and their homes. With each passing day people are losing their lives. When will these people receive the lifeline they were promised?

Business of Supply May 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, no, I do not think that is the intent at all. I support the member's comments that as a responsible dad, he keeps his children away from pesticides. In a rural area that is what he needs to do because there pesticides are being used for growing purposes and for crops.

However, we are not able as parents to protect our children from rolling around in the soccer field, if they are playing soccer, or rolling around in a playground, or in the backyard or whatever. We cannot protect them from all that without putting them in a bubble. We cannot provide the same kind of protection in an urban area.

It is not the intention of the motion to prevent the member from carrying on his profession.

Business of Supply May 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I suppose it could be that it is for a completely different use than the cosmetic pesticide, at which we are looking. Nevertheless, 465 or 405, whatever it is, have already been approved and are being retested and re-evaluated. The 1.5% that have been done have been pulled off the market because they have not been safe.

I am not sure the manufacturers have been able to prove they are safe. They may have been able to prove it before, but in re-evaluation, with more evidence-based medicine available to us, I am not sure they could prove the same outcome.

Business of Supply May 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the motion put forward by the member for Toronto--Danforth, and I do so for a variety of reasons.

If we were to go on the Internet and look at pesticides, it would result in many different opinions. Internet sites are not quality-based and some are not credible sites. They may be evidence-based or not. One could get the whole gamut from pesticides being no problem, to never use them under any circumstances anywhere in the world. In order to formulate my own views about the use of cosmetic pesticides, I tried to look at sites with some evidence-base to them, sites that were reasonably credible, and medical sites where good research had been done.

I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Ottawa Centre.

I do not know if everybody will remember the Leave It To Beaver show. Everybody had a nice white house with a picket fence and the lawn was absolutely perfect. It was green and gorgeous. I can remember my father looking after our front lawn and people knocking on the door and asking how he managed to get his grass looking so nice. I look back now and I am fearful of what was put on it to make it look so nice. The age of these kinds of front lawns is gone.

I am very concerned about the long term effects of pesticides. Pesticides are designed to kill something. They are not designed in particular to do damage to people, but they are designed to be toxic to certain things. We do not know the longevity of the pesticides that are being used. What concerns me the most is the effect of pesticides on children.

The literature really does not support the concept that some pesticides are safer than others. Children have a different kind of take up rate in the pesticide. We do not know whether there is a different latency period. We do know that young children metabolize substances in their bodies differently than adults. If children are exposed when they are three or four years old, we may not see something until they are 14, 15 or 16 years old because we do not have the ability to see that many years down the road. We cannot assure parents that their children will be safe under those circumstances.

Points have been made by previous speakers about the fact that the Canadian Cancer Society does not support the use of cosmetic pesticides and many cities do not support the use of cosmetic pesticides. Nobody is saying there is a direct link to poor health and pesticides, but we have seen many vulnerable groups of people become at risk for a whole variety of cancers such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, brain cancer, breast cancer, that can be potentially caused by exposure.

Let me give the House an example, and it is a very sad one in many ways. A number of years ago we noticed that there was a lot of spraying going on in a certain part of Canada that had a large forest industry. We noticed also that the rate of infants and children with neural tube defects like spina bifida was about 10 or 15 times what would have been expected in the normal population. It was way more than what we would see in a “statistical glitch”.

Dads were making a living for their family, putting a roof over their heads, feeding their children, and doing the best they could. They were spraying in the forest. They would come home in their work clothes and expose their families to the pesticides that were all over their clothing. They did not know any better.

However, what we did know then was that there were a significant number of youngsters being born with spina bifida and other kinds of neural tube defects. So I do not think that we can guarantee people that it will be safe for them in a few years or in five years or whenever that would be.

It is interesting because the company at the time that was doing the spraying described the deaths as simply collateral damage. The company said that one would expect this from any activity that was going on in order to save the trees not taking into account the number of children that were exposed.

A number of other things that are of concern to me are those very vulnerable groups of people in our society. Children, and I do not mean this to sound facetious, are very short and therefore, because they are small, they are exposed to a whole variety of contaminants that an adult is not, because they are closer to the ground.

They do all these things that we think are wonderful. Our babies pick something up and then they put it in their mouths. That is great, except that means they may very well be more at risk if they have dropped it on the grass outside and there have been pesticides used.

We have seen, I think, a combination or a coming together of moms or dads. Moms in particular, who have worked a lot in gardens and nurseries during their pregnancy, have indeed had a higher incidence of children with difficulties, with a number of difficulties, actually, as a result of the fact that mom had been exposed to pesticides during her pregnancy.

I think the same thing happens with the elderly, who have a different kind of immune system. As we age, and nobody in this House is aging, I am sure, our metabolism changes and we process those contaminants and those pesticides differently than a normal healthy adult might, and so we have no way of knowing what that really might mean.

I am little concerned, I must say. The PMRA is supposed to be re-evaluating 405 pesticides that are registered in Canada to see if they meet current standards by 2006, not the new ones but the ones already registered. My understanding is that 1.5% of those have been evaluated and most of those have been taken off the market after they have been evaluated. I am feeling very uncomfortable not only about the new ones to be evaluated but the ones that have already been approved and that are out there being used on a daily basis.

When we look at the urban and rural split or the urban and rural differences between pesticides, the amount of pesticide on an agricultural acre is far less than we see on an urban acre, which I think is the question one of the members asked earlier. We are talking about cosmetic use of pesticides. Although we could certainly, at some stage, have further debate about whether that should be extended. However, that is not the intent at all. This is cosmetic. If being careful, if testing properly, and if waiting until we have better scientific evidence-based information to look at saves the life of one child or one infant, then surely that is worth doing.

Business of Supply May 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the previous speaker, if I might, before I begin debate. I am wondering if--

Skin Cancer May 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am rising in the House today to invite all respected members of Parliament to a very special event. The Chuck Cadman Memorial Skin Cancer Screening and Reception, hosted by the Canadian Dermatology Association, will be held this evening in memory of a loyal Canadian MP and a personal friend. Chuck passed away on July 9, 2005 after a two year battle with melanoma skin cancer.

More than 60,000 Canadians are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. This evening's event is being held to increase awareness about the warning signs of cancer and to remind us all to check for symptoms of this disease. Mrs. Dona Cadman is with us today and will be at the screening and reception. She has a brand new two-week-old baby granddaughter whose name is Teadora.

Please join us from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in West Block, room 200. Everyone is welcome. Please come.

Health May 11th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, it is not only illegal user fees at private clinics for which patients are paying more and more. Today we also learned that prescription drugs are costing Canadians a whopping $20 billion annually, increasing at a phenomenal rate of $2 billion a year. We now spend more and more on prescription drugs than we do on doctors.

Nine years ago, the Liberals promised pharmacare but did nothing. Patients need federal action. The provinces want federal action. Will the government commit to taking action on the high cost of prescription drugs?

Health May 11th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, today we learned that Health Canada officials expressed grave concern over allegations of illegal user fees charged to patients in Quebec. Despite promise after promise from the previous government, the Liberals sat idly by and did nothing to protect Quebec patients, no letter, no fines, no action and no surprise.

Will the minister commit today to take action against infractions to the Canada Health Act in all jurisdictions in Canada, or will he be just like the Liberals before him?

The Budget May 8th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, yes, I am aware that those are in the budget. We are talking about children. We are also talking about parents with tax credits who have no home care and are putting their children into foster care because they are so exhausted they cannot support their children at home any more.

I am also talking about adults with disabilities who are willing to participate in their communities. They need some skills and education to do that. They need support in the workplace to do that. Those are the kinds of supports I am talking about with regard to people with disabilities. They do not stop at the age of 18. People with disabilities of all ages require support to continue to contribute to their communities.

I suggest to the minister check the number of heartbroken parents who have given up their children to foster care because there is no home support for them.

The Budget May 8th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I want to reinforce the fact that the incentives for business have worked nowhere in North America that we have seen at the kind of costs that people are talking about. We have tried that in Canada. It has been tried in the United States. Why on earth are businesses going to do that?

The Government of British Columbia has only done it once that I am aware of. I think the member opposite is absolutely correct. This is a smoke and mirrors answer to people about creating child care spaces where we will never ever see a child.