Rodney Watson recently marked the second anniversary of his move to a one-bedroom apartment in the First United Church on East Hastings Street. As a former U.S. soldier and a conscientious objector to the war in Iraq, Watson took sanctuary in the building after Canadian immigration authorities ordered that he be deported in September 2009. Since then, he has made a life in the Downtown Eastside church with his wife, Natasha, and their two-year-old son, Jordan, as he awaits word on his application to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds...Libby Davies, the NDP MP for Vancouver East, noted the previous Parliament passed two motions in favour of stopping the deportation of war resisters. “The expression of parliamentarians by majority in the last Parliament was very strong in favour of welcoming war resisters as we had during the Vietnam era, but we have a Conservative government that is blinded by politics on this,” Davies said in a phone interview with the Straight.
Links to news articles written by or about Libby Davies.
OTTAWA — Vancouver's controversial supervised-injection site should stay open indefinitely, the country's top court ruled Friday, calling the federal government's move to shut it down a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms...Shortly after the decision was released Friday morning, Davies said she felt "an incredible sense of relief and victory." "It's always been about saving people's lives," she said. "It's always been about a very important medical intervention to help people and the relentless opposition from the Conservative government has been just an incredible thing to take on. I feel so proud of all of the people who came together — whether they were academics, police officers, front-line activists, health professionals, and most of all, the drug users themselves — who were willing to stand up and have the courage to say they would fight all the way to make sure Insite continued its important work."
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.
NDP deputy leader Libby Davies has ruled out running in the party’s helm race. “It was a decision made after a lot of thought about what my role should be,” the Vancouver East MP said Thursday. Her minimal ability to speak French was one of her main reasons, she said in a phone interview from New Orleans where she’s speaking at a conference about HIV and housing.
New Democratic Party deputy leader Libby Davies, described Wednesday as the "heart" of the party's left flank, has decided she won't be a candidate in the contest to replace Jack Layton. Davies, a key player in an attempt, a decade ago, to replace the NDP with a new party, said she had cross-Canada support, but concluded that her inability to speak French was too great a barrier to overcome...Davies said that in the past, she focused on a candidate's policy views, but she'll now back a candidate with strong leadership skills who can follow in Layton's "pragmatic" footsteps.
OTTAWA — The B.C. government is honour-bound to repay the $1.6 billion it received from the federal government to bring in the harmonized sales tax, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told the House of Commons Tuesday. He was responding to a demand from New Democratic Party deputy leader Libby Davies that the Harper government drop its plan to "punish" British Columbians who voted in a summer referendum to axe the combined federal-provincial sales tax.
"I’ve often said that to me, the Pride parade reminds me of what the Peace Walk in Vancouver used to be in the '80s when upwards of 50,000 people would come out. The expression of love and positive feeling toward each other is what I find incredible at the parade, and it’s fun. People have water guns, and things happen spontaneously. The NDP will have a big contingent in it this year. Jack has been often in the past. He won’t be there this year, and I’m going to be thinking of him when I'm there."
Imagine moving from one province to another and finding that the costs of your prescription medications aren’t covered in your new home. While the Canada Health Act provides for comparable levels of medical care from province to province, the same is not true when it comes to paying for life-saving medicines, including HIV meds...NDP health critic Libby Davies says if the Martin government had attached funding conditions for a pharmacare strategy back in 2004, the Harper government wouldn’t be dragging its feet now. Still, she says, the Conservative government should move forward on the matter now. “I think it’s very unfair, and in fact one could argue that it’s very discriminatory and completely contrary to the Canada Health Act, that depending on where you live or on your income, that you may or may not get the drugs that you need for HIV/AIDS,” says Davies. “To me, that’s structural discrimination. It’s more evidence of why we’ve got to fix this, and we shouldn’t be waiting until 2014.”
There is now enough evidence to proceed with clinical trials for the controversial vein-opening therapy for multiple sclerosis known as the Zamboni procedure, the federal government says...NDP health critic Libby Davies said the announcement is a "step forward" but agreed that it should have been made months ago. "It's taken the government an incredibly long time to even get to this point," she said. Davies also said this won't put an end to the political pressure MPs in Ottawa have been under to help patients access the treatment. She said the health minister should disclose all relevant information related to this decision, and provide more details about how the clinical trials are going to operate, and how much money will be dedicated to them.
OTTAWA - The Conservative government will fund clinical trials of a controversial multiple sclerosis treatment -- often referred to as the "liberation treatment" -- after it heard new scientific information this month...NDP health critic Libby Davies said she expects public and political pressure to mount because people want more details about when trials will begin.
The federal government is looking to put the debate over a controversial multiple sclerosis treatment to rest once and for all. Faced with sharply divided opinions among medical experts and intense lobbying efforts from politicians and patients – many of whom have gone abroad for the treatment – Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced Wednesday that the government will fund clinical trials of a vein-widening procedure that’s being used to treat the symptoms of MS..."I think there is some disappointment that it’s taken the government so long to move on this,” said Libby Davies, NDP health critic.
Opposition parties are criticizing the Harper government’s latest budget, which contains few changes from the fiscal plan introduced before the federal election this spring...“I really feel like they’ve kind of ignored these very basic quality of life issues that more and more people are facing and struggling with.” The Vancouver East MP said health care and housing are among those key issues. “I’m hugely disappointed and actually hopping mad that they just don’t get it about housing,” said Davies. “It’s not like the money isn’t there, because they’re giving away billion in these corporate tax cuts,” she added. “It’s all about how the pie’s made up and how it’s divided.”
OTTAWA — If Canada wants to improve its health-care system, it should start by better organizing all the bits and pieces of crucial information that confound doctors, patients and administrators, says the Health Council of Canada. The council is responsible for monitoring progress on a 10-year federal-provincial health accord that infused provincial systems with $41 billion in federal money in 2004. In its latest evaluation released Tuesday, the council said that many provinces have laid the groundwork for better-quality health care in some areas. But progress is patchy, varying greatly province by province. Information on the system's health as a whole — let alone that of individual patients — is unreliable...The report is a call for a stronger federal role in health care, especially in pharmaceutical strategy, said NDP health critic Libby Davies. "The federal government has been absent," Davies said. "The report expresses concern about the patchwork effect. Some provinces have made progress on some issues, other provinces on other things. But what is it that holds it together? It's got to be the federal government."
OTTAWA - Pumping more cash into the health-care system won’t fix it without better planning and clear goals, the Health Council of Canada said Tuesday. Its latest report card on the health accords struck by the feds and the provinces in 2003 and 2004 indicates gains made in the past seven years can be tied directly to governments setting specific targets and following through on those commitments...NDP health critic Libby Davies is encouraged by gains highlighted in the report, but says the Conservatives have dropped the ball on pharmacare. “The glaring issue is the lack of leadership and participation of the federal government,” she said.
OTTAWA- Canada's official Opposition has unveiled a 42-member strong front bench that features a large Quebec contingent, an impressive number of women and a mixture of old and new faces. Vancouver's Libby Davies stays on as an NDP deputy leader but will also be the new health critic... Moving a party stalwart such as Davies to health -it was relative newcomer Megan Leslie's beat previously -is indicative of the importance the position holds for the NDP. Layton said Davies will lead the call for more doctors and nurses and monitor negotiations surrounding the new health accord the government will need to strike with the provinces by 2014.
OTTAWA - Opposition leader Jack Layton rolled out his starting lineup Thursday -- a squad he says can compete against Prime Minister Stephen Harper's front bench...The NDP says its shadow cabinet mixes "new energy with experience," but the party is relying heavily on members of its old guard to manage high-profile positions. As House leader, Mulcair oversees the party's day-to-day operations in Parliament. With 59 MPs under his watch, the Quebec lieutenant is also co-deputy leader alongside veteran Libby Davies. Layton says Davies' health file is very important because negotiations for a new health accord are set to get underway in 2014.
With a large caucus alongside her, NDP MP Libby Davies says she is excited to be returning to the Hill. “I’m looking forward to our first caucus meeting, to meet many of the new MPs, but particularly the young folks,” she says. “I’m so excited about the role they’re going to play, and energize the place, and maybe turn Parliament on its head, which would be a good thing. I think it’s going to be pretty fantastic.”
After all the drama and tension of a landmark election, Canadians probably needed a little comic interlude. The NDP provided one, although quite unintentionally. They served up the whimsical story of Pierre-Luc Dusseault, 19, whose upset victory in Sherbrooke, Que., made him the youngest MP ever, and meant he’d have to forgo his summer job on a golf course. Then there were the three McGill University students who will have to suspend their studies after surprising even themselves by capturing Quebec seats...Layton spent much of his first post-election news conference fending off questions about the scant experience of these and other rookies in his much enlarged Quebec contingent. With the collapse of the Bloc Québécois, an astonishing 58 NDP MPs from the province were elected on May 2, up from just one, Montreal’s Thomas Mulcair, before the election. But if all the attention on Layton’s youth brigade suggested an NDP caucus characterized by dewy-eyed campus idealism, that’s a misleading impression. In fact, the front benches of the second party in the House—traditionally seen as a government-in-waiting—will feature many tough-minded former union leaders. “We have some pretty major labour folks,” says veteran Vancouver NDP MP Libby Davies. “That’s a connection to a very solid base of activism, an understanding of politics and how it works."
OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada is hearing arguments in Ottawa Thursday for and against the operation of Vancouver's Insite heroin-injection centre...The Conservative government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper refused to extend the exemption in 2008 and the group operating the facility has been successfully fighting the decision in lower courts. But NDP Drug Critic, and MP for Vancouver-East Libby Davies, says the facility - the first of its kind in Canada - saves lives. "I find it appalling that the federal government has fought Insite every step of the way." Davies said. "The Conservatives are so rigid on their own ideological position, that they refuse to look at the overwhelming scientific evidence, more than 20 studies, that show Insite is part of the solution."
"This is going to change so many things," veteran New Democrat Libby Davies said in the aftermath of her party's breakthrough on election night. "I think it's a whole new ball game. It's going to be a whole new kind of politics." That could be true (please let it be true), but a number of things have to change radically, starting with the way the media leap on every unscripted comment, from every politician, declare it a gaffe, then set about finding other politicians to denounce it.