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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was money.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 34% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Offshore Drilling June 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, we have all seen the devastation that is taking place off the coast of Louisiana but our government has failed to articulate any emergency response plan to address an oil spill catastrophe if it were to occur on our shores. The fact that we do not have a plan is beyond irresponsible. It is actually downright negligent.

When will the government show all Canadians its plan to prevent an oil drilling catastrophe, as well as its emergency response plan, and what will it do if an oil spill occurs in our waters?

Business of Supply June 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the member from the Conservative Party said Canada is taking a leadership role. The fact of the matter is, there has been no leadership. The problem is that the world is saying, “Where is Canada? Where is Canada on the environmental file? Where is Canada on reducing maternal and child health?” The government has not articulated a plan.

My question to the member is this. Does he not agree that the central unifying place upon which Canada can invest money, and reduce the unconscionable loss of 244,000 women's lives a year and 8.8 billion children's lives a year, is that the government work with the G8 to invest in the basic elements of primary health care in developing countries?

Business of Supply June 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question. Conrad Black, who knows a thing or two about the justice system in the United States, wrote a scathing article in the National Post a few days ago about the government and what it is doing regarding justice. He said it is absolutely appalling. Mr. Conrad Black excoriated the Prime Minister and the Conservative government of Canada for their myopic and destructive actions regarding justice.

All of us support putting the protection of our citizens first and foremost, but we also believe in a balanced judicial system that actually enables us to protect our citizens, rehabilitate people and, most importantly, provide protection and care for victims of crime. However, the government has taken a course of action which has been thrown out in the United States as being destructive and causing more crime and expense.

Tragically, the government is playing on the fears of Canadians, warping, twisting and telling untruths about the situation in Canada, all to get the 42% it needs for a majority. Unfortunately, the cost to Canadians in the long-term will be huge. It will result in more crime, disease and costs.

One small example is drug policy. The government is taking a course in drug policy that is absolutely opposite to what is now happening in the U.S. It is taking the position that President Bush took on drug policy, which was proven to cause more drug use, harm, criminal activity and cost. That is what our government today is doing. It is harming Canadians.

We had better get our heads straight in terms of understanding that this is what is going on so that people will listen to the alternatives, the facts, and the solutions to make Canada a safer place.

Business of Supply June 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, that is a brilliant suggestion. There are many places that we could hold summits where there is already security apparatus. I would be very pleased in Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca to hold a summit at CFB Esquimalt. It is the 100th anniversary of our navy, I might add, and there are truly outstanding people from Rear-Admiral Tyrone Pile to Capt. Marcel Halle, and the entire team of men and women who serve who would do an outstanding job.

I think the government needs to know that on its watch, with respect to neonatal mortality rates, Canada has fallen from 6th to 22nd in the entire world. That is absolutely shocking. Canada has fallen from 6th to 22nd in neonatal mortality, a precipitous drop on the government's watch.

The other thing, as I have said before, is that the environment is missing in action at the summit. Part of the reason is that the Prime Minister and his team do not believe that climate change actually exists. They believe it is some form of junk science and are ignoring the facts and the science.

This month, in fact, is an absolutely watershed moment in climate change because the United Nations framework convention on climate change just started in Bonn, Germany this week. This is a watershed moment. The G8 and G20 can also work with the deliberations there to mobilize the world's most powerful nations to implement a plan of action to reduce our carbon footprint in the world.

The government has simply chosen, for the first time in history, not to deal with the environment at a G8 summit. I think Canadians are all very deeply concerned about our environment and should know that the government is actually taking our country and putting it into a corner far away from the other G8 nations. The G8 nations keep asking, “What happened to Canada? Why is Canada rolling back the clock on abortion? Why is Canada not dealing with the environment? Why is Canada now an obstruction, because of the government, on important issues like the environment?”

It is quite shocking. The government has a lot to answer to, but what we are hearing is nothing.

Business of Supply June 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, we were very happy that the Prime Minister announced that maternal and child health would be on the agenda at the G8 summit, but he has also said that he “would not reopen the debate” by depriving women and saying that Canada would not fund access to safe abortions in those countries where it is legal.

That is exactly what the Prime Minister is doing. He has opened up the debate. I did not originally think that he was doing this for political gain, but I now have to think that he is doing this for political gain in order to shore up his base in some quarters in Canada. I think that is unfortunate. The Prime Minister is using the lives of women abroad who do not have access to the basic services we have here.

He is playing Russian roulette with their lives. By depriving them and trying to force the G8 to not deal with access to a full array of family planning options, he is going to be responsible for the deaths of 344,000 women every year. There is also the fact that when a woman dies, half of her children under five also perish. It is a death sentence for her and also a death sentence for half of her children.

I would ask the Prime Minister to look into his heart and ask himself this question. What part of pro-life is that? What part of pro-life is allowing 344,000 women to die every single year from preventable causes? What part of pro-life is having those women's children also perish?

Business of Supply June 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, before question period, I said that the government could adopt our plan, a plan that could save the lives of 344,000 women every year who die of largely preventable or treatable causes. Every year eight million children die as a result of preventable or treatable causes.

The key to saving these lives is investing in primary health care, such as providing access to health care workers, basic medications, diagnostics, clean potable water, sanitation, power and a full range of family planning options, including abortion in those countries where it is legal.

The government talks about having a plan, but no one in the country has seen it. The absence of a plan is a worry to all of us. Instead of articulating to the Canadian public and the world about what it is going to do during this moment in time to mobilize the most powerful nations in the world to help those least privileged, the government is saying nothing. It has actually turned on the abortion debate and has used it to obscure the fact that it does not have a plan.

We have given the government a plan and it is a plan that would be supported by many members of the G8. Our country has a chance to do something, yet the government is simply sitting on its hands.

Evidence of the government's mismanagement of this issue is the cost of the G8 and G20 summits of some $1.2 billion. To put that into perspective, the G20 summit in London, England cost $30 million. In 2009 the G20 summit in Pittsburgh cost $18 million for security. Yet these summits are going to cost Canadians $1.2 billion.

To make it even more graphic, and I hope Canadians are listening to this, the cost of the summits in tax dollars will be $75 million an hour. The entire security costs of both Pittsburgh and London were less than the amount of money the government will spend in an hour. That is an enormous and shocking revelation. It is a complete waste of taxpayer money and an indication of utter mismanagement on the part of the Conservative government.

To make matters worse, $50 million has been splashed around in the riding of the Minister of Industry. This money is being used not only for issues relating to what will be going on in Huntsville, but for new roads, trees and other amenities, which have nothing to do with security, nothing to do with putting on this summit.

Most Canadians are aghast at the fact that the government has chosen not to put any plans forward with respect to the environment. Most Canadians would be shocked to learn that this is the first G8 summit in history where environment ministers have not met in advance to deal with environmental challenges. Nothing has come from the government in this area, perhaps because it has no plan to deal with climate change and the other great challenges we face.

Time and time again, whether it was at the CITES meeting that was held earlier this year, or whether it was at other UN conventions, the government has mentioned no plan to implement what will work. Environment Day is on June 5, but the government has no plan.

In the time I have left I want to reiterate that if the government wants to save the lives of 344,000 women a year who die from five preventable causes, obstructed labour, hemorrhage, eclampsia, sepsis, which is a consequence of septic abortions, it has to invest in primary health care. The way to make this operational is to partner with the World Food Program or partner with UNICEF.

I visited a Médecins sans frontières feeding centre in Mali, the epicentre of a famine that put millions of people's lives at risk. What if the government were to partner with UNICEF and the World Food Program and modify those feeding centres so people could access primary health care, a health care worker, medications, diagnostics, potable water, sanitation? If we did that, we would save millions of people's lives.

The government could also use micronutrients, one of our leading discoveries. Twenty milligrams of zinc twice a week can actually reduce mortality from diarrhea and pneumonia by 50%. That is absolutely shocking.

I encourage the government to take a look at the findings that were released in Vancouver three weeks ago at the Pediatric Academic Societies' meeting. I spoke at that meeting, which hosted 6,000 of the top pediatricians in the world.

At that time, a plan that could save millions of lives was released. They asked why Canada was missing in action in these areas. Why was it not helping to operationalize the research to go from bench to bedside? If we get our known research and operationalize that to bedside, we can save lives. We have this huge array of research at our disposal. For a long time we have known what to do, but we have not done it.

Why is the government not taking this enormous opportunity, this moment in time, to save the lives of nine million people a year? Why is it not using that to articulate and mobilize a plan with our G8 partners to implement that which works? It is quite easy to do.

The other thing is on the issue of HIV-AIDS, which receives short shrift from the government. I remind our viewers that the government has taken the Insite supervised injection program in Vancouver to court to stop what a lower court said, which is Insite saves lives. As a medical therapeutic intervention, it can be used to save lives.

What is the government doing? The government is not embracing the medical science. It is taking this to court to prevent people from accessing a life-saving intervention. That is absolutely bizarre. I have never heard of a government saying to its citizens that it is going to take people to court to prevent them from having life-saving interventions.

Another program coming out of St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver is the seek and treat program for HIV-AIDS. Dr. Julio Montaner, Dr. Kerr, Dr. Tyndall and others have done groundbreaking work, which I hope will one day receive a Nobel Prize. The program has the financial support of the province of British Columbia. I strongly encourage the federal government, rather than sticking its head in the sand, to embrace this solution.

The members of the team at St. Paul's, once they find out people are HIV positive, they give them antiretroviral medications. That plummets the number of viral particles to such a low level that a person cannot spread the virus. This means if we cover enough people, we will decrease the number of people who are HIV positive. This is better than a vaccine. If we are able to cover between 75% or more of the population, the number of people who are HIV positive will start to decline. If we only have 50% coverage, the numbers of HIV positive people will continue to increase at a rate of 10% per year.

Because of Dr. Montaner's work, we are stopping the transmission of the virus and decreasing the population of HIV positive people. We are a long way off from a vaccine, but this works now. This would stop a virus that kills 2.2 million people a year worldwide.

This has been so effective in our province of British Columbia. Not a single baby, for example, has been born HIV positive. Although the number of women who are HIV positive and pregnant increased, not a single child born was HIV positive. Without treating the mother, the rate of transmission is 40%. If we treat the mother, the chances of a baby being born HIV positive drops down to less than 2%.

This is remarkable work. It is called the HAART, Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy, and it has been so effective in stopping babies from being born HIV positive.

However, do we see any support from the federal government? No. Why is the government not doing this? Why is it not adopting the science rather than following the ideology? Why does it not adopt and embrace that which works, and has been proven to work, to save lives? Why does it not do what is compassionate? From an economic perspective, every $1 invested in primary care, we invest $4 in savings in health care and we reduce social costs by $20 per $1 invested.

If the government is not willing to work on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, then for heaven's sake, it should listen to its economics. An investment in primary health care will save lives, reduce costs, and improve the ability of countries to get on their feet. The cold, hard reality is that the federal government has shut the door, turned its back, and ignored those interventions that could work.

It has been suggested that the government will pursue a call for more studies at the G8. This means that it is going to wait while millions of people die. It should be investing in the primary health care interventions that can work. All it needs to do is bring together the G8 countries and ensure that each G8 country takes a leadership role in one of the inputs needed in primary care.

For example, Canada can take the role in providing adequate nutrition including micronutrients. The United States can do the work of training primary health care professionals. The French can take on providing a full array of family planning options, including access to abortion services in those countries where it is safe.

In closing, I want to talk briefly about the abortion issue. I think that all of us respect the fact that we have different views on this matter. This is a personal matter and a moral matter for individuals. However, I cannot for the life of me understand why on earth the government is depriving women in countries abroad from being able to have access to the same rights as women do in Canada.

Why on earth would it prevent women living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where 70% of the women in some villages have been raped, from being able to have safe abortions if that is what they want? As I said earlier in my speech, some of these women are raped at gunpoint. They are raped by soldiers. Some of them are young girls. They are being raped and they get pregnant.

These very young girls get pregnant and if they carry the baby to term and have that child in the areas where they are unable to access adequate medical care, they deliver the baby without care. As a result, they either suffer traumatic injuries to their internal organs or die. That is the reality. All of the counselling services in the world is not going to change that. They do not have access to the primary care services that people need. As a result, they are left with some very stark choices.

I see that my time is up. I would just plead with the government. We have given it a plan. It has a plan. If it adopts the plan that is based on science and facts, it will be able to save nine million lives a year.

Business of Supply June 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak on this particular issue. I am going to talk about what I hope is a plan that the government should adopt in terms of dealing with the challenges our world faces.

The G8 and G20 are an extraordinary opportunity for the world's most powerful leaders to help those who are least advantaged in our world. When the Prime Minister announced some months ago that he was going to make maternal and child health a cornerstone of the G8, we all applauded. Canada and the world applauded because, today, 344,000 women a year die of largely preventable or treatable causes in the most underprivileged areas of the world.

When a woman dies, the chance of her children under the age of five dying is greater than 50%. Therefore, not only is this a catastrophe for her but also for her children. Unfortunately, the government chose to open up the abortion debate and substantive challenges and solutions that could be implemented have been obscured by this debate.

Saying he is not going to open up the abortion debate is exactly what the Prime Minister did, because he chose to deprive women in other countries from having the same rights as women in Canada have, which allows them to be masters of their destiny and bodies and to be in control of their lives, something that Canadian women and men for a long time fought for.

Yet while women in Canada thankfully enjoy that right, women abroad do not, and the Prime Minister chose to put Canada in a corner, away from all other G8 countries, turning back the clock of time and saying women in developing countries would not have access to a full range of family planning options, including abortion, in the countries where it is legal.

I am not going to dwell on that. Rather, I am going to talk about a plan of action that our country can adopt to take the leadership role it should be taking at the G8 summit in order to mobilize the world's most powerful countries to help those who are least privileged.

To put this in perspective, with all respect to people who are against abortion as that is their right, many have said that we need to prevent abortion and give women rights to access counselling and social services. I have news for people. That is not what happens in big chunks of the world.

I have been to Africa 26 times and worked next to a war zone twice as a physician. What happens is that women are raped. Male family members have guns put to their heads or machetes placed across their necks and are told to rape their mothers and sisters or every person in their families will be killed. That is the choice these people have. Women are raped and get pregnant. Young women get raped and get pregnant.

A 14-year-old who is raped and gets pregnant has hips that are too small to be able to carry a child to term. As a result, if she carries that baby to term, she can die or suffers from irreparable damage to her organs, including obstetric fistula, which causes her to become a pariah because she is leaking stool and urine for the rest of her life unless it is repaired. It is a horrendous situation.

That is the reality. In those countries, there is no counselling. There are no social programs or social services. In the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, up to 70% of women in some towns have been raped. That is the reality in these towns. There are no social programs or social services. There is no hope. These women have nothing.

Unless they deal with the challenges they have, they get abortions that are unsafe. As a result, 68,000 women a year die of septic abortions. What part of pro-life allows those women and half of their children under the age of five to die? There is nothing pro-life about that. It is unconscionable that we are allowing that to occur. It is a crisis occurring in the world that we can do something about. We can follow the signs and the facts and do what is right in the name of life and giving these women a chance at life.

What can we do? The fact is that 344,000 women a year die of five largely preventable causes: babies get stuck; women bleed; they suffer from sepsis; they suffer from something called eclampsia where their blood pressure rises and they can have seizures and die; and lastly, 68,000 women a year die as a result of septic abortions. Again, what can we do?

The interesting thing is if one can treat a woman for the five obstetric complications she could have, one could also treat 80% of what comes through an emergency department.

How would we do it? We do it through primary health care. We enable people to have access to trained health care workers, basic medications, diagnostics, clean water, a power source, micronutrients and proper nutrition, and a fully array of family planning options and safe abortions in those countries where it is legal. If they were enabled to have access to these things, 344,000 women's lives would be saved each year and lives of the children who die, too, when the mother dies. What a remarkable thing that would be if we took charge of that.

How would we do that? We could do that by each G8 country taking a leadership role in one of those inputs. For example, Canada could take the lead on providing access to nutrition and micronutrients. The amazing micronutrient initiative at the University of Toronto that Dr. Stanley Zlotkin championed will save millions of lives.

Every year, 88,000 women die as a result of iron-deficiency anemia. Their hemoglobin is so low that when they go into delivery they bleed a bit, which pushes them over the edge, and they die. If their hemoglobin were brought up to normal, they could have a baby without hemorrhaging to death even if they bleed somewhat. Their lives could be saved for mere pennies.

The United States could take the lead in training health care workers. The French could be the lead in providing access to family planning services and abortion services in those countries where it is legal. In this way, there would be a division of labour. Each individual country could take a leadership role in one of those inputs. That does not mean to say they would do it alone, but if each country is in charge of one thing, we could have a structure that works.

How would we roll this out? The World Food Programme, the UNHCR, UNICEF and others work in some of the most impoverished places in the world. The World Food Programme has feeding centres, which provide nutrition to those people most at risk. What do we find in those areas at risk? We find people with the highest mortality and morbidity rates.

I have met with officials of the World Food Programme who told me what we could do. We could partner with the World Food Programme and other agencies. Imagine using its feeding centres and logistical system along with primary health care services. The feeding centre would provide people with access to primary health care. The logistical system would provide a sustainable route to get the assets where needed. Instead of reinventing the wheel, this would be a smart way of doing this. We could use this to get what is needed to the people who need it the most.

How would we fund it? I have a motion in the House of Commons, calling for a global fund for maternal and child health, similar to the fund we have for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. That way, we would have a global fund and funding mechanism that could partner with other foundations and development banks in other countries to get the $15 billion needed over the next six years to save lives.

The added benefit of doing this, which is quite extraordinary, which most people don't know, is that if we can treat a pregnant woman, we can also deal with 80% of what comes through an emergency department. I am speaking of the big killers, such as gastroenteritis, pneumonia, malaria, measles, tuberculosis, and above all else, malnutrition. We could do that if we had those primary health care services in place. We have a moment in time to accomplish this.

It is interesting, though, that we have not heard about any kind of plan of action from the government, even though it has had this issue in its hands for some time. I would encourage the government to look at this and look at the partnerships we have to implement this.

Imagine if we took $1 billion of the $1.2 billion that the summit is going to cost and used it to fund this very program.

Business of Supply June 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question, but I would like to put this into some perspective. Let us look back in history at some of the large multilateral events that have taken place in Canada. The APEC in Vancouver in 1997 cost $26 million. The Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001 cost $35 million. The G8 in Kananaskis cost $190 million. This summit is the $1 billion boondoggle. The AG has said that it could cost up to $1.2 billion.

We should put it into perspective. We could have hired 23,000 police officers to do that in Canada. Does my colleague believe that this $1 billion could have been spent in a wide array of areas in Canada, including health care, which would have had a much better rate of return for our taxpayers than wasting something that is orders of magnitude larger than any other summit that has occurred in history?

Jobs and Economic Growth Act May 31st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a couple of simple questions on the issue of the government's lack of response to articulate a debt reduction strategy that is credible. The government said that it would cut $17 billion over five years. To me that is voodoo economics in the face of a $56 billion deficit.

Does my colleague accept the government's position that $17 billion over five years will bring us back to a balanced budget, or does he feel the situation is much worse than that and the government will face structural deficit with its inability to deal more effectively with cutting more and elevating taxes a bit in a responsible way? That needs to be done to get us back to balanced budgets.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act May 31st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, my colleague had quite a lot of substance in her speech. I just want to talk about two issues.

She spoke about the social determinants of health. Some of the new neuroscience is very compelling in terms of looking at how a child's brain develops, particularly in the first five years going back to the prenatal stage.

I wonder whether or not my colleague feels that a national headstart early learning program would be one of the most powerful things the federal government could do by working with the provinces, and enabling parents and children to have knowledge about the importance of literacy, proper nutrition, proper parenting, and physical activity.

I will reference the work by Dr. Mark Tremblay from Montreal, who did some groundwork research in terms of showing the decline of our children's health and establishing that this is the first generation of children who will actually have a shorter lifespan than their parents.