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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was actually.

Last in Parliament September 2014, as Conservative MP for Yellowhead (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 77% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Main Estimates, 2001-02 June 12th, 2001

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his questions. This gives me an opportunity to explain a little more about what I did not have time for in my presentation.

With regard to accountability, I think we miss the boat when we get bogged down by the question of whose jurisdiction it is, of whether it is a federal or provincial jurisdiction and whether the dollars are federal or provincial dollars. We have to understand that they are all taxpayer dollars from taxes paid by Canadians. That is what is so critical about accountability. Accountability does not come with that.

Accountability comes when we move Canadians, the users of the system whose hard earned dollars pay for a system of health care that they are so proud of, closer to the system and give them the opportunity, the education and the understanding to be able to access the system appropriately and to feel accountable to it. I believe that every time they access services they should have an account of what is paid on their behalf. The paradigm would suddenly shift. Instead of thinking that health care is just there and they can use it without any responsibility, they would then have an understanding of who is using it. Something else would happen: doctors will start treating patients a lot differently when they know that the patients know exactly what is being paid on their behalf.

I think that is how we start bringing accountability into the system. That could be a federal jurisdiction because it is a broad plank and a broad idea.

We will not solve health care problems with one silver bullet. If we thought one silver bullet would do it we would have used it a long time ago. We would have fired that bullet.

We have to start with a broad plank and then start building from there. That is how to bring accountability into the system.

In regard to taxes, we absolutely need to lower the taxes to hopefully give ourselves a little more competitiveness so that hard earned dollars go farther in this country. We have put a sign up that Canada is open for business, but will it solve the problem of the brain drain of our professionals going south? It is maybe a step in the right direction, but we have to do a lot more.

We make a fatal error in Canada with our human resources by not negotiating when physicians are going through the educational system. That is when they need our help. That is when they are vulnerable. We should negotiate then as to exactly where they will come out and serve, not after they get a degree. Any head of business will tell us that negotiations happen when both sides need each other, not when one side does things in isolation or afterwards. The brain drain is a big problem. Human resources is one of the major problems and it will not be solved overnight.

Main Estimates, 2001-02 June 12th, 2001

Madam Speaker, it is really a privilege and an honour to be able to speak this evening to the main estimates on health. I have been involved in the health committee since I have been a member, which is a short time, but I have come to understand some of the problems and complexities of the system from being involved in it quite a while before that.

I am really taken by what I am hearing this evening, particularly from the Minister of Health with regard to the state of the health of our country. When I really assess what is going on in health, a very rosy picture is being painted, but clearly all is not well in the state of our health care in Canada.

Almost every day we can pick up a news report that shows disturbing problems that are happening. Some of them were just mentioned by the hon. member: mad cow disease, problems with our food inspection agency and the fears we have about some of our food.

Almost every day we can pick up something that will give us an example of the problems. Yesterday there was a report dealing with orthopedics and arthritis care. The average waiting time for hip and knee replacement surgeries in this country is six months, while some must wait well over a year. In fact I had a lady in my office yesterday, who is well known by many of the members in this place, who has been waiting for a year for knee surgery and now has to wait another 15 months.

All is not well. The reason for some of the shortages is that there is an obvious shortage of manpower in this area. One hundred and fifty orthopedic surgeons are required to supply the need that we have today, and that is without taking into account the demographics of our society. It takes 10 years to train a new orthopedic surgeon, so we can understand the dilemma that we are in and that it has not happened overnight. We are in serious problems with regard to human resources in health care.

I was a little alarmed when the minister suggested that all we needed to do was to put a few more dollars into health research and that would attract the best and the brightest minds to our health care system which would sustain the system over the long haul. I do believe that is true and I do not think Canadians are buying that as well.

Increasingly, Canadians are wondering if the medicare system will be there for them when they really need it. These hard questions are being asked about the long term sustainability of the system. We talked about some of the problems: the long waiting lists, the shortage of doctors and nurses and the obsolete equipment. We talked about the numbers of dollars that are going into the equipment, $500 million up to April 1 and then another $500 million.

When I talk to radiologists they say that none of this equipment is getting into their hospitals. They are using equipment that has to be taped up with duct tape. I have farmed for many years and I know the value of a good roll of duct tape, but I do not believe that it should be used on our medical equipment. They are telling me that they have to move switches up and down repeatedly before some of the archaic equipment can be turned on. Third world countries will not even accept some of this stuff.

Suggesting that we do not have a problem and that we do not have a crisis is putting our heads in the sand.

Dr. Peter Barrett, the outgoing president of the Canadian Medical Association, stated:

The serious problems facing medicare today can be labelled a health care crisis. For patients waiting for health care services, it is a personal crisis. Doctors and nurses on the front lines know it is a crisis.

It will increasingly become more of a crisis as the weight of the demographic age of the baby boomers hits the system.

As I said earlier, this did not happen overnight. The removal of the dollars in the mid-nineties has caused major problems that are now coming to bear upon a system that has been neglected for far too long. It is time we paid some attention to this because our health care system is about to pay the price for some of that neglect.

The problems with the federal government's overall leadership and the funding of health care in the country are mirrored by a number of problems within Health Canada itself. A more direct subject of debate could be added, as several problems within Health Canada have come to light just in the time that I have been in parliament or as more light has recently been shed on the problems.

Health Canada has mismanaged funding with regard to the Inuit. Aboriginal people are repeatedly highlighted in the auditor general's report. There are problems with the Virginia Fontaine Addictions Foundation that raise serious questions. We have raised this in the House. There are many problems with overprescription of drugs within our aboriginal communities, overprescriptions from which people have died.

The health minister talked about drugs. Many problems have also arisen from the diet drug Prepulsid. There was the Vanessa Young inquest. Sixty-nine recommendations came out of that inquest. The minister suggested in the House that he would implement all of them. It is definitely an acknowledgement that we have a problem in the system when every one of the recommendations will be looked at or implemented. That is what he said, so obviously there is a problem related to drugs and the process within Health Canada itself.

I could go on with a number of problems but I do not have much time so I will move on to another area of federal incompetence. It has to do with the compensation for hepatitis C victims. We know about the tainted blood. Members mentioned it earlier. We know that it is a major problem. We know that almost 50% of the money is left over and yet there are thousands of patients who were infected and who have not been able to access the funding for hepatitis C victims. They really need that funding.

However, we need to look beyond the problems. The hon. member across the way suggested that there are some problems but that solutions are what is needed. I would like to ask him and the entire House to start thinking outside the box when it comes to health care, because arguably we have some very serious problems. Just the introduction of the Romanow report is an acknowledgement that hopefully we will start to think about some of the solutions.

First let us talk about accountability within the system. If I asked Canadians who they think is looking after the dollars in the health care system now they could not tell me. I am saying to Canadians right now that they could not tell me. It is not the politicians, I can tell Canadians that, and it is not the regional authorities in most of our provinces because I have been there. They deal with the health care dollars within their global budgets, or the funding formulas and access to them.

However, we have some blank cheques in the system and until we address them the system will never be able to sustain itself over the next 40 years because of the baby boomers and the technology that is coming along. I am saying that we need to look at the accountability of both users and providers within the system. We need to stop playing games with the health care dollars that are so precious and dear and that the taxpayers of the country work hard to earn.

It is very important that we acknowledge what we can do about accountability by having users and providers more accountable. I hope I get a question or two on that because I will not have time to explain it as I want to get on to my other idea, which is something that that I think is very imperative. We have talked about it since the 1970s but have just paid lip service to it. It is the area of health care prevention and promotion, because health is much more than health care. We have been crisis managing health care in the country for so many years that we have to absolutely stop doing it or we will never sustain it.

In the long run we have to think outside the box and start asking ourselves questions. When we have an epidemic of obese students within our educational system, why are we not talking to the educators of this country? Why are we not talking to them with regard to solving some of the problems that are going to hit the system because of that?

This was talked about with regard to the tobacco industry. We know that if we can stop teenagers from smoking, if we can stop them before the age of 20, we will win the battle against tobacco addiction. Why are we not talking to them?

We know that the number one reason we hospitalize people in this country is mental illness. Why are we not talking to industry and thinking outside the box?

In closing, I would like to say that we do have a problem in health care. We can come up with some solutions if we work together. I would offer my assistance in doing that.

Supply June 12th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the member's question begs another question: Why is all business in the House not voted on by the people we truly represent, the 100,000 people in our constituencies?

That is a question Canadians are having a difficult time getting their minds around. If something is put forward in the House and it is a good idea, it must garner the support of 50% plus one of 301 members. If it is good for Canada it is good for Canada. If not, it will not achieve the consensus of the House.

We hurt ourselves badly by the process in place now. Surely we can start on private members' business, which is very funnelled and focused on specific ideas, and open it up to an open vote in this place. If it is good for Canadians it is good for Canadians. It is not about party politics. It is about leading the country. Our job here, as I discern it, is to be leaders in the country. I would challenge hon. members to do that.

Supply June 12th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to be able to speak to the motion. It alarms and amazes me. I have only been here six months. When I talk to my constituents back home and explain to them that we can come into this place, discuss private members' business or any business and not be able to vote on it freely or even at all, it is absolutely unbelievable in their minds. It is very difficult to explain it to them. What I have seen and witnessed in this place since I have been here has increasingly impressed upon me how dysfunctional it can become.

We need to think a bit outside the box. We think we are taking a large step today by saying private members' bills should be votable, but how radical is that? We should go a little further and say private members' bills should not only be votable but freely votable. If something very specific and of importance comes before the House that we can debate and vote on, we should be able to vote on it in the best interest of Canadians. That is who we are truly representing.

That would be the first step toward parliamentary reform, and parliamentary reform is something this place cries out for. Canadians cry out for it as well.

I am pleased to represent a party that believes in democracy, free votes and the ability to debate openly. Sometimes that causes trouble and is a bit messy, but that is fine. We admit we do not have all the answers. However Canadians need to be able to vote freely for the government and be represented freely. This opportunity is very important.

The supply day motion is a very important step in the process. Canadians will learn to recognize and understand that. I sense that there is support. As a new member I am alarmed that we did not get here sooner. It amazes me.

Another thing we do in this place, as I discern from what is happening in the seats around me, is forget whose chairs we are sitting in when we come into this place to speak, debate, talk or put forward motions such as private members' bills.

Members forget that while a seat may have their name on it, it should not. I think this one does. Yes, my name is right here, but this is not my seat. It is not the seat of the Canadian Alliance people who voted for me. It is not the seat of people from whatever side, Canadian Alliance members or anyone else, who voted for me. It is definitely not the seat of the Prime Minister, and we see how much power is in that seat. It is the seat of the 100,000 residents of my constituency. That is whose seat this is and that is who sits here. It is not I. We forget that so easily in this place.

As I discern what happens around this place, I would suggest we change those signs because so easily we forget exactly what we are doing here and who we are representing. As a newcomer here that is my first take as to what is going on.

It is wonderful that we have the opportunity to put forward private members' bills because the government does not have a monopoly on insight, good ideas or brainpower. Private members have an obligation to represent the people who send them here. Putting forward legislation on behalf of those people is an absolute right of representative democracy.

The motion would in some ways clearly rectify the oversight of the current system. Why it has not been here up to this point is something I must ask myself. Is it that the government is fearful that members from the other side of the House might upstage it with quality legislation? Is it that the government does not trust the public to bring forth worthwhile legislation? Perhaps it is that the government is fearful that when good legislation comes forward it will not have time to steal the ideas for itself and introduce them on its own time. This is, as we have heard from a previous speaker, exactly what has happened.

Voting on private members' business is a minor change on the road to parliamentary reform because so much needs to be reformed in this place. I think Canadians are crying out for reform in many ways. We sense that when we see the number of people who failed to exercise their right to vote in the last election.

The fact that we can put forward bills is a bit of a fail-safe to the government's claim to ultimate power. However the government should not be alarmed at that. It can vote down private member's bills any time it wants. Private members' bills are not a threat to a government in power but they give Canadians an opportunity to speak in an effective and fruitful way.

I hope this is just one step toward many reforms that will take place in the country. We should recognize that one of the things we should be doing here is realizing whose seat we are in. We should be able to vote freely not only on private members' business but on all business in the House. I am dreaming, and I think Canadians are dreaming, of the day that will take place. Perhaps it will come sooner than some of us might imagine.

Private members' business over the years has been an important mechanism in the federation. It is not something new. The fight over private members' business has been happening for 130 years. As a government comes to power, backbenchers seem to duel about whether private members' business can come forward. The government at times pushes back private members' business only to have the pendulum swing again in the other direction.

This is one of those times when we have an opportunity to push back the agenda because the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. What a golden opportunity it is for the House to represent Canadians in a more effective way. The time has come to push back. I believe there is an appetite for it in the House. I am certainly pleased at what I hear colleagues in all parties in the House saying about the bill. I look forward to what that will mean to this place. It is one small step in a journey we all need to take together.

MPs are frustrated with merely rubber stamping government legislation by the majority. Opposition MPs lack an outlet for their ideas. The motion would go a long way to facilitating that.

I support the motion. I congratulate my colleague for introducing it and congratulate every member who will vote for it in the House. It is one step in a journey that is long overdue.

Food And Drugs Act June 6th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill C-287, regarding the labelling of genetically modified foods.

I come from two perspectives. First, I am a member of the health committee. As the deputy health critic in this whole area of genetically modified foods, I believe it is important to see it from a health perspective.

Second, I have quite a bit of firsthand experience in dealing with genetically modified foods. I farm and have grown genetically modified foods for a number of years. I know a little bit of the science and know what actually happens at the farm gate and in the farmer's fields when growing these genetically modified foods.

Some of the confusion for consumers when they look at the whole area of genetically modified foods is whether it is really important. They ask questions such as what is a genetically modified food and is it safe? The whole idea of genetically modified foods is that it is sort of a Frankenstein food.

We need to have a good debate about that before we get into the idea of whether or not we should label it. Once we ask those questions and answer them, we will have a better discernment of exactly what we are trying to label.

We must first understand the degree to which genetically modified foods are being grown in the world today. Some 33 million acres of genetically modified crops, which represents 10% of the world's supply, is actually being grown right now. That is a tremendous number. However, we have yet to see any harmful repercussions from the usage of genetically modified foods.

We should take a look at the long term effects because people are saying our foods maybe become eroded and may not have the same nutritional values that they used to, yet the statistics show a different picture. The statistics show we are living longer and have more active and healthier lives now than ever before. If our food sources were to become polluted or dangerous, the opposite of that would actually take place.

Opponents of this would suggest that is yet to come. It is something we should be cautious of in the future. I would suggest that if that is true, then we should do it on a scientific basis. We should look at genetically modified foods from a scientific perspective as to whether we should label them or not.

The population of the world is exploding. There are more than six billion people right now. How many hungry mouths would we have if we did not grow genetically modified foods? The projections are that we will grow to nine billion people very soon and it will continue to escalate. The technologies that we develop are very important.

Genetically modified foods, depending on how we see them and how we discern what a genetically modified food is, have been around from the beginning of time. We have modified foods for a number of years. Today we have 600 million hectares of wheat grown worldwide. If we were using the same technology that we used in 1965, we would need another 850 million hectares of land to grow that same amount of wheat.

We have hybridized and genetically modified foods for many years. It has now become a bit of a phobia because of what our European neighbours have been doing with regard to genetically modified foods, and suggesting that there is something dangerous and sinister about using them.

If they were honest with the world and with their own people they would be more realistic. They would say they were using opposition to GM foods as a marketing tool. I do not argue that they should not do that. I just argue that they are maybe not being straight up with their population. In Canada we use modified foods and have for a number of years. I think we have proven them to be very safe.

To get a genetically modified food in place, one needs to do a number of things. First, it takes seven years to get it on the shelf. We do not just snap our fingers and make it happen. Seven years of work goes into it. Members must realize that GM foods do not go straight from Monsanto's labs onto the market.

I oppose labelling because the science shows nothing to support it. On that basis, I think we should stay with the science and we will not go wrong.

Food And Drugs Act June 6th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, before I start I would like to ask for the consent of the House to split my time with the member for Yorkton—Melville?

Health June 6th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, some Canadians are actively participating in the black market trade of human organs. As reported today, organ brokers are profiting from this trade on Canadian soil. They are recruiting desperate patients to pay thousands of dollars for live donors to go under the knife in overseas hospitals.

Will the federal government take action today to end this practice in Canada?

Health May 9th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, Canadians deserve more than mediocrity in their health care system. Yesterday's report card highlighted that the federal government did not meet its own targets for review of new drugs. The fact is that it takes twice as long as it is recommending.

My question for the health minister is very simple. Will he throw severely sick Canadians a lifeline and guarantee at least to meet his own targets in life saving drugs?

Health May 9th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are losing confidence in their health care system. The portion of Canadians who rated the health care system as excellent or very good has plummeted from 60% in 1991 to less than 25% last year.

The verdict is in on our health care system. It needs resuscitation today. The Romanow commission will take 18 months just to finish its report. What actions will the government take to restore confidence today?

National Nursing Week May 8th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, it is National Nursing Week and time for Canadians to celebrate nursing and nurses' accomplishments and promote their contribution to the health of Canadians.

Today 230,000 nurses provide care to Canadians in hospitals, clinics and home care settings. Every day and every night nurses do their work to relieve pain, to promote recovery and to provide comfort.

Nurses are indeed a pillar of our health care system. However, the last decade has been a trying time for them. Federal health care cuts led to massive layoffs, a decrease in enrolment in nursing schools and a brain drain to south of the border. Stress and burnout are common among nurses in the current environment.

National Nursing Week is a time for Canadians to recognize nurses and their important contribution. It is also time for the government to restore dignity to this profession.

I ask members to please join me in congratulating and thanking our nurses.