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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was actually.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for St. Catharines (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Public Health Agency of Canada Act May 2nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to priorities, this is the first of the five bills introduced that is specific to health care. It is interesting that it represents the number five, which is the five priorities that this government stands for. We are going to hear more about that this afternoon in the budget speech.

However, the commitment we have to health care waiting times and the commitment we have to implementing Bill C-5 shows leadership, shows direction.

The former government had 13 years to talk about how important these issues were. It had the opportunity to speak and, more important, act on the issue of providing good fundamental leadership when it came to health care and standing up for the five principles of the Health Care Act. It is not by coincidence that the number five plays a key role in why the legislation is before us. One of our five key priorities is health care, the five principles of health care in the Canada Health Act, and the fifth bill presented in the 39th Parliament regarding health care.

Public Health Agency of Canada Act May 2nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I think the member's question speaks directly to the legislation. When enacted, it will allow, in the case of a provincial and certainly a national emergency, our chief medical officer to indeed respond directly. In fact, this legislation enshrines that authority for the chief medical officer, giving him the authority to speak directly to the public about the crisis, to speak about the need to take action and the type of action necessary.

Let me add that over the past number of weeks I think the government certainly has shown that same type of leadership and dedication that our current medical officer has over the past year and a half that he has been in the position, and that in fact when it comes to times of crisis and need, the government will be there and the chief medical officer will also be there.

Public Health Agency of Canada Act May 2nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I certainly cannot speak to the overall direction that our government plans to take with respect to the issue the member has put forward, but based on the energy and enthusiasm that he displayed in putting forward his question, I would love to sit down with him and talk about this matter further to get a clearer understanding of the direction he believes we should take. I certainly would endeavour to do that.

Public Health Agency of Canada Act May 2nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I think the efforts need to be recognized. I think the member opposite does recognize the crystal clear fact that this bill is sitting in front of us today not because it was or was not defeated with the election call, but because it is a priority of this government. We can take one step forward in understanding that the reason it is here is the critical role it plays from this government's perspective, as it did when we were not in government. We certainly supported the bill then and we are now moving forward with it under the pretext of having it as one of the first bills introduced by this government.

Where I do question the perspective of the member opposite is that under the former Liberal government the bill sat for over a year without being passed or even considered. With all due respect, it was acted on, but never through government legislation. It was always a piece that stood to the side. With all due respect to the work and the efforts of those who work within the context of this agency, it was never recognized here in the House. I think we should applaud the fact that one of the first steps this government is taking is to make sure this bill is here in the House and is being debated and will of course be passed.

Public Health Agency of Canada Act May 2nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I will keep that very much in mind.

First and foremost, this is my first opportunity to rise and address the House as a member of the 39th Parliament. I would like to take a moment to thank the people of St. Catharines and all those who worked so tirelessly in our community to allow me the opportunity to represent St. Catharines in the House of Commons.

It is a pleasure to rise and speak to this piece of legislation, one designed to improve public health in this country. The health care of our citizens, and particularly the people of St. Catharines, is an issue near and dear to my heart.

Members may know that my community is currently in the process of securing the construction of a new hospital. This hospital is planned to include a regional cancer centre and this new facility would provide state of the art health care for thousands of people in my community and allow newborns, such as Isaiah Thomas Dykstra, to get their lives started out on the right foot.

Of course we are not here this afternoon just to talk about new hospitals or the need for more family doctors. I am sure I will have plenty of time to address these issues in future debates.

As we indicated in our Speech from the Throne, our new government is committed to building a better country. We need a stronger federation in which governments at all levels come together to help Canadians realize their full potential. This includes working with the provinces and territories to protect and promote the health care of Canadians. This is why Bill C-5 is about taking action. It is a critical step in our new government's effort to promote and protect the health of Canadians.

My riding of St. Catharines is very close to our border with the United States. In 2003 when we were faced with the SARS outbreak, I watched at first hand the impact it had on the province of Ontario. As a Niagara parks commissioner, I saw the parks commission fall into a deficit position for the first time since World War II. The deficit was directly on account of the slowdown in tourism resulting from SARS. This speaks to more than just a financial deficit. It speaks to a deficit motivated by fear. That deficit represented the belief of many Canadians and Americans alike that their health and well-being were at risk.

What Bill C-5 represents is what we have learned. We have learned that we must be prepared to assist Canadians in the worst of times and we must be able to provide the international community with the assurance that we are able to protect the health and well-being of our citizens.

Providing a statutory foundation will give the agency and its Chief Public Health Officer parliamentary recognition. Dealing with health care and its issues is as old as our country itself. In 1867, Parliament was granted exclusive jurisdiction over quarantine and marine hospitals, while the provinces were granted exclusive jurisdiction over the establishment, maintenance and management of hospitals. Since that time, the federal government has had responsibility for quarantine at our borders and over the management of infectious disease outbreaks. This power has two branches: an emergency branch and a national dimensions branch.

This history has helped lead us to Bill C-5, a bill that allows for the establishment of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the confirmation of a Chief Public Health Officer. Our Minister of Health understands that. The minister witnessed the SARS tragedy at first hand and he understands the importance of granting the Chief Public Health Officer the authority to communicate directly with the public. The public health officer must be able to provide the public with information about public health, including enduring a health emergency. In my eyes, this is a key component of Bill C-5.

We all know that diseases do not respect borders. Therefore, it is imperative that our lines of communication be open, not only within our own borders but with our colleagues in other countries, including countries such as Australia and the U.K., which already have a chief medical officer in place.

In response and leading up to that, we are moving forward with Bill C-5, which is not only a measure to improve our ability to protect the health and well-being of Canadians, but a measure to show our neighbours and people throughout the global community that we understand the serious nature of public health threats as they exist in today's world. I can confirm that our new government is prepared to take the action necessary to protect our people and those who visit our country.

This notion of borders brings me to another interesting component of Bill C-5. As many hon. members will know, the Canadian health agency currently maintains the national emergency stockpile system. This system provides emergency supplies quickly to provinces and territories, including the necessary pharmaceuticals.

I feel I should take this opportunity to recognize the ongoing efforts of a small pharmaceutical company in my riding that is working tirelessly to break down the borders and help fulfill this mandate in the event of a flu pandemic. A small company by the name of Biolyse Pharma has been working tirelessly to develop a drug equivalent to Tamiflu in order to combat the avian flu. There are companies such as Biolyse that face many challenges, but their efforts should be commended across the country. I look forward to working with them.

I would like to make one final point. This bill is representative of what our new government is all about. It is focused, it is direct, and it does what it is supposed to do. Bill C-5 contains only a preamble and 24 clauses, but it is focused on protecting the health and well-being of Canadians. It delivers what Canadians expect: a stronger, safer and more secure health care system.