House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was veterans.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Conservative MP for New Brunswick Southwest (New Brunswick)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 58% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Labelling Of Toys April 22nd, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I rise concerning the hepatitis C compensation package and questions I have asked the minister repeatedly in this House.

The position taken by the Government of Canada and supported by the health minister is completely untenable. The package announced by the health minister leaves 20,000 to 40,000 innocent victims outside any kind of compensation. It is unbelievable a package that would leave out 20,000 to 40,000 people would be announced.

Unfortunately it could be as high as 60,000 people because the minister the other day admitted he does not know how many people have been left outside the compensation package. This is unbelievable in a country as historically generous as Canada.

A little frame has been built around the years 1986 to 1990. Those unfortunate victims who are outside the years 1986 to 1990 would not be compensated. Persons born on December 31, 1985 would not be compensated but persons born one day later, on New Year's Day 1986, would be compensated. How can a government agree to a package that is absolutely as insane as that?

Nobody on this side of the House supports that kind of nonsense. Much to their credit there are many backbenchers on the government side of the House who cannot support it either.

I want to let the Minister of Health know that this issue is not going to go away. As long as there is a member on this side of the House, and I do not care whether the member is a Reformer, an NDP or with the Bloc, we are not going to let this issue die. In the history of Canada, and Canada is 131 years old this year, there has never been a piece of business as sad as this one. The government is being so ungenerous to so many people.

The government has found a way to buy its way out of some of the other problems it created. Remember the helicopter deal? It paid half a billion dollars just in legal fees on what we would call a cancellation clause on a botched helicopter deal. Half a billion dollars. The government paid out $750 million, three-quarters of a billion dollars, on the failed Pearson airport deal.

A mathematical genius is not required to arrive at the number that we have on this one. Simply add half a billion and three-quarters of a billion and it is way over a billion dollars. The government found money for those botched projects but it cannot find money for innocent victims. It is unbelievable.

This issue is not going to go away. I am glad the justice critic is with me tonight. He just reminded me that the minister is the same minister who was spending half a billion dollars on gun registration, half a billion dollars on legislation we do not need in this country.

The issue is not going to go away. We are going to fight it. We want changes.

Labelling Of Toys April 22nd, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the following motion by the member for Acadie—Bathurst:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should enact legislation mandating toy manufacturers to label toys containing phthalates in order to allow parents to make an informed decision when buying products for their children.

The motion was introduced following Greenpeace's allegations about additives in vinyl toys. It alleged that the phthalates esters, a common family of chemical products, represent a danger to children. It would cause any of us to be concerned when we recognize there could be a danger.

However there is an important point to make. The particular esters we are talking about have been used safely for over 40 years in toys as well as in health sensitive applications, including blood bags, catheters, IV tubing and surgical gloves.

It is not just toys that we are talking about. It is a wide range of medical products. No other plasticizer has been subjected to the same level of scrutiny and testing as the one in question here tonight.

The product we are talking about actually softens plastic and makes it pliable. That is all it does. That is why it is used in children's toys and that is why it is used in surgical tubing. Obviously that tubing is subjected to a lot of stress and has to be able to withstand it.

Last fall Health Canada released a report conducted by the product safety bureau's environmental health directorate. It concludes that the lead and cadmium present in these vinyl consumer products do not pose any significant risk to children. It is important to remember that.

More important, Health Canada has undertaken a risk assessment of phthalates and will be releasing the results of this testing very soon. In fact it should be late this spring or very early summer. In the best interest of parents and children I would suggest that we wait for the risk assessment to be done.

In all fairness, any decision to label toys should be based upon pure science. We have to depend on that. Obviously, if we do not depend upon pure science, the significance of labelling would be seriously undermined. That is the only responsible way to proceed. It has to be based on pure science and the research that is necessary to determine whether or not there is a danger. That is why we are suggesting that we should wait on that.

This party does not have a problem with the member's motion because it is coming from the right place, right here where it should be. The scientific evidence I have been able to gather in the last number of months points to the fact that Health Canada is taking it very seriously and we are going to wait for those results. No scientific evidence shows that there is any kind of a health risk.

I talked about our party respecting the motion and how much work the member has put into it. Our party will be the first to approve appropriate labelling, should the scientific and regulatory agency state that this chemical in question presents any kind of a risk. I want the public to know that. I want members on the government side as well as members on this side to know that.

It is important for all of us to know that some of the Danish studies which were alluded to and examined by Greenpeace have been discredited for what they call producing unrepeatable results. In the scientific world it means that results can be achieved through a certain process. If there is a problem, that should be repeatedly done proving the same stated fact at the end of the test. In this case it did not. They were also using what we consider false methodology. I am sure a few chemists in this room tonight know exactly what I am talking about.

Standards have to be put in place by Canada's health and safety bureau. There needs to be a regulatory standard for intake just as the European Union has already done in terms of the theory to put in place maximum daily intake of DINP.

Based on what we know and the scientific evidence out there, unfortunately we cannot support the motion until the necessary scientific protocols, which are important in the scientific community, have been established and Health Canada has in place regulatory powers under Health Canada's product safety bureau. That is why we are waiting. We will wait for the scientific jury to report back to us and we will make the appropriate decision at that time.

Hepatitis C April 22nd, 1998

Mr. Speaker, can you make any reason out of that answer? I do not think anyone in this House can, not even his own backbenchers.

Unfortunately the minister promised that this package was going to be fair and honourable. It is not fair and it is not honourable.

The only recourse these people will have will be the courts. I am asking the minister is he prepared to allow this to go before the courts. Does he honestly believe that their case is strong enough to sustain a court challenge? At the end of the day they are going to wind up paying more money—

Hepatitis C April 22nd, 1998

Mr. Speaker, the hepatitis C issue is not going away as long as there is one member standing on this side of the House and one innocent victim who has not been compensated.

This is going to hang around the minister's neck like an albatross.

I am asking the minister to answer in a straightforward way, yes or no, is the door closed forever on this hepatitis C package.

Health April 20th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, we have not had a lot of information from the health minister today. So this question is to the Deputy Prime Minister.

Based on information in a story that ran in The Globe and Mail on April 3, can the Deputy Prime Minister not see that the health minister compromised his position in relation to cabinet solidarity and secrecy in the sense of who supported his position and who did not? Does this not send a message to the government that something has to be done? Maybe the health minister should be replaced because of this breach of confidentiality?

Hepatitis C April 20th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if we have an accountant or a lawyer speaking on behalf of the ministry or the government today.

That is a flawed position. These people deserve compensation. It is as simple as that. He should not simply be looking at the dollars because he does not know himself how many victims are out there. It could be as few as 20,000. It could be 30,000. It could be 40,000.

Will he not do the honourable thing and act unilaterally to compensate these victims?

Hepatitis C April 20th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, the minister is absolutely wrong when he uses the timeframe of 1986 to 1990. It is simply a frame of convenience.

He knows full well that tests were available that other countries use, specifically West Germany, to identify the problem which is now known as hepatitis C. Will the minister not acknowledge that and with that consideration reverse his decision and include all victims of hepatitis C in this country?

Hepatitis C April 1st, 1998

Mr. Speaker, the minister has the power to act unilaterally but he will not.

This question is for the Prime Minister. Last night the Liberal caucus exercised some power over the backbenchers when they voted on behalf of one of our motions. Now we are finding there are some cracks in the armour in the backbenches on this issue. Some of his own members are asking for a compensation package that includes all victims.

Will the Prime Minister now listen to his own caucus and do the right thing by exercising his moral leadership on this question? Would the Prime Minister please get up and explain?

Hepatitis C April 1st, 1998

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health is caught between a rock and a hard place. The hard place is sitting right over there. He is called the Minister of Finance.

The government found $700 million for the botched Pearson airport deal and $500 million for the botched helicopter deal.

Why can this minister not stand in cabinet and come up with some money for these innocent victims, the 40,000 innocent victims of hepatitis C? Why can he not get some answers out of his own government and go in there and fight for these people?

Hepatitis C March 31st, 1998

That is right, Mr. Speaker. He spoke long distance. This is the minister of remote control. Why does he not meet with them eyeball to eyeball. He can explain to them what he has explained to this House and they can determine whether or not he is sincere in what he is talking about.

We have talked about this issue for weeks and weeks and he has successfully dodged the bullet. The fact remains that there are 40,000 uncompensated innocent victims. Will the minister act and show true leadership on this issue?