Friday, 21 October 2011


Yesterday, I spoke in the Legislature about the Purple Letter Campaign:

"A year ago tonight, people from all over the Lower Mainland gathered in Emery Barnes Park in Vancouver. They wore purple, lit candles and remembered the many people who committed suicide as a result of homophobic bullying.

"The theme last year was inspired by Dan Savage's It Gets Better, a response to a string of suicides related to homophobic bullying. This year, two young activists resolved to make it better.

"Their purple letter campaign seeks to collect personal stories about people's experiences with homophobia in schools, put them in purple envelopes and deliver them to the provincial government and the Ministry of Education.

"For the past three months, Ryan Clayton and Kaitlin Burnett have been travelling around British Columbia speaking in rural and urban communities and connecting with British Columbians, asking them to share their experiences about the realities, positive and negative, of life in British Columbia for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people and their friends, families and supporters.

"Many of these stories have been published on their blog, These stories are incredible, ranging from inspiring to tragic, humorous and powerful to lighthearted and insightful. The purpose of the campaign is to encourage the provincial government to continue working to make sure that gay, lesbian and bisexual and transgendered students are safe in our schools.

"I have a purple letter box in my constituency office, and I will join Ryan and Kaitlin tonight in Emery Barnes Park. Every child deserves to feel safe and respected, and student safety is a top priority. That's why we have established provincial codes of conduct in B.C. schools, and we look forward to continuing to ensure that all types of this bullying approach has been eliminated in all our schools.

"The purple letters are a call to each and every one to make British Columbia the leader against homophobic and transphobic bullying in every part of our province and, frankly, honourable members, in each of our ridings."

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Wednesday, 19 October 2011


Today I spoke in the Legislature about an exciting discovery relating to ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease:

“A team of researchers from the University of British Columbia's Brain Research Centre and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority Research Institute have found a key link between prions and the neurodegenerative disease ALS, known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

“ALS is a progressive neuromuscular disease in which nerve cells die, resulting in paralysis and death. Approximately 3,000 Canadians live with this fatal disease, for which there's no effective treatment. Every day two or three Canadians die of ALS.

“The discovery is significant, as it opens the door to novel approaches to the treatment of ALS. The findings provide a molecular explanation for the progressive spread of ALS through the nervous system and highlight the central role of the propagation of misfolded proteins in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disease, including ALS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

“The work has identified a specific molecular target which, when manipulated, halts the conversion of a particular protein to a misfolded, disease-causing form. A protein's failure to adopt the correct structure is what threatens the health of cells.

“This discovery is the first step towards the development of targeted treatments that may stop the progression of ALS.

“I'd like to dedicate my remarks this afternoon to Greg Fraser, a wonderful Richmond teacher who lost his battle to ALS, and to Dr. Neil Cashman and his colleagues in British Columbia and Alberta, for the contributions they have made. They have found a key piece to help guide the research community to solutions, Mr. Speaker, and we are indeed grateful.”

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Wednesday, 5 October 2011

With Gratitude for Our Teachers

Today, I had the honour of delivering the following two-minute statement in the Legislature to mark World Teachers' Day:

“I rise today to honour World Teachers' Day. I stand before you as a former teacher. It was my absolute pleasure to engage young learners, enjoy their curiosity and be energized by their awareness and their humour.

“I taught children with autism, children with learning disabilities, children with a myriad of interests and pursuits. I wanted the children I taught to see all sides of a question, to seek fairness and to possess tremendous humanity.

“My students are adults today, many of them parenting their own children. It is a joy when they stop by to say hello. I couldn't be more proud of their accomplishments or their achievements.

“The teachers I had the privilege to work with are magical — Max Caroll, Marlene Yurichuk, Bosso Gill and countless others.

“It was my privilege to attend the 45th reunion of David Thompson Secondary on Saturday last. Teachers came out to acknowledge a grad class that they last saw as students in 1966. The memories were fresh. The stories were wonderful. Students and teachers alike shared stories of events that transpired 45 years ago.

“Schools and teachers will always have the ability to inspire future generations.

“It is generational work. Whether it is the teacher I met last year in Cairo or the plethora of international students and teachers that come from across the globe to Richmond, teachers understand that students desire a sense of belonging.

“Schools and teachers assist in building civil societies.

“Thank you to all the teachers across the globe. My daughter wants to be a teacher. She will have wonderful colleagues who today are celebrating World Teachers Day.”

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