Liberals Should Listen to Veterans Regarding Use of Mefloquine: Conservative MPs

June 20, 2017

June 19, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa, ON – Today, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs released its report on Mental Illness and Suicide Prevention. Conservative members of the Committee attached a Supplementary Report. Members of Parliament John Brassard – MP for Barrie-Innisfil, Cathay Wagantall, M.P., and Robert Kitchen issued the following statement:

“We are concerned that the final draft of the Committee’s report did not accurately represent the testimony we heard from numerous veterans regarding the use of mefloquine by the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). According to that testimony, Canada’s veterans’ community has thus far been disappointed with the government’s stance that mefloquine does not have an effect on our soldiers. The report, as drafted by the Liberal MPs on the Committee, is deficient in several key areas.

“While announcing that mefloquine should only be administered as a last resort is a step in the right direction, the government still has to take action to address the concerns of veterans. This includes forming an independent inquiry with the mandate to either establish or rule out any and all connection between the use of mefloquine and the actions of Master Corporal Clayton Matchee and Private Kyle Brown when they were deployed in Somalia.

“We also call on the government to work with the provinces, territories, and all relevant federal government institutions to study the long term effects of mefloquine. In addition, we are asking the government and the Department of National Defence to take immediate action to contact members of the CAF that were administered mefloquine in the course of their deployment overseas. The results of this study should be tabled in Parliament for the benefit of all MPs, Canadians and for the veterans and their families we serve.

“We tabled this supplementary report because we could not ignore the testimony of our veterans. The evidence we heard was clear: the members of Canada’s Armed Forces who were deployed in Somalia suffered from severe neurological and psychological episodes. Given the recent research by Canada’s allies and others into the psychological effects that mefloquine can have on those who take it, we believe that now is the time to determine, once and for all, how mefloquine may have impacted our troops in Somalia.

“The testimony from Lt. Gen. (Ret.) the Hon. Roméo Dallaire was particularly moving. He testified that despite the fact that mefloquine had extremely harsh effects on him both physically and psychologically, he was ordered by his superiors to continue taking the drug. Conservatives believe that it is vitally important that the Committee’s final report reflects the views of the Hon. Roméo Dallaire and other witnesses.

“Many of Canada’s allies have either severely restricted the use of mefloquine or discontinued its use altogether. The Government of Canada must follow suit. We must also give our veterans closure and examine the true impact mefloquine may have had on their state of mind during the Somalian deployment, as well as at any other time this drug was administered.

“Our veterans deserve no less.”

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For more information:

Robert Dekker
Office of John Brassard, MP (Barrie – Innisfil)
john.brassard.a2@parl.gc.ca
613-992-3394

Gail Sparrow
Office of Cathay Wagantall, MP (Yorkton – Melville)
cathay.wagantall.a2@parl.gc.ca
613-992-4396

Bailey Dennis
Office of Dr. Robert Kitchen, MP (Souris – Moose Mountain)
robert.kitchen.a1@parl.gc.ca
613-992-7352