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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was fact.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Cambridge (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 39% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Assistance to Hepatitis C Victims November 2nd, 2004

Mr. Chair, with all due respect for the hon. member, this is not fiction. This if fact. The hon. member knows that Mr. Smitherman has already admitted that he does not intend to use this money for these victims.

The federal government has offered $130 million to the province of Ontario. The minister in charge of that money within the province has already admitted that he has no intention of using that money for these victims.

It is my suggestion to this hon. member that he respond. Will he continue to give the province of Ontario the balance of the $130 million or will he stop that now, give it to the victims directly without this middle man issue and request that the original amount of money, some $60-plus million be returned to the federal government so that we can give it to the victims who properly need it and deserve it?

Assistance to Hepatitis C Victims November 2nd, 2004

Mr. Chair, I would like to thank the hon. member for his comments and his commitment to solving this problem on behalf of all victims. I have no doubt that he is compassionate and will work with all opposition members to bring a solution to this.

It is clear that the issue must and can be effectively and compassionately completed and closed. By the government's own admission this is the government's fault and the government's responsibility. We must open this billion dollar trust fund to all victims. Either we do that immediately or the government must immediately recognize that it is its responsibility and let the victims know that they will be compensated.

Does the member not agree that this debate should not be about what we are going to do with the surplus, assuming we have one and maybe we do not, but this is about what we need to do for the victims? Given the fact that the government is responsible for this issue, the amount of money that is in there and how long we wait for reports is really not relevant. The issue is that the government must stand up and put some motion behind its commitment to these victims, and either open up this fund to these victims now, not next year after more have unfortunately passed away, or put up the money now and get it from the fund when it is satisfied that the money is there.

Assistance to Hepatitis C Victims November 2nd, 2004

My apologies, Mr. Chair.

On April 28, 1998, an opposition supply day motion to extend compensation to everyone infected through the tainted blood scandal, so to speak, was defeated by a vote of 154 to 140. The key reason the government gave, and the health minister at the time repeatedly stated, for the fact that compensation would be limited to the period of 1986 to 1990 was that there were no tests available prior to 1986.

In fact, on April 29, 1998, the hon. Allan Rock stated that there was a period during which the harm could have been prevented. That same day Mr. Rock stated:

Mr. Speaker, we are helping the hep C victims for the period when it was clearly determined that the government had responsibility. Between 1986 and 1990 it could have tested properly.

I would further add that a few days later, on May 1, 1998, the same Allan Rock stated:

Mr. Speaker, for the last five weeks in this House we have stood on the principle that governments should pay cash compensation when they have caused damages and when those responsible for the system could and should have acted.

In 1981 those responsible could and should have acted. An official message dated January 14, 1981, from the American National Red Cross stated that blood services providers should prepare to test all units collected and to avoid transfusion of units with elevated ALT values.

I know one of the hon. members present earlier commented that she had no idea what this virus was. Indeed, it was called non-A, non-B hepatitis. The fact is that these markers were well known to be the causative indicators of transfusion hepatitis, which has now been labelled hepatitis C.

I also have a letter dated May 22, 1981, from the Blood Transfusion Service in Ottawa to Health Canada in which it discussed post transfusion hepatitis and appropriate testing methods. I have a response to that exact letter indicating that it did know about this. The response is dated June 4, 1981. It states that these donors should also be tested for ALT, but that it is not set up to do that.

There are other examples around the world. For example, Germany had regulatory authority requiring all ALT testing prior to 1995. New York state began routine ALT testing in 1982. Indeed, France began its own testing in 1985. All of these are prior to this key definition date of 1986, so I do not think that argument holds true at all.

Let us talk about the alleged number of victims. Again on April 29, 1998, the hon. Allan Rock stated:

It was only because of the leadership of the federal government that 22,000 victims of hepatitis C have been offered $1.1 billion in compensation.

There were no 22,000 victims. That was an overestimation by the hon. minister. I suspect it was not on purpose. Indeed, I doubt that any member in the House would ever purposely inflate these figures. I am only pointing out that we are now being asked to wait for further actuarial reports and I am not convinced that those figures will hold any more value than these figures.

We have come to know the true number of victims. As of March 31, 2004, which is the latest audit, only 8,800 claims have been approved and of those primarily infected that only represents about 5,000 victims. That is far below the initial estimate which was set up to provide $1.1 billion for 22,000 victims.

Now that there are only 5,000 victims that we know of in that timeframe, clearly there is money set up for the other groups.

I can point out that for pre-1986 and post-1990, as of the end of September this year there are only 5,071 victims that have been approved by the Red Cross settlement. This is free money to those infected outside of the groups.

This makes very reliable figures that we have to date from these reports. So the bottom line on this second issue is that again the government is wrong in its estimates. There are not 22,000 victims in this 1986-to-1990 group, and indeed there are not 40,000 to 60,000 victims outside this group. The total number of victims appears to be a terrible number, but clearly a more moderate number, of approximately 10,000 victims.

The government's original responsibility is very clear. The fund's viability is also very clear. The original fund was $1.1 billion, and it was set up to compensate 22,000 victims. We now know that there are far fewer victims than the government had predicted, but there is still $1.1 billion in the fund. The reason for limiting compensation, according to the government, was because there was no testing prior to 1986. Well, that is simply not true. The evidence is very clear in the papers that I have today.

I would like to comment as well on the cash-not-care debacle. I am sure it was designed to be a good program, and it was approximately $300 million set up to provide for drugs and other care that fell to these poor people outside of the provincial health care that was available. And indeed, as mentioned earlier by other members, some of the costs to these victims are astronomical. So there was money sent to the provinces by the federal government to the tune of $300 million. The problem is clear that this money has not reached and may not reach the victims.

Here in Ontario the Liberals have misspent millions of this federal money that was earmarked for these victims. George Smitherman, the provincial health minister, has chosen to rob these victims by conveniently and incorrectly interpreting the government's legal obligation. Money that was meant for hepatitis C victims under this program has been funnelled into programs that these victims would normally receive.

This kind of convenient interpretation conveniences the government, not the victims. In this instance, money given to the provinces, particularly in the case of Ontario, has once again broken good faith. I believe this money should be immediately returned and refunded to the federal government and used to further the compensation of these victims.

No more money should flow to pilfering provinces on this particular matter. It should flow directly to the victims. The current Liberal government in Ontario cannot be trusted any more with this additional money, and therefore should not be trusted by their federal counterpart.

In closing, I would like to say that the administration fees are approaching $250,000 a month. Waiting until next summer for another report will only help the administrators, accountants, and lawyers. There are people and corporations that have been charged with various criminal activities, and administrators and bureaucrats are making money off this situation, not the victims.

The government's estimations of the victim numbers were, like their surpluses, wrong. They were wrong in their estimates. They were wrong on their dates when the tests were available. They were wrong in their assessments of the impact, and they are still wrong. If they do not vote for full inclusion of all victims, they will remain wrong.

Assistance to Hepatitis C Victims November 2nd, 2004

Mr. Chair, I am honoured this evening to speak to the issue of hepatitis C compensation on behalf of not only my party, but more important members of my own community in my own riding that have this terrible disease.

I would like to begin by thanking the minister himself who appears to have a certain openness and compassion about this issue. That is refreshing.

Mr. Chair, if I could just ask, who am I to talk to when the opposite side of the House is empty?

Assistance to Hepatitis C Victims November 2nd, 2004

Mr. Chair, I would like to commend the hon. member for her knowledge on this issue and her compassion. I understand that she was in the medical profession prior to coming here.

The hon. member made comments that the government had transferred money to the provinces to aid these victims. With respect to the province of Ontario, its health minister, George Smitherman, announced that the money would be used for care that was already available for these victims. Is the member aware of that? In fact the lawyer for hepatitis C calls it theft. This money is not going to the victims. This money is being put into general health revenues and is not aiding the victims whatsoever.

The other comment that I think I heard the member say was that there were no adequate tests prior to 1986. Of course that is the key argument used by the government. There were tests available, as I am sure the member is aware. I have evidence that the Red Cross informed Health Canada that testing should be done as far back as 1981. Therefore, that is not the argument.

Does the member feel this money should be taken back from the provinces so the federal government can distribute it fairly to these victims. The provinces, not all of them, but certainly in the case of Ontario, are not using the money for these victims?

Finally, does the government not realize that this is not really about what we do with a potential surplus fund? It is about what we do with the victims. The government is responsible for this. Whether there is money in this fund or not, and indeed I believe there is more than enough, the government must come up with the money and solve this issue for all victims. It is the government's responsibility. It is the government's fault. The amount of money in the fund is not relevant. What is relevant is that all the victims are compensated now and not a year from now.

Assistance to Hepatitis C Victims November 2nd, 2004

Madam Chair, I would like the hon. member to comment on some of the costs of managing this particular fund. For example, the auditor is billing $5,000 a month. The trustee is billing over $10,000 a month. The investment manager, who is doing a great job, is billing almost $20,000 a month. The actuary is billing $5,500 a month. Hon. members will love this one: the administrator is billing over a quarter of a million dollars a month. In fact last year it was over $3 million for the year. Other people involved are also billing thousands of dollars a month.

Does the member have a comment on what seems to be extremely high billings for this fund?

Assistance to Hepatitis C Victims November 2nd, 2004

Mr. Chair, I would like to ask the hon. member a question with regard to the care for cash program that was set up around 1998 by the past hon. member.

This program was set up seemingly to provide for victims outside the timeframe of 1986 to 1990. It was designed to cover the cost of drugs and some of the other hardships these victims were suffering from.

I would say to the member that it does appear now that some of this money, which has already gone to the provinces--and I am speaking more clearly with respect to my own province of Ontario--has now been put into general revenues for health. In fact, the province's health minister, George Smitherman, announced that the money will be used to pay for care that is usually covered anyway.

It seems to me that this money has never made it to the victims. In fact, it appears that it never will. Given that only 50% of the $300 million has now reached the provinces, and given the fact that it seems that a lot of this money is not being used for the victims, I would ask the member if he feels any sense that this money should be given back to the federal government to be put into this fund and to be distributed properly to the victims.

Failing that, I would like to ask the hon. member if he would be comfortable in insisting that the federal government stop any further payment to the provinces and put the money that has been allocated to them into this fund for the victims.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act November 1st, 2004

Madam Speaker, I would also like to add a few comments on the agreement.

I do not think there is any doubt on this side of the House that agreements that move the aboriginal peoples forward are all in good form for all Canadians. Self-awareness, respect for these peoples and a decreased dependency on the government is all good. Frankly, it is a bit insulting to us, when we want to improve on any agreement among all Canadians, that members on the opposite side of the House seem to imply that we are in some way against aboriginal peoples, which of course we are not.

It is great progress for all Canadians, but I think the agreement has gone slightly overboard. I have great concerns with some of the parts of this agreement, and I will speak to a few of those if I can.

One, which I am not sure has been mentioned earlier, is that it creates what seems to be a racially biased electoral system. It speaks in the agreement itself as well as in the Tlicho constitution of Tlicho citizens that 50% of the council has to be Tlicho citizens. We do not see that kind of government or structure anywhere else in Canada. I think this raises great concerns. As well, it appears that the agreement would give this group of people the right to negotiate its own international agreements.

I know there is a lot of detail and there is a lot of thought as to where this will take us in the future, but we cannot predict the future. I would like to ask the members opposite, how does this affect their rights to negotiate treaties with respect to fisheries? Can they produce arms and weapons and sell them globally? Will we be able to control those kinds of decisions if in fact they are made?

As well, the agreement itself, despite the hon. members opposite telling us that it is not, does in fact create jurisdictional confusion. In the constitution of the Tlicho communities themselves, it states, and section 3.1 of their constitution says quite clearly, “This constitution is Tlicho nations highest law”. I do not know what that means. Does that mean that they have to represent Canadian laws on a broader scale or do they just make up their own laws?

As well, if we want to challenge a Tlicho law, if I can read from their own constitution, it simply states here:

Any person directly affected by a Tåîchô law may challenge its validity. The body with jurisdiction to decide such a challenge has the jurisdiction to quash or limit the application of the Tåîchô law that is subject to thechallenge.

That is all good and it sounds like the same thing that happens across Canada. However, if we do not agree with a municipality's reason for a decision, we can take that to a higher court. According to the Tlicho constitution, we cannot do that. It says:

In the absence of a Tåîchô law providing for a challenge to the validity of a Tåîchô law, such a challenge shall be by way of an appeal to the Tåîchô Assembly.

This constitution does not give anybody the room to manoeuvre and I think it is frankly unconstitutional within the framework of Canada.

The last thing I would like to comment on is just the generalities of the agreement by itself. This is not a diversity which Canada honours and respects, the diversity of its multiculturalism; this is divisive.This is actually creating a number of different countries with their own governance and their own ability to set law and negotiate international treaties within this country.

I am from Cambridge, Ontario, and I am concerned where this kind of precedent will take us. In my community we have all kinds of ethnic backgrounds and a wonderful pluralism within it. Does it mean that in five or ten years we will end up with a whole bunch of little communities with their own sets of laws and their own court systems which nobody can influence? Before we go any further on this agreement, we should reflect on the realities that these questions still remain.

The fact is we do need to move forward for our aboriginal peoples. There is no question that they have been forgotten for the last decade by this government. However, we have gone overboard with this agreement. It should be a win-win for all parties. This is a win for the Tlicho people; this is not a win for Canada nor the future of Canada.

I would encourage the House to reconsider the agreement and come to the conclusions of what all the lateral implications will be. The government's knee jerk reaction to find a solution will put the future of Canada in jeopardy.

Textile and Clothing Industry October 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I also met with those very gentlemen yesterday and that is not the attitude they shared with me.

This House has 150 days to respond to an all party recommendation. The industry has only 60 days until extinction.

We need assurance from the minister that he will take direct and immediate action to implement this number one recommendation and ensure that not only Cambridge jobs, but jobs all across Canada will not be lost because of bureaucracy and paper shuffling.

Health October 22nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, that is not good enough. The actuarial report on the fund is not due out until next summer and these victims need help now.

The facts are that the government has overestimated the number of victims. The fund made $50 million profit last year and there is over a billion dollars sitting in the fund.

We on this side of the House support these Canadian victims. Why do the Liberals not care about these people and do the right thing today?