- His favourite word was ontario.
Last in Parliament May 2015, as Conservative MP for Barrie (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 57% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Resignation of Member May 13th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of personal privilege today. With my recent election win as Leader of the Ontario PC Party, I stand today to announce that I will be tendering my resignation as the member of Parliament for Barrie. It is an emotional but exciting day for me because over the last nine years it has been a privilege to serve the city of Barrie. It has been one of the greatest honours in my life.
I thought I would highlight today a few of the success stories that our city of Barrie has seen under this government during that time.
On an infrastructure level, I am very proud to have seen the health and wellness centre built at Georgian College. I was honoured to see the Allandale Waterfront and Barrie South GO train stations introduced to the city of Barrie; the Dunlop Street fire station; the Lampman Lane Community Centre; the Eastview Arena refurbishments; and the downtown theatre, bring culture to the downtown of Barrie.
This government has brought unprecedented funding to Lake Simcoe. When I first became a member of Parliament, I think phosphorous levels were one of the greatest challenges on Lake Simcoe. I see the member for York—Simcoe cheering that. I know he was one of the biggest champions of the Lake Simcoe cleanup, and the member for Simcoe North as well. We take great pride in knowing that the lake today is healthier than it has ever been thanks to the $60 million Government of Canada investment to clean up Lake Simcoe.
Another of the fine examples of investments in Simcoe County that I take a great degree of pride in is the Canada First Defence Strategy. Very near to the city of Barrie is CF base Borden, in the riding of Simcoe—Grey. My good friend there I know is very proud of the fact that since 2006 we have seen over $210 million invested into CFB Borden. Simcoe County takes great pride in base Borden and what it has meant to our region. It is great to see a government that has invested so significantly in that base.
Barrie is also home to a very active charitable sector. One of my greatest pleasures as an MP has been trying to channel that goodwill to causes about which I care dearly.
I think of the Royal Victoria Hospital. Nine years ago I made it my project to raise funds for the hospital through an annual hockey game. I think of my grandmother, who volunteered there for 50 years. She was known as a “blue coat”. Any volunteer at RVH is known as a blue coat. However, with the assistance of the community and through a hockey night in Barrie, we were able to raise $1.4 million for the cancer centre and for mental health.
It has not just been a charitable hockey game; in the last four years we have grown that to include the annual Barrie Waterfront Half Marathon. I know a number of my colleagues have participated in that half marathon, whether they wanted to or not. I managed to rope a few of them into doing it. However, we have actually managed to raise $170,000 through the half marathon for causes as important as the David Busby Street Centre, Gilda's Club Simcoe Muskoka, Autism Ontario, Talk is Free Theatre and JDRF. This year the race is continuing in support of the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, CNIB and the Alzheimer Society of Simcoe County.
Another area that I wanted to highlight outside of my riding is with respect to my favourite projects in Ottawa, one being my work with India.
I have had the honour to serve as the Canada-India Parliamentary Association chairman for nine years. During that period, I have worked with a number of my colleagues on a relationship with India. I have had the fascinating privilege of going there 15 times. In that work, we have been able to expand trade with India, educational linkages, energy agreements and even an opportunity to develop a personal friendship with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
One story that I laugh about now is when the member for Calgary Northeast joined me on the Canada-India executive. I asked him to come to India for a weekend to open the centre in Gandhinagar, which was to be Narendra Modi's prize project as chief minister. Members are not supposed to leave for a weekend to go to India, so we had to leave on a Thursday. Therefore, I told the member for Calgary Northeast that it would just be an extended bathroom break. We got into a bit of trouble with the whip, but I know, today, that the Prime Minister of India fondly remembers the trip we made there, for practically a day.
Another one of my favourite projects in Ottawa has been working with the Tamil-Canadian community. As a constituency MP, we learn about issues about which we may not know a lot.
I remember in 2009, an individual came to my office, sat on my couch and cried about what was happening in Sri Lanka. The one thing I take great honour in seeing is how our government has responded over the years to the genocide that took place in Sri Lanka. It has been the world's largest critic on what has happened in Sri Lanka and the human rights abuses that took place. This is an example of how a community like the Tamil community engaged with MPs, raised the issues and many of us who did not know a lot then became its advocate and its voice in the House of Commons. This has been a real honour.
During my leadership convention, I was honoured that the Indo-Canadian community and the Tamil community stood firmly by my side. Those friendships and support I will never forget.
The last item I want to mention is the issue of neurological research. One of the things I enjoyed most in Ottawa was back in 2008 when we set up a neurological disorders subcommittee. It was an all-party committee on which I served. We had hearings on neurological disorders for three years.
We were all on that committee for difference reasons. I was there because I saw what happened to my grandmother who had Alzheimer's. Other MPs from different parties were there for similar personal reasons, but I saw it as an opportunity to work together on an issue that had brought us all together. The report was finally published, and in budget 2011, an additional $100 million was allocated to the brain Canada trust. It is in moments like that we see why government is so important and why public service is so important.
I want to thank a few people today in my final speech in the House of Commons. I want to thank my family for their love and support. My late grandparents, “Honest” Joe and Edna Tascona, moved to Barrie in the 1940s, and I am very glad they did. My father Edmund Brown, my mother Judy, my sisters Stephanie and Fiona, my brother-in-law Chuck and my nephews Colton and Harrison are a never-ending inspiration.
I also want to say thanks to my past EDA presidents. I know every MP appreciates having a strong EDA, and I benefited from some great presidents: Alison Eadie, Trudie Waldinger, Larry Pomfret, Bruce Macgregor and Gary Perkins.
I also want to thank my staff. We all know we cannot do our jobs without our staff members. Their knowledge, dedication and professionalism has enabled me to serve the people of Barrie. I want to thank Heather McCarthy, Shawn Bubel, Samantha Flynn, Pat McFarlane and Cindy Bugeja.
Serving Barrie has been the greatest honour of my life. Barrie will always be my home. The people of Barrie are an incredible part of who I am and it is with excitement that I start this new journey.
One thing I forgot to mention is that I am indebted to our Prime Minister. It has been an honour to serve in his caucus and in his government. I have had the honour to serve as the GTA caucus chairman. As I leave the House, I am as proud of the Prime Minister's work on behalf of Canada as I was on day one. We have a Prime Minister who has made Canada the envy of the world. I truly believe he will go down in history as one of our greatest prime ministers.
I am compelled to public service in Ontario because I believe I can make a great contribution there. I believe Ontario can be the economic engine of Canada once again. I believe we can and must do better as a province. It is for that reason that I make the difficult choice to say goodbye to friends in the House and to say that I will be in public service at a different level. It has been an honour to sit among the quality of the individuals in this chamber on both sides.
Sri Lanka May 6th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, this year marks the sixth anniversary of the battle of Mullivaikkal, in the Sri Lankan war, in May 2009.
I stand with the thousands of Tamils who lost family members in the final stages of the Sri Lankan genocide. This humanitarian catastrophe saw thousands of civilians shelled by the Sri Lanka government as they escaped the no-fire zone. According to the United Nations, between 40,000 and 70,000 Tamil civilians were killed during the final phase of the war in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government has still failed to show progress in ensuring justice for the victims of these terrible human rights crimes.
During the month of May, Tamil Canadians from coast to coast to coast will gather to participate in multi-faith memorial services to honour their loved ones. It is also a time to reflect on the principles of peace, democracy, and equality that we are able to enjoy here in Canada.
I am proud of the many contributions Tamil Canadians have made in our country. They have embraced our cultural landscape, exemplifying the very best of the Canadian community spirit.
Derek Walton January 28th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, today I would like to pay tribute to a very dear friend who unfortunately lost his battle with ALS at age 70. Mr. Derek Walton was diagnosed with ALS in 2002 and had been a passionate advocate for neurological research and ALS ever since.
Although the average life expectancy for those who are diagnosed with ALS is two to five years, Derek quickly earned the nickname “Braveheart” for his continuous fight. He used his tremendous strength and courage to fight a terrible battle that too many Canadians are currently facing.
Derek's many efforts to raise money for ALS research included: launching The Walton Cure 4 ALS Fund at Sunnybrook Hospital, his annual skydiving events he called Jumping 4 PALS, organizing annual ALS walks, and helping spearhead the national neurological charity funding for the Canada brain research fund. His hard work helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for ALS research.
My thoughts and prayers are with Derek's family during this difficult time. His dedication to raising awareness and funds for ALS will forever be remembered.
Business of Supply November 27th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the member for Northumberland—Quinte West has made his life in public safety, and this falls into that category. This is all about public safety.
I want to touch on Bill C-17, Vanessa's law, which was raised by my colleague. It is important to recognize what this legislation will do. It is a step forward for patient safety and for public safety. Bill C-17 will bring in mandatory recall powers, so that we will not have to negotiate with big pharma companies; mandatory reporting of serious adverse drug reactions; tough new fines and jail time for companies that put Canadians at risk; and transparency for drug approvals and clinical trials. These are all critically important steps forward.
Obviously the tragic events in the 1960s remind us of why we need to take drug safety seriously. Let us be clear. Nothing can ever undo the pain and suffering inflicted on these individuals. That is why it is so important that we get it right, so this never happens again. That is why it is important that we use every power and tool within government's regulatory powers to make sure we have the proper framework in place to protect patients.
Business of Supply November 27th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I did sit on the health committee for several years but have not been on the committee for the last two years. I do have a keen interest in health care, and obviously this tragedy shocked all of us. It is an issue about which we all have endless concern.
The member mentioned that she is pleased that we are supporting this motion and I am glad to hear that. There is no partisanship when it comes to standing united in the face of this tragedy.
I am so pleased that the Minister of Health has announced she will be meeting with the Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada. It is important to state that it is going to happen. The government will be here to provide whatever support it can in the wake of this tragedy.
Health Canada has learned from this tragedy and has made improvements that have reduced the risk of this kind of terrible event from occurring again, including an overhaul of Canada's drug and regulatory framework. That is important. We recognize the pain and suffering of the victims and we are here to support them. At the same time, we want to make sure that we learn from what happened and that Health Canada has the framework and the regulatory ability to ensure we can prevent something like this from ever happening again.
Business of Supply November 27th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I first want to congratulate the member for Oshawa on his very thoughtful remarks. We are certainly fortunate to have a parliamentary secretary who is so engaged on the topic.
It is impossible to stand today to speak about the thalidomide tragedy and not be moved. It is a story of an unspeakable tragedy of distraught parents, and children born with challenges that most of us cannot begin to comprehend. This is a tragic event from the 1960s that reminds us of why we need to take drug safety so seriously.
Nothing could ever undo the pain and suffering that was inflicted. It is a story that changed the way we regulate drugs in Canada. It opened our eyes to the fact that while drugs can bring many benefits, by curing diseases, reducing symptoms, and prolonging lives, they can also carry tremendous risks. It also serves as a constant reminder that we as parliamentarians must do all that we can to strengthen patient safety in Canada. That is why I am very pleased to hear that the Minister of Health will be meeting with thalidomide victims and working co-operatively with them to determine what government can do to support them.
Canada now has one of the safest drug systems in the world, and our government recently strengthened that even further, giving royal assent to Bill C-17, Vanessa's law. Protecting patients is a shared responsibility, one that also rests with fellow legislators in the provinces and with provincial health departments, individual health care professionals and administrators, the colleges that regulate medical practice and other professional organizations, key partners like the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, and the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network, and last, of course, the manufacturers of drugs.
The thalidomide tragedy of the 1960s, like no other event before or since, has impressed upon us what a truly enormous responsibility that is. While the quest for new cures is vital, it is equally important that we do everything in our power to ensure that drugs that reach the market do not cause harms that outweigh their benefits. That is why all parties in the House and in the other place united to unanimously support Vanessa's law, and why so many stakeholders and individuals endorsed that legislation.
Although many steps have been taken previously to strengthen Canada's drug safety system, we all recognize that the Minister of Health and Health Canada did not have adequate powers to protect patients from drugs that were found to be unsafe once they were on the market We, as legislators, acted decisively to provide the new tools to address this gap.
I would like to take some time today to focus on how Vanessa's law will enhance patient safety, how it will reduce the risk of tragic events like those associated with thalidomide, and how it will help Canadians to make informed decisions about the drugs they are taking.
Vanessa's law will ensure that knowledge about approved drugs and medical devices continues to be gathered and shared with the public once products enter the market. This is important because clinical trials can only tell us about how a drug will affect a particular population, the population it was tested on. They do not tell us how the drug will affect everyone who might take it once it is on the market.
When a company submits an application for market authorization to Health Canada, reviewers analyze the results of all tests and studies that are submitted. If the product is safe, effective, and of high quality, the department will give the company a licence to market a drug in Canada for a particular use. However, once products reach the market, Health Canada's ability to gather knowledge about them has traditionally been limited, and its ability to take action when problems arise has also been limited. That is why there are new provisions in Vanessa's law that represent a game changer.
Let me take a moment to describe some of them and why Vanessa's law is so crucial. One important new provision is that Vanessa's law will give the Minister of Health the ability to set the terms and conditions on an authorization and to make those terms and conditions publicly available. What this means is that, as part of the authorization, Health Canada will be able to ask a pharmaceutical company to continue to gather information in the real world, after the product reaches the market, and to make the results of the information gathering public so that Canadians and their health care providers have easy access to them.
For example, Health Canada may require the company to gather information about the impacts of a drug on patients with multiple medical conditions. Health Canada could require a company to monitor and assess the effects of drugs on patients with impaired kidney function. This may or may not have been studied in the initial clinical trial, and the approved label would indicate that.
However, this information may prove to be important as we gather real-world experience and see some patients with impaired kidney function and how the drug affects them. It may become apparent that there is no difference in the benefits and harms experienced by patients with impaired kidney function.
However, should it become clear that there may be a cause for concern, Health Canada will be able to compel the manufacturer to conduct active safety surveillance or conduct a new study specifically to address the issue. The information about what activities the manufacturers are being compelled to undertake will be made public. It will be a transparent system so that prescribers and patients will know what actions are being taken. Vanessa's law also provides the Minister of Health with the power to compel a label change for a drug and to make that information publicly available to Canadians. In the past, most companies have agreed on a voluntary basis to undertake a label change. Sometimes, however, protracted negotiations have been required, and sometimes, those negotiations were not successful. The new powers provided by Vanessa's law have changed that, so if adults or children are taking a drug, they will be able to access this new information. This will allow us, as Canadians, to make informed decisions in consultation with our health care providers.
However, not all new information comes from tests, studies, or the ongoing proactive monitoring of a drug. Sometimes, adverse events are completely unexpected and only identified through a rigorous adverse drug reaction reporting system. This reflects the reality I mentioned before, that patient safety is a shared responsibility. That is why Vanessa's law included mandatory reporting of serious adverse drug reactions and medical device incidents by health care institutions. Simply put, serious adverse drug reaction reports from manufacturers, health care institutions, health care professionals, and the public often provide the first clue about an emerging drug safety issue.
To date, adverse drug reactions have been under-reported in Canada. It has only been mandatory for companies to report adverse drug reactions related to their products. It was recognized that it is critical that we increase the reporting of adverse drug reactions so that Health Canada could take quick action when a problem is detected and share the knowledge rapidly with health care professionals and, most importantly, the public, in order to prevent further harm.
Sometimes, it may be necessary to remove a drug or particular batch of the drug from the market. Other times, it may be appropriate to change the label of a drug so that health care practitioners are aware of the new information when they make their prescribing decisions. In other situations, it may be most appropriate to require the company to conduct some active monitoring to gather further information.
I mentioned earlier the important work done by the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network. The Canadian Patient Safety Institute works with governments, health organizations, leaders, and health care providers to inspire improvements in patient safety and quality care. It acts as an advocate and catalyst for improvements in patient safety, and it invests in and brokers policy and system changes to protect the health of Canadian patients. As Health Canada works to roll out the new authorities provided in Vanessa's law, either immediately or through developing regulations, these organizations will be able to provide advice.
Nothing can undo the pain and suffering endured by the thalidomide survivors and their families, and it is truly tragic. However, with the passing of Vanessa's law, federal regulators have important new tools to enhance on-market drug safety. The legislation is a very real step to reducing the risk that similar tragedies will occur in the future, and it represents a very important federal contribution to the shared goal of patient safety in Canada.
David Blenkarn Spirit Award November 26th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, my constituent from Barrie, Ontario, Rayner McCullough, has been named as this year's recipient of the David Blenkarn Spirit Award. Rayner is a long-time supporter of the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, which hands out this annual award. The award is given to people who impact the hospital and whose actions inspire others.
Rayner most recently established a special trust for the education of RVH staff, patients and family members who look after youth and adolescents with mental health and addictions issues. The creation of a child and youth mental health program is a priority for RVH as no such service exists in the region. Rayner is a past chairperson of the hospital and foundation boards, and was a force behind building the new hospital in the late 1990s.
Mr. McCullough is a very worthy recipient of this honour. His words about why he volunteers at his local hospital encapsulate the spirit of this wonderful man. Rayner says, “For me, volunteerism is the rent we pay for the space we use while we’re here [at RVH]”.
CFB Borden November 4th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize an ambitious legacy project led by a group of patriots from my riding.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of CFB Borden, a “Tribute to Peace” memorial will be erected at the entrance of the base in 2016. The acre site will also showcase a 7 foot brown statue of a World War I bugler and the following description will grace one of the 30 foot long granite walls, “Through these gates the sons and daughters of a grateful nation pass. Serving Canada with honour, duty and courage so all may live with freedom, democracy and justice”.
Honorary Colonels Jamie Massie and Barry Peacock will lead a group to France next June, on the invitation of the mayor of Arras, to repatriate some soil from the Vimy battleground. This sacred ground will be encased in plexiglass within the walls of the new memorial. The group from Barrie has committed to raising a half a million dollars to complete this project.
I would like to recognize Jim Williams, General Louis Meloche, Base Commander Doyon and artist Marlene Hilton Moore for their efforts and vision.
Social Development October 29th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, yesterday UNICEF released a report showing that Canada's child poverty rate decreased during the recession, pulling nearly 180,000 children out of poverty. Could the Minister of State for Social Development please explain to the House what specific actions our government has taken to help lift children out of poverty?
Nobel Prize in Medicine October 7th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand in the House to congratulate McGill graduate Dr. John O'Keefe on winning the Nobel Prize in Medicine yesterday. He is the tenth McGill graduate or professor to bring honour and pride to Canada as a Nobel laureate.
Dr. O'Keefe was recognized for his contribution to the discovery of cells that contribute to the brain's inner GPS, which makes it possible to orient ourselves within our environment. Discovery of these cells may lead to a greater understanding of Alzheimer's, as this particular area of the brain is affected early on by those suffering from this terrible disease.
Our government has made record investments in science, technology, and innovation to improve our quality of life and to create new jobs and opportunities for Canadians. We announced the Canada first research excellence fund in economic action plan 2014, a $1.5-billion legacy commitment to ensure that Canadian colleges and universities continue to contribute to this world-leading research we are celebrating today.