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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was fact.

Last in Parliament April 2010, as NDP MP for Winnipeg North (Manitoba)

Won her last election, in 2008, with 63% of the vote.

Statements in the House

National Shipbuilding Policy October 29th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my comments today flow from my question to the Minister of Health on October 3 pertaining to the influence of multinationals over this government's drug policies and drug pricing policies. Perhaps the fact that we are discussing this issue on the same day that the Minister of Health publicly caved in to the tobacco industry says it all.

There is a very disturbing pattern taking place with respect to Liberal style government and Liberal legislative priorities. The influence of multinational corporations over policy development and decision making is apparent in every area and pervasive throughout this government. On every turn the public's interests have been subsumed by commercial interests.

Whatever happened to the idea of government as an instrument of the people, as a truly democratic institution reflecting the collective interests of society, the institution protecting the common good? It is increasingly apparent that this government is beholden absolutely to the big corporations, the bankers, the stockbrokers and the bondholders in the global community today, that it is no longer able to distinguish between the public interest and the commercial interest. Nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to drug policy.

I do not think anyone can dispute the fact that this government is absolutely controlled by the big brand name drug companies. Let me refer to the evidence, the complete flip-flop by the Liberals on Bill C-91 legislation to extend patent protection to 20 years for multinational drug companies. When in opposition Liberals stood up and talked about government siding with multinationals on drug policy. What did they do when they became government? They simply carried on with Bill C-91.

That brings me to my second concern. What did they do when the standing committee reviewed this issue last year? What happened to the draft report of that committee? Why was it watered down so that all meaningful recommendations were eliminated?

Third, let us mention the elimination of the drug research lab, the one independent bureau we have in this country for research into drugs. This government eliminated it and put the responsibility into the hands of the drug companies.

Let me also point to the refusal of this government to ensure that the work of the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board is open and transparent.

Finally, let me refer to the backing away by this government from a promise made as recently as the last election for a national drug plan. In that campaign the Liberals promised to look at a publicly funded, universally administered single payer drug plan, provided nationally. What did we get in the Speech from the Throne and what have we heard from the minister and this government since then? They are looking into the feasibility of studying the possibility of better access to medically necessary drugs.

My question today is why has this government changed its mind so quickly on such an important program to Canadians. Is it so much influenced by the big brand name companies and by the money that those companies provide the Liberal coffers that it cannot put in place good public policy?

Why has this government not taken seriously the concerns we raised in the House on October 3 about an obvious and apparent conflict of interest with employees from its own Patented Medicine Prices Review Board—

Canada Co-Operatives Act October 22nd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, on October 6 I posed a question to the Minister of Health as a follow-up to a number of other questions pertaining to the cuts to the drug and food research labs in the health protection branch of the Department of Health. These cuts took place on the sly, in secret. They were not presented to parliament, not presented publicly, but done in the dead of summer by the Minister of Health at the very time he was announcing publicly that cuts were over.

Since the cuts were carried out in July, which I might add were not announced publicly contrary to the minister's statement on September 24 when he suggested he was placing a moratorium on the whole area.

The information about the cuts and the news of the devastation to our health protection branch came about as a result of conscientious scientists who are concerned about the health and safety of the drug and food supply of Canadians. It came about as a result of public pressure and as the result of political outcry. It also came about as a result of good in depth research by the media.

At the beginning of this Parliament the minister succumbed somewhat to that pressure and announced a moratorium on some of the cuts and proposed changes. Today, one month later, the Minister of Health puts out a release announcing that he would do what he said he would do on September 24, 1997.

It will probably come as no surprise to members of the House that our concerns are still as relevant, as serious and as deep rooted as they ever were. Despite this announcement Canadians remain deeply concerned. Let me give four quick reasons for that concern.

First, in terms of this decision and on every decision of crucial importance to Canadians the government has operated on the basis of a very secretive, very undemocratic and almost despotic approach.

Second, for three to four months the government caused a great deal of uncertainty and instability to reign over the health protection branch. That uncertainty was demoralizing to scientists and upsetting to those who value the work they are doing and want to contribute to society.

Third, the drug research lab remains closed. There has been no attempt by the government to address that issue. It is of deep importance to the health and safety of Canadians on matters pertaining to drugs.

Fourth, we are still left with a very large question. Is the announcement today but a temporary reprieve from a much longer term, very deep rooted agenda to move toward privatization and deregulation in the health protection branch as a whole?

I conclude by referring to a document from the department which outlines proposals to look at cost saving measures, privatization and ways to reduce the liability of the department, all contrary to the original purpose of the health protection branch and contrary to the very significant role performed by the drug and food research labs. Certainly it is contrary to the intent and spirit of the Food and Drug Protection Act.

I remain concerned and I look forward to the government addressing these issues on an urgent basis.

Women's Rights October 21st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, this week marks the struggle by Canadian women to be recognized as legal persons in their own country. It reminds us of one thing and that is just how much the federal government has reduced women to the status of non-persons.

Are women persons under the law when the government will not honour the law of pay equity? Are women persons under the law when the government leaves women without protection from a violent partner? Are women persons under the law when the government terminates all women's career counselling centres? Are women persons under the law when the government offloads responsibility for health care on to the shoulders of women and their families? Are women persons under the law when the government denies women the right to a pension in their own name? Are women persons under the law when the government has relegated the vast majority of women to part-time, short term, on call, low skill and low paying jobs?

No, women are not persons in the full sense of the word under the government. Let today be a call to action to reverse this trend to ensure women their right to live in safety, in security and with dignity.

Health October 6th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, almost two weeks ago the Minister of Health announced a moratorium on cuts to the drug and food research lab and specifically promised to undo the food research reductions that he had ordered in July. Twelve days later the affected research labs are still sitting idle, knowledgeable scientists are leaving the country and Canadians are unprotected in the event of a bacteria attack in Canada's food system.

Will the minister commit today to giving back to the scientists the equipment he took away in July so that they can get on with the job of protecting Canada's food supply?

Health October 3rd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, that was an awfully vague answer about a specific question. Let me ask about a very specific concern.

We know that lobbyists for the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Canada, which is fighting to scrap a national drug plan, are coming from former employees of the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board.

Given the revolving door between industry and government and real concerns about conflict of interest, we want to know if Canadians can be assured that the federal government and not the brand name industry is setting drug prices.

Health October 3rd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.

Four years ago his leader stood in the House and asked the Conservative government why it always sided with the multinationals instead of with the people who need drugs.

In the last election the government promised national pharmacare based on its own forum recommendations for a universal single payer drug plan. This is in question with the government once again cosying up to the big brand name drug companies, and I might add with a little pressure from the Reform Party.

Today I put the same question that his leader asked on April 1, 1993. Will the government commit today to a universal national drug—

Privilege October 1st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 48, I would like to raise a question of privilege regarding the premature disclosure of a committee report. I am presenting this question at the first possible opportunity since committees of the House were only struck yesterday.

Access to information documents reveal that on April 18, 1997 the industry minister and industry department officials were in possession of draft copies of the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Industry. The final report of the committee, entitled “Review of section 14 of the Patent Act amendment, 1992” was reported to the House of Commons only on April 23, 1997, five days later.

I have a copy of that draft report with me. In accordance with Beauchesne's reference No. 116 on page 29 I would like to table that document with the House.

Beauchesne's reference No. 877 on page 241 states that “no act done at any committee should be divulged before it has been presented to the House”. Beauchesne's citation No. 877(2) goes further to state that “the publication of proceedings of committees conducted with closed doors or of reports of committees before they are available to members will constitute a breach of privilege”.

With respect to the privileges of the House, divulging an in camera draft report is a breach since it runs against the tradition that members of the House have the right to first view reports of committees.

Beauchesne's reference No. 57 on page 18 states “the House has in the past regarded the publication of the proceedings or reports of committees sitting in camera to be a breach of privilege”.

Therefore, I move:

That this House refer the matter to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Points Of Order September 26th, 1997

Yes.

Points Of Order September 26th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Today during question period questions were raised concerning the access of the personal and confidential files of Dr. Michelle Brill Edwards. For the benefit of the Minister of Health I would like to table the document indicating her files were accessed by Mr. Joe Losos, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Department of Health.

Health September 26th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, that is the minister who this summer eliminated the drug research lab and gutted the food research lab.

How does the Minister of Health intend to fulfil his legal duties under the food protection act if he has already eliminated the scientists who carry out those duties on his behalf?