Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Rick Casson Profile
View Rick Casson Profile
2011-03-24 14:11 [p.9199]
Mr. Speaker, in yet another chapter of partisan politics, the Liberals are proving to the public that they are not concerned about policy or people, but are just in it for themselves.
After the tax exemption for volunteer firefighters was presented in the budget this week, the member for Malpeque was falsely claiming that it was a Liberal idea.
That is really interesting because, on October 8, 2003, he voted against that tax credit put forward in my private members' bill, Bill C-325. The bill, which I originally introduced in December 2002, failed by a narrow margin of 96 to 99. Ninety-seven of the 99 members who voted against it were Liberals.
Does it matter whose idea something was? Are we not here to get things done for the people of Canada? How can Canadians trust Liberal members who at one time vote against something but change their position when they feel some political advantage is possible?
Is this not just another deliberate effort to mislead on the part of the Liberals? This is a question voters will need to consider when they choose their next member of Parliament.
View Rick Casson Profile
View Rick Casson Profile
2011-03-21 16:11 [p.9046]
Mr. Chair, it is good that we are having this debate. We all have our concerns and questions and certainly we want to highlight the issues in Libya.
I appreciate the comments of the member opposite. We sat on the defence committee together some time ago.
To have a debate in the House like this today, considering some of the other debates that have taken place and some of the other antics that have gone on, it is good to get down to something serious where we can discuss and work toward a common goal.
The 1973 UN Security Council Resolution is many pages long. It delves into a lot of different areas and does indicate the protection of the people, to stop what is happening there. It goes on about the no-fly zone, ensuring the arms embargo, asset freezing, the whole issue. Then it gets into the humanitarian aspect of it.
I believe, and we have heard this from all today, that this is a necessary step, taking into account that all other avenues have failed. The last action we want to take is what we have to do, particularly flying over a foreign country.
Having said that, nothing else has happened. In the past, the only thing that Colonel Gadhafi responded to was a threat similar to this in his country and things changed after that.
Does the member think there is any salvation for the Gadhafi government or himself? Is this a point in time in the history of the world where he has to completely be removed from governing a country or governing a people?
View Rick Casson Profile
View Rick Casson Profile
2011-03-21 18:14 [p.9061]
Mr. Chair, I would like to ask my colleague, a former member of the forces and a pilot as was indicated, a question about the process that goes on here.
It took a while for the United Nations to assess the situation and to come up with this resolution. The resolution is very complex, and it handles a lot of the situation as it unfolds, from the arms embargo to the no-fly zone, and on and on.
There was some concern expressed earlier about how the command structure works as this deployment unfolds, and as the sorties go on and increase in number.
I would like to ask the member if he is aware of how the actual command structure works, of who is making the decisions on what happens over there, and of what our boys and girls are going to be doing?
View Rick Casson Profile
View Rick Casson Profile
2011-02-14 15:11 [p.8115]
Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions today that deal with two different issues. Pursuant to Standing Order 36 I would like to table these.
The first petition calls upon the Government of Canada and the provincial and territorial governments to cease negotiations with the EU while nation-wide public consultations take place.
View Rick Casson Profile
View Rick Casson Profile
2011-02-14 15:12 [p.8115]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition has to do with the Omar Khadr case.
The petitioners bring to the attention of the Government of Canada the devaluation of the Canadian justice system in the case of Omar Khadr.
View Rick Casson Profile
View Rick Casson Profile
2011-02-10 14:00 [p.8015]
Mr. Speaker, on this coming weekend in 1975 the Canada Winter Games Sportsplex in Lethbridge was the venue for the opening ceremonies for that year's Canada Winter Games.
This Sunday, 35 years later, the Winter Games will kick off in Halifax. Teams from across Canada will descend on Halifax to continue this great Canadian tradition. Alberta will send one of its largest teams ever with 337 participants from 49 communities, competing in 20 different sports.
I would like to congratulate the athletes and coaches heading to Halifax from Lethbridge and southern Alberta: Don Cowan, coach and Holly Henderson, manager for figure skating; Tim Cooney, manager for speed skating; and the athletes: Ryan Chenoweth, hockey; Jazlyn Tabachniuk, figure skating; Paul Cooney, speed skating; and Taylor Evans, judo.
They, along with all the athletes, will do their best, showcase their skills, and use good sportsmanship as their guide to success.
The 1975 Winter Games left great memories and a lasting legacy in southern Alberta and I am sure the 2011 games will do the same in Halifax.
View Rick Casson Profile
View Rick Casson Profile
2011-02-01 10:05 [p.7509]
Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to table pursuant to Standing Order 36.
The petitioners call upon the House of Commons and Parliament to stand up for our freedoms by repealing the Canadian Human Rights Act and by permanently disbanding the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
View Rick Casson Profile
View Rick Casson Profile
2010-12-13 17:16 [p.7158]
Mr. Speaker, I ask for unanimous consent for the following motion:
That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, during the debate pursuant to Standing Order 52 later today, no quorum call, requests for unanimous consent or dilatory motion be received by the Chair.
View Rick Casson Profile
View Rick Casson Profile
2010-12-06 14:04 [p.6842]
Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago with the help of the troops at the 18th Air Defence Regiment in Lethbridge, we kicked off the second “Send Your Support…In a Cup of Coffee” campaign.
I am asking everyone to purchase a $5 Tim Hortons gift card, write a little note of thanks on the gift envelope and drop it off at my office.
We will collect them and send them to our men and women in Afghanistan for use at the Tim Hortons outlet at Kandahar airfield.
Last year we collected over 3,200 cards, more than enough for every one of our brave men and women in Afghanistan to have a cup of coffee on us.
With two weeks left in this year's campaign, we are halfway to our goal of 2,900 cards. As one of our troops, who had been on tour and received one of the cards, said, “It brings a little piece of home. It is nice to know the public is there to support us”.
Mr. Speaker, you and many of our colleagues have already sent me your cards, and I know you join me in encouraging everyone else to do the same.
View Rick Casson Profile
View Rick Casson Profile
2010-11-16 15:01 [p.6020]
Mr. Speaker, our government and, indeed, all Canadians are proud of the role the Canadian Forces have played in Afghanistan. Thanks to our brave men and women, Canada has helped build a more secure, stable, and self-sufficient Afghanistan that is no longer a safe haven for terrorists. Today the government announced the role Canada will play as we transition out of a combat mission and focus on other critical work.
Can the hard-working and, it seems, much appreciated Minister of National Defence tell the House what role Canada will play once our combat mission ends?
View Rick Casson Profile
View Rick Casson Profile
2010-09-27 15:15 [p.4426]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition with 26 names on it.
The petitioners call upon the House of Commons and Parliament assembled to bring forward and adopt into legislation Bill C-544, An Act to amend the Health of Animals Act and the Meat Inspection Act (slaughter of horses for human consumption).
View Rick Casson Profile
View Rick Casson Profile
2010-06-14 21:10 [p.3820]
Mr. Chair, I welcome the opportunity to speak about multiple sclerosis tonight and how new research can help bring new hope to patients.
As we know, MS is a devastating diagnosis and unpredictable illness. It often strikes young people who may lose the ability to move and speak as the illness takes its course. Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world. Every day three more people in Canada are diagnosed with MS.
My riding of southern Alberta has one of highest incidence of MS in the world. In fact, in the neighbourhood where my children grew up, three young ladies, within six houses of each other, were all diagnosed with MS at about the same time in their lives.
It is the prevalence of this illness in Canada and the debilitation that it can cause which leads us all to hope for a cure. I do not stand here today speaking from merely a theoretical standpoint. I am personally determined to see us find a treatment for MS. A few years ago, my daughter was diagnosed with MS.
Since that time, my wife has been a member of the local MS Society board. I have been involved in red carnation day on Parliament Hill. Over the last five years “Team Casson”, supported by numerous unselfish people, has raised $92,000 through the MS Society Enerflex MS Walk.
I do not say this to brag. I say it because it leads into the fact that individual Canadians on the ground are doing what they can to find a cure for MS, just as the Government of Canada is. We have invested through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research over $45 million to date on MS research. It is through investments in research and innovation that our best hopes lie in improving treatments and some day finding a cure.
In part, due to these investments, the last few years have seen great advancements in MS research. Our knowledge of what causes MS, how it develops and how it progresses is growing, but many questions remain unanswered. The Canadian research community is working tirelessly to answer many of these questions.
For example, researchers are working to solve what is considered one of the great medical mysteries of neurological diseases: how does myelin, which is responsible for protecting and insulating nerves, become damaged and lose its protective effect?
CIHR-funded researcher Peter Stys from the University of Calgary has been working on this question and has discovered that myelin can chemically communicate with the surrounding nerve fibres. Dr. Stys and his research team reported that damage from a stroke could be avoided by blocking the myelin receptors. Many researchers are looking at these receptors as potential targets for MS therapies. This is very promising work, indeed.
Another example is the work of another CIHR-funded researcher, Dr. Sam Weiss, again from the University of Calgary, whose discovery of neural stem cells and their ability to stimulate neural development through our lifetime is the foundation upon which much research on neurological diseases, including MS, is taking place. The implication of Dr. Weiss' research is that recovery of motor, visual and cognitive functions is possible.
Yet another promising example is the work of Canadian MS researchers who networked right across the country, spanning from the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto to the University of British Columbia. These CIHR-funded researchers are trying to harness the growing power of skin cells to repair cells in the nervous system.
The first thing I was told when my daughter was diagnosed was that MS was a lesion on the brain that caused an interruption in the signals from the brain. These researchers are looking at an ability to repair the cells in the nervous system. The goal of this research is to some day make brain and nerve damage reversible. Imagine if that happened. It is something MS patients desperately need.
I also want to mention the good work being done in my home town at the Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge. Researchers there are striving to understand the basic structure and function of brain circuitry.
This is providing insights into the most fundamental properties of brain function, which may help decipher the causes of many disorders, including stroke, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis. Scientists such as Dr. Bryan Kolb, Dr. Ian Whishaw and Dr. Gerlinde Metz are conducting research that looks at how the brain regenerates function and circuitry using stem cells, psychoactive drugs and other therapeutic interventions. Dr. Bryan Kolb, a long-time friend, was the first person I called.
The importance of establishing a robust health research community, ready to respond to a myriad of questions across disciplines, cannot be overstated. This is because often researchers are looking for answers on one disease and end up advancing our knowledge on another.
For example, Dr. Bruce Pike and Dr. Douglas Arnold of McGill University are studying Alzheimer's disease, and receive CIHR funding to advance functional magnetic resonance imaging research. This work will help to comprehensively and quantitatively assess tissue damage in MS patients, thereby improving our understanding of the disease and the evaluation of the new therapies.
The above are only a few examples of the ways in which research funding through CIHR is leading to discoveries that will help us help people living with MS. Indeed the research funded by the Government of Canada is changing people's lives. Investments in a wide range of research, including over $120 million in the larger area of neurosciences research in 2008-09 alone, are having an impact. A further $38 million in stem cell research has been invested for researchers to pursue potentially useful therapies for the treatment of disease, such as multiple sclerosis.
Further, it is worth noting that the CIHR has made chronic diseases, of which MS is one of the top research priorities in its new 2009 strategic plan. All of these investments are building on our overall understanding of MS. I am hopeful that these investments and the discoveries that they lead to will advance our understanding of MS and allow for the development of safe and effective treatments.
As for the new vascular treatment making headlines worldwide, I join all Canadians on all sides of the House in the hope that this new approach proves to be safe and effective, but I need to see some sound evidence before adding it to the body of knowledge on MS.
I want to mention my daughter's doctor in Edmonton, Dr. Mary Lou Myles. She takes all of this information that comes forward, takes all the spin and all the misinformation out of it, and sends out information updates to her patients. I read these on occasion. I appreciate the fact that she approaches this in that way. She understands the potential is there, but she is very cautious about how to proceed.
To this end, the Minister of Health has asked Dr. Alain Beaudet, president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to provide her with advice on how to further advance research in this important area. The CIHR has been consulting with the research community and is collaborating with the MS Society of Canada to identify priorities for MS research.
In keeping with this great tradition of guiding Canada's research agenda, the CIHR is helping to steer a course that will answer the pressing questions still left unanswered regarding MS. In keeping with this tradition, it is doing so in a manner that foster excellence in the Canadian research community.
I am confident the CIHR will use its expertise and vast networks to support the great scientific minds in improving our understanding of MS and reducing the suffering of MS patients.
My family and I, along with many Canadians, are excited about the possibilities of this new treatment. We sincerely hope we find an effective cure for this debilitating disease. I encourage the pertinent researchers in Canada to work with the CIHR, to work with the MS Society and with our Minister of Health, and apply for the funding that has been made available to do the good work that is needed in the research so we can end MS.
View Rick Casson Profile
View Rick Casson Profile
2010-06-14 21:20 [p.3821]
Mr. Chair, I can put a personal touch on this. If I am going to recommend that my daughter takes a treatment of some kind, I want to make damned sure it will not kill her, cripple her or make her worse.
[Disturbance in the gallery]
Mr. Rick Casson: That is unfortunate.
That is unfortunate because I say that with all sincerity.
I want this research to be done, and I want it done right. When the time comes, I will advise her and help her get that procedure.
There has been a couple of incidents where people have been damaged, but out of how many? This procedure is available in 47 countries, as somebody said earlier, so why is it not available in Canada?
I truly believe, and I say it having this in my family, that research needs to be done and we have to be very cautious, but when it is proven, let us quickly deal with the 50,000, 60,000 or 70,000 people in this country who have MS. But let us not, for one second, give false hope to those that this procedure cannot help. That is where the testing comes in, where the MRI procedure has to come in, and that is why the diagnosis has to be exactly right.
We have to make sure we do not tell people that this will help them when it will not. We have to make sure that those who can be helped will be helped, but we have to continue with the research so those who cannot be cured by this process from Italy, and there are many, still have hope for the future. A large percentage of the people who are affected by MS are not helped by this new process and they need that research for their own well-being.
View Rick Casson Profile
View Rick Casson Profile
2010-06-14 21:24 [p.3822]
Mr. Chair, to get back to the point I made that seemed to draw some laughs from some corners, which I find so very, very unfortunate--and to have the member opposite cheerleading that reinforces my opinion of him--the fact remains that this process will help people. It has helped some people. But it has caused some problems and we do not know all the details on it. It will not be the cure-all for everybody.
If my daughter were in a wheelchair, which she is not, but if she were, or I was, I would be looking at every possibility for a better future for me and for my family.
If this is the answer, then let us make damned sure it is. Let us make sure that when it is offered there is a complete understanding that it will not help everybody. It will help some, and hopefully it will bring them right back to normal.
Some of the other research, how to regenerate brain cells, how to get motor rhythms back, all of these things are the type of research that will help a lot more people in the long run.
Let us continue with our research. Let us use the investments that have been made for the betterment of all of us.
View Rick Casson Profile
View Rick Casson Profile
2010-06-14 21:26 [p.3822]
Mr. Chair, that is a great question, and I appreciate that, but whether there are provincial or federal jurisdictional issues, I think we need to be aware of them and we also need to need to work on them.
At the same time that I wrote a letter to our health minister many months ago when this issue first came forward, I also wrote a letter to the health minister of Alberta. I got responses. Do I have issues with some of the responses? Sure I do, and I have talked to our federal health minister about those issues many times. We have raised it at every opportunity, and I am becoming more satisfied with the answers I am hearing. With respect to why some of this is not happening where it needs to, we are going to have to work with that.
One thing I am proud of is that over the last number of years this government has continued to put money into research for the neurosciences, and it has continued to fund the provinces through the Canada Health Act. We have not cut that funding; we have flagged it for a percentage increase every year. So when the decision is made to move forward, the provinces will have the resources, the time and the money to be able to do that.
It is a long and complicated process, and a lot of MS sufferers do not have that kind of time. We will be keeping the pressure on to make sure things are done right but that they are done as fast as they possibly can be.
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