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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was land.

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

Won his last election, in 2000, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Agriculture October 22nd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. Most of us here in the House recognize that the minister and his officials have worked tirelessly to re-open Canada's borders since May when they were closed due to the discovery of a single case of BSE in Alberta.

However, given that producers and numerous other support industries in my riding of Oxford and across Canada are continuing to suffer the effects of a restricted border, could the minister please inform the House as to the present status of Canada's efforts to restore full trade between our partners?

Millennium Excellence Award June 10th, 2003

Madam Speaker, the Government of Canada created the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation in 1998 to assist Canadians in pursuing their post-secondary education goals. Each year through its bursary program, the foundation awards over 90,000 bursaries to Canadian students based on financial need.

Also, through its excellence award program, the foundation recognizes academic achievement, community service and interest in innovation with grants to hundreds of Canada's top students each year.

Again this year, it is my sincere pleasure to name two students from Oxford who will receive millennium excellence awards. I want to congratulate Jaclyn Rodenburg of College Avenue Secondary School and Kaitland Gray of Woodstock Collegiate Institute.

While the cost of post-secondary education is great, so too are the rewards. I am proud that through the excellence award program the federal government is helping Canada's top students reach those goals. I send my best wishes to Jaclyn and Kaitland.

Foreign Affairs June 2nd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Secretary of State for Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Recently the Secretary of State visited Bulgaria and Turkey, accompanied by a large Canadian business delegation, to meet with government officials and support Canadian business in exploring and developing commercial opportunities.

Will the minister please share with the House his views of the outcome of the visit?

Statement by Member March 27th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, last week in a member's statement which I made on Thursday, March 20, I referred to the presence in the gallery of four young students from Norwich High School in my riding of Oxford.

These students were among the winners of a national video competition aimed at raising awareness about the harmful effects of racism in our society. After referring to these students, I then waved to them.

I do understand that such recognition of persons in the gallery is the exclusive prerogative of yourself, Mr. Speaker. Therefore, I want to offer my sincere apologies in this regard. I shall not repeat such a transgression.

Racial Discrimination March 20th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, March 21 is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. On this occasion we recognize the success Canadians have had in building an open and culturally diverse society based on tolerance and respect.

However we also know that too many of our fellow citizens still experience the sting of racism. That is why the Government of Canada sponsors initiatives designed to foster awareness and understanding of cultural diversity.

The “Racism. Stop it!” national video competition for students is one such initiative aimed at raising awareness about the harmful effects of racism in our society.

I am proud that of 10 teams from across Canada chosen as winners this year, one is from Norwich High School in my riding of Oxford.

I congratulate Jamie Jacques, Jeremy Gear, Adam Buck, Steve Wilkinson and their teacher, Mr. Jeff Overeem, on this special award. They are in the gallery and I welcome them.

Agriculture March 18th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, Oxford County farmers have built a strong reputation for their efficient, innovative and environmentally responsible farming practices. On March 5 the agricultural community in my riding came together to recognize those who have made particularly significant contributions to this reputation.

I would like to recognize today the following winners of this year's Oxford County Agricultural Awards of Excellence. Large agribusiness: Green Lea Ag Centre Incorporated; small agribusiness: McMillen's Iris Garden; farm innovation: Greiden Farms Limited; family farm: Clefthaven Farms; food processing: Bright Cheese and Butter Manufacturing Company Limited; conservation: Shelwood Farms Limited; and the president's technology award: Minitube Canada.

In addition, an award for community service was presented to Mrs. Ruth Skillings for her many years of faithful work on behalf of Oxford farmers.

Congratulations to all of this year's finalists.

Supply February 24th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, my answer to that is no. I think that obviously there would appear to have been money not misspent, not mishandled, but mistakes obviously were made in the difficulty that was demanded or in the kinds of parameters people were working with in the gun registry. I will hear about that in a few minutes. Again, I have heard about it before, but no, on health, gun registration, licences for guns and the safety of people are important as well. Sure, it would have been better to have spent those dollars that we may find have not been too well administered and to have put them into health care. Sure, that would make sense. I would have to know better than I know now, though, how much it might be.

Supply February 24th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, my colleague asks an interesting question following my speech. I am quite aware of everything he talks about. I am also quite aware, because we heard speeches this morning, and my hon. friend might have heard them too, which pointed out that death by long guns has now become less prevalent than death by handguns and that 2,000 hits a day on the computer system come from police forces.

There is a lot of good common sense safety involved in the gun bill, and I do not want to go through all that. I went through the gun bill trials too; I stood in the street with the then minister of justice and had 300 angry farmers tell us about things.

The registry will be improved. In about two minutes I will be going to find out all about what the Auditor General wishes us to do.

I will agree with my hon. friend that the value has to be obtained and that it would appear that in the gun registry we did not obtain the value that we should have for our money. I would suggest, however, that health care is a place where the hon. member would agree with me that the government is trying very hard and, it would appear, having some success with the participating provinces and territories in achieving something. It is the envy of the world now and I hope we will keep it that way.

Supply February 24th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to take part in this debate. I have listened all morning to members speak about the gun registry. I must go to the public accounts committee in 20 minutes which will be dealing with guns, the Auditor General, et cetera. Therefore, I will speak about chapter 2 of the Auditor General's report, not chapter 10. Chapter 2 concerns Health Canada and national health surveillance activities. I suggest that it will be more interesting than gun control.

Overall, this chapter acknowledges the progress made in a number of important areas over the last three years. The Auditor General found that Health Canada had improved disease surveillance in a number of areas including HIV, food-borne and water-borne diseases and influenza.

I will first give a little background on surveillance. Health surveillance is the collection of information generated by the health care system, an analysis of that information to determine trends in diseases or causes of disease across time and place, and to forecast what may happen in the future. We can think of Walkerton, labelling on food containers, and a number of other things.

This information can be used in the short term perhaps to recall a food product or drug or, in the longer term, perhaps to plan health care programs to meet the needs of the future. Surveillance may also give clues concerning the nature and causes of diseases--ideas which can be investigated further by health research.

The vital importance of health surveillance in providing the information needed by public health professionals and decision-makers is readily apparent. It provides much of the information needed to inform policy decisions, to plan health programs, and to take regulatory action to manage risks and protect the health of Canadians.

This is not something that the public necessarily sees every day and it is perhaps something that we may sometimes be tempted to take for granted, but a moment's thought will reveal just how important this role is.

Canadians rightly expect that governments are standing on guard to preserve their health and the government takes that responsibility very seriously. Not only does Health Canada maintain national surveillance in a wide range of infectious diseases such as meningitis, HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis, food and water-borne infections, as in Walkerton, but it also stands ready to monitor new threats as they emerge.

For example, it has initiated surveillance of West Nile virus and new variant CJD or mad cow disease, and continues to monitor the growth of the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics.

Health Canada also monitors the safety of regulated products including drugs and vaccines, as well as injuries which require care in hospital emergency departments. There is also considerable effort spent in the surveillance of chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes. The list of conditions under surveillance also includes child abuse and neglect.

I would like to bring to the attention of the House that since 2000 Health Canada has created a single focal point to help advance its work in health surveillance which is the centre for surveillance coordination. The centre is a national centre of leadership, expertise and excellence in health surveillance. Working with others in Health Canada it ensures the coordination of national surveillance that allows it to gather and share information more efficiently with our partners including the provinces and territories. The centre for surveillance coordination, in collaboration with public health stakeholders, aims to increase the capacity of public health professionals and decision-makers across Canada to better protect the health of Canadians.

National health surveillance is a shared activity. Health Canada works in partnership with the provinces and territories as well as other partners such as voluntary agencies, professional associations and universities on national health surveillance issues.

Health Canada is proud of the work that it is doing with the provinces and territories on national health surveillance and will continue to work with them to enhance surveillance systems which are constantly evolving.

An excellent example of this work is the Canadian integrated public health surveillance system or CIPHS, which has been developed by Health Canada in collaboration with the British Columbia centre for disease control and now being piloted or scheduled to be piloted in no fewer than nine provinces and territories. It would drastically improve the speed and ease of the surveillance of infectious diseases by linking laboratories and front line public health workers at local, provincial, territorial and national levels. In her report, the Auditor General recognized the contribution that the Canadian integrated public health surveillance system would make to the surveillance of infectious diseases.

Another example of the innovative work being done in Health Canada is the global public health intelligence network or GPHIN. This system scans news sources for reports of disease outbreaks and collates and transmits them to public health officials. This not only gives us information on health threats which may be imported into Canada or pose a threat to Canadians abroad, but it is also a significant Canadian contribution to the work of the World Health Organization.

I want to assure the House that we have taken the recommendations made by the Auditor General seriously. A national approach to health surveillance that will ensure that weaknesses and gaps in health surveillance are addressed is set out in a document entitled “Canadian Health Infostructure Health Surveillance Tactical Plan”.

We will continue to work with the provinces and territories to obtain further agreements on the sharing of disease information including agreement on data collection, data dissemination, data standards, and the list of diseases that should be reported nationally, as well as developing an evaluation framework.

Finally, Health Canada is developing a distance learning approach to help its partners increase their skills in the scientific disciplines necessary for the operation of surveillance systems. We will continue to enhance current surveillance of communicable diseases, with emphasis on specific diseases such as HIV, enteric diseases, sexually transmitted infections, blood-borne pathogens and vaccine preventable diseases.

To illustrate how this commitment continues, let me point out that the recent federal budget provided funding for a national immunization strategy and that this included continuing work on the surveillance of vaccine coverage, vaccine preventable diseases and vaccine side-effects.

We have surveillance systems for chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes at various levels of maturity and in collaboration with the provinces and territories, and others, we will continue to work addressing specific gaps such as cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory disease.

As an example of federal, provincial and territorial collaboration deputy ministers of health have asked for a task force on the surveillance of chronic disease risk factors and Health Canada will be participating fully with its provincial and territorial partners in strengthening the surveillance of chronic disease.

In summary, we have here an issue of the utmost importance to the health of Canadians. The Government of Canada is playing a leadership role in ensuring that governments across Canada improve their ability to track and monitor diseases and to have the information they need about emerging threats to health.

This is a considerable challenge at the technical level but there is a commitment to a collaborative approach to strengthening our capacity to gather the information needed to protect the health of Canadians. The Auditor General has recognized the progress we have made, with HIV-AIDS, diabetes and others, and there are other enhancements under development.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act February 20th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the amendment as was read was to remove subclause 122(2) of the bill.

While I believe in the object that the standing committee was hoping to achieve with their amendment to the clause, the problems with the amendment can be addressed and the underlying objective can be adequately accommodated through the original bill clause and existing processes. I will try to explain why.

The standing committee amendment to clause 122 has a number of deficiencies that would prove problematic.

Perhaps principal among these is the fact that the committee's amendment does not take into account that there is a second regulation making provision in the bill in subclause 47(1). It is under this provision that the project regulations would be made and hon. members should know that these regulations are the ones that will be of the most interest to the public and industry and environmental interest groups.

Second, the proposed new subclause 122(2) does not provide for a role for the other place. Under current practice, regulations are reviewed by the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations, a committee of both the House and the other place. We believe this is appropriate and should be maintained for regulations made under Bill C-2.

The amendment proposed by the standing committee could also prove problematic as it names a specific standing committee in a statute. As the names and functions of House committees could change over time, the provision could be rendered ineffective unless there was an amendment to the bill.

I would like to spend a few minutes explaining why I believe the bill does not require the amendment suggested by the committee to provide opportunities for public involvement in the regulatory process under the bill.

First, I would like to remind hon. members of one of the key features of the bill, referred to at length during the second reading debate in the House: extensive consultations on the bill.

The fact is that there have already been considerable consultations conducted regarding what the public and interest groups think should be included in the two key areas of regulations under the bill, and that is those that establish what activities are subject to assessment and regulations and those establishing time lines within which decisions must be made.

In addition to those consultations that have already occurred, I note that clause 122 of the bill already requires the minister to consult with the government of Yukon and all Yukon first nations prior to making regulations. These consultations have also been ongoing for some time now. I am confident that when these regulations are drafted, consideration of all this input will be reflected.

I would also like to remind hon. members that before regulations are finalized they are pre-published in the Canada Gazette with an opportunity for public review and comment on them. This provides yet another opportunity for public and interest group input to these regulations.

Finally, these regulations will be reviewed by the Standing Joint Committee on the Scrutiny of Regulations. As hon. members know, this is a joint committee of the House and the other place. The addition of subclause 122(2) would, therefore, only serve to duplicate existing processes for this place, while providing no role for the other place.

I believe that hon. members can be confident that there will be numerous opportunities for input by the public and interest groups, the Yukon government and first nations into the development of all regulations under the bill. Further, including subclause 122(2) would only be problematic and serve to duplicate existing processes. I also believe that all hon. members recognize these problems and will join me in supporting the motion to remove subclause 122(2) of the bill.