To the editor:
In response to Malcolm Roberts’ letter of March 2 (Parliament Dallies on Dirty Tricks while Canadians’ Health Detioriorates), I want to assure constituents that there are no dirty tricks being played by our federal government, especially when it comes to CCSVI and multiple sclerosis trials in Canada.
Our government is fully committed to supporting MS sufferers and their families and I can attest to the fact that not one parliamentarian took the vote on Bill C-280 lightly, knowing the struggles that Canadian families face as a result of MS.
When we first heard of the CCSVI treatment, a method proposed by Dr. Paolo Zamboni for imaging the veins in the neck and brain to look for blockages, I received a number of e-mails and telephone calls about the procedure. People were understandably anxious to learn when the treatment would be available in Canada and welcomed the news that Canada was moving forward with clinical trials announced in June 2011.
Since then, under the auspices of the Minister of Health, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has worked with its Scientific Expert Working Group to develop the terms of reference for the trial and, in November 2011, began the process of selecting, through a competitive and rigorous peer-review process, a research team to conduct the clinical trial.
The selected research team, which requires approval on their research protocol by their Institutional Ethics Review Board, is expected to be announced this month. At that time we will have a better idea of how many patients will be recruited and where the study will be conducted.
Understandably for some, the process is not moving fast enough and C-280 raised their hopes that the trials could move faster regardless of the advice of our own scientific community and those working in the field internationally.
As one constituent who lives with MS wrote: “any federal dollars for research into any disease has to follow the established pathways for research. The current hysterical response to CCSVI is no reason to circumvent these proven procedures.”
I personally have friends and family who suffer from MS and I want nothing more than a cure to be available to them and all Canadians as soon as possible. With respect to C-280 however, my colleagues and I have an ethical obligation to put patients’ safety first.
I continue to show my support for MS patients, their families and caregivers by speaking regularly with constituents and seeking advice from physicians within our community and in caucus. Last week I also supported the motion of my colleague Leon Benoit, which sought to ensure patients suffering with MS have access to the information necessary in order to make more informed decisions on the management of their condition, especially if they are considering having the liberation therapy outside of Canada.
As I have done all along, I will continue to be a strong advocate for my constituents who live with MS.
Ron Cannan, MP