Finishing off my roundup of gay and lesbian
MPs, I chatted with NDP MP Libby Davies after question period yesterday.
Xtra: How was the rest of your summer?
Libby Davies: After the funeral, I went back to the
Vancouver and worked. Then we had our caucus retreat. Last weekend I was just
in New Orleans for the Sixth Summit of the North American HIV/AIDS Housing
Conference, which is a very interesting conference. Americans, Canadians and
some people from Mexico, from Haiti – quite a few Canadians from Ontario, the
HIV/AIDS Treatment Network, there were people from Vancouver. I was one of the
keynote speakers, on housing issues and HIV/AIDS. I was very impressed with some
of the American participants and speakers. They seem to have a very good handle
on HIV/AIDS in terms of information and statistics, and detailed demographics –
more than we have, or at least that was my impression. We had speakers from
HUD, which is the Housing Urban Development, which is the huge US housing
department. They actually have people at HUD who focus on HIV/AIDS and housing.
We don’t even have a housing program for God’s sake. They had people from the
Center for Disease Control who focused on HIV/AIDS, so I was very impressed
with some of the American speakers. They had very good information. That
doesn’t imply that they’re doing all that they should, because they’re not, but
they really know how to gather good research and information.
Xtra: What do you have planned for this fall?
LD: I’m digging into the health file. I have
three of my colleagues on the health committee with me, and we’ve been meeting
regularly, and canvassing the health file overall. It’s a huge file with many
different subsections, but obviously one of the things that we’re focusing in on is the Health Accord – both the 2004 accord, but also leading into the 2014
accord, and putting together a program about what we understand to be some of
the issues from 2004 and what we need to do to address those issues in 2014,
so we’ll be very active on that. That’s been taking up a lot of my time – just
working on that.
Xtra: Is there anything in terms of committee
work that you’re looking forward to?
LD: The health committee is only just
getting going. We had one meeting in June, where we dealt with tobacco
regulations, and we have our first meeting today, where we’re being briefed by
Health Canada. Today and Monday are basically briefing meetings. The steering
committee is working out a work plan now for the fall, so we’ve been suggesting
items and talking to the other parties about that.
Xtra: Any particular suggestions that you’re
hoping will make it onto that plan?
LD: One big issue that we need to look at is
the question of drug affordability and drug safety. It’s a huge issue that
affects a lot of Canadians, and it affects people who don’t have drug coverage.
It affects people with very high drug costs with very serious diseases like
HIV/AIDS. For us, a big issue is the fact that the federal government has shown
no leadership on drug affordability, accessibility and safety. Safety is an
issue too. That’s part of the Accord, but it’s something that we’ll be raising.
Xtra: Anything else you’re looking forward to
doing now that you’re back in Ottawa?
LD: Right now it’s really just digging in on
some of the health questions and building up our team. It’s four people, and,
of course, there are other related critic areas like aboriginal affairs,
environment that we’re working closely with, so we’re really building that up,
and we’re having really good discussions in our caucus about that, and I’m
looking forward to working with my colleagues. My three other colleagues are all new
MPs from Quebec, and they’re very interested in the file. One of them is a doctor – Doctor Djaouida Sellah. One of the other critics – the deputy critic –
her parents are both nurses. And the other critic, Dany Morin, is a
chiropractor. So while they’re new, they actually have a lot of connection with
health issues, and they’re very eager to get going on a bunch of stuff, which