Deputy Critic For Veterans Affairs

Liberals Must Examine Effects of Anti-Malarial Drug Mefloquine

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November 22, 2016


OTTAWA, ON– During the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs’ study on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Among Veterans, committee members heard from veterans who live with PTSD like symptoms that may be attributed to the administration of the anti-malarial drug mefloquine.  In response, the committee sent a letter to the Minister of Health, calling on the government to immediately examine the effects of mefloquine.  Conservative MPs John Brassard, Cathay Wagantall and Robert Kitchen issued the following statement today:

“We are very pleased that the committee reached a unanimous decision to write to the Minister of Health regarding this very serious issue.  We were all deeply moved by veterans’ testimony at committee and their bravery in coming forward to share their stories.  It is our hope that the Liberal government will take immediate action and conduct a true scientific study that examines this medication’s potential side effects and the impacts it may have had on our veterans, those currently serving in the Canadian Armed Forces, and members of the public.

“We are extremely disappointed that thus far the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Veterans Affairs have denied any responsibility for the use of mefloquine and its possible effects on members of the Canadian Armed Forces both during and after their service.   “Mefloquine has been ‘black boxed’ in the United States and is only used in extreme situations in the United Kingdom and Australia.  In light of the fact that the Liberals intend to deploy Canadian troops to Africa in the near future, we fully expect the government to take action and to align itself with our allies on this important issue.”


For more information:

Robert Dekker, Office of John Brassard, MP (Barrie – Innisfil)     613-992-3394

Gail Sparrow, Office of Cathay Wagantall, MP (Yorkton- Melville)  613-992-4395

Bailey Dennis, Office of Robert Kitchen, MP (Souris-Moose Mountain)  613-992-7352


See the News Release: liberals-must-examine-effects-of-anti-malarial-drug-mefloquine

News Release – Let’s right this wrong

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” Veterans of the Canadian Airborne Regiment deserve answers to long standing questions regarding Mefloquine. Let’s right this wrong.”

In response to yesterday’s news from Gilles Létourneau, former head of the Somalian inquiry that was abruptly shut down by the Liberal government in 1997, MP Cathay Wagantall, Official Opposition Deputy Critic for Veterans Affairs and a vocal advocate for Veterans seeking change on the military’s use of the drug stated:

“I applaud the Surgeon General of the Canadian Armed Forces, Hugh Mackay’s decision to reassess his agency’s current stance regarding this dangerous malaria drug, Mefloquine. But as stated by Gilles Létourneau yesterday, we cannot forget those who have already taken Mefloquine and suffered its effects. We must continue the work they started back in 1995 and finish it in a timely fashion.

Further, we must set up a national data base of Mefloquine users past and present to determine if they have suffered long term consequences. Also we must dedicate the needed financial resources to ensure that the best treatments and services for Mefloquine toxicity are made available to our service people and that support services are put in place for their families. I am encouraged by the positive and proactive strides I have seen taken by the Veteran Affairs committee to address and provide for our military’s mental health concerns.

Wagantall went on to say that: “Since Canada’s 1990’s Somalia Affair, this drug has continued to plague and mar our noble military history. For 25 years, many of our military men and women, and civilians travelling overseas, suffered in silence the horrors of this drug’s side effects. The side effects reported include: depression, hallucinations, psychotic episodes, and for some even suicide.”

In the United States, right after the Fort Bragg incident, the US Military immediately did an investigation into the relationship of Mefloquine to this horrendous incident. Study results later led to major changes in how that drug was administered in their own military. In 2013, the U.S. continued to implement changes when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) “black boxed” the drug. This is the highest, most stringent warning that can be assigned to a dangerous drug.

On August 31, 2016, the U.K. Telegraph reported that Britain’s Chief of the General Staff, Lord Dannet, after seeing the devastating effects of the drug on his own son, refused to take the drug himself. In the article Lord Dannet goes on to say: “the effects of the drug could be ‘pretty catastrophic’ and he apologized to the troops who had taken it while he was in charge. He further urged the Ministry of Defence to show ‘generosity’ when reaching compensation settlements with hundreds of personnel alleged to have suffered mental health problems after being given the drug during deployments to Malaria hotspots.

A few weeks later, on September 16, 2016, the Australian Department of Veteran Affairs took the lead in this fight by establishing a dedicated Mefloquine support team for their serving and ex-serving military community. Their report goes on to say that the Australian government will establish a formal community consultation; develop more comprehensive online resources that will provide information on anti-malarial medications; establish a dedicated DVA Mefloquine support team to assist with Mefloquine related claims, as well as direct the inter-departmental DVA-defence committee to provide further advice to their government by November 2016.

“Despite the world’s affirmative action regarding future use of this drug, astoundingly our own Department of Defence continued as late as this week, to turn a blind eye. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan stood up in the House of Commons and adamantly defended his department’s continued use of this dangerous drug,” said MP Wagantall.

These soldiers’ efforts today in their longstanding fight against this drug, valiantly continued to serve their brotherhood long after being dishonored by our government. Wagantall went on to say: “The Canadian government and our military need to follow the world lead on this issue now and, when all is said and done, and the expected evidence solidified, right this wrong.

Media Contact:

Gail Sparrow, Legislative Assistant

Office of Cathay Wagantall, M.P.




See the News Release: 1-news-release-mefloquine-canadas-shame-en-november-18-2016

Remembering The Battle of Vimy Ridge

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The Battle of Vimy Ridge was a military engagement during the First World War that took place from April 9 to 12, 1917. At Vimy Ridge, nearly 100 years ago, 100,000 Canadian soldiers gathered for the first time as a united fighting force. Commanded in part by Canadian officers, they achieved what was said to be “unachievable”, and these brave Canadians took one of the most heavily defended German positions of the Western front.

In the months following Vimy, our forces gained such a reputation that their success and sacrifice resulted in Canada earning signing rights for the Treaty of Versailles and control over its foreign affairs, the last step toward full nationhood and independence. The Battle of Vimy Ridge has remained such a key part of our collective understanding as a country not only because it was a military victory, but because many of the core Canadian values were a contributing factor to its success: leadership, innovation, teamwork.

The Vimy Foundation was founded in 2006 with the mission of preserving and promoting Canada’s First World War legacy. We no longer have any veterans of the First World War still with us, and so we have lost that direct connection with their stories – of the tragedy of war, of the reasons why they enlisted to fight, of the impact of the war on them, their families, and their country. It is up to all of us to ensure that their bravery and sacrifices are never forgotten.

This year on April 9 we honour those who fought and sacrificed 99 years ago, and celebrate their achievement for our young country. The Vimy Foundation encourages all Canadians to wear a Vimy Pin on April 9, in remembrance and in celebration of this Canadian victory and turning point in our history.

As a Canadian who serves this great country as a Member of Parliament, I am honoured to be working to ensure this important moment is Canadian history is never forgotten.

For more information and to find out about educational programs to help youth learn more about the sacrifices made by an entire generation 100 years ago, and their work to mark the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, please visit the following website: