Canada briefs – August 14

Annabelle Hamilton is four years old. Under the best circumstances, when she grows up she will have only grainy memories of her father, Cpl. Thomas Hamilton, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Kandahar last December.

Mom wants daughter to get medal

OTTAWA — Annabelle Hamilton is four years old.

Under the best circumstances, when she grows up she will have only grainy memories of her father, Cpl. Thomas Hamilton, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Kandahar last December.

That Annabelle doesn’t forget her dad — and why he volunteered to fight in Afghanistan — is vitally important to her mother, Heather Peace.

That’s why Peace is pushing for children to automatically receive the Memorial Crosses awarded to their slain fathers or mothers — or at least some other honour.

In this case, the tragedy of losing a parent is compounded by the fact the New Brunswick girl is a child of divorce and has been diagnosed with autism.

“Her memories of him aren’t going to be very strong (because) she was really three the last time she saw him,” Peace said from Fredericton, N.B.

There are personal mementoes of his life around the house, but Hamilton didn’t name his daughter as one of three designated Memorial Cross recipients. Instead, the honours went to his parents and the mother of the woman he was dating at the time.

Peace doesn’t begrudge any of them receiving the crosses and she said Hamilton was a good father who called from Afghanistan just a week before his death to talk to his daughter on her birthday.

Breast cancer test results reviewed

KELOWNA, B.C. — B.C.’s Interior Health Authority is retesting 58 breast cancer exams conducted at Kelowna General Hospital, months after authority officials and the health minister said an external review wasn’t needed.

The patients had confirmed cases of cancer, and the hormone receptor tests were used to determine which type of treatment they should receive.

The former clinical director of the lab that conducted the tests called for a review of the findings, but the health authority and then-health minister George Abbott insisted in March that an external review wasn’t needed.

Instead, Interior Health retested the samples itself, and the authority’s senior medical director, Dr. Robert Halpenny, says the new tests confirmed the old results.

But Halpenny says, in May, the authority asked the B.C. Cancer Agency to conduct its own review as controversy swirled around the accuracy of cancer tests in Newfoundland and Quebec.

Halpenny says he doesn’t believe any of the 58 patients received the wrong treatment, but he says the new tests were ordered out of an “abundance of caution.”

In Newfoundland, more than 400 cancer patients were given inaccurate results of breast cancer tests between 1997 and 2005, while more than 2,000 samples are being retested in Quebec.

Doctor questions access to vaccine

TORONTO — A senior official of the Gates Foundation has thrown out a challenge to rich countries as they prepare for a resurgence of pandemic flu activity this fall: Don’t hog the vaccine.

Dr. Tachi Yamada, president of the foundation’s global health program, said poor countries should get equal access to limited supplies of vaccine.

“I think that (just) because you’ve paid doesn’t mean you should get the vaccine first. That’s really the critical point,” he said. “It is a tough nut to crack, but it’s one where I think some nations are going to have to stand up and say: All right, we’ll get every other vaccine (dose) out of this plant. And the other can go to the poor countries.”

Yamada threw down a gauntlet this week on the website of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, which published electronically a cri de coeur aimed at the consciences of governments.It would be “inexcusable,” he wrote, to force poor countries to wait until the rich have had their fill of pandemic vaccine obtained through advance purchase orders with the manufacturers who make the world’s limited supply of flu vaccine.

“I cannot imagine standing by and watching if, at the time of crisis, the rich live and the poor die,” Yamada said. “It will take collective commitment and action by all of us to prevent this from happening.”

NDP name change wouldn’t hurt: poll

OTTAWA — A new poll suggests a name change for the NDP likely wouldn’t hurt the party — and could help it.

At its convention in Halifax this weekend, the party will look at dropping the “New” and becoming simply the Democratic Party.

A Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey suggests it’s not a concept that has galvanized Canadians.

But Jeff Walker, Harris-Decima vice-president, says it doesn’t pose any obvious political risk.

The poll suggests 36 per cent of those who had an opinion on the issue thought it’s a good idea, while 31 per cent found it a bad idea.

The NDP has had its name since 1961, when the old Co-operative Commonwealth Federation decided to re-brand itself.

The poll was conducted Aug. 6-9 and is considered to be accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.