N.S. man sick in Spanish jail: MP
A Liberal MP has accused the federal government of failing to help a Nova Scotia man whose health is worsening as he awaits trial in a Spanish prison.
Geoff Regan says Philip Halliday is waiting for gall bladder surgery, has lost 22 kilograms and now has liver disease and kidney problems.
"Despite his deteriorating condition, the Conservatives seem content to do next to nothing, and his friends and family in Digby are at the end of their rope," the Halifax West MP said in a statement Thursday.
Halliday's wife, Sheree, said her husband underwent an ultrasound and MRI at a hospital near Madrid, which revealed a long list of health conditions.
She said he has liver disease, gallstones, renal cysts in both kidneys, a tumour in his kidney and stones in his bile duct.
She said Spanish doctors have indicated that he needs at least two surgeries. "He's in tough shape," she said from her home in Digby. "I want the Canadian government to do whatever they have to do to get him surgery before he dies in prison."
Sheree Halliday, who is a nurse, said her husband weighed 90 kilograms when he left Canada and he's now down to 65 kilograms.
She said she has been emailing Foreign Affairs since December 2009, when her husband was arrested on the Destiny Empress, a 45-metre freighter he was working on that was allegedly carrying 1.5 tonnes of cocaine.
But she said the person she finally spoke to didn't appear well briefed on her husband's case and hasn't done enough to make sure he receives what she says is urgent medical care.
Ontario Liberal MP Dan McTeague raised the issue in the House of Commons on Wednesday and urged the minister responsible for the case to ask Spanish authorities to provide the needed surgeries.
Diane Ablonczy, the minister responsible for consular affairs, said her office has asked Canada's ambassador to work with local officials to provide Halliday with medical treatment.
The 54-year-old man from Digby has spent 15 months in prison while he waits for his drug case to proceed. He was charged with drug trafficking earlier this month, but no trial date has been set.
British police, working in conjunction with Spanish authorities, have said a number of arrests were made including members of the ship's crew.
Halliday's wife and friends insist he is innocent and have been pressing Ottawa to help him get medical care.
Sheree Halliday said she and the couple's two sons speak to him most days, adding that he's frustrated by the delay in securing a trial date.
"His spirits are low because he doesn't feel well, he's in pain every day," she said. "He told me he's sick and tired of being sick and tired."