Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was tobacco.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Cape Breton—East Richmond (Nova Scotia)

Lost his last election, in 1997, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Tobacco March 6th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I fully understand the position of the hon. member opposite.

Perhaps he might reflect on the fact that the bill presently before the House has not been passed. How can the member opposite make a conclusion when the legislation has not been passed?

Tobacco Act March 6th, 1997

Perhaps I have gone too far in suggesting the hon. member might be able to engage in debate of the subject matter in an intelligent way. I will reflect upon my earlier assertion and perhaps at the end of the debate I will have a few words to say to my friends opposite.

Young people are sophisticated enough to understand the purposes of tobacco company marketing tools. Health Canada's 1994 youth smoking survey found that 85 per cent of young smokers and 83 per cent of non-smokers agreed that advertisements for events

sponsored by tobacco companies were a means to directly advertise cigarette brands.

I recognize many of my colleagues opposite have expressed concern about the link between sponsorship and youth smoking. I would like to take a few moments to discuss that issue.

The National Cancer Institute of Canada has issued a report entitled "Tobacco Marketing and Youth: Examination of Youth Attitudes and Behaviour on Tobacco Industry Advertising and Sponsorship". This is Canada's premier cancer research organization. It concluded an exhaustive review of the available science not only in Canada but indeed beyond our borders.

The institute found there was substantial evidence that young people are aware of and respond to cigarette advertising. Advertisements present images that appeal to youth and are seen and remembered by them.

The United States will be implementing a full ban on sponsorship promotion in August 1998. I would like to share the following points from the federal registry of August 28, 1996.

The FDA has found that image based advertising is particularly effective with young people and that the information conveyed by imagery is likely to be more significant to young people than information conveyed by other means in advertisement.

The FDA also pointed to studies showing that children are exposed to substantial and unavoidable advertising, that exposure to tobacco advertising leads to favourable beliefs about tobacco's use, that advertising plays a role in leading young people to overestimate the prevalence of tobacco use, and that these factors are related to young people's tobacco initiation and use.

In essence it is a way in which to present an image and an environment that smoking is okay, that smoking some how is sexy, and that smokers should not worry about getting some form of disease in the future. It is a very well carved and focused strategy by the advertisers but in particular the tobacco companies.

The FDA also looked at sponsored events and found that the effect of sponsored events on young people who attend such events was enormous. Advertising affects young people's opinion of tobacco products, first, by creating attractive and existing images that can serve as a badge of identification; second, by utilizing multiple and prolonged exposure in a variety of media; and, third, by associating the product with varied positive events and images.

The World Health Organization also recognized the link between tobacco sponsorship and consumption. It has found that the tobacco industry uses the sponsoring of sports and entertainment to complement and/or replace other marketing activities to reach large audiences and to associate their products with positive images.

I am not standing here today to tell adults how to live their lives. I am not telling them to quit smoking although I would hope they would. I am not banning tobacco in this country.

Some have suggested that only a ban on tobacco would really address this public health challenge. There are seven million addicted smokers in Canada. If we were to ban this product, can we imagine the chaos and smuggling that would take place? They are addicted to a substance which according to scientific reports is more addictive than heroin. They are addicted to a product that would be prohibited if introduced on the market today. It is a product that kills when used as directed.

It is not a new product. It is a product with generations of use and an insidious hold. To be reasonable and to be responsible we have to make every effort to prevent youth from beginning to smoke. Experts on tobacco generally agree it is far more productive to discourage young people from experimenting with smoking than trying to place several legal restrictions on adult smokers. Our strategy must be to reduce and ultimately eliminate tobacco use.

We introduced a blueprint in December 1995 whereby numerous consultations took place. We consulted widely with provincial and territorial governments, the health community, tobacco manufacturers, collateral industries, sports and cultural groups, and concerned Canadians. There were over 2,700 submissions in response to the blueprint. Now, 15 months later, I stand before the House at third reading of Bill C-71. The bill contains reasonable measures that will restrict advertising and sponsorship promotion.

Let me make it perfectly clear that we are not banning advertising. We are not banning sponsorship promotion. Instead the bill will place restrictions on these promotional activities which will reduce the exposure of cigarettes in Canadian society.

The government has taken into consideration the concerns of the arts and sports events that rely on tobacco company sponsorship. We have set an implementation period for the sponsorship restriction provisions. We will bring them into force in October 1998. This is effectively a two-season adjustment period.

Let me remind the House that the completion of the implementation period equates to a banning of sponsorship or sponsorship promotion. I challenge some of the national media outlets and their spokespersons to stop acting in a grossly negligent manner in pursuing a track of misinformation about the bill and about the effects of the bill. It is just not so.

The coming into force of section 24 in October 1998 will mean the implementation of restrictions on the extent to which sponsorship activities can be promoted.

I have seen the various legal opinions that the tobacco industry has circulated about Bill C-71. One interpretation asserted that the bill would prohibit persons under 18 years of age from being hired at retail locations where tobacco products are sold. The bill creates no such prohibition and does not deal with criteria for vendors and employees in any way. The bill focuses on the ages of the purchasers. It focuses on sales to minors. Other interpretations have alleged that maximum fines and imprisonment will automatically ensue for any contravention of the act on the day following its coming into force.

In reality, such interpretation ignores the establishment of an enforcement policy in my own department. This policy deems prosecution as a last resort to achieve compliance. It includes warning letters and consultations prior to any consideration of legal action. If members opposite are asking me to do the exact opposite, I will reflect on that.

I could probably stand here all day and talk about the various legal opinions tobacco lobbyists have circulated. We know they are the heart and soul of members of the Bloc Quebec, the lobbyist. I find that the unholy alliance of the Bloc Quebecois and the tobacco lobbyists is rather insidious. For every 15 minutes that this debate continues, one more Canadian will join the role of those who died sooner than they would have otherwise, all because of tobacco use.

Let me add one comment regarding those legal opinions. I have publicly offered a voluntary preclearance mechanism. What I have proposed is that when individuals or groups are apprehensive about possible prosecution under this legislation, when they want to ensure that their advertising or their sponsorship promotion fits within restrictions, they can come to my department and discuss it with our officials.

Before event organizers start making unfounded allegations about what they can do and cannot do, I encourage them to review the restrictions with my department.

It is important not to lose sight of the strong support for Bill C-71 which comes from every region of the country. The Canadian Medical Association supports the legislation: "We are looking for expedient passage of Bill C-71 because we know that the future generation of Canadians must be protected from the number one cause of preventable death and disease in the country".

The president of the Canadian Cancer Society also wrote: "I am writing to express my support for Bill C-71 and to urge you and your ministry to do everything possible within legal frameworks to help end the tragedy of death by tobacco".

I have also received the endorsement of the Coalition québécoise pour le controle du tabac. It represents over 561 organizations across the province of Quebec. The number includes 238 towns and municipalities across the province of Quebec. It includes the Association of Cardiologists of Quebec, the Quebec Dental Association, the Quebec Association of Family Physicians, the Pathologists Association of Quebec, the Quebec Paediatrics Association, the Quebec Medical Association, the Quebec Public Health Association, the Quebec Lung Association and the Quebec division of the Canadian Cancer Society.

My friends opposite on one hand supported Bill C-71 and the principles at second reading and have now done a major flip-flop, the hypocrisy of the Bloc Quebecois. They must be accountable for this flip-flop. They must be accountable to those 561 organizations that support the provisions of Bill C-71.

To the hon. members opposite, their day of reckoning is coming and it is coming fairly soon. They will pay the price for their opposition to the health of the Quebec people, particularly the young people of the province of Quebec.

It falls to my colleagues opposite with the same force that it falls to me as the Minister of Health. We cannot, as members of Parliament, overlook the unavoidable toll of tobacco.

In Quebec alone, the members of the Bloc Quebecois, in their unholy alliance with the tobacco companies and the lobbyists, are saying to 76,000 young people who will begin smoking this year they do not care about the health of les enfants des quebecois. That is what they are saying by their opposition to Bill C-71. This is 30 per cent of the beginning smokers in the country as a whole. Smoking is more common in the province of Quebec than in other parts of Canada and the hon. members know it. They reject outright the efforts of the hon. minister of health in the province of Quebec, one of their own, Jean Rochon.

It is a flip-flop today. Why? It is to get the media headlines each and every day in order to save their political skins in the next federal election.

Thirty-eight per cent of Quebecers are smokers. In the rest of Canada the rate is 31 per cent. They are both unacceptably high. As many as three million people alive today in Canada will die from tobacco related diseases, and one million of those are in the province of Quebec. That is far too many. These are reasons enough to do all we can to reduce tobacco consumption in this country.

I know a number of my colleagues are waiting to speak to this bill. They share my concerns about reducing tobacco consumption in Canadian youth. However, let me take a few moments to

acknowledge the efforts of some of the people who have helped get us this legislation here today.

I refer of course to my parliamentary secretary. The member for Eglinton-Lawrence certainly deserves a lot of praise and a lot of recognition. He has brought his experience and judgment to this bill and I wish to thank him for it. I also want to thank the hon. member for Burin-St. George's who chairs the Standing Committee on Health. I want to thank all members of that committee regardless of their political affiliations.

I would be remiss in my remarks if I did not single out one member. In this House we have differed on many issues and I would suspect that we will continue to differ on many other issues. However, I must give credit where credit is due, to the non-partisanship demonstrated by the hon. member for Macleod. He has stood in his place time and time again and attacked me on a variety of different issues, but when it comes to this issue of smoking, tobacco and the control of tobacco use in this country, he has not stood with the Minister of Health; he has stood with the young people and I think he is deserving of praise from all of us in this Chamber.

I want to thank the members of the Bloc Quebecois, in particular the member for Lévis. I know they have concerns with the bill but I am confident that at the end of the day they will put the health of Canadians and, yes, the health of Quebecers first and foremost.

I say to members of the Bloc I know that many of them who are over there are very uncomfortable with the decisions that have been made by the leadership of the Bloc Quebecois. I know that. I say to my hon. friends opposite that it is never too late to change one's mind and do the right thing. I am sure that the children in the province of Quebec will be forever indebted to members of the Bloc Quebecois if they were to exert the kind of leadership that others in the province of Quebec have exerted in terms of supporting children and supporting the health of those children in the province of Quebec.

Finally, I wish to say a few words about the other place. Hopefully later this day this bill will receive third reading. It will leave this Chamber and go to another chamber. I would suspect, having the respect that I have for the other chamber and its members, they will examine this bill in an expeditious way, but in a comprehensive way, and that they too will see the purposes of what this bill is about. It is about the health of Canadians. It is about the health of children. It is about the health of children in the future.

I want to thank all members of the House who have participated in this debate. I know at times it has been acrimonious, but I want to say to all members that we can be a part of something which is very important to the country. I enjoin all members to join with me in that act.

Tobacco Act March 6th, 1997

I know the hon. member opposite does not like to hear what I am saying. He wishes to avail himself of the opportunity to heckle. I would encourage him to participate so that we can have an intelligent debate of the subject.

Tobacco Act March 6th, 1997

I know the hon. member opposite hates to hear the facts, but let me share something with him. I know he will enter the debate. Then we will have an opportunity to hear his wisdom and intellectual fervour. Perhaps he will listen to one of his own who said on this issue that the tobacco industry said it did not advertise to encourage youth to take up smoking.

Vincent Fischer, president of Symbiose, can qualify as being the guru of sponsorship in Quebec. As he notes, the studies are based on common sense. He said:

If tobacco manufacturers invest $60 million, they are not doing so for the good of their health. They are doing so because they are getting a return on their investment.

That is not me. That is an advertising executive in the province of Quebec.

As I said, the focus of advertising, says the industry, is an audience of an entirely adult tobacco consumers. The information all around us suggests and proves that it is not so.

I again refer hon. members to the article in La Presse of yesterday.

Tobacco Act March 6th, 1997

moved that Bill C-71, an act to regulate the manufacture, sale, labelling and promotion of tobacco products, to make consequential amendments to another act and to repeal certain acts, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to rise and speak to Bill C-71. There are many in the House today who have experienced much debate on the issue of tobacco regulation. Several of us who sit here today were here in 1988 for debate on what was then Bill C-51, the Tobacco Products Control Act.

I would like to thank my previous colleague, the former minister of health, the Hon. Jake Epp, who brought forward Bill C-51, for his commitment to tobacco regulation and for his efforts in legislating in this area.

Almost seven years ago Minister Epp rose in the House to speak on Bill C-51 at third reading. I quote from that speech:

The purpose of the bill is to provide a legislative response to a national public health problem of substantial and present concern. It is intended to protect the health of Canadians in light of conclusive evidence implicating tobacco use and the incidents of numerous debilitating and fatal diseases.

Although we on this side of the House have on several occasions found cause to differ with the party of the Hon. Jake Epp, Bill C-51 had the support of my party.

We did have concerns about the legislation at that time. We wanted to make certain that the bill went as far as possible to restrict the access and exposure of tobacco products.

My hon. colleague, the minister of heritage, spoke to those concerns throughout the debates on Bill C-51. While we wanted to ensure the legislation was effective, we never wavered in our support for the principles of the bill. Today we have before us a bill which speaks to the commitment of my party and of the government to the health of Canadians.

Tobacco is a preventable source of much health damage to Canadians. Behind the glossy advertising and the carefree lifestyles that sponsorships feed off is a record of suffering and of lives ended far too soon. Who in the House has not been touched by the devastating toll of tobacco use? We have all had relatives, friends or acquaintances who have been sick or who have died because of tobacco related illnesses.

As debate on Bill C-71 has already revealed, smoking has complex and diverse impacts and as the research mounts all around the world we are learning much more about the effects of that use. We are coming to understand more of the factors that influence the decision to smoke and yes, the decision to continue to smoke.

Let me underline one tragic fact. The decision to smoke is being made overwhelmingly by teenagers. Some 85 per cent of all smokers started before the age of 16. Those who suggest that this issue is about adult choices should keep that in mind.

What faces these young smokers? A lifetime of weakened health for one thing, because we know that tobacco kills. We know that research shows a death toll of about 40,000 lives of Canadians cut short each and every year. We know that tobacco is associated with about 30 per cent of all cancer in this country.

If that were all the price we paid because young people fall prey to the lure of tobacco use, it would be too much. But there is more. Tobacco has economic and social costs as well. One of the most obvious economic impacts is the cost of health care for people who suffer from the effects of tobacco use. We face those costs from a number of sources, the most basic of course is the cost to our medicare system.

I think all political parties in the House understand Canadians believe very strongly in our medicare system and I believe all political parties in the House know we need to improve the way we use that system. That means reducing unnecessary drains on the system.

Tobacco must be the best example of a preventable cost to medicare. But we estimate that tobacco use costs our society approximately $15 billion each and every year, about $3.5 billion resulting from the kinds of direct health care costs I have been talking about.

I could talk about how those costs are incurred, about hospital days spent, visits to doctors and prescription costs, about time spent in long term health care facilities. We could spend considerable time talking about the illness that doctors link to tobacco consumption. It could be cancer, heart disease or a lung disease such as emphysema.

We must remember and take to heart that the smokers who are addicted and who are perhaps sick today because of their habit probably started to smoke when they were very young, probably when they were teenagers.

As we debate the bill today yet another generation of Canadian youth is being exposed to the lure of tobacco products. The new tobacco customers are young Canadians. As we sit in our places today let us try to remember the feeling of young people. Young people feel themselves to be immortal. They want to be adults and do things that seem adult like.

Being a teenager is a time to assert one's independence. It is a time when the opinions of friends and peers can weigh more heavily on a decision than the advice of teachers, parents or even physicians. The most common reason cited for starting to smoke is the influence of friends, better known as peer pressure. A 13-year old or a 14-year old cannot easily conceptualize the possibility of getting heart disease or cancer in 30 or 40 years.

Let us think of our own youth whether we grew up in Quebec, Ontario or the maritimes and how immune as young people we thought we were to diseases such as heart disease, cancer and others. If the young get hooked the addictive power of nicotine will do the rest. It is as simple as that.

We know that one in three young Canadians smoke and that half of them will ultimately die prematurely of a tobacco related disease. We know that youth are the most tragic casualties of tobacco use and addiction. We know that youth are the most vulnerable to tobacco promotion.

I wish to present to the House some facts that ought to be examined both in light of their substance and in terms of the devastating effects they can have on young people: 29 cent of 15 to 19 year olds and 14 per cent of 10 to 14 year olds are currently smoking. Let us imagine a 10-year old daughter or a 13-year old son smoking. Do they visualize the possibility of cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other lung diseases? No. Smoking among teens aged 15 to 19 has increased by as much as 25 per cent since 1991.

According to the 1994 youth smoking survey, 260,000 children in Canada between the ages of 10 and 19 began smoking in that year. Figures like these which are being replicated in other countries have prompted their governments to legislate in the area of tobacco control. The World Health Organization has classified youth smoking as a global pediatric epidemic. That is why the government's priorities in developing the legislation and our overall tobacco strategy have been focused on young people.

The tobacco industry claims it does not advertise to encourage youth to take up smoking. That is what the industry says. It claims

it is only encouraging the switching of brands among older established smokers. The focus of advertizing, says the industry, is an audience of entirely adult tobacco consumers.

If we walk the streets we see the billboards and the paraphernalia in terms of caps, jackets and T-shirts. We can check billboards in close proximity to schools and other institutions for young people. These billboards and paraphernalia are certainly not a campaign directed toward the senior citizens. The campaign is for young people.

Health Care March 5th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, what an interesting day it is. The hon. member on October 17, 1995 said: "Medicare is bad for everyone". On November 23 he changed his mind. He said that medicare was important to all Canadians. Then in March 1996 the very distinguished, the eloquent, the very colourful leader of that party said: "There is going to have to be continued reductions in social transfers".

I know the Bloc Quebecois is huffing and puffing, but I did not think the Reform Party would be puffing and huffing too.

Health Care March 5th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, as many reputable organizations have said with regard to health care spending, no less than the National Forum, Canada has the second most expensive system of the OECD countries.

The hon. member, in his selective memory with reference to the facts, forgets to inform the House that under this government and this Minister of Finance in this fiscal year alone we are providing to the provinces in terms of equalization payments in excess of $8.6 billion. In addition, the interest reductions we have been able to do on our fiscal side provide an additional $1.6 billion for the provinces.

The issue is not one of funding. The issue in provinces across the country has to do with the management of the health care system.

Health Care March 5th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, there is such a thing in politics as the flip-flopper of all time. This is the same member who in March 1995 stood in his place and condemned the Minister of Finance who gave notice, gave predictable funding to the provinces with the cash floor for the purposes of health care, thereby providing $25.1 billion.

The leader of that party in March 1995, in an amendment to a non-confidence motion, condemned the government for its failure to eliminate the deficit quickly and decisively within one year.

This is the flip-flopper of all time. He says one thing on Monday and another thing on Friday.

Tobacco March 5th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted that the hon. member has spent 35 years in the teaching profession. I hope the hon. member would continue in that role of teaching young people in the province of Quebec the hazards of smoking

It should be noted that the National Cancer Institute of Canada said this about advertising: "There is substantial evidence that young people are aware of and respond to cigarette advertising".

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said: "Image based advertising is particularly effective with young people in that the information conveyed by imagery is likely to be more significant to young people than information conveyed by any other means of advertising".

I want to say to the hon. member that members of the Bloc Quebecois can throw that aside and accuse the government of being unreasonable, but the hon. member knows full well that this government has been prudent and has been reasonable. We have provided an implementation period for all those involved. Notwithstanding that, we are different from the province of Quebec because we are not banning sponsorship-

Tobacco March 5th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, through you to the hon. member opposite, the former president of the Grand Prix organizing committee in Quebec said the following: "I find the blackmail efforts that are presently occurring surrounding the Grand Prix very embarrassing. I know what I have been talking about, since I was the president of the 1991 Grand Prix organizing committee".

I can well understand the need for the members of the Bloc Quebecois to huff and puff on both sides of the issue, but I want to inform the hon. member that children, les enfants du Québec, are a lot more important than any of those events that the hon. member has made reference to.