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NDP candidate backs calls for PET scanner for Sudbury

Ontario's New Democrats rallied in Sudbury Friday to again call on the Liberal government to fund a PET scanner for the city. Suzanne Shawbonquit, the party's candidate in the Feb.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, left, Sudbury candidate Suzanne Shawbonquit and Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas appear at a news conference Friday outside the the city's cancer treatment centre. They were there to reiterate their support for the city's effort to get a $4 million PET scanner, a device which, among other benefits, is able to better diagnose cancer in patients. Photo by Darren MacDonald.
Ontario's New Democrats rallied in Sudbury Friday to again call on the Liberal government to fund a PET scanner for the city.

Suzanne Shawbonquit, the party's candidate in the Feb. 5 byelection in the city, said “people are losing their lives” because the Liberals won't fund the high-tech scanner in Sudbury.

“Every other city has a PET scanner, and we don't,” Shawbonquit said. “We have to push the government.”

The positron emission tomography (PET) scanner costs around $4 million, but is able to better diagnose cancers, as well as other illnesses such as dementia and lung disease. A committee struck to honour Sam Bruno, who fought for the scanner until his death in 2010, has raised $660,000 in support of bringing one here.

Some of the committee members joined Shawbonquit at the news conference, along with Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas.

Horwath said the committee was an example of the “Sudbury spirit” and that her party will continue to support their efforts.

“Your community knows how to come together and rally around important causes and rally around the important things you want to improve your community,” she said. “France has brought … 28,000 signatures on petitions into the Legislature. I've spoken on the issue in the Legislature. France has done the same.

“It's obviously something northeastern Ontario needs and that Sudbury deserves.”

Horwath castigated the Liberal government for not committing to bringing the scanner to Sudbury, accusing them of being able to act quickly when it benefits the party, but not when it comes to issues like the PET scanner.

“When it's something that's in their best interest – as we saw with Glenn Thibeault, frankly – they can make those decisions in the snap of a finger,” she said. “But when it comes to important decisions for the health-care needs of Sudbury, the Liberals have dodged, they've delayed, they've done everything to avoid making the decision that this community deserves and needs.”

Shawbonquit agreed, saying the decision should be an obvious one.

“People dealing with serious, life-threatening illnesses shouldn't have to drive to Toronto to get proper care,” she said. “We have people here who are being misdiagnosed and not getting the equipment and the scanning they need. And they're getting sicker when they could have been diagnosed earlier.

“This is really important. It's impacting families' lives. People are losing their lives. We need to smarten up and really think about this.”

Horwath also took a moment to address the Andrew Olivier scandal, whose last week backed up his allegations he was offered a job or an appointment in exchange for withdrawing his candidacy and supporting Thibeault by releasing recordings of conversations he had with prominent Liberals.

Elections Ontario and the OPP have since said they are investigating the case. Horwath said the recordings are slam dunk proof of wrongdoing.

“I think it's really clear that the Liberals … were all offering Mr. Olivier the moon, the stars and the sun,” she said. “They were giving him the opportunity to name his own price when it came to stepping aside.

“It's typical Liberal style, right? They deny that they've even done this, yet the evidence is very clear. And they continue to deny it. It's classic Liberal spin and I believe the people of Sudbury won't buy it.”