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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was veterans.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Etobicoke Centre (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act December 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, this park will be enormous. When one includes the neighbouring Nahanni National Park Reserve, it will be approximately 35,000 square kilometres. That is more than six times the area of P.E.I. This huge park will naturally also have a very long boundary.

I would like to know from the hon. member the key achievements within the boundary of the park.

B'nai Brith December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, recently my friend Mr. Michael Mostyn was appointed the new CEO of B'nai Brith Canada and its affiliated agencies.

Michael is a lawyer who has enjoyed a successful private sector career, with a long and distinguished history of serving the community. Michael has held various leadership positions with B'nai Brith, most recently as national director of public affairs in Ottawa. His selection as CEO will allow him to bring new vigour and his new vision as the organization adapts to the global challenges of the 21st century. Michael is committed to forging close ties with all communities across our nation, building bridges of understanding and combatting anti-Semitism and racism wherever they occur.

B'nai Brith has served Canada for 140 years, and its efforts are needed now more than ever. The links it has generated between various multicultural and grassroots communities of all races, religions, and backgrounds are a shining example of the best that Canada has to offer. I applaud its support for the elderly, youth sports, and our sister democracy, the Jewish State of Israel.

I want to congratulate Michael and B'nai Brith on their commitment to Canada, to multiculturalism, and to fighting hatred and replacing it with understanding and co-operation.

National Defence December 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Canadian Armed Forces provided yet another technical briefing on Operation Impact and Canada's ongoing mission against ISIL. This is just further proof of the government's commitment to keep Canadians informed regarding the activities of our brave men and women in uniform serving in Iraq.

I would like to ask if the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence will please provide a further update to the House on Operation Impact.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. minister of state, who has been in my riding talking to my constituents many times.

I would like to correct some of my colleagues. Under the strong, stable majority Conservative government we have had, Canadian democracy and the Canadian economy have been something other nations have marvelled at and have tried to duplicate. We are one of the top nations in the world. When we look at the opinions of our national colleagues, we see that.

One hundred per cent of the families in Etobicoke Centre with children under the age of 18 will benefit from our government's new family tax-cut plan. Parents in my riding of Etobicoke Centre will be pleased with this new money. They know that families should benefit from the surplus, not the government. They also know the numerous positive social and physical effects of keeping their kids active in sports and fitness.

Could the Minister of State for Finance please tell us how BIA no. 2 is going to help parents get their kids involved in fitness activities? Could he tell us specifically how it will help low-income families put their kids in sports programs?

Foreign Affairs December 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, on October 26, Ukraine held its parliamentary elections. Canada sent over 300 observers to monitor these elections. As well as having the largest contingent of any contributor, our government has been the strongest of the international supporters of Ukraine as it works to restore its economic stability and implement democratic reforms. That includes our Prime Minister telling Vladimir Putin to his face to “get out of Ukraine.”

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence please comment on this development?

Business of Supply November 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all members of the House for the speeches they have made throughout the day on this very important topic.

I was born in 1961, so by the grace of God go I. Growing up in the sixties and seventies, I knew people who were affected by this. In fact, I went to school with one, and I stand in that person's honour to speak today.

I say without equivocation that our government absolutely empathizes with all victims of thalidomide. Like other health-related tragedies in our country's history, and I think back to tainted blood and Hepatitis C and the thalidomide tragedy, none of this will be forgotten by our government, nor by any Canadians. Nothing can ever undo the pain and the suffering and the incredibly challenging and difficult circumstances that these people and their families have had to endure.

However, thalidomide was not just a failure of the Canadian drug protection system; it was also an international failure of tragic proportions. Countless miscarriages were caused by the drug. More than 12,000 thalidomide babies were born in 46 countries around the world during the early sixties, including more than 100 in Canada. Only 8,000 of those 12,000 children survived past their first birthday, and there are fewer and fewer survivors every year.

To think that so many children were born with severe birth defects because their mothers were given a new medication to alleviate morning sickness is something that in this day and age we have a difficult time comprehending. The number of survivors in Canada is now less 100, as I alluded to a minute ago. At this stage, the physical challenges they have faced all their lives are only getting worse. Their health, like so many of us who grow older, is deteriorating. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, I am exactly in that age bracket, born in those years, and when this topic came up this was foremost in my mind.

However, for them, even the simplest of tasks, like getting dressed or preparing a meal, things that we all take for granted, are additional daily challenges. It is incredibly difficult to continue to do these things. As their parents and their loved ones and they themselves are aging, their lives are increasingly more difficult.

In the late sixties and early seventies, thalidomide survivors and their families did take legal action against the various companies that manufactured or distributed thalidomide. Eventually they were awarded settlements, but in most countries these settlements included monthly or annual payments based on the level of disability of the individual.

In Canada, the story was quite different. There were no trial verdicts. Families settled out of court at the time. As part of their settlement, they were not to discuss the amounts of those settlements. Not surprisingly, this resulted in a very wide disparity in the compensation amounts, with varying settlements for individuals with similar levels of disability. It was a disturbing outcome, to say the least.

Manufacturers of drugs have a legal and a moral responsibility to the users of their products. In this instance, I would argue that they failed to live up to that responsibility.

Over the last few years, we have seen more and more countries that were affected by the thalidomide tragedy consider or provide compensation for victims. Let us not forget that while these countries have recently stepped up, Canada was one of the few at the forefront, in 1991.

The government at the time paid $7.5 million to thalidomide survivors who were born in Canada and whose mothers had taken the drug Kevadon or Telimol during their pregnancy. It was meant to supplement the amount provided to victims by the drug manufacturer, which at that time was thought to be enough.

Jurisdictions around the world differ widely on how they compensate thalidomide survivors. There was an $89-million class action settlement this year in Australia and New Zealand, with about 100 victims and the drug distributor. In 2009, Brazil provided victims a one-time lump sum of $100,000 in U.S. funds, whereas Italy is providing its victims with a yearly sum of 43,000 Euros.

Accordingly, in the United Kingdom, the government announced $80 million over 10 years, in December 2012, for the Thalidomide Trust, for additional financial support for England's remaining 325 survivors, many of whom are unable to work and require adaptive homes and cars in order to function.

In Germany, where the largest number of European survivors reside, individuals are provided with a lump sum linked to the severity of the disability, and a monthly allowance for life. The average amount for Germans survivors is 10,000 euros per year.

In Ireland, survivors and their families entered into a compensation agreement with the thalidomide manufacturer for a lump sum, depending on the severity of disability, and a monthly allowance for life.

The Japanese government shared the cost of its $18 million compensation plan with the manufacturer in an out-of-court settlement.

In Scandinavia annual payments, depending on the level of disability, averaged between 6,000 Euros and 20,000 Euros a year for survivors up to 2010. The average amount following 2010 increased to between 9,000 Euros and 30,000 Euros a year. Unfortunately, in Spain survivors have never received compensation from the manufacturer. Hopefully that will be redressed.

Our government may be able to learn from these examples. The Minister of Health said this week she was absolutely committed to having a discussion with the Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada about the situation of survivors and the proposal that they have put forward. This will be an opportunity to share and explore what has been done in other jurisdictions also facing these same challenges.

The Minister of Health is always looking for ways to protect Canadians from unsafe health products. Her record includes giving the government new tools to better respond to drug safety issues, such as the power to recall unsafe drugs, impose stiff financial penalties, and require mandatory adverse reaction reporting by health care facilities.

Health Canada is making more drug safety information available to Canadians than ever before so that they can make informed decisions for themselves and for their families. While these new measures do not ease the burden of victims, the victims' story helped inspire tougher rules for the testing and licensing of drugs, which has led to Canada having one of the safest and most rigorous drug approval systems in the world. The government is always looking for ways to help patients as a result, and I know that the Minister of Health is eager to learn more about the increasing health needs of thalidomide survivors as they approach old age and the complex health needs that can arise.

It is more than just talking and more than just listening; it is also about understanding what has happened and learning from those circumstances. At the time, drug manufacturers touted the drug as safe for use. Doctors believed the drug to be safe. Federal drug regulators classified them as safe. We now know they were anything but safe. The events surrounding the thalidomide scandal reinforced the recognition that drug safety is of paramount importance to all of Canada.

We of course have Vanessa's law right now, which is helping us in regulating our drug system and making it even safer through all the protections that are in it.

I will leave it at that, Mr. Speaker. Thank you for the opportunity to stand up and speak on behalf of thalidomide victims. It is something I grew up with and have an understanding of. In fact, several constituents have raised this concern with me, and I am honoured to address it on their behalf.

National Defence November 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to supporting the people of Ukraine as they fight for a democracy they have sacrificed so dearly for, all in the face of the Putin regime's military aggression. As our Prime Minister has said, whether it takes five months or 50 years, we will not drop the subject and we will always stand stalwart along the side of the Ukrainian people.

With winter fast approaching, can the Minister of National Defence please update the House on the support that Canada is providing to the people of Ukraine?

Foreign Affairs November 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, our government remains deeply concerned with the ongoing violence in eastern Ukraine and reports of additional Russian troops and weapons crossing into Ukraine.

Last Wednesday, NATO confirmed that additional Russian tanks and artillery made its way into Ukraine. This is another troubling example of Russia's belligerence and violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territory.

I would like to ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs to please update the House on this very serious matter.

Committees of the House November 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the 18th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented to the House be concurred in.

The Economy November 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, our government is focused on what matters most to Canadians, and that is creating jobs and economic growth, not the high-tax, high-spend agenda of the opposition.

Our economic action plan provides positive pro-growth measures, like landmark investments in research and innovation, creating the Canada apprentice loans, supporting more paid internships for recent graduates, cutting red tape for small business, delivering additional tax relief for families, and so much more.

Can the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Finance update this House on how our jobs and growth plan is working?