- MPndpFri 8:15 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, Canadians want the Conservatives to come clean on this whole sordid affair.
We now have another federal judge slamming the behaviour of the Conservatives. In his judgment on electoral fraud, Justice Mosley writes:
Despite the obvious public interest in getting to the bottom of the allegations, the [Conservatives] made little effort to assist with the investigation at the outset despite early requests.
Will the Conservatives continue to claim they fully co-operated when the court has now said the exact opposite is true?
- MPndpMay 08, 2013 3:45 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise in the House today to speak to Motion No. 230, which has been put forward by the member for Niagara West—Glanbrook, and I thank him for that.
I know the member had a similar motion in the last Parliament, but it did not go further because of the federal election, and so we are debating the issue again. It is always good to see members continue to press on with their issues.
Unfortunately, the vote we just had on sodium reduction was lost, but I am very committed to working with the 50-plus organizations across the country that supported the bill. Even though the vote was lost, we will continue to press very hard because sodium reduction in our country is a major public health issue.
As the health critic for the NDP, I am pleased to speak in support of the motion before us.
The question of anaphylaxis is a very critical issue. It affects about 500,000 Canadians and 50% of Canadians know of someone who has at least one food allergy. In our own personal experiences we can all think of someone we know who has a serious allergy and who has to be very careful of where and what that person eats.
The motion before us begins to address the issue anaphylaxis, which affects a growing number of Canadians. The NDP is supportive of the motion, but we will demand an accounting from the Conservative government on its health care track record.
The motion asks the House to recognize the importance of taking steps to ensure that Canadians with anaphylaxis have a certain quality of life. However, as we have seen with a number of these motions, this motion is very general and does not go further into precise measures. Therefore, while we support the motion, in as far as it goes, this is an opportunity for us to debate the issue and to keep pressing the government for much better accountability on health care generally and on something like this that does affect so many people.
One of the issues with anaphylaxis is that even the purchasing of the auto-injectors is an added cost for many families, and there are families that cannot afford this kind of injector. However, I find it curious that in the budget bill, which was approved at second reading and which was rushed through the House under another time allocation motion, and will be rushed through the finance committee in five meetings, one of the provisions is taxing hospital parking lots.
I do not know if anybody listened to the CBC story recently. In fact a couple of stories have been done. One of the biggest responses is from people who feel outraged that when they go to a hospital to visit a friend or family member who is sick, they get hit with exorbitant parking fees. Now, to add insult to injury, this budget, the latest omnibus bill from the Conservative government, will add taxes on to hospital parking.
Why I am raising this issue now in this debate on the private member's motion? It is because, while on the one hand we see these sort of window-dressing kinds of motions coming through from the Conservatives, and I appreciate their intent, the fact is there are so many significant issues that are going unaddressed in our health care system. The government has fallen down on or simply retreated from its role on health care. I wanted to get that bit about the hospital parking tax in there because it is something that really grates. The Conservatives have the gall to talk about being the government of tax reduction and yet on something that is as basic as hospital parking, where people are basically a captive audience and have no choice but to pay these exorbitant cost, they will now be hit with a tax. Why would the Conservatives do that? It seems unconscionable.
While I am happy to be debating this motion, as far as it goes, I do want to shed light and illuminate the bigger picture around health care in our country.
Unfortunately, we have seen the federal government basically walk away from the table. The Conservatives made a unilateral decision about health care funding that has now left the provinces and territories about $36 billion short over the longer term. The government has failed to implement the health accords. Therefore, while we support the motion, we have to look at it in the context of the bigger picture. The government has a miserable failing record, an F, on health care.
As the health critic for the official opposition, the NDP, I do a lot of work with organizations across the country. People are just chomping at the bit. They want to see a stronger federal role or any federal role in health care.
In the House, we have had issues around drug safety and drug shortages. We have seen the abysmal health status of aboriginal people and cuts in Health Canada. The list is enormous. We need to put this on the record and hold the government to account. While I am sure the Conservative members in the House will support the member for Niagara West—Glanbrook, which is good, they need to question themselves on what is happening to our health care overall.
Why have not made any progress on a national pharmacare program? Why have not made any progress on a home care and long-term program?
All these issues were discussed in 2004 and supported by the federal government and the premiers across the country. We believed, and Canadians believed, that we would see some way forward and that we would see some progress on these issues. However, nothing has happened, and not only has the status quo remained, even worse, the government disbanded the Health Council of Canada, which was the body that monitored the progress and implementation of the health accord.
It is a pretty dismal picture, which I am sure we can all appreciate. I really want to draw it to the attention of members in the House.
I encourage Conservative members that when they bring forward a private member's motion, such as the one we are debating today, they need to link it to the broader health issue. They need to think about what about the public health interest. It is very disappointing that they chose to defeat the bill on sodium reduction, which had incredible support across the country, yet I am sure this motion will go through.
At the health committee, we have had a number of these such bills and I have supported them. That is fine, but we in the NDP do have a plan for health care. We want to see our health care system improve its accessibility. We want to see the kinds of things that people need, like pharmacare, home care and long-term care. We want to see progress made on those very critical health issues.
We are very determined, as we move toward 2015, that there is an alternative on health care that we can present to the Canadian people. If the people want medicare 2.0, we know what that is. We are actually out there, consulting with Canadians on that on a daily basis.
I know many of my colleagues get emails and work with local constituents. We know health care is really the number one issue about which Canadians are concerned. On any poll that is done, health care is always at the top of the list.
I thank the member for presenting the motion. It is very important to draw awareness to this issue, which affects about 500,000 Canadians, and what it means to face a severe allergy.
Let us recognize that we need a federal government that will be responsive to the health care needs of Canadians and willing to be at the table with the provinces, territories and first nations. We need a federal government that is committed to implementing the accords that were signed in 2004 and to bringing in new accords and a new vision for medicare that is based on the Canada Health Act, accessibility, portability, public administration and universality.
We in the NDP are committed to that. We stand for that. We are the party of medicare. We are proud of the work that we have done and the work we continue to do.
While we support the motion, we know that it is just a bit of the big job that needs to be taken on. We are taking on that job.
- MPndpMay 06, 2013 3:10 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, it is also a budget that would have hundreds of tax hikes on everything from hospital parking to credit unions and safety deposit boxes. These hikes would cost Canadians nearly $8 billion over five years. I want to ask the member about the hospital parking. I am sure he knows that there is a huge constituency out there of people who are hopping mad about how they get caught by hospital parking. It is very high. Now to know that there would be a tax on top of that from the current federal government would really add insult to injury.
How can the member, after giving that speech, defend that kind of proposition where people would get taxed even on hospital parking?
- MPndpMay 06, 2013 10:50 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, not only are the Conservatives not doing anything concrete for jobs, but they are doing very concrete things in terms of tax hikes. In fact, there are hundreds of tax hikes on hospital parking, credit unions and safety deposit boxes, and the list goes on and on. I wonder if the member could comment on that.
I know the feedback I get is that people are always pretty outraged at the incredible cost of parking at hospitals. We are kind of a captive audience since there is nothing we can do, yet the bill would permit increased taxes for people who have to go to hospitals and pay for parking. I wonder if the member could comment on that.
- MPndpMay 06, 2013 10:20 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member has said, not only are the Conservatives cutting millions from infrastructure and other programs, but they are also sneaking in fee increases and tax increases.
One of the ones included in Bill C-60 has to do with immigration, including visitors visas, work permits, study permits and visa and permit extensions. It would mean that under the budget the government would be able to increase fees without tabling a proposal in Parliament and without being transparent about how much revenue the fees would bring in.
Could the member comment on the impact that would have on the many people who sometimes find it very difficult to pay those fees anyway, and who would now be facing possible increases?
- MPndpMay 03, 2013 11:25 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today at the end of the second hour of debate on Bill C-460 to have the last five minutes to respond to the debate.
First, I would like to thank all of the members on all sides of the House who have participated in this debate. Many members have participated with great passion and vigour, and certainly the issue before us is a very important one. In fact, I would argue that this is probably the most critical public issue that is facing us today.
It is very interesting to note that there has been an incredible amount of media attention on the need for sodium reduction. There are major articles in the press every day. It is something that is of great concern to many people in Canada.
I am looking at a recent article in The Globe and Mail, which says, “Health Canada's voluntary, unsupervised guidelines for the food industry aren't adequate to the task, say health experts and advocates”.
The article quotes Kevin Willis, the director of partnerships at the Canadian Stroke Network, who said:
We don't have data available in a transparent way that we can monitor that these changes are actually occurring. Government could require companies to make that information available so it can be verified. It's all part of the transparent monitoring process.
I have to say that in the development of this bill there has been an incredible amount of support across the country, and some of the organizations have been mentioned here in the debate today. I particularly want to thank Dr. Norm Campbell, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada CIHR chair in hypertension prevention and control, and Bill Jeffery, national coordinator for the Centre for Science in the Public Interest. These two individuals have been just incredible, both here on the Hill and in providing information, education and awareness. I think they have spoken volumes about the critical need to have this bill move forward at second reading.
I have listened to the arguments from the Conservative members, and I want to reiterate that this is actually a very straightforward bill. Again, this bill would implement the sodium reduction strategy that was developed not by me or by any member in this House, but by an expert working group in 2010. The purpose of this bill is to make sure that the guidelines and strategy that were devised are actually followed through.
As we have heard from many members in this House, the non-action, the pathetic lack of leadership from the government on the sodium reduction strategy and its disbanding of the sodium working group have really been quite shocking. As many people I have spoken to in the community and some organizations have told me, at one point Canada was the leader in the world, and other countries looked to Canada to take leadership. However, that situation has now been completely reversed. We are so far behind on this issue and on many other public health issues that it really is very disturbing.
In arguments we have heard today, in fact, we have heard members who wanted to ridicule the bill and make fun of it and come up with jokes. That was very perplexing. It makes me wonder if they know of the major organizations in support of this bill. They have done the research, they are the experts, and they believe this bill is sound. Do the Conservatives not understand that the Canadian public want to see the Canadian government take leadership?
Some members referred to a survey that was done. A very recent survey was done by the University of Toronto in March of this year. It tells us that 78% of Canadians support setting maximum sodium levels in food sold in grocery stores and that 76% agreed that warning labels and statements should be displayed so that people have the information they need.
I want to end by saying that other countries are doing what needs to be done. Recently South Africa announced that it is now going to require regulations for sodium reduction that have to be met by June 2016. Many other countries have taken much more significant action than Canada has.
At the end of the day, I think we have to ask ourselves a question: are we committed to the health of Canadians and to preventing the deaths that are now taking place? Will we ensure the health of Canadians in the future? If so, then this bill is one concrete measure that would allow that to happen.
I urge all members of the House to read the bill properly, to look at who is supporting it and to support it at second reading so that we can look at it in committee, where we can address any issues or concerns that may exist. I urge members to vote to support the bill in principle.
- MPndpMay 03, 2013 9:10 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
With regard to the proposed Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, published in the Canada Gazette on December 15, 2012 for public consultation: (a) what was the number of responses received by the deadline of February 28, 2013; and (b) of these responses, (i) how many responders indicated they disagreed with all or certain sections of the proposed regulations, (ii) how many responders indicated they agreed with all or certain sections of the proposed regulations, (iii) what were the 3 sections of the new regulations that were most commented on?
- MPndpMay 03, 2013 8:15 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, they should read the full report.
Conservative members on the Canadian heritage committee have launched a review of history teaching at provincial schools. Conservatives have already intervened politically in the War of 1812 advertisements; they are remaking the Museum of Civilization in their image, and yesterday we saw the first Canadian in space being removed from Canadian space history for political reasons. Surely, Canadians deserve better.
Why are Conservative MPs now intent on telling provincial schools what they should teach?
- MPndpMay 02, 2013 11:15 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, the minister should go check his facts. In reality, the Conservatives simply do not know what happened to billions of dollars in spending, and they are making up new excuses daily to try to explain this mismanagement.
In opposition the Prime Minister once said, “...one would think that there would be some element of shame from the Liberal Party regarding today's report but there is none whatsoever.”
Is the Prime Minister now ready to live up to those words and show some contrition for mishandling $3 billion in security spending?
- MPndpMay 02, 2013 7:10 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
With regard to the tax subsidies for private health insurance plans under the Income Tax Act in the 2011 fiscal year: (a) what was the total value of the deductions, in terms of foregone tax revenue, provided to corporations for their contributions to employee health insurance plans; (b) what was the value of the deductions, in terms of foregone tax revenue, provided to corporations for their contributions to employee prescription drug plans; (c) what was the total tax expenditure for the Medical Expense Tax Credit; and (d) what amount of the tax expenditure for the Medical Expense Tax Credit was for premiums paid for private drug insurance plans?
- MPndpMay 01, 2013 12:15 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, first, I too would like to present petitions today in support of Bill C-460. The petitioners support the sodium reduction strategy for Canada act to ensure that the amount of sodium in the Canadian food supply is reduced to safe levels.
The petitioners are calling upon the House to ensure the swift passage of Bill C-460, which we will be debating at the end of this week and voting on next week. I hope it goes through.
- MPndpMay 01, 2013 11:30 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, it is ironic. When they were in opposition, they sure wanted to know what happened to the money then.
The Auditor General has also raised the alarm about Health Canada's pathetic efforts to prevent and control diabetes. Health Canada has “no strategy, priorities, deliverables, or timelines...and no performance measures”. To add insult to injury, 30% of the program costs went to administration.
How does the minister explain this abysmal failure?
- MPndpApr 30, 2013 11:45 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, we just hear more and more excuses. The fact is that drug safety is a federal responsibility. This negligence puts Canadians' health in jeopardy. Let us be clear. One of the companies that supplied diluted cancer drugs did approach Health Canada. Their response: We're not responsible.
This means there is no oversight. Who knows how many other companies are operating like this in Canada? Does the minister even know? When will the Conservatives finally bring in comprehensive drug safety measures for Canadians?
- MPndpApr 29, 2013 11:45 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, this is the third time in less than a month that Canadian pharmaceuticals have been in the news for poor quality control. Why? Because Health Canada continues to fall behind on drug safety for Canadians. Apparently it is okay for the government to leave it to the U.S. to do Canada's job.
Why are the Conservatives cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from Health Canada and not investing in comprehensive drug safety measures for Canadians? The minister has to be accountable for that.
- MPndpApr 17, 2013 11:25 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, it seems that cutting $36 billion in health care funding just is not enough for the Conservatives. Now they are dismantling the Health Council of Canada, the organization that monitors whether commitments set out in the health accords are actually being met. This latest move is nothing less than abdicating all accountability to Canadians on our health care system.
Why are the Conservatives attacking our public health care system?
- MPndpApr 16, 2013 11:45 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, incredibly, it was 17 months ago that the Auditor General alerted the Minister of Health to the problems with drug safety. It has taken that long to get any action.
Now we have over 1,000 patients in Ontario and New Brunswick who have received diluted chemotherapy drugs from a company operating in a legal loophole. Incredibly, Marchese Hospital Solutions has no provincial or federal oversight, and its products were never inspected. Surely this cannot be allowed to go on, putting the patients' health at risk.
Why is this minister not taking immediate action to ensure a safe supply of chemotherapy drugs?
- MPndpApr 16, 2013 11:05 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, East Vancouver has a dynamic and long-standing arts community. Today I would like to pay tribute to three organizations that have served our community for four decades.
Western Front is a pioneering artist-run centre for contemporary art and music. With its diverse programming, Western Front is a crucial platform for interdisciplinary experimental art practices in Canada and internationally.
Operating as a training centre, a production studio and an international video distributor, VIVO is Vancouver's oldest artist-run media arts centre. VIVO provides opportunities for artists to share and develop their work in an inclusive environment.
The Vancouver East Cultural Centre, affectionately named “The Cultch”, is dedicated to supporting and presenting contemporary theatre, dance and music. It is Vancouver's cultural treasure.
I salute these amazing organizations and their 40 years of outstanding creativity, resilience and vision. They are beloved in Vancouver and in our local community.
- MPndpApr 16, 2013 7:45 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, it is really quite astounding to hear the parliamentary secretary speak about the temporary foreign worker program, because what she has said is so far from the truth about what is actually going on that it just is mind-boggling.
I want to ask her about a particular aspect of the program. In 2012, the government launched an accelerated program, called ALMO, to fast-track applications. Under this program, employers do not have to provide any evidence that they are considering Canadians for open positions. There is now information that shows that probably half the ALMOs are being improperly used and that an astounding 5,000 of these applications were approved between April and December of 2012. I would like the parliamentary secretary to answer to that and to explain why this program has failed so badly, why it is being misused so badly, and why Canadians are now paying the price.
- MPndpApr 15, 2013 11:45 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, the international embarrassment is now spreading from the environment to health issues. In 2011, the Conservatives abandoned the Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being. This is a critical international forum tackling major health issues in the north. Now we learn the Conservatives are refusing to pay their outstanding dues.
Why are the Conservatives ignoring the health needs of northern Canadians and why are they further isolating Canada on the world stage?
- MPndpMar 20, 2013 11:50 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are failing our health care system.
The latest report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows that wait times for priority surgeries are still too long. This is despite clear commitments that were made in the health accords.
This utter mismanagement of Canada's health care system is simply unacceptable and the minister must be held to account. How much longer do Canadians have to wait before she takes action, or will the minister admit that she has no respect for the accords at all?
- MPndpMar 19, 2013 9:10 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek for his very good overview of this bill, Bill C-55, particularly the context in which this bill came forward.
I guess the comment and the question I have is that it is really shocking to me that the original bill, Bill C-30, which was brought forward in the House, finally had to be withdrawn because of the massive opposition, both in the House from us, the NDP, and also out in the broader community. People across the country rallied against that bill. It was commonly known as “spying on the Internet”. It was a bill that was way over the top and, of course, we all recall the remarks from the Minister of Public Safety at that time.
To me, the bill that is before us today serves as a very good example of why an opposition, and Parliament itself, is so important. If we had not been here, that original bill would have been rammed through by the government. It did everything it could to try to put pressure to put the bill forward. However, because of the massive public reaction, the government had to finally stand down.
I wonder if the member would comment on that. To me, it serves as an example of what the role of this Parliament, and the opposition, is all about.
- MPndpMar 18, 2013 12:30 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver East
With regard to medications used in federal prisons: (a) what prescription drugs are listed on the national drug formulary for Canadian federal prisons; (b) how frequently are each of the drugs on this national formulary prescribed to prisoners; and (c) how many prisoners were prescribed the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel (Quetiapine)?
- MPndpMar 18, 2013 11:15 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, last week the leader of the official opposition travelled to Washington, D.C. to meet key decision makers from Congress, the Canadian American Business Council and the Congressional Budget Office. These are meetings about shared priorities on the economy, peace and security and the environment.
However, back in Ottawa, what did the Conservatives do? They made up baseless new attacks on the NDP. Ten years ago to this very day, I remember the Prime Minister, then the Canadian Alliance leader, went to America to criticize the Canadian government's decision to stay out of the war in Iraq. Now they have the gall to claim the Leader of the Opposition is being disloyal. Really?
Canadians deserve better. Therefore, while the Conservatives put their well-connected friends ahead of the concerns of Canadians, we in the NDP will continue to do our job for the millions of Canadians who disagree with the reckless choices of the Conservatives.
- MPndpMar 06, 2013 11:55 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, it is shocking to hear that a private company in Ontario can pay people for their blood.
Blood from profit-making brokers was one of the causes of the tainted blood scandal that left 20,000 Canadians infected with HIV and hepatitis C. The consequence was $5 billion in compensation.
Why is the minister allowing this to happen, given the increased risk to public health? Has the government learned nothing from the tainted blood scandal and the sound recommendations that were made by Justice Crever?
- MPndpMar 04, 2013 11:40 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, what a typical response.
An international expert reports on a real problem in our communities, and the Conservatives respond by attacking the messenger. A serious government would recognize that 800,000 Canadians depend on food banks every month. A serious government would listen to UN concerns about nutrition, especially for children.
When will the Conservatives stop ignoring these problems and bring in measures to ensure good nutrition and to end hunger in this country?
- MPndpFeb 14, 2013 8:35 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, that is a very important question. I think it speaks to power in our society, and who is heard and who is not. For a sex worker in the downtown east side or a poor aboriginal woman in a northern community, the system does not respond. Politicians do not respond.
I think we have a conscience in that we have to reflect upon what has taken place. I would ask my hon. colleagues why it is that the Liberals waited until the Conservatives were in power to call for this special committee, when they themselves in the motion say that it has gone on for three decades. This is something that we all have to reflect upon.
It is never too late to do something, but I think we have to find answers to the questions the member raises and make sure that a special committee, and hopefully at some point a national, public inquiry, can bring justice and answers.
- MPndpFeb 14, 2013 8:20 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, first, I am very pleased to follow the NDP member for Churchill, after her very powerful and passionate speech on this issue. I know this is an issue that we all care very deeply about.
I want to begin my remarks by reflecting on a very important event that will take place today in the downtown east side at Main and Hastings. Today will be the 22nd annual women's memorial march that has taken place in that community.
I attended the first march in 1991 when I was still a city councillor. It was really the first time that the community came together in an outpouring and recognition of the terrible violence that was taking place in the community where aboriginal women were missing, or were murdered, or were presumed murdered or were sex workers.
I remember the march along Powell Street and we began next to a dumpster where earlier the body parts of a murdered woman had been found. I will not use her name because her family has asked that it not be used. As we walked down Powell Street, Dundas Street, down to Main and Hastings to the Carnegie Centre, there was a smudge ceremony and her family was there. It was the first time in the downtown east side that there was a public coming together in recognition of what was taking place in that community. Many women had been disappearing prior to that. It was at that point the community started calling for a public inquiry in B.C. into the missing and murdered women. We all knew and believed that a serial killer was likely responsible.
Here we are two decades later and much has happened. There have been criminal trials, the largest mass murder trial in Canada, the Pickton trial. We have had the Oppal Commission. We have had the United Nations begin its own inquiry into the status and the missing and murdered aboriginal women.
Today were are debating this motion, and it is an important step. It looks like the motion will be passed, which is good. However, I want to remember the women in the downtown east side and thank the organizers for what they are doing today, Marlene George, who is the chair of the committee, and many other women who have been involved in this issue. Even though they were grieving for the loss of family members, they refused to be silenced and placated.
What I have learned from this issue is it is probably the greatest tragedy that we have seen in the downtown east side and the community is still feeling the grief of what has taken place. However, I have also learned that the huge systemic issues that are involved are something we simply cannot ignore. I believe we all have a responsibility. Primarily governments have a responsibility, but whether it is municipal, provincial or federal, we all have a responsibility to come to terms with what has taken place. In coming to terms, we have to face the grievous injustices facing aboriginal people, especially women, and we have to respond in a way that acknowledges and understands the historic racism, inequality, poverty and discrimination that has resulted from a long history of colonialism in Canada.
Unless we can begin from that place of understanding, I worry and fear that we will not have learned what we need in order to move forward. That is one very important principle to me, the understanding of the root causes.
The second thing is to understand that society has failed these women at every level, whether it is judicial, political, cultural, no matter what way we look at it, society has failed these women.
These women were marginalized. I am speaking primarily about the downtown east side, but as we know, there are 600 women who are also missing and may be murdered across the country. These women became so marginalized, they became like non-people, and so their disappearances were never taken seriously. Now we have the reports and the analysis of what went wrong, and still there is some finger pointing: the RCMP, the Vancouver Police and other police forces in other parts of the country.
The second most important thing is to understand how everything failed. We expect our governments, our society, the programs we have and the values we have as Canadians to take care of people when they are hurting. Yet in this instance, especially in the downtown east side because most of the women were sex workers, they were just dismissed. It was not taken seriously when they disappeared and when their family members made complaints. We have a lot to learn.
I attended the Oppal commission when it released its report on December 17, not very long ago. Although there were many criticisms about the Oppal commission process, the inquiry and the fact that many community organizations did not have the legal standing and resources they needed to participate in the inquiry, nevertheless, that report is there. It compels all of us to ensure these recommendations are followed up.
When I spoke to Justice Oppal before the commission actually began its formal work, what I said to him and what I still believe today is that the most important aspect of his work was finding a way to ensure that whatever recommendations he came up with would not be forgotten, that they would not just sit somewhere. We have seen that with many reports, unfortunately. We could go back to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in 1996. It was a three-volume document. Most of those recommendations have never been followed up.
I say today that if we have the unanimous will of the House, and it looks like we do and that is good, to set up a special committee, then we have to make a commitment to the community, to those families, that we will actually make it meaningful and that it will not be a special committee that does the routine stuff. It must actually be a process that will look at the other reports and recommendations.
We heard the parliamentary secretary say earlier that she believes the Oppal commission recommendations should be looked at as they pertain to the federal government. That is certainly very important, but we have to make a commitment to look at real outcomes in terms of the judicial system, in terms of poverty, income inequality, racism, discrimination, the standing of women in our society and particularly the standing of aboriginal women. That is something we have the power to do, individually and collectively and through our political parties.
I am glad the motion is being debated today. It is a step. As we have heard from the member for Churchill, we too believe there should be a national public inquiry, and we will not give up on that. I am sure people in the community will not let us forget that.
We have an immediate task, it appears, to set up this special committee. In the memory of the women in the downtown east side and to all of the activists, the family members and people who are there today at the Main and Hastings gathering at noon, and there will probably be more than 5,000 people, I want to say for myself and for my colleagues that we give that commitment. We will not let go of this issue. We will press for justice. We will work in a genuine and meaningful way and we will make sure that the community voices are heard, because they know the truth. They know what needs to be done. In a way, we have to give our leadership, but we also have to understand their leadership and work in co-operation to make sure those changes do come about.
- MPndpFeb 14, 2013 7:55 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, I will say to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice that I listened very carefully to her speech. I think it is a very good step and signal by the government that it will support this motion to set up a special committee. We will all be responsible for making sure that the committee is meaningful and that the recommendations it may make will be followed up.
As I am sure the parliamentary secretary is aware, the Oppal commission in British Columbia just finished its public inquiry and came out with its report in December. Although the process was criticized and many groups were not heard, the fact is that the recommendations in Mr. Oppal's report are very important.
Is the parliamentary secretary aware of its recommendations, because many of them do pertain to the federal government? Is her government considering these recommendations, and how does it intend to follow them up?
This is a very important matter to those of us from Vancouver who have gone through the grief and the tragedy of the missing women in the downtown east side.
- MPndpFeb 13, 2013 4:00 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak briefly today to Bill C-400. We hear the passion in the speeches today about why we have to get this bill through, a bill for an affordable housing strategy in our country.
I want to thank my colleague from Newfoundland and Labrador and others who have spoken in the House today on their experiences and perspective about why the bill is so critical. It is critical because we understand that safe, appropriate, affordable housing is a basic human right in our country. If people do not have it, as the hon. member just said, there is not much else they can do in their life. Whether it is work or income, if people do not have safe, affordable, appropriate housing, it is very difficult to get by.
The bill has had a very long history. I first introduced the bill in 1998. I was so hopping mad when I came to Parliament in 1997 because it was the Liberal government in 1995 that cut out our very successful national housing programs. When the member for Winnipeg North got up on his high horse and said that the Liberals had shown leadership and this was a great issue, it was his government that cut our programs. They were good programs and, yes, we could go back to the seventies and the eighties. They were housing programs that municipalities and non-profit societies used. We had excellent co-op housing, not-for-profit housing, seniors housing, special needs housing and what did the Liberals do? Balancing the budget on the backs of poor people, they cut out housing programs. Ever since that historic day, we have suffered because we have not had a national housing program.
The bill in the last Parliament was almost passed, but the election happened and the bill was died. Here we are again. However, we are determined and committed to keep this issue alive and not give up on the fact that we need a national housing strategy. It is a responsibility of the federal government to work with the provinces, territories, first nations, municipalities and other housing providers to bring about such a strategy. The bill is all about that.
I have heard all the arguments from the other side that government is doing it. The fact is the government had some money for about two years as part of the recession economic plan. However, since then, it has not put any money into an affordable housing plan.
I recently dealt with a group in my riding that was trying to get some money under the homelessness strategy, which does still exist. This was a church group which had its own money, land and needed some support from the federal government, but it was turned down. Why? The group was told that its development was affordable housing and therefore it could not be supported because it was not homelessness.
What kind of crazy system is this? Yes, we need to provide shelters. In metro Vancouver we have a dire situation of growing homelessness, particularly among the aboriginal community, people who cannot find shelter. However, we also need a longer term program. We cannot have people living in and out of shelters. Shelters have become permanent housing for people. That is no solution whether it is in Toronto, Vancouver or Mount Pearl, wherever it is.
I want to congratulate my colleague, the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, for bringing forward the bill again. The New Democrats are here today to say that we will fight tooth and nail to get the bill through. There is tremendous support in the community. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, major organizations, over 60 organizations have supported the bill, not because they like us, because they know this has to be done. This is about a fundamental issue in our country of people who are suffering simply because they do not have access to safe, appropriate and affordable housing. We will keep this going and ensure that the bill gets through.
- MPndpFeb 12, 2013 10:25 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her great responses in the House today.
The bill contains the word “harassment” only once. One of our big concerns is that there is nothing in the bill that deals with the systemic issue of harassment. That is a core underlying issue in what has been facing the RCMP in all of the harassment cases we have seen. I wonder if the member would respond to that.
- MPndpFeb 12, 2013 8:00 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Sudbury for his great comments and his overview of the bill and why those of us in the NDP have so many problems and concerns about it. We did work very hard at committee, as the member outlined, to bring improvements to the bill and to be very constructive. Unfortunately, they were turned down.
One of the issues that concerns me is that we brought forward amendments to ensure that there would be a fully independent civilian review body to investigate complaints. To me, this is a core issue for the public interest. We do know of very serious situations where people have had complaints about the RCMP but there was no independent civilian review body.
I wonder if the member would comment in terms of the importance of having an independent civilian review body to investigate complaints.
- MPndpFeb 12, 2013 7:30 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for articulating so well the problems we have with the bill. As she pointed out, the NDP tried to move a number of amendments at committee that were very constructive in improving the bill and providing good support for members of the RCMP. One of them was adding mandatory harassment training for RCMP officers, specifically in the RCMP act. Surprisingly, this was one of the amendments that was turned down.
I think all of us know it is the employer's responsibility to do harassment training. I wonder if she could comment, because it seems to me this gets to the heart of the matter, that we are yet again failing in terms of a public responsibility to ensure workplaces are free of discrimination and harassment, and that mandatory harassment training is something that is very important within the RCMP.
- MPndpFeb 12, 2013 7:05 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, this petition is calling for support for the sodium reduction strategy for Canada act, and wants to establish the Government of Canada as the leader in monitoring and ensuring progress is made by food companies to achieve sodium reduction goals. The petitioners ask that we have swift passage of private members' bill, Bill C-460, an act respecting the implementation of the sodium reduction strategy for Canada.
- MPndpFeb 01, 2013 10:45 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, actually, this bill is about choice. It is not about banning any foods. It is about proper disclosure of information and allowing Canadians to make healthy choices about what they are eating and to make sure that the industry is very clear about what it is doing.
I am very surprised that the only thing the member can come up with in the bill is this issue about Quebec. We could get into a great discussion now about Canadian federalism, but I think he is aware that a number of bills that come forward in the House are very respectful of Quebec and its role in Confederation. The fact is that a number of bills have this clause to respect the jurisdiction of Quebec.
This is not about creating two tiers but a pan-Canadian strategy working within federalism, a strategy that the NDP has laid out on so many occasions. We have put forward many bills, whether on child care, post secondary education, housing, and now the sodium reduction bill, recognizing how we work as a federation in this country and with Quebec. This bill simply reflects that very strong principle that we have always put forward.
- MPndpFeb 01, 2013 10:30 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
moved that Bill C-460, An Act respecting the implementation of the Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to begin the debate at second reading on Bill C-460, a sodium reduction bill for Canada.
I know that when we choose our private members' bills a lot of thought goes into it because we basically get one shot at it. I did put a lot of thought into what I would bring forward for my private member's bill. As the health critic for the official opposition for the NDP, I tried to think of a measure that would have a very significant impact in improving the health of Canadians.
After looking at a whole number of issues and talking with a lot of people, I decided that this was probably one of the single most important issues that could be brought forward because of the over-consumption of sodium in all of our diets. I selected the bill because there has already been an incredible amount of work done on a sodium reduction plan for Canada. The provinces and territories and experts have basically come together and said that we absolutely have to do something in terms of reducing the amount of sodium that Canadian ingest. That is why I brought forward the bill.
Over-consumption of sodium is a major contributor to heart attacks, strokes and other illnesses in Canada. In fact, StatsCan estimates that Canadians currently consume about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day, which is more than double the recommended intake of 1,500 milligrams. It is estimated that 77% of the sodium consumed by Canadians comes from prepackaged food.
Anyone of us could go into a grocery store and see Canadians poring over labels and trying to figure out what it is that they are eating. People do want to make healthy choices, but the way things are constructed now and the amount of sodium that is in the food that we are eating is really quite astronomical.
The bill seeks to reduce sodium levels in the food supply by implementing the sodium reduction strategy for Canada. This is not a strategy that I came up with, it is a strategy that already exists. It was developed by the expert sodium working group in 2010. It was a group that was set up by the minister. Their report was released in 2010, but it has not yet been implemented by the federal government.
The core of my bill is to implement that strategy. The bill also prioritizes a number of areas where work needs to be done by ensuring that the amount of sodium in prepackaged and restaurant foods is reduced to safe levels. It will improve the labelling of sodium on foods. It will help protect children from being deceived by advertisements for high-sodium foods. Here I want to use Quebec as a model. Quebec has a very successful program around advertising as it affects children. This is a model that we should be using in all of Canada to protect children from the junk food and high-sodium content that they are ingesting without even knowing it.
The bill would establish the Government of Canada as the leader in monitoring and ensuring progress is being made by food companies to achieve sodium reduction plans. All the details about how this will be done are in the bill. It is very clearly laid out. As I say, the core of the bill is to implement the strategy, which already exists from 2010.
In developing the bill, I had tremendous support from across the country. I have been working with different organizations on the bill. I just want to quote from some of them.
Bill Jeffery, national coordinator of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, has done incredible work on this issue over many years. In fact, he was a member of the sodium working group. In his press conference yesterday, he pointed out that this year as many as 16,000 Canadians will die needlessly of heart attacks, heart failure and strokes caused by excess dietary sodium, three-quarters of which is added to foods by food manufacturers and restaurants.
As well, the Canadian Medical Association and its president, Dr. Anna Reid, said:
Canadians consume an average of 3,400 milligrams of sodium daily, well above recommended levels. High sodium levels in food are responsible for almost one-third of hypertension cases in Canada. Hypertension is a major cause of heart disease (heart attack and heart failure), stroke and kidney failure, and it is an important contributor to premature death, disability and health care costs in Canada. It is estimated that 7.5 million Canadians have been diagnosed with this chronic condition, with an estimated 1,100 new patients being added every day.
It goes on to say:
The Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada Act is an important piece of legislation that can lead to healthier lives for all Canadians, and we urge all Members of Parliament to support it.
One of the main advocates of action in this strategy for Canada has been Dr. Norm Campbell who is the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, Canadian Institutes for Health Research chair in hypertension and prevention and control. He is from the University of Calgary.
In his letter, he says:
The bill provides concrete measures for reducing the amount of salt food processors add to food. The measures proposed in the Bill include close government monitoring and oversight and mandatory labelling of foods that fail to comply with sodium targets. If passed, Bill C-460 will for the first time provide Canadians an opportunity to even know if they are even making a healthy or unhealthy food choice.
He goes on at length about what is in the bill, but that is a particularly pertinent comment.
I also point out the breadth and depth of the work that has been done on this issue of sodium reduction. Some members in the House may remember that a year ago we all received a letter that was addressed to the Prime Minister and was signed by 17 major organizations across Canada, including the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Medical Association. That letter was a real convergence of medical and scientific individuals, experts and organizations who came together with a very significant letter to the Prime Minister. In their letter of January 2012, they said:
—we are concerned that recent federal decisions not to endorse the federal, provincial and territorial sodium implementation report, presented at the November 2011 Health Ministers Summit meeting, will be seen as a signal to the food processing industry and food service establishments that our national government is not serious about the need to commit to the 2016, as well as interim, targets. The argument that the sodium implementation plan would fail to garner commitment from industry sends the clear message to Canadians that private interest takes precedence over food safety and [the] health and wellness [of Canadians]...
This was a very thoughtful and well-worded message to the Prime Minister.
In addition, since we have been developing this bill and it was introduced a number of months ago, we now have close to 40 organizations and key experts across the country who are supporting it. They include: the Canadian Medical Association; the Canadian Public Health Association; the Dietitians of Canada; the Canadian Nurses' Association; the Canadian Pharmacists Association; Public Health Physicians of Canada; Canadian Federation of Nurses Union; Hypertension Canada; the Kidney Foundation of Canada; Food Secure Canada; Canadian Institute for Child Health; Canadian Society of Internal Medicine; the Canadian Women's Health Network.
I have just read a very few of the endorsers. These are organizations, and also a number of individuals, that have specifically endorsed this bill.
I am very interested to hear the comments of government members and of other opposition members. Rarely, in public discourse, is there a time when a number of different interests come together where there is a very strong consensus and that is what we have seen on sodium reduction. Let us remember that there was an expert working group put together by the Minister of Health. It produced a report by consensus. It was a unanimous report. It included industry representatives. That report came out and there was no follow-up from the government.
In addition to that, the provinces and the territories, in their own meetings, have considered this issue. They too have called on the federal government to take action on implementing a sodium reduction strategy.
We see the body and the weight of all of these organizations across the country. It seems to me that we are at a particular time where there is a very broad consensus about the need to take serious action and to show we do put public health and public interests as the top priority. If this plan were implemented, there have been estimates that we could save something like $2 billion a year in health costs.
I am also concerned about the kids. We think about our kids and what they eat. I know many us here are parents who have young children and we do the best we can to make sure our children eat well; yet, it is so difficult to do with the array of products that are around us.
When we think about the health of our children as they grow into adults, sodium is not the only issue. There are many factors to a healthy lifestyle. There are things we can do ourselves, and that is certainly something that is part of the bill, by advocating for education and proper information and disclosure. However, it seems to me that the need to ensure there is a sodium reduction plan that is real, meaningful and takes proper steps is absolutely essential.
Many other countries have done this. The World Health Organization lists it as a priority. The sticking point is probably going to be whether it is voluntary or whether there is a plan that has clear target reductions, as my bill would lay out.
We have had a voluntary regime and opportunity now for many years, and frankly it has failed. It is now imperative that we see this as a public health issue that impacts all of Canada and all Canadians. The federal government must demonstrate its leadership and commitment to follow through on the incredible body of work and the plan being produced. That is a duty. It is a public responsibility, and anything less than that is a cop-out.
I want to argue today that continuing on some kind of voluntary path has not produced the results we need to see. The bill would move us in a direction to adopt the plan that was agreed to by the expert sodium working group. It is a reasonable proposition. The steps contained within it are reasonable, and I think it is achievable.
I would encourage all members of the House to not dismiss the bill because it has come from the opposition, but to look at the merits of the bill and who supports the bill. These organizations are non-partisan. They base their decisions on merit. They base their decisions about what they do on evidence, on medical information. When they say they are supporting the bill, maybe they do not agree with everything, every word—if it goes to committee, we will take a look at that—but the principle of the bill and what it is trying to do is there, and it is showing it has very broad support.
I am happy we are having this debate, and I look forward to the debate. I certainly encourage all members of the House, from all sides, to look at the bill in all seriousness. I want members to consider what we are here for and what we do to uphold public health, the public interest, to represent our constituents, and most of all, the future generation of kids, who we want to make sure have the best opportunity to grow up healthy in this wonderful country.
- MPndpFeb 01, 2013 9:10 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from residents who are very concerned about old age security. The petitioners want to ensure that the age of eligibility for collecting OAS remains at 65 and that the OAS keeps pace with the cost of living and is available to everyone.
- MPndpFeb 01, 2013 9:05 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that the Minister of Health look at the record and maybe she can come back to the House and respond. A number of my colleagues very clearly heard a personal comment that was inappropriate, and I think she should remember that. If she does not, she should look at the record.
- MPndpFeb 01, 2013 8:15 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, the minister does not tell us that employment is still not back up to pre-recession levels. As our slowing economy means more and more Canadians are being laid off and thrown out of work, Conservatives are rigging the system with quotas and bonuses so fewer and fewer people qualify for EI. They have directed staff to treat every EI applicant as if he or she were breaking the rules.
Why are the Conservatives treating unemployed Canadians like fraudsters?
- MPndpJan 31, 2013 11:40 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, the government has allowed the debate to be reopened, despite what it says today.
For more than two years the Minister of Health has failed to address the critical issue of drug shortages. Health Canada experts warned that a voluntary system would not work, but the minister ignored them. Now the crisis continues. A recent survey shows that 94% of pharmacists are still experiencing shortages of the drugs that patients need.
Why is the minister ignoring the facts and putting the health of Canadians at risk?
- MPndpDec 12, 2012 12:30 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, I have risen on numerous occasions to present petitions from people in Manitoba, Ontario and B.C. who are concerned that every year thousands of dogs and cats are brutally slaughtered for their fur. The petitioners point out that Canada should join the U.S.A., Australia and European countries in banning the import and sale of cat and dog fur and that it should support Bill C-296.
- MPndpDec 06, 2012 2:50 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to participate in this debate today. I thank my colleague from Châteauguay—Saint-Constant for bringing forward Bill C-429, which would help alleviate a lot of the problems that many of us are experiencing in our local communities. I thank the member for his diligent work on this issue.
This is an issue that, when we delve into it, we find right across the country. Many communities have been faced with the difficult challenge of suddenly finding there is a cellphone tower popping up in the middle of their neighbourhood, near a school, near a residential community, in the middle of a residential community. Then they find out that if it is under 15 metres, they cannot do anything about it.
We had that situation in my community of east Vancouver. Because of the diligence of local community members who brought this to my attention and to the attention of the local member of the legislature, MLA Shane Simpson, we found out there was a problem in our local neighbourhood. We immediately went to work and started to look at the regulations or lack thereof, about what we could do. It was through the incredible hard work of local neighbours, people like Janice, that information became available in the local community. They were as surprised as anyone to find out that, without their knowledge, a cellphone tower had been erected adjacent to a low-rise apartment building at Hastings and McGill, slap bang in the middle of a residential neighbourhood, and there was virtually nothing they could do about it.
I immediately wrote to the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Health to inquire why the rules and regulations exempted these cellphone towers and that the municipality, the city of Vancouver, that wanted to be involved had no recourse to deal with the telecommunications companies that put these towers in east Vancouver and other neighbourhoods. I also raised it in the House in December 2010. I was very dissatisfied with the responses I received from both ministers.
I and Shane Simpson, the MLA, decided to proceed with a public forum in our community and to bring in the telecommunications wireless companies and the city of Vancouver to have a discussion about what should be done with the cellphone tower. Councillor Raymond Louie, who took a lot of time and interest in this issue, in responding to the concerns in the local communities, and particularly the city of Vancouver deputy city manager, Sadhu Johnston who came to our meeting, as well as the medical health officer, worked very closely with us as elected officials, with the local community and with the cellphone companies to find a resolution. It was only because we were able to get the parties together in a voluntary way that we were finally able, after more than a year's work, to get a resolution and a voluntary agreement from the company in question that it was an inappropriate location for a cellphone tower.
We had a good resolution in that one instance. However, what is not being addressed is the ongoing issue across Canada of these cellphone towers, what they are doing in local and urban communities and residential neighbourhoods and the fact that Industry Canada has really not responded. One of my constituents wrote me an email on this recently. She says, “Industry Canada are impossible to talk to. It is quite literally like talking to a brick wall. Canada is essentially allowing the cellphone companies to self-regulate”. She too makes the point, as my colleague just did, that this has been a very big topic of discussion for municipal councillors at the Federation of Municipalities.
The municipalities are asking for a very rational change. They have asked that municipal consultation be required on all towers that are to be installed.
On my part, I also brought forward Motion No. 154 to this effect in the House, calling on Industry Canada to change the current regulations so that telecommunications companies seeking to install cellphone towers must have municipal consultation regarding all towers being installed, and public consultation regarding those within 500 metres of any tower being installed. In my motion, I also called on Industry Canada to allow communities to develop their own regulation and consultation rules to prevent impacts on residential areas and areas adjacent to schools, and also to require a public review of the statistics of what is going on with these cellphone towers.
What I found out when I first started dealing with this a couple of years ago is that it is really quite incredible the number of towers that are going up across the country. Moreover, no one seems to be keeping track of them, particularly the towers under 15 metres tall. They can just go ahead and do it without the involvement of and consultation with municipalities being required.
I do think it is a very serious issue. There are also health concerns that need to be addressed. I know that many members in my community were also very worried about the health impacts of being so close to some of these towers. In fact in Vancouver the Vancouver School Board has policies to ensure that these cellphone towers, where they are over 15 metres tall, are not adjacent or close to schools.
I know there is a lot of concern. In fact there is now a citizen movement of sorts across the country to raise awareness about the issues, both from a health and a municipal perspective, and the fact that there seems to be a complete lack of regulation and attention to this issue by Industry Canada.
I am very glad that this bill is before us today, because I do feel that the bill has been very carefully put together and will address many of the concerns that have been expressed to me by my constituents.
I really want to appeal to members on all sides of the House to look at this bill on its merit. It seems to me that this is the kind of bill that is not partisan or political in any way. It is actually responding to a very real issue in local communities, whether the MP concerned be Conservative, NDP, Liberal, Bloc, or whatever.
As members of Parliament, surely we should be responding to this issue, be willing to find solutions and be looking at this bill as a possible solution. I do hope very much that this bill can get through second reading and go to committee, because I know there are people who would very much like to come forward as witnesses and who would like to speak about the work that is being done at a local level. I am sure the Federation of Canadian Municipalities would also like to come forward. I am sure that the cellphone companies themselves would like to come forward to have a discussion about this.
What we do not want to happen is this issue being pushed under the carpet and ignored. I know there are MPs from all parties who have actually dealt with this issue. I know there are constituents phoning, emailing and organizing in local communities.
Let us respond to this issue in a non-partisan way. Let us take this bill, get it to committee, have a thorough examination and actually address something in a practical, rational and realistic way. I am hopeful that members will support this bill and we can respond to our constituents' concerns about these cellphone towers.
- MPndpDec 06, 2012 2:00 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, I am very glad that we are having this debate in the House because I think it draws attention and focus to the issue of military justice, which probably most Canadians know very little about.
I feel very disturbed that so many times in the House we hear the government members say the NDP is opposed to the military, the NDP is opposed to everything. However, here we are actually debating a bill where we support the need to have a fulsome, proper, fair and balanced military justice system. It is the government side that is whipping through a bill, as it does so often now, without properly considering amendments that were previously in a bill that the House looked at before.
I wonder if the member could comment on the practice of what is taking place, because it is just getting worse and worse.
- MPndpDec 06, 2012 12:45 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, the NDP members always work in good faith, but on the bill we tried hard at committee to bring forward reasonable amendments that would actually strengthen it in terms of military justice and that bill was thrown out. Now the new bill suddenly does not include the amendments that were made at committee.
It raises a lot of questions about how the government responds to other parties in the House. This high and mighty, arrogant attitude is very worrying. Would the member comment on that? Maybe she has had experiences in her own committee on that.
- MPndpDec 06, 2012 12:30 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan so much for giving that very strong response. Unfortunately, the parliamentary secretary apparently did not hear the response after he asked his question. It totally begs the question that if the issue of summary trials is a problem, why does the bill does not include the NDP amendments included in the previous bill, which we understood would be supported this time around?
The member for Nanaimo—Cowichan hit the nail right on the head. She is absolutely correct that the bill is faulty, that it does not include the provisions required to ensure that those subject to the military justice system actually get a fair deal and a fair trial.
The thing that really bothers me is that when people end up with a criminal record for a minor offence, it is something that can impact their whole lives. I am dealing with constituents today who are facing this situation, and now it will be almost impossible for them to get a pardon for certain offences under the new laws the Conservatives have passed. Therefore, I would like the member to comment on what it means to have a criminal record.
- MPndpDec 06, 2012 11:05 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, on this National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, we remember the 14 women who were murdered at École Polytechnique because of their gender. We remember that, if it were not for this violent act, these women would now be in full adulthood with careers and families.
We know that as much as our society has worked to achieve gender equality and lives of equal potential, this equality has not yet been achieved while violence against women still exists.
With this knowledge, we must take action and create a society that provides support for women to immediately leave violent situations. We must solve the 500 cases of missing or murdered aboriginal women. We must create social infrastructure to prevent these situations of violence from taking place.
We owe this to the memories of those 14 women. We owe this to the thousands of Canadian women who currently suffer. And, finally, we owe this to our dream of a nation where both women and men can live equally and prosper.
- MPndpDec 04, 2012 11:35 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, 50 years ago in Saskatchewan Tommy Douglas brought medicare to Canada. He fought powerful interests but with help from the people he succeeded. Unfortunately, since coming to power the Conservatives have done nothing to strengthen the health accords. We have witnessed growing privatization, no national drug plan, no help for home care and longer wait times.
Will the Conservatives finally show leadership and stop their reckless plan to unilaterally cut $36 billion from provincial health care budgets?
- MPndpDec 03, 2012 11:40 am | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are failing yet again to show leadership in health care, and Canadians are paying the price. The Canadian Institute for Health Information reported that Canada has the highest percentage of people waiting more than four hours in emergency rooms, and more than half of Canadians say they cannot get appointments with their family doctors when they need them.
Why is the Minister of Health cutting billions of dollars from health transfers rather than working with the provinces to reduce wait times, which is a significant issue in this country?
- MPndpNov 28, 2012 2:20 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, one of the concerns about the bill overall is, as the member has pointed out, that it is very far removed from consumer protection.
One of the things I have always been concerned about over the years because of the riding I represent is protection, particularly for low income people who, in the first place, have difficulty accessing regular services at financial institutions. The protection they have is very minimal.
I just wonder if the member could comment on whether he has had any similar experiences in his own riding where people who are on fixed or very low incomes have a very difficult time with financial institutions and they absolutely need protection.
- MPndpNov 28, 2012 12:15 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to join with so many other members today in presenting about 100 pages or more of petitions also on Bill C-398, known as the medicine for all bill. I thank the Grandmothers Advocacy Network and individuals, like Mary Steeves, who have spent so much time collecting these signatures.
We have the vote tonight, so it is great that so many petitions are being presented.
- MPndpNov 28, 2012 12:05 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver East
Mr. Speaker, provinces across the country are concerned about the approval of generic OxyContin. Provincial health ministers have repeatedly asked the government for support but the minister has refused to show any leadership in addressing their legitimate concerns.
For 10 years we have known about the public safety impacts of OxyContin. Why is the minister refusing to co-operate when the provinces have been clear that they are seeking a reasonable solution to an urgent health problem that she should be assisting them with?
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