September 14, 1945 (20th Parliament, 1st Session)


Harry Leader


Mr. HARRY LEADER (Portage la Prairie):

I rise to take part in the debate which is lengthening out and perhaps getting better as it lengthens. If that is the case, I shall be sorry if I do not live up to the standard which has already been set by pre-
The Address-Mr. Leader

vious speakers. I have quite a lot to say this afternoon and I hope that I can get through in the allotted time.
I am not going to take up the time of the house by offering congratulations to the different hon. members who have been elevated to rather exalted positions, but I want them to take it for granted that they have my very best wishes in the work which they will be called upon to do. I should like to address a few remarks to the younger and new members of parliament, and perhaps it will apply to the older members as well-I know it certainly applies to me. First, I wish to say that it is a great honour for anyone to be the advocate and the representative of his district in this great dominion of ours. When you think that you were chosen out of perhaps forty thousand other citizens in your district you can understand that you have quite a weighty responsibility, and while it is an honour it carries with it huge and consistent responsibilities. My advice to the younger members is to take stock of themselves once in a while. That is what I do, and then let them ask themselves, what are we here for? As I said, it is a great honour and' a great privilege but it carries with it great responsibilities. I do not want to tender anv further advice than that, but I think it is good advice to give to the younger men, and the older ones, including myself, always remember the people back home.
My main reason for rising to-day, Mr. Speaker, is to deal with a question which has been up on previous occasions. I think I have addressed this house four times on the matter which I intend to reintroduce to-day. It is something that is left over from previous sessions, and therefore it might be called a matter of unfinished business. Perhaps some hon. members have already guessed that I intend to bring once more before the house the matter of Doctor Davidson's research work in endeavouring to find a preventive or a possible cure for cancer. What I wish to impress upon the house to-day is the necessity, if we are to clean up this matter once and for all, of the government of Canada taking upon their own shoulders or in cooperation with the provinces the responsibility for a clinical test of not only Doctor Davidson's work but of every other medical practitioner in Canada, there may be others who have worked as hard and as long as Doctor Davidson of Winnipeg, and who may have some clue that, if followed to its logical conclusion, would lead to something that would benefit mankind.
Hon. members may think this subject is monotonous. Well, at the risk of having them
bored, may I say that I believe it is a worthy cause. In my opinion, if I have done nothing in my thirty years and more of public life but press for more research work in regard to cancer and other ills that affect the Canadian people, then I would be content to leave this as my only reason for being in parliament.
Cancer, statistics tell us, is second on the list as a man-killer; but in actual suffering and untold sorrow and huge expenses it is away out in the lead, and it is increasing. Therefore it is a matter that is worthy of consideration.
Perhaps the house will bear with me if I outline briefly some of the activities which I attempted in previous sessions in this house on this very important matter. I believe in Doctor Davidson and in his work. While I do not claim I am cured of cancer, neither does Doctor Davidson. But I know he has helped me. Not only do I believe that; I know it. Therefore, if the remarks I am about to make to-day come from my heart, hon. members will understand the feeling I have for other cancer victims who might be in the position in which I am, and would have a chance for a hope of recovery.
I asked our government if they could help Doctor Davidson in his research work by making a grant so that he might carry on his work. He has no money, and very few friends in the medical profession. I knew what he did for me; I knew of dozens of others who *believed in Doctor Davidson. I said his work was worthy of a grant, and asked the government of Canada if they would assist Doctor Davidson financially if, after making an investigation, they thought his work merited assistance.
As hon. members know, that matter was referred to the medical committee of the research council in Ottawa who, after a farcical investigation, advised the government that no money should be granted to Doctor Davidson. He never wanted a dollar. What he pleaded for was some young medical men from across Canada who would come to his office, listen to his story, understand his investigations, and carry on where he will leave off in the very near future.
His one ambition was to hand over what he has found to the medical profession of Canada, in the hope that it would be of some benefit to humanity, The money was denied him. At times I might be accused of being somewhat too aggressive; perhaps stubborn would be a better word. However, I asked the government if they would institute a more comprehensive investigation into Doctor Davidson's work. I know that the government

The Address

Mr. Leader
was concerned in the matter and that the then minister was in deep sympathy with the project. The result was that they asked the province of Manitoba if it would cooperate with the federal authorities in making an investigation, on the understanding that the federal government would make a grant.
To make a long story short, officers of the crown decided that the making of a grant to any province for health purposes was not within the jurisdiction of the federal government, with the result that the investigation fell through. Following that, the government of Manitoba undertook to conduct an inquiry of its own, with the result that a cancer commission was appointed.
After about ten months of investigation they decided-the report has just been published -that Doctor Davidson's work did not warrant a -money grant. The verdict was against the doctor and his work. I should not say that it was against Doctor Davidson personally, because the commission did add that, although its report was negative, it did not in any way reflect upon the integrity and good faith of Doctor Davidson.
Yes, and it comes to my mind that there was another investigation, before that of the commission to which I have just referred. I believe it was the secretary of the railroad associations of British Columbia who undertook a private investigation in regard to this doctor's work. With that in mind this secretary journeyed to Winnipeg and, while there, met many of the doctor's patients.
In a letter written to me recently this gentleman expressed his disappointment regarding the report, and the fact that the commission saw fit to find against the doctor and his work. He pointed out that he remembered vividly those eight hopeful patients he had met while investigating in Winnipeg, that he could still see the light in their eyes, and their hope of renewed health. He cannot believe that these people are either dead or doomed. The idea behind it all was that he expected their cases had been reviewed by the Manitoba cancer commission.
Some hon. members have, from their places in the house, stated that Doctor Davidson's treatments have been investigated on previous occasions. Well, I have mentioned one of those investigations, namely that carried out by the medical committee of the research council, an investigation which was nothing but a farce from beginning to end.
May I be permitted to cite an authority higher than some of those who have set themselves up as critics of Doctor Davidson and his methods. I shall quote in a few moments from page 4S64 of Hansard for July 14, 1944.
These will be the words of Doctor Howden, who was then the member for St. Boniface. He believes in Doctor Davidson, and that this doctor has something which, if properly explored would benefit humanity. Hon. members who were in the house at that time will remember the story that the then hon. member told, the story about the lady in the hospital in Winnipeg. It had been stated that the doctors could do no more for her, because she had cancer, and. that following this pronouncement Doctor Davidson had taken her case, given her his treatments and brought her back to the hospital for examination. I do not know whether at that time Doctor Lehmann, to whom reference was made by Doctor Howden, was president of the hospital, or consulting physician. However, this is what the then hon. member for St. Boniface said in his speech on that occasion:
He called in Doctor Lehmann to look at the woman and he said, "I thought you were dead."
Remember, these are Doctor Howden's own words. Then the quotation from Hansard continues:
She said, "No, I am very much alive, thank you." Lehmann said to Davidson, "I think you have got something; you had better go ahead and work on it."
So I am telling the house to-day that Doctor Davidson was advised by the medical profession to carry out this work.
The work of this doctor was assisted earlier not only by the medical association, but by the late James Richardson, by -the Winnipeg Kiwanis club, and by other organizations the names of which do not come to my mind at the moment. The quotation- from Hansard continues:
That was the beginning of experimentation with rodents. Doctor Davidson has definitely established two principles. He has definitely established that he can retard the advance of cancer by a high nutrition diet. That is something definite; that is a principle. Let me explain the experimentation with rodents. They take a mouse and shave the hair from the back of its neck. Then they put a little spot of tar on the shaven place, and the mouse scratches away at that tar until he causes an ulcerating sore, which eventually becomes cancerous. As I told this house previously, Doctor Davidson experimented with two families of mice, one on ordinary nutrition and the other on high nutrition. He discovered that the mice fed on the high nutrition diet did not develop cancer after they had tar put on the back of their necks. Then he went a step further; he decided to experiment with the serum of the healthy families of mice in the unhealthy families of mice, and actually discovered that when the unhealthy families of mice were injected with the serum from the healthy families, their cancerous sores cleared up. So that another principle was established. Those two principles cannot be denied by the research council of Canada or anyone else, because they have been definitely proven and shown.
The Address-Mr. Leader

I want to get back to the cancer commission again and direct the attention of the house to the fact that I put on Hansard on June 27, 1944, letters which I had received from twelve patients. They all claimed that they had been benefited by Doctor Davidson's work. One would need to look at the evidence submitted to this cancer commission before one would know how they dealt with these several cases. The following item is clipped from the report:
^Note: Of the 376 names listed in exhibit
VIII, twenty-three are listed again in exhibit
IX. The twelve cases cited by Mr. Harry
Leader in House of Commons debates are also included in exhibit VIII. .
As I say, I do not know what conclusion the commission came to in regard to these people, but I want to tell the 'house that I have kept track of these patients. I wrote to them and, while they did not all answer, six or seven answered and I have the letters here. I know the house does not want me to take up time in reading them, but they all state that they were either helped or cured by Doctor Davidson. When I wrote to them last spring they replied that they were well on the road to recovery and yet, when we come to read the report of the commission, we find that they were classed as non-cancerous. I wish I had the time at my disposal to read these letters, but they are available should any hon. member want to see them. Surely the old biblical saying of a prophet having no honour in his own country is true in Doctor Davidson's case. The commission made the following finding:
Five other cases are unusual. Their numbers are 19, 32, 60, 88 and 113. All had been definitely cancerous and all took Doctor Davidson's treatment. Apparently they all were cured, so far as the time lapse permits of that statement. However, in none of these eases can credit clearly be given to the treatment under investigation because other treatments had been applied shortly beforehand. These included surgery,_ X-rays, radium and electro-cautery, either singly or in combination.
No credit allowed to Doctor Davidson at all.
I am sure hon. members have in their minds the same question I have in mine, the question that was in the mind of a lady to whom I was talking not long ago: if these people were cured through the regular channels of the medical association, why did they go to Doctor Davidson? According to the cancer commission they went to Doctor Davidson after they had been treated by other sources and apparently were cured. Is that fair? I ask that question of every hon. member. I will give the answer: it is not fair to Doctor Davidson, and I think hon. members will agree with me.
I come now to a case which I never wanted to bring before this house. The record will
show that I had arranged for two other hon. members to bring up the case of Doctor Davidson in this house after I had gone home to continue my treatment with him. That was two years ago. No real action was taken, so I deemed it my duty, even though a layman-I can speak from practical experience

as a public man to tell the story of my own condition to hon. members in the house and people throughout the country.
As I said, hon. members will have to look over the evidence before they get the full picture of even my case. However, I recognized it when I saw it in the report. It is the sixth case referred to as No. 70, and I quote:
. The sixth case (No. 70) has a very low grade tumour. To quote Mayo clinic-"it is a very low grade tumour and slow growing type of cancer and we know of instances where patients have lived from twelve to fifteen years after it had been found to be just as extensive as yours was.
There is some hope in a statement of that kind and I am glad to have that hope. If it is the will of God that I should live many more years I shall be truly thankful. But they could have said this, and this is what came direct from the Mayo clinic: Leader's case was impossible after' careful exploration of his abdomen. There was no guesswork about that. They said they could not attempt a colostomy operation, which might prove a matter of life or death for me if I were threatened with a bowel obstruction. They said my case was impossible and they could do nothing for me The commission did not quote that, although they had the full story. The Mayos wired me. asking me if they might send it to them. I told them to send it by all means and let me have a copy. So they got it and this would appear to be a hopeful sign. I ask hon. members to think of that because of what is coming next. The commission continues:
Also his own doctor writes'-"I have prescribed morphine for pain on several occasions this past summer (1944). There may be subjective improvement but objectively there is no evidence of retrogression of the tumour." Your commissioners do not consider this case as cured or even arrested, as the attending physician clearly points out that the tumour and some of its accompanying symptoms have . shown no improvement after two years' treatment and the continued need of morphine to allay the pain shows that the disturbing factor has not been arrested.
In the first place there is a promise that I may live for many years; next, my goose is cooked. It reminds me of the song that Gracie Fields sometimes sings. She is referring to a refractory or lazy husband and she says, "The old man is dead but he won't lie down." The worst factor in regard to my case is the fact that the secretary of the commission told many patients as she visited

The Address-Mr. Leader
them that Harry Leader was very ill and that he had to take the strongest drugs to deaden the pain. She made the picture as bad as she possibly could.
I am afraid I am going to exceed my time, but that will be in the hands of the house. Information was presented by my doctor in Portage la Prairie. I want to say here that he is a clever young man. I would place my life in his hands any day as a medical practitioner who is following a careful and capable father. But he did not know all the circumstances. He prescribed the medicine all right but he did not know whether I took it. I am going to give the house some information in regard to that. He prescribed what 'I later found out were morphine pills. The number is 55200 and the prescription was filled on July 26, 1944. I never took one of those pills. They were morphine pills. My wife told me that she had stronger pills for me, but I did not want to take them. I did not know they were morphine, but I thought I could get along without them. That was July 26, 1944, and the commission's report was printed I think on August 2, 1945. In other words, about fourteen months afterward, the report comes out that I have to take the strongest drugs to deaden the pain.
Now I want to give the complete story. The next prescription was No. 48521, filled March 16, 1945. Another prescription, No. 47526, was filled on the same date. That would be just about six months ago. I have not taken a pill since. Those were sleeping pills. There was another pill which I have learned had codeine in it. I took those pills more to put me to sleep, not to deaden pain although there were times when I suffered intensely. But I have not taken any of those pills for six months. And the real morphine pills which had been prescribed for me, I did not take one of them. Another doctor from Portage was sent out, substituting for my own doctor, and I really had pains at that time. That was perhaps fourteen months ago, and in the fall of last year. He gave me morphine, a hypo, and left some pills with my wife. She admits she gave me three, all in a very short time, because I was suffering intensely. This bears out the fact that some of the morphine pills prescribed for me I never took at all, and the others I have not taken for six months. Yet the lady doctor, the secretary of this cancer commission, Doctor Lautsch, has gone up and down this country, not building up their morale, not giving them hope, but telling suffering cancer patients, when they asked how Harry Leader was getting along, that he had to take these drugs
constantly to deaden the pain. When I showed this to my doctor he said, "Isn't it true?" I said, "Yes, Jack, it is true but I did not take the prescriptions." Then he said, "The conclusion of the commission is not fair. A better word for 'constant' would be occasional", and I agreed with him.
I have an affidavit here, and I am going to tell the house from whom I got it. I got it from Mr. Stubbs, a member of the provincial legislature of Manitoba, one of the members for the city of Winnipeg, a man who is deeply interested and entirely sympathetic to the work of Doctor Davidson. He made a speech in the Manitoba house not long ago and produced affidavits from some of these patients and presented them to the house. He has a keen legal mind, is a skilful debater, and I believe a man of integrity. Does the house wish me to read all of this affidavit or just that portion of it that deals with my own condition and the fact that the secretary of the cancer commission had made these statements to other patients throughout the province?

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