November 18, 2004

CPC

Dave Chatters

Conservative

Mr. David Chatters (Battle River, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the first report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. In accordance with its order of reference of Friday, October 8, 2004, the committee has considered votes 40 and 45 under Justice of the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2005, and reports the same.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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CPC

Mark Warawa

Conservative

Mr. Mark Warawa (Langley, CPC)

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-293, an act to amend the Criminal Code (theft of a motor vehicle).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to introduce my first private member's bill, an act to amend the Criminal Code, for theft of a motor vehicle. I would like to thank the hon. member for Blackstrap for seconding this motion.

Auto theft costs Canadians in excess of $1 billion per year. The courts have considered auto theft a simple property crime. The fact is, tragically, that 25 to 35people per year are killed in Canada and countless others seriously injured by auto thieves driving a stolen vehicle. Auto crime has become a serious epidemic in Canada, putting all Canadians at risk.

The bill provides for minimum sentencing to ensure that there will be a serious consequence for stealing a motor vehicle and that auto thieves will serve appropriate time for the crime.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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CPC

Mark Warawa

Conservative

Mr. Mark Warawa (Langley, CPC)

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-294, an act to amend the Criminal Code (destruction or desecration of national flag).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce a private member's bill to amend the Criminal Code to create an offence related to the destruction or desecration of our national flag. I again thank the hon. member for Blackstrap for seconding this motion.

Canadians are proud of our flag and all that it represents. It symbolizes the strength of our nation and the freedom purchased by those who paid the ultimate price for our country. I believe that, as legislators, protecting our national symbol sends the message that as we stand at the crossroads of history we can make the right choices and lead the effort to preserve loyalty, pride and commitment to this great nation.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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CPC

Inky Mark

Conservative

Mr. Inky Mark (Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, CPC)

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-295, an act to amend the Holidays Act (Remembrance Day).

Mr. Speaker, first let me thank the member for Selkirk—Interlake for his support. It is a great honour to table this Remembrance Day legislation on behalf of the 34 branches of the Royal Canadian Legion in my riding of Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette.

Last week all members of this House were in their ridings taking part in Remembrance Day services, remembering all those who gave their lives to keep this great country free and remembering the veterans and the millions of Canadians who served in our armed forces. If this day, November 11, is such an important day in our history, why is it not a national holiday? Why does November 11 not have the same status as New Year's, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas? When 8 out of 10 provinces already deem November 11 a public holiday, it is time that we change the status.

My bill would rectify that. My bill would amend the Holidays Act to make Remembrance Day a legal holiday and give it the same status as Canada Day. I ask all members for their support.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Holidays Act
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NDP

Libby Davies

New Democratic Party

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP)

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-296, an act to eliminate racial profiling.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today and I thank my hon. colleague for seconding the motion. This is a very important bill because it would eliminate racial profiling and take a step forward to reaffirming the right of all Canadians to equal treatment under the law.

There is no question that we need a legally binding mechanism to ensure the accountability of our enforcement agencies and officials to all people of Canada, regardless of their race or religious beliefs. We have seen an increase in targeting based on ethnic background and colour. This has happened particularly since September 11. We need to have a bill which makes it clear that racial profiling is not allowed in this country. This bill would take steps to do that.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Elimination of Racial Profiling Act
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LIB

Dominic LeBlanc

Liberal

Hon. Dominic LeBlanc (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
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?

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
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?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
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NDP

Pat Martin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP)

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the federal government should acknowledge processed trans fatty acids are harmful fats, which are significantly more likely to cause heart disease than saturated fats;

And that this House hasten the development of replacements to processed trans fats by urging the government to enact regulation, or if necessary legislation within one year, guided by the findings of a multi-stakeholder Task Force, including the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and following the consultation process with scientists and the industry currently underway;

Therefore, this House calls on the government to enact regulation, or if necessary present legislation that effectively eliminates processed trans fats, by limiting the processed trans fat content of any food product sold in Canada to the lowest level possible.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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LIB

Karen Redman

Liberal

Hon. Karen Redman

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Discussions have taken place between all parties and I believe you would find consent for the following order: That at the conclusion of the present debate on today's opposition motion, all questions necessary to dispose of this motion be deemed put, a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until the end of government orders on Tuesday, November 23, 2004.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
Permalink
?

The Speaker

Is it agreed?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
Permalink
?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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NDP

Pat Martin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Pat Martin

Mr. Speaker, I can say without any hesitation and without any fear of contradiction that banning trans fats will save lives. I do not come to this conclusion on my own. The scientific community is virtually unanimous in its view that hydrogenated vegetable oils of processed fats called trans fatty acids are in fact much more harmful than the saturated fats that they replaced over the years.

Trans fats are deadly manufactured fats that cause obesity, heart disease and diabetes, all of which are on the rise in Canada in very worrisome numbers. The real evil nature of trans fats is that they not only raise the levels of bad cholesterol in a person's system, they also interfere with the good cholesterol's natural role of cleansing one's circulatory system. As a result, these trans fats are actually a double whammy on a body's circulatory system.

The facts are really quite staggering. Just one gram of trans fats per day increases the risk of heart disease by 20%. These are not my figures. I am not asking anyone to believe me as a layperson. These are figures provided by the New England Journal of Medicine . The daily recommended intake of trans fats is zero, but Canadian adults eat between 8 and 10 grams per day and, staggeringly, youth between the ages of 15 and 25 eat an average of 38 grams per day. Surely, members will recognize this is a serious public health problem.

Most fast foods and processed foods are high in trans fats. Baby foods contain alarmingly high levels of trans fats. We have to ask ourselves, knowing these scientific facts and having had them verified and ratified by any number of scientific journals and experts in the field, why do we allow them in our food supply?

I compliment the federal government for recognizing that trans fats are in fact harmful and should be eliminated. Its policy to date in dealing with trans fats is to introduce mandatory labelling. The debate we need to have today is whether labelling is adequate or do we need to take stronger steps in order to truly eliminate trans fats, remove it out of our food supply and, therefore, out of our system altogether? I would ask the House to listen to what I believe is a case against labelling and for banning these harmful trans fatty acids.

We hear the argument sometimes that this type of issue has more to do with public education and personal freedom of choice. I do not accept that. Government has a legitimate role to play in making sure our food supply is safe. There are any number of precedents that we could point to.

In the matter of labelling, if we find that a drug is harmful and is killing up to 1,000 Canadians per year in a premature way as are trans fats, a label is not put on the drug simply saying it is a matter of personal choice not to use it. It is pulled off the market. This is a direct analogy that I think is absolutely fair.

The logic is that it is not okay to put poison in our food just because it is properly labelled. That is common sense. I do not use the word poison to invoke a reaction. Trans fats do in fact meet the scientific definition of toxic and poisonous because the body simply cannot tolerate them.

The argument about labelling is spurious. First of all, studies show that 70% of people do not read the labels for the food they eat. There are problems of literacy and problems of language. Kids, we know, certainly do not read labels when they go for a fast food snack. Restaurants would not be impacted by this at all. Restaurant food and french fries, and some of the popular food items are the ones that are highest in trans fats.

There is the added problem that even if a product does say it contains 3.6 grams of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, there are no editorial comments allowed on the label because the only really valuable label in terms of trans fats would be, “This product contains trans fats. Do not eat it because it will kill you”. We are not likely to see that type of labelling introduced.

We do not believe that labelling is an adequate way to significantly reduce the amount of trans fats eaten by Canadians. We believe the only logical thing to do is to take concrete steps to eliminate, to all but ban, trans fats in our food supply system.

The reason it cannot be an absolute ban is that there are some naturally occurring trans fats in ruminating animals. Cheese, milk and butter contain some naturally occurring trans fats, but at a level where if ingested sensibly are not a serious health risk. That is the argument why recommendations from our party will call for reducing trans fats to the lowest level possible and regulating trans fats to the point where any food product sold in Canada, not necessarily even manufactured in Canada, must meet strict guidelines which would limit the amount of trans fats to a range of 2% which we believe is an achievable goal.

One country in the world has done this. Denmark, as of 2003, introduced legislative steps to ban trans fats. We find that the experience has been that manufacturers reformulated their products to the allowable levels. We know that healthy and safe alternate products to trans fats are available. We should point out and recognize, and compliment those food manufacturers who have unilaterally and voluntarily taken those steps and made the changes to their products. One of them is Voortman Cookies Limited, a Canadian cookie manufacturer that has 120 product lines. Over a period of the last two or three years it reformulated every single one of its products without compromising quality or taste so that its products no longer contain trans fats. We can compliment Voortman Cookies for taking that step.

Another one, a fast food chain, is New York Fries. It has unilaterally and voluntarily changed the oil in which it produces its french fries so that they no longer contain trans fats. This is a wonderful move on its part and it should be rewarded.

However, we are concerned that if we leave the industry to voluntarily change the alternate oils they use, some manufacturers who do not fall in line will have an unfair competitive advantage because they will not have paid the extra cost of reformulating their products. That is our argument why, to create a level playing field and to protect the public health of Canadians, this is a matter for government intervention where it should in fact regulate.

The scientific case is really difficult to challenge. Experts the world over agree that we can and should stop using trans fats. Dr. Walter Willett is the dean of health sciences at Harvard University. He calls hydrogenation, or trans fatty acids, “the biggest food processing disaster in history”. The World Health Organization has directed nation states to take steps to take trans fats out of their food supplies.

We know there is an active lobby that believes this should be left up to industry without the intervention of the state. We argue that this is exactly the type of thing in which the Government of Canada should be directly involved.

The broad policy issue that I would like to point out in this debate is simply that this is what public health is all about and this is what our health strategy should be all about, creating a healthier population. So much of our time, energy and resources in the issue of health deals with managing illness. Here we have an opportunity to significantly impact the overall general health of millions of Canadians, including millions of Canadian children, in such a positive and proactive way. It really is hard to imagine that we would not go this route.

Just as an aside perhaps, many Canadian children are being impacted by this. I do not think we even realize that we have doctors telling us that they have 10 year old and 12 year old children coming to their offices with high cholesterol and clogged arteries. Surely, a child's circulatory system at that age should be completely clean and functioning perfectly.

However, children lose energy. Anyone with circulatory problems has less energy. They feel sluggish. They do not feel motivated. They find it hard to concentrate. Those are the symptoms of circulatory problems stemming from, to some degree at least, the use of trans fats.

I am hoping that we can count on broad support in the House of Commons. The NDP has very carefully worded this motion in such a way that it would be acceptable, we would hope, to all parties. On the general nature of the motion, we worked closely with the Heart and Stroke Foundation in the development of this language. We worked closely with other experts across the country who feel strongly about this issue.

The motion calls upon government, that within one year, which is a generous timeframe, to introduce regulations, or if necessary legislation, which would ultimately lead to the elimination of processed trans fats to the lowest level possible.

We are not talking about restrictive language. The regulations or legislation that government introduces may in fact have a phase-in period of three years. We do not know. We are going to leave that up to a task force of stakeholders which will have the expertise to make that ruling. That is not really up to the House of Commons or us as members of Parliament. We will leave that up to the experts in the field.

I also think that this is one case where there is justification for the government to play a role in helping industry to find alternate fats to use in terms of research and development grants. The National Research Council may want to undertake this project. If industry manufacturers are having difficulty in reformulating their products, certainly, the Government of Canada, Health Canada and Industry Canada could play a role in expediting this entire process.

I found that working on the trans fats project was very gratifying. I have been contacting people across the country and they in turn have been contacting me and our party with heartfelt passionate appeals to their legislators, to myself personally, and members of Parliament generally, to please do something about this pressing public health problem.

Perhaps throughout the day I can share with the House some of the comments of literally thousands of Canadians who have e-mailed, mailed, or contacted us personally saying that they are aware of the problem. There is an expectation that the House of Commons and members of Parliament should be aware of the problem and that we are willing to take concrete steps to change this issue.

There are some odd problems dealing with the elimination of trans fats. Canada must be the only country in the world that has margarine in its Constitution. We have two paragraphs in the Canadian Constitution dedicated specifically to margarine. I hope we are not going to let that stand in the way of common sense and reason. We can thank the Crosbie family and the Newfoundland Terms of Union for this oddity.

There is also the issue of international trade rules. We hope that is not why the federal government has, we believe, gone soft on this issue, but it is more than a coincident that the labelling rules that the government has introduced match word for word what the Americans have done, even up to the date of implementation. We are rather suspect that it may have been the motivation for not taking a stronger stance, given the overwhelming scientific evidence that this material is in fact harmful.

We are urging the government to exert our sovereignty in this matter, listen to the scientists, and listen to the Canadian public and do what is right. If there are any obstacles due to trade barriers, we can deal with those. However, that should not stop us from taking concrete steps at the earliest opportunity to find a way to reduce and ultimately eliminate these toxic substances.

I have tried to go through some of the broad arguments as to why we feel this is necessary and why it should happen sooner rather than later. I have tried not to dwell on the technical, scientific details. I think any of the members can easily access that information.

I should mention that I do not believe our taking steps to eliminate trans fats will have an impact on the local oilseed producers. It is not the oil that we are critical of. It is the process the oil is subjected to, the hydrogenation process. I point out that some margarines are manufactured with pure canola oil and are 100% trans fat free. We should buy Becel margarine, which is 100% trans fat free. It is manufactured with grown in Canada canola oil.

As people shift toward natural oils and fats, we believe it could be a boon to the dairy industry and to the oil seed growers and producers in western Canada who may have an increased market for their product, which is pure canola oil. As we know, partially hydrogenated canola oil changes the chemical structure of oil to something that people cannot digest and which clogs the arteries. It is a double whammy on the arteries. I point out again, we should be aware that trans fat, partially hydrogenated oils, are four to ten times more harmful than other saturated fats.

This is not a panacea. This does not mean we can got out and eat as much junk food as we want. We should be careful about our intake of fats generally, but we should be aware that hydrogenated fats are more harmful than the saturated fats.

There is a rather interesting historical irony to the introduction of trans fats. They were heralded as some kind of miracle product to try to wean Canadians off palm and tropical oils, which were in widespread use in the late sixties and early 1970s. Cardiologists and doctors cautioned us of this. However, it was a tragic mistake, and it was a disaster, according to Dr. Willet of Harvard University.

I am heartened in our struggle to eliminate trans fats. We have the support of two prominent members of the Senate of Canada, both prominent medical doctors. Dr. Yves Morin has worked with me on the development of the bill. He is a former Dean of Medicine at Laval University. I would like to recognize and pay tribute to the hard work he has done, meeting with industry officials and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Dr. Wilbert Keon of the Heart Institute in Ottawa is a leading, world renowned cardiologist who is also meeting with us personally and in conference in developing the bill.

People a lot smarter than we in this room, and I mean that with all respect, are calling upon us to take concrete steps to eliminate trans fats from our food supply. Let us listen to Canadian scientists, let us listen to Canadians generally and take an important step toward true public health, not just managing illness, and eliminate trans fats.

I believe we can eliminate trans fats without compromising either quality or taste. I believe there are alternate fats in adequate quantities to replace the use of trans fats, or hydrogenated oils, in every aspect of processed food and restaurant food.

I am very pleased to have this opportunity today on behalf of the NDP caucus to do something that I believe will have a significant impact on the general public health of Canadians. I started by saying that I can honestly say banning trans fats will save lives. I end on that note, and I urge my colleagues in the House to please support the motion and get us on the first step to this important public health initiative.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate the member and his party for bringing forward this important motion. It is timely for the House to discuss specific matters. Child obesity is something to which I think most Canadians can now relate. As there are many questioners, I will get right to my question.

Could the member indicate what would be the principal objection of business and industry that will be affected by this? If it is a matter of cost or whatever it might be, would it be recommended that there be an appropriate transition time to bring in fair and reasonable solutions?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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NDP

Pat Martin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Pat Martin

Madam Speaker, these are two of the first issues with which we have had to deal. The industry has been slow to react. We believe it is only the public awareness recently that has triggered some companies to come on line.

I suppose it is the cost of reformulating products. I suppose there are some serious quality control issues. The thing about trans fats is it makes oil stable at room temperature and it adds to the shelf life. These are very tempting things for those who are producing processed food. The peanut butter we have to stir does not have any trans fats in it. Peanut butter that is solid at room temperature is loaded with trans fats. That is a marketing issue.

With regard to the phase in period, Denmark had to have consultations with industry as to what would be possible and realistic. It gave industry adequate time to meet these new guidelines. The country stopped short of saying it would be a voluntary compliance issue because it recognized that industry was not necessarily motivated unless pushed to do so.

The legislation that we contemplate coming from the motion today would have adequate time frames for industry to reformulate and to find an adequate supply of an alternate oil to use.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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CPC

Ken Epp

Conservative

Mr. Ken Epp (Edmonton—Sherwood Park, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member from Winnipeg for bringing forward this motion. The motion is worthwhile and plays an important part in increasing the information and education of Canadians about this issue.

There are many hazards. For example, some members may have noticed that I have lost quite a bit of weight. One reason I did is, as of last March, I smartened up and stopped drinking one to two litres a day of my favourite cola drink and I have lost over 60 pounds.

Maybe we should ban all these soft drinks. There is a lot of evidence that they are really very dangerous and not good for people. Maybe we should kill all the junk foods that people are prone to eat. Maybe we should ban vans that people rent to help our kids move, so that they do not fall off the back of them and shatter their wrists. There are so many of these hazards.

What about motorcycles? It is very dangerous to travel on a motorcycle. I am one who happens to enjoy motorcycling. Perhaps we should ban them because they are much more dangerous than travelling by other vehicles.

Could the member tell me where he thinks we should draw the line about all of the things that should be disallowed in our society so people can be protected from all these dangers?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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NDP

Pat Martin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Pat Martin

Madam Speaker, one of the arguments we have heard is the idea that we may be interfering with Canadians personal freedoms. We believe there is a legitimate role for government to interfere in certain things that are so obviously and clearly bad for people.

The hon. member, as an adult, may be able to make an informed choice. I do not think children always make the best choices. I think low income people often have less choices because it takes a fair amount of economic stability to eat a balanced diet and to get to a supermarket that has healthy foods to buy them. People in my low income riding of Winnipeg Centre often end up shopping at the local 7-Eleven where they buy a lot of processed foods.

We are not saying that we should ban hamburgers or french fries. We are saying that we should take out the poison in those products. Then try to eat them moderately because they still contain fats, sugars and salts that are bad for people. We do not need this added toxic substance that is clogging the arteries of 10 and 12 year old children and causing a thousand premature deaths per year.

I think the member would agree that the government has a role in ensuring that our food supply is safe. If people are lying to us about the safety of a food product, then Health Canada has a role to help Canadians and advocate on behalf of Canadians to ensure that the food supply is safe.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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BQ

Marc Lemay

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Marc Lemay (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, BQ)

Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague and all hon. members in this House who, I hope, will vote in favour of the motion being presented by the New Democratic Party.

Hon. members know that I am very committed to sports. Current studies show that 47% of students between 7 and 14 are overweight and that is just children. The motion being tabled sets out to meet an extremely important objective. We must reduce or eliminate the trans fatty acids that exist in far too many products.

My question is for the member for Winnipeg Centre. How can the government go about informing the public that these trans fatty acids are extremely dangerous and that in the medium term—not the short term; we are talking about months and years—they can cause a considerable increase in the level of cholesterol in the blood, which can lead to heart attack and other related problems? Until this motion is passed, what can the government do to inform the public that this product is very dangerous?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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NDP

Pat Martin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Pat Martin

Madam Speaker, I believe the government does have an active role to play and I would say it has an obligation to play that role.

Given what we know and what bureaucrats in Health Canada know, Canadians have to be informed beyond simply labelling on the back of a processed food product some scientific language. They have to take active steps beyond labelling. They could make a valuable contribution by introducing firm regulations or, if necessary, by introducing legislation so that any food product sold in Canada can have no more than trace levels of trans fatty acid in it.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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LIB

Mario Silva

Liberal

Mr. Mario Silva (Davenport, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for Winnipeg Centre for bringing this important issue forward in the House.

Banning trans fats would save lives. There is a huge correlation between trans fats and obesity and heart disease. We need to do everything possible in the House to ensure that we either eliminate or reduce trans fat intake. Canada has a huge obesity problem. Children are more obese than ever before. It is no wonder when we have situations such as high levels of trans fat in baby food.

As a society we need to ensure that we do everything possible to make health a priority. We cannot just invest in health without also looking at other factors that cause obesity and heart disease. Trans fats is one of them.

Could the hon. member share with the House some examples of what Denmark is doing?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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November 18, 2004