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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was children.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Conservative MP for Lethbridge (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 67% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions September 27th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition with 26 names on it.

The petitioners call upon the House of Commons and Parliament assembled to bring forward and adopt into legislation Bill C-544, An Act to amend the Health of Animals Act and the Meat Inspection Act (slaughter of horses for human consumption).

Multiple Sclerosis June 14th, 2010

Mr. Chair, that question fits into the other things I have said. We are going to move forward on this issue. It may take more time than some people want, particularly me. I do not want to see it take any longer than necessary because this disease does move forward. One thing I will say is that we will keep the pressure on to move this forward as fast and as responsibly as possible.

Multiple Sclerosis June 14th, 2010

Mr. Chair, that is a great question, and I appreciate that, but whether there are provincial or federal jurisdictional issues, I think we need to be aware of them and we also need to need to work on them.

At the same time that I wrote a letter to our health minister many months ago when this issue first came forward, I also wrote a letter to the health minister of Alberta. I got responses. Do I have issues with some of the responses? Sure I do, and I have talked to our federal health minister about those issues many times. We have raised it at every opportunity, and I am becoming more satisfied with the answers I am hearing. With respect to why some of this is not happening where it needs to, we are going to have to work with that.

One thing I am proud of is that over the last number of years this government has continued to put money into research for the neurosciences, and it has continued to fund the provinces through the Canada Health Act. We have not cut that funding; we have flagged it for a percentage increase every year. So when the decision is made to move forward, the provinces will have the resources, the time and the money to be able to do that.

It is a long and complicated process, and a lot of MS sufferers do not have that kind of time. We will be keeping the pressure on to make sure things are done right but that they are done as fast as they possibly can be.

Multiple Sclerosis June 14th, 2010

Mr. Chair, to get back to the point I made that seemed to draw some laughs from some corners, which I find so very, very unfortunate--and to have the member opposite cheerleading that reinforces my opinion of him--the fact remains that this process will help people. It has helped some people. But it has caused some problems and we do not know all the details on it. It will not be the cure-all for everybody.

If my daughter were in a wheelchair, which she is not, but if she were, or I was, I would be looking at every possibility for a better future for me and for my family.

If this is the answer, then let us make damned sure it is. Let us make sure that when it is offered there is a complete understanding that it will not help everybody. It will help some, and hopefully it will bring them right back to normal.

Some of the other research, how to regenerate brain cells, how to get motor rhythms back, all of these things are the type of research that will help a lot more people in the long run.

Let us continue with our research. Let us use the investments that have been made for the betterment of all of us.

Multiple Sclerosis June 14th, 2010

Mr. Chair, I can put a personal touch on this. If I am going to recommend that my daughter takes a treatment of some kind, I want to make damned sure it will not kill her, cripple her or make her worse.

[Disturbance in the gallery]

That is unfortunate.

That is unfortunate because I say that with all sincerity.

I want this research to be done, and I want it done right. When the time comes, I will advise her and help her get that procedure.

There has been a couple of incidents where people have been damaged, but out of how many? This procedure is available in 47 countries, as somebody said earlier, so why is it not available in Canada?

I truly believe, and I say it having this in my family, that research needs to be done and we have to be very cautious, but when it is proven, let us quickly deal with the 50,000, 60,000 or 70,000 people in this country who have MS. But let us not, for one second, give false hope to those that this procedure cannot help. That is where the testing comes in, where the MRI procedure has to come in, and that is why the diagnosis has to be exactly right.

We have to make sure we do not tell people that this will help them when it will not. We have to make sure that those who can be helped will be helped, but we have to continue with the research so those who cannot be cured by this process from Italy, and there are many, still have hope for the future. A large percentage of the people who are affected by MS are not helped by this new process and they need that research for their own well-being.

Multiple Sclerosis June 14th, 2010

Mr. Chair, I welcome the opportunity to speak about multiple sclerosis tonight and how new research can help bring new hope to patients.

As we know, MS is a devastating diagnosis and unpredictable illness. It often strikes young people who may lose the ability to move and speak as the illness takes its course. Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world. Every day three more people in Canada are diagnosed with MS.

My riding of southern Alberta has one of highest incidence of MS in the world. In fact, in the neighbourhood where my children grew up, three young ladies, within six houses of each other, were all diagnosed with MS at about the same time in their lives.

It is the prevalence of this illness in Canada and the debilitation that it can cause which leads us all to hope for a cure. I do not stand here today speaking from merely a theoretical standpoint. I am personally determined to see us find a treatment for MS. A few years ago, my daughter was diagnosed with MS.

Since that time, my wife has been a member of the local MS Society board. I have been involved in red carnation day on Parliament Hill. Over the last five years “Team Casson”, supported by numerous unselfish people, has raised $92,000 through the MS Society Enerflex MS Walk.

I do not say this to brag. I say it because it leads into the fact that individual Canadians on the ground are doing what they can to find a cure for MS, just as the Government of Canada is. We have invested through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research over $45 million to date on MS research. It is through investments in research and innovation that our best hopes lie in improving treatments and some day finding a cure.

In part, due to these investments, the last few years have seen great advancements in MS research. Our knowledge of what causes MS, how it develops and how it progresses is growing, but many questions remain unanswered. The Canadian research community is working tirelessly to answer many of these questions.

For example, researchers are working to solve what is considered one of the great medical mysteries of neurological diseases: how does myelin, which is responsible for protecting and insulating nerves, become damaged and lose its protective effect?

CIHR-funded researcher Peter Stys from the University of Calgary has been working on this question and has discovered that myelin can chemically communicate with the surrounding nerve fibres. Dr. Stys and his research team reported that damage from a stroke could be avoided by blocking the myelin receptors. Many researchers are looking at these receptors as potential targets for MS therapies. This is very promising work, indeed.

Another example is the work of another CIHR-funded researcher, Dr. Sam Weiss, again from the University of Calgary, whose discovery of neural stem cells and their ability to stimulate neural development through our lifetime is the foundation upon which much research on neurological diseases, including MS, is taking place. The implication of Dr. Weiss' research is that recovery of motor, visual and cognitive functions is possible.

Yet another promising example is the work of Canadian MS researchers who networked right across the country, spanning from the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto to the University of British Columbia. These CIHR-funded researchers are trying to harness the growing power of skin cells to repair cells in the nervous system.

The first thing I was told when my daughter was diagnosed was that MS was a lesion on the brain that caused an interruption in the signals from the brain. These researchers are looking at an ability to repair the cells in the nervous system. The goal of this research is to some day make brain and nerve damage reversible. Imagine if that happened. It is something MS patients desperately need.

I also want to mention the good work being done in my home town at the Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge. Researchers there are striving to understand the basic structure and function of brain circuitry.

This is providing insights into the most fundamental properties of brain function, which may help decipher the causes of many disorders, including stroke, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis. Scientists such as Dr. Bryan Kolb, Dr. Ian Whishaw and Dr. Gerlinde Metz are conducting research that looks at how the brain regenerates function and circuitry using stem cells, psychoactive drugs and other therapeutic interventions. Dr. Bryan Kolb, a long-time friend, was the first person I called.

The importance of establishing a robust health research community, ready to respond to a myriad of questions across disciplines, cannot be overstated. This is because often researchers are looking for answers on one disease and end up advancing our knowledge on another.

For example, Dr. Bruce Pike and Dr. Douglas Arnold of McGill University are studying Alzheimer's disease, and receive CIHR funding to advance functional magnetic resonance imaging research. This work will help to comprehensively and quantitatively assess tissue damage in MS patients, thereby improving our understanding of the disease and the evaluation of the new therapies.

The above are only a few examples of the ways in which research funding through CIHR is leading to discoveries that will help us help people living with MS. Indeed the research funded by the Government of Canada is changing people's lives. Investments in a wide range of research, including over $120 million in the larger area of neurosciences research in 2008-09 alone, are having an impact. A further $38 million in stem cell research has been invested for researchers to pursue potentially useful therapies for the treatment of disease, such as multiple sclerosis.

Further, it is worth noting that the CIHR has made chronic diseases, of which MS is one of the top research priorities in its new 2009 strategic plan. All of these investments are building on our overall understanding of MS. I am hopeful that these investments and the discoveries that they lead to will advance our understanding of MS and allow for the development of safe and effective treatments.

As for the new vascular treatment making headlines worldwide, I join all Canadians on all sides of the House in the hope that this new approach proves to be safe and effective, but I need to see some sound evidence before adding it to the body of knowledge on MS.

I want to mention my daughter's doctor in Edmonton, Dr. Mary Lou Myles. She takes all of this information that comes forward, takes all the spin and all the misinformation out of it, and sends out information updates to her patients. I read these on occasion. I appreciate the fact that she approaches this in that way. She understands the potential is there, but she is very cautious about how to proceed.

To this end, the Minister of Health has asked Dr. Alain Beaudet, president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to provide her with advice on how to further advance research in this important area. The CIHR has been consulting with the research community and is collaborating with the MS Society of Canada to identify priorities for MS research.

In keeping with this great tradition of guiding Canada's research agenda, the CIHR is helping to steer a course that will answer the pressing questions still left unanswered regarding MS. In keeping with this tradition, it is doing so in a manner that foster excellence in the Canadian research community.

I am confident the CIHR will use its expertise and vast networks to support the great scientific minds in improving our understanding of MS and reducing the suffering of MS patients.

My family and I, along with many Canadians, are excited about the possibilities of this new treatment. We sincerely hope we find an effective cure for this debilitating disease. I encourage the pertinent researchers in Canada to work with the CIHR, to work with the MS Society and with our Minister of Health, and apply for the funding that has been made available to do the good work that is needed in the research so we can end MS.

Business of Supply May 31st, 2010

Mr. Chair, green mining promotes the use of green technologies and practices to reduce the environmental impacts of mining, while at the same time ensuring Canada's place as a global mining leader.

Green mining spurs a new burst of innovation, promotes responsible mining practices at every stage of the mine life cycle, and helps create and take advantage of new markets and new market opportunities.

Canada's mining sector depends on success both at home and abroad. Would the Minister of Natural Resources please tell members of the House about the government's efforts to enhance the position of Canada's mining internationally?

Multiple Sclerosis May 5th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today wearing a carnation for multiple sclerosis awareness and to kick off the MS carnation campaign, an initiative that raises much needed funds for MS research and services. MS not only affects the people living with the disease, but also their families and caregivers, health care professionals, researchers and people who fight against MS.

We need to ensure that people with MS and their families have the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of life. I encourage all members of the House to support programs that will more directly meet the needs of people affected by MS today and advance health research to help us find a cure for tomorrow.

I urge all Canadians to buy a carnation from MS Society volunteers, who will be selling carnations in public spaces during the carnation campaign from May 6 to 8. Together, we can drive MS out of the lives of people like my daughter Richelle and all Canadians.

Criminal Code May 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I do not think anyone in the House would argue with where most of the loony views come from in the House. It is very close to where that member sits.

It is unfortunate that the member would try to raise the issue. We are dealing with conditional sentencing. We want to deal with people who prey on our children. We want to deal with people who prey on our seniors. We want to deal with people who kidnap. We want to deal with people who are serious repeat violent offenders, yet the member chooses to approach this debate like that. It is very unfortunate.

Criminal Code May 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's involvement today on this issue, and many others.

Let us look at the issue of the victims for a second. We have situations where crimes are committed and the victims are in the same community where these conditional sentences are carried out.

I want to refer to a third-party quote, which is always good to have. The member opposite can take that for what it is worth. This is from Heidi Illingworth, the executive director of the Canadian Resources Centre for Victims of Crime. She stated:

The current legislation has not sufficiently restricted access to conditional sentences for offenders who commit serious and violent offences, including repeat offenders...Victims feel distress when they see offenders, not only those responsible for their own victimization, but also those who commit other serious crimes, sentenced to ‘house arrest.’ This proposed change will address concerns that some victims and survivors of violent crime have expressed to our organization.

Think of the victims just for a second. When a conditional sentence can be carried out in the same community where the crime was carried out and the victim is still lives there, it has a serious, long-term effect on the stability of the victim.