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43rd PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 014

CONTENTS

Monday, October 19, 2020




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 150
No. 014
2nd SESSION
43rd PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Monday, October 19, 2020

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 11 a.m.

Prayer


  (1105)  

[English]

Points of Order

Technical Difficulties of Members Participating Virtually—Speaker's Ruling 

[Speaker's Ruling]
    Before resuming debate, colleagues, I would like to make a statement regarding members participating via the video conferencing system during debate.
    On separate occasions, on October 7 and 8, two members encountered technical difficulties when the video feed was lost, either during or prior to their intervention. In the first instance, the member for Gatineau was allowed to continue with audio only, but objections were raised when the member for Calgary Midnapore was invited to do the same the following day at the start of her speech. This led to the member for Elmwood—Transcona and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House to seek direction from the Chair should the House be faced with similar situations in the future.

[Translation]

     I want to thank both members for their intervention. While the special order of September 23 specifically requires that members voting by video conference have their camera on for the duration of the vote, it remains silent on the issue of members speaking in debate. For this reason, the Chair exercised caution and flexibility, knowing that proper authentication was not in question and that the House could decide how to manage this situation as it did on Thursday, October 8.

[English]

    Since then, as I understand, consultations with the parties have taken place and all recognized parties have concluded the camera must be on for the entire intervention. A course of action to manage any technical difficulties was therefore established and agreed upon.
    When members lose visual contact prior or during a speech, the Chair will interrupt the proceedings momentarily while the technical issue is being addressed. At the same time, the table will consult with the member's whip to determine if an adjustment to the rotation list is being considered. If the member is unable to start or resume the intervention fairly quickly, debate will continue by proceeding to the next member on the rotation list unless there is an agreement to accommodate the member having the technical trouble.

[Translation]

     To avoid such situations and allow the House administration to provide the necessary assistance, I remind members participating by video conference to connect well in advance of their scheduled intervention.

[English]

    As we move through the technical intricacies of hybrid sittings, I invite House officers to consider and address the unexpected and unintentional effects that virtual proceedings can sometimes have on the work of members. Their collaboration and assistance are appreciated.
    I also want to remind hon. members that it is their individual responsibility to ensure they are in a place that has sufficient bandwidth for interpreters and fellow members to receive a clear transmission.
    I thank members for their attention.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Criminal Code

    The House resumed from October 9 consideration of the motion that Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Shortly after the 2015 election, a number of pieces of legislation were brought before the House. One of those pieces was Bill C-14, a direct response to courts and the many concerns Canadians had with regard to the issue of dying with medical assistance. The issue was thoroughly discussed and debated. A lot of dialogue took place inside and outside the chamber, and, in fact, across the country. The number of Canadians who were engaged in the legislation was extraordinarily high. That was reinforced earlier this year, but I will get to that particular point later.
    Back in January or February 2016, there was a great deal of dialogue taking place. Bill C-14 ultimately passed just prior to the summer break, in June 2016. At the time, parliamentarians recognized that there would be a need to make some modifications. In fact, within the legislation we passed, we created the opportunity for us to review it.
    It should come as no surprise to anyone that the issue continues today. Even without legislation, dialogue has been taking place among members of Parliament and constituents. I have had ongoing feedback on the issue, in particular through emails, since 2016. People have expressed concerns and issues with the legislation.
    The Superior Court of Quebec made a determination on the legislation, which ultimately dictated that we had to bring in Bill C-7. We had initially introduced the bill earlier this year, I think in February. Prior to its being introduced, Canadians were once again formally called upon to provide their thoughts on the issue. It was amazing that in a relatively short time span, we heard from in excess of 300,000 Canadians. People from all across the nation responded to provide their thoughts and ideas on what they would like to see the government and members of Parliament deal with on this very important issue.
    We were very hopeful that a committee would have the opportunity to meet and review the legislation, with the idea of looking at ways it might be changed. Then came the pandemic. As we all know, the focus and attention of Canadians changed, just as the House's priorities had to change, in order to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a direct result, we lost the opportunity for that parliamentary group or committee to get together to review the past legislation, and in fact even the legislation that was being proposed in January or February.

  (1110)  

    Fast-forward to where we are today. Bill C-7 responds to a decision of the Superior Court of Quebec. It is a reasonable and acceptable piece of legislation that, in this form, makes some changes. It deals with some very difficult issues. For example, it drops the number of days of waiting from 10, after a person is approved and in a near-death situation. I believe this will generally receive good support from all sides of the House. There is the reduction of witnesses from two to one. From what little debate there has been thus far, I believe this has the potential to receive good support. The criteria that a person's death must be reasonably foreseeable is an issue that no doubt will be talked about at great length, both in the chamber and at committee. There are other aspects of this legislation that I find very compelling, and I am very interested to hear what people have to say about them.
    A big concern I have is the idea that someone is able to provide consent today but, as an illness or a disease continues, might be prevented from being able to give consent knowingly later, thereby disallowing them from having medical assistance in passing. I know many Canadians share that concern. I am expecting to see a good, healthy discussion on that, whether inside the chamber, in committees or in our constituencies, where we receive feedback.
    There is the issue of mental illness and the severity of it. This area is worth ongoing exploration, in different ways. As a former member of the Manitoba legislative assembly, I remember that often when we talked about spending money in health care, mental illness was nowhere near being part of the discussion. In fact, it was a very dear friend of mine, Dr. Gulzar Cheema, who raised this issue at a time when very few people raised it. In general, it is something we need to debate more.
    I suspect that as we continue the debate, whether in the chamber or at committee, we will see that it is very emotional for a number of people. I know first-hand how important palliative care is, through the experience of the passing of family, in particular my grandmother and my father. I am very grateful for the Riverview Health Centre in Winnipeg for the service in palliative care they provided. To be there at the passing of my father meant a great deal for me personally, as I knew that when he was there he had the love and care of professionals who deal with people who are passing on. A person has to have a very special heart to deal with that. I had a similar experience with my grandmother, at St. Boniface Hospital. They are two totally different institutions, but the thing they have in common is the supports that are there.
     I believe we need to do more in the area of palliative care, and I would love to see more discussion, more debate and more action on the issue. I believe the federal government has a role to play in that area too.
    To conclude, I will emphasize for members that here is an opportunity for us not only to look at the core of the issue and have discussions, but to look at some of the issues surrounding end of life and the circumstances that, either directly or indirectly, we are all somewhat familiar with.

  (1115)  

    Madam Speaker, one of the things the member mentioned was improvements to palliative care. I think it is important to note that northern regions of the country and rural and remote regions, particularly indigenous communities in my riding, are chronically underserved in health care delivery.
    What does the government plan to do to ensure that residents of indigenous communities, and northern and remote communities, have access to all health care options, including palliative care?

  (1120)  

    Madam Speaker, that is an excellent question, and that is why it is so important that Ottawa work with provincial jurisdictions. Health care, which incorporates palliative care, is administered by the provinces. The palliative care units that we often talk about are administered through our provinces. Ottawa has a role to play through standards and financial support.
    We can learn a lot from the provinces. Some provinces deal with health care in different ways, such as urban versus rural. There are opportunities for us not to reinvent the wheel, but rather to look at who is doing it best: look for best practices and ensure that there is some sense of a national standard so that, when our loved ones need palliative care, their ending days are appropriately taken care of.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, this bill is one more step toward more equitable situation-dependent access to medical assistance in dying. This weekend, I had a conversation with my father. I believe there is an issue here with respect to foreseeability.
    Take, for example, a person diagnosed with a very serious terminal illness who may nevertheless live for months or years. Can that person ask their doctor now to administer medical assistance in dying once the disease has progressed to a particular stage, even though that person may be incapable of requesting MAID once that time comes?
    Will that be possible?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I do not necessarily know all of the details. Within the legislation, from what I understand, the issue of second consent is important, as is the impact that it has on people who have a deteriorating illness. Today, they might be in a position to give consent, but in their dying days they might not be in that same position.
    I believe there is an attempt to deal directly with that issue within the legislation. It is a good question, and I suspect it will be asked once it hits the committee stage.
    Madam Speaker, this is a very important conversation to be having, and I appreciate all of the interventions that have been made by members of the House.
    One of my questions is around that second track of accessing MAID, which requires that one of the two medical practitioners assessing the person has expertise in that condition. Considering that in Alberta, in particular, there are many communities where doctors have been leaving because of current fights with our provincial government, how will the government deal with the fact that some people will not be able to access doctors? Those doctors are not working in remote or rural communities right now, for that second track of the MAID.
    Madam Speaker, we need to go to my first answer, where I recognized that Ottawa needs to work with the provinces, particularly the different departments and ministries of health, to ensure that there is a sense of fairness and equity, no matter what region of the nation people are in.
    Madam Speaker, this is such an important debate that we are having here today, and I thank members for sharing their stories.
    This is a very personal debate. I recall speaking on Bill C-14 when I first joined Parliament. I talked about my own experiences with death. I have watched other families go through these issues as well. We talked about how we could be part of making those last few days, months, and sometimes years work well and make sure of the necessary resources.
    I am coming to this debate speaking from two sides, and am almost sitting on the fence on this. I am bringing forward a letter from Richard Sitzes, who is the chair of Our Choice Matters, part of Community Living Elgin. I would like to read this letter into Hansard, because I think it is very important to hear the voices and concerns of those who are disabled. I am also going to read some Twitter posts from the late Mike Sloan. Other people have covered this, and those in London would know that Mike Sloan passed away on January 20, 2020, with medical assistance in dying. He had a very difficult time, but he shared his experiences through his Twitter feed. Because of my work here in Parliament with those with disabilities, I had started a relationship with him and discussed what life looked like and how we were to move forward.
    I will begin with the letter from Richard Sitzes, chair of Our Choice Matters, which is a self-advocate group. He writes:
     I'm a constituent in your riding and live in St. Thomas, and am very concerned about Bill C-7 and the changes to Canada's law on medical assistance in dying (MAID). I'm worried about the negative impacts this bill will have for people who have a disability in our riding.
    As chair of the Our Choice Matters self advocate group, supported by Community Living Elgin, I am speaking on behalf of our group. In Canada, many people think that their having a disability causes suffering, but people who have a disability say that it is the lack of supports, not disability, that causes them to suffer. We fear that Bill C-7 will make this situation even worse.
    Right now, Canadians can only access MAID if they are suffering and close to death. Bill C-7 will make it possible for a person who has a disability to choose medical assistance to die, even if they are not close to death. We strongly believe that removing the end-of-life requirement will increase negative ideas and discrimination against people who have a disability. It will grow the idea that life with a disability is not worth living. We are afraid that people who have a disability will feel pressured to end their lives even if they are not close to death. This has already happened in Canada, and it will get worse because of Bill C-7.
     We believe that the federal government should make it easier for people with disabilities to live good lives, not end them. For the safety of people who have a disability, MAID must be available only to people who are close to death. We strongly oppose Bill C-7 and ask that you oppose this legislation.
    I was fortunate to follow up on this letter with Richard last week. He has been a volunteer, not only in my office but in our community, for decades. He is a person we see at every volunteer opportunity. He is there at community events to lend a hand. He looks at his life and recognizes that he has so much to give to our community. I have never met a kinder soul in my life. He just wants to help and at the same time wants to be heard. Having had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Richard, I know his concern is that he will not be the person making that choice, but that it will be made for him. He told me that he did not know who would have the final choice. This is something that Richard, who just celebrated his 60th birthday on August 15, is very concerned with. When I look at Richard, I do not see his life as being worth any less than mine. He has so much to offer to all Canadians. I hope we recognize it is imperative that we have appropriate safeguards for people like Richard who have so much to offer.
    On the other side, there are some positives as well. This is where I want to talk about Mike Sloan. He was able to share with Canadians, especially in my region, his everyday struggles of living with cancer. As I indicated, I had created a bond with Mike over the last number of years. When he called to tell me he had cancer, the two of us talked about what he would be going through.

  (1125)  

     Mike had decided that he was going to die with medical assistance. Watching his death, I can understand why. I understand the struggles that he went through, and want to read some of the things that were put on his Twitter feed.
    Madam Speaker, how much time do I have, given that I talk so much?
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès): Five minutes.
    Mrs. Karen Vecchio: Fantastic. Okay, that is great.
    I want to talk about Mike. There was a CTV interview done with Mike back in early January. Mike had already pinned to his desk area his plans for his own funeral, with the date to be determined. He knew what he wanted in life. He was also a very strong advocate for those with disabilities, but when he got cancer he knew that there were going to be struggles. It was not just his mental capacity he was concerned with, but the physical pain he was going through.
    I want to start off with the day of Mike's death: January 20. Bob Smith, a Rogers TV host in the London area, wrote:
    Mike Sloan passed peacefully at 1:25 pm EST via MAID. He asked me...to let you know. I was with him at the end, holding his hand. He thanks you all for your support on this journey. His last words were, “Tell Chub I love him.”
    Chub was Mike's cat. If anyone knew Mike, Chub got him through each and every day. Chub could always be relied on because some days were a little harder than others.
    Going back to January 18, Mike wrote, “When it's getting too frightening to drink liquids because they may simply spit back up or choke me, you know, let's be honest about choices here.” To me that statement by him is extremely impactful. Another day he talked about being afraid to get in the shower. He was afraid of falling in the shower. He would get in and fall and started thinking that even though he was a young guy he might need a bench. He was going through all of those different issues each and every day.
    Mike was diagnosed with stage four thyroid cancer in February of 2019. He tweeted about his experiences with palliative care and the care he received. It was interesting for anyone to watch this as he would show his belly, which had different things attached for his pain medication. The thing that was so incredible about this man, for any of the other members from the London area, is that he had an incredible sense of humour. He would post a picture of his belly tied to a medical bag that he called his “little purse,” which contained his pain medication. He would also show the different tubes that he would inject the medication in to make the pain go away. He was in absolute pain.
    He wrote on January 7, “I've never died before, so I don't know what it feels like, but if agonizing pain, difficulty breathing, a fever and inability to sleep are symptoms, I'm getting there.” This was a man who did not fear death, but recognized that it was going to happen. He was also a man who would go into the hospital and just be released. What was actually really comical was when he went in with shortness of breath and walked out saying he was being released with pneumonia, but was walking and doing well.
    Thinking of Mike, we have to find the right balance. We have to find the balance so that the Mike Sloans and the Richard Sitzes of this world have their wishes honoured. I recognize that this is a very difficult decision for many members of Parliament.
    I can tell my colleagues that my vote on Bill C-14 was the most difficult vote I ever made. One of the most important things was that there were safeguards to make sure that the family, individual and entire team involved in medical assistance in dying all knew what they were getting into. It is really important that we make sure that those safeguards are in place and use strong caution with Bill C-7 as to whether this may open a new can of worms.
    I am very proud to talk about this because it needs to be debated. There is no wrong or right answer. It is about finding a balance for all Canadians.

  (1130)  

    Madam Speaker, my thanks to the hon. member for Elgin—Middlesex—London for her contributions to this debate and in the past years. She raised a very important point when she related the story about Richard. I want to state at the outset that obviously our government values all lives, including the lives of persons with disabilities. We have reflected that in the supports we have put in place. Those lives are also protected by the Constitution.
    I put this to the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London, because she ended by talking about safeguards. I actually raised the issue about pressure being put on individuals during my consultations with various members of the medical establishment. They indicated to me that in the province of Ontario, for example, not a single prosecution had happened in the case of a doctor alleged to have pressured an individual. I put that out there for context.
    How does the member feel about the safeguards put in place where the decision has to be the decision of the individual? It has to be in writing and it has to be witnessed. Counselling and supports must be provided to such an individual, including disability supports.
    Do those address at least some of Richard's concerns?
     I appreciate it is a difficult situation and I can see the member struggling with it, but I just put that out there as part of the conversation about this important bill.

  (1135)  

    Madam Speaker, the safeguards are something I am concerned about. Last night, while driving to Ottawa, I listened to a podcast from The Ottawa Hospital and the doctor on it talked about the first time—I'm sorry, that was probably another interview I listened to. Yesterday I listened to six hours of interviews on this.
    Not a single person has gone to court, nor have any physicians received judgments or charges based on whether persons were fragile enough to die. There is a whole variety there. One of my concerns is, as we know and as the member from Edmonton indicated, that there are not enough resources.
    I am in a smaller community as well. For people to get an appointment with a psychiatrist in my area usually takes nine to 12 months. When people are going through this, they have a really short window in which to receive this type of support. By reducing some of the time frames, we will not be able to provide the services that are really important for the patients, the Canadians, who are making this difficult decision.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her presentation. I appreciate her sensitivity on this matter and would like to hear her thoughts on the following.
    My colleague just mentioned the importance of making sure everyone has access to health care. I would like to go back to an important aspect of this bill.
    Would she agree that we need to stop putting palliative care and medical assistance in dying at odds with one another?
    The two are not mutually exclusive. In other words, people should be allowed to choose medical assistance in dying if they so wish, just as people who want palliative care should be able to receive it for as long as possible. This might require an increase in health transfers.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, we know that the member for Sarnia—Lambton put forward a bill and worked with the late honourable Mark Warawa on palliative care. We can do both. We can walk and chew gum, and we should increase our efforts in palliative care.
    My Aunt Catherine passed away in hospice. It was a very important time for her family to be there and celebrate her life, but we have to recognize that not everyone has these options. Palliative care is something we should be working on, and the member is right that we should be doing both.
    Madam Speaker, it is so wonderful to hear the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London bring in the human element that is so critical to this debate.
    One of the challenges created by the current medical assistance in dying legislation is the requirement for final consent at the time the assistance is rendered. This forces patients to make a cruel choice when faced with a possible loss of competence that would make them unable to give consent. They are forced to either go earlier or risk not being able to receive the assistance they need.
    Audrey Parker campaigned to make Canadians aware of this problem, and Bill C-7 would fix it by creating a waiver of final consent. I would ask the member this: Do the Conservatives support Audrey's amendment, which would help those facing the end of life to avoid this cruel choice?
    Madam Speaker, I am very fortunate to be in a caucus where these issues are discussed and where we all have different ideas. I know where I stand, but I may be different than my neighbours on both sides. One just does not know. However, everybody should have the opportunity to have those discussions.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today, but I find it difficult to be speaking to another attempt by the Liberal government to endanger the most vulnerable in our society.
    After just four years, when the original euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation came in through Bill C-14, we find ourselves considering legislation that would further loosen restrictions, eliminate safeguards and confuse our country's understanding of the sanctity of life and the government's role in end-of-life decisions. Once again, we have been told that in order to uphold the charter rights of some we must endanger the rights and freedoms of others.
    I did not support Bill C-14 for many reasons. The first is the fact that the Supreme Court of Canada invoked such controversial and flawed legislation, which has been proven to be poorly applied around the world. The Liberals also chose to broaden the scope of the legislation, going far beyond the Carter decision. Another reason is that it has been placed ahead of and continues to overshadow any significant palliative care initiative.
    In 2019, the Prime Minister promised to expand eligibility criteria, and on September 11 of last year, the Superior Court of Quebec ruled that it is unconstitutional to limit assisted suicide or euthanasia only to those whose death is reasonably foreseeable. Without even appealing the ruling and seeking the advice of the Supreme Court, which has been long occupied with this matter, the Liberals accepted the ruling. They are now rushing to change the law for our entire country.
    They gave Canadians a mere two weeks to have their views heard on this deeply personal and complicated issue through a flawed online consultation questionnaire. The use of convoluted and biased language left little to the imagination in terms of how the government planned to legislate assisted death. I too tried to fill it out, and I would argue that many opposed would have been discouraged in participating due solely to the language used.
    With such a flawed method, and with no idea if the feedback even remotely reflects the actual views of Canadians, how can the government proceed with this legislation in good faith? This is a rhetorical question because it does not seem to matter to these Liberals. It is clear they used this brief window for feedback to satiate the need for a consultative process.
    We also know the government ignored its own timeline for a review of the original assisted suicide legislation, Bill C-14. It was planned for this summer, and instead, we have been presented with this reckless legislation. In the midst of COVID, this was still something very important. Without a proper review and without input from the Supreme Court, this House has been asked to greatly broaden the scope of assisted suicide and euthanasia without a clear enough understanding of whether the current regime is being consistently interpreted or properly enforced.
    Bill C-7 is being rushed through. This is concerning. When reading through this bill, I see elements that go beyond the scope of the Superior Court of Quebec's decision, namely, Bill C-7 would eliminate the 10-day waiting period between the date the request is signed and the day on which the procedure is carried out.
    The application of the law pertaining to those whose death is reasonably foreseeable has been problematic from the very start of this debate. We know a person's reasonably foreseeable death is a flexible estimation, taking into account all of their medical circumstances, without a prognosis necessarily having been made as to the specific length of time they have remaining. The elimination of the 10-day waiting period for persons whose death is reasonably foreseeable would create the conditions for someone with an indeterminate length of time remaining in their life, possibly years, to be rushed to the decision to receive assisted suicide and euthanasia.
    Aside from simply eliminating what most Canadians would consider to be a reasonable period of reflection, this element of the bill also ignores the possibility of medical advances and improved treatment methods in an incredibly innovative medical science environment. As Cardinal Collins has said, Bill C-7 creates the conditions where an individual can seek a medically assisted death faster than the wait time for a gym membership or a condominium purchase.
    I also see no logical reason why the government would reduce the number of independent witnesses required for when the request is signed. It is down from two to one. The government has even relaxed the definition of someone who may serve as a witness, including medical professionals or personal care workers, even those who are paid to provide euthanasia and assisted suicide on a daily basis. This is in clause 1(8).
    Surely we can agree that, for the vast majority of those requesting euthanasia and assisted suicide, the requirement for two independent individuals to witness a request to end a life is a reasonable safeguard. How do the Liberals plan to properly protect patients from potential malpractice? How does the government plan on ensuring requesters are presented with a myriad of treatment options rather than just one opinion?
    The legislation continues as a series of safeguards the medical practitioner must adhere to before providing assisted suicide to those whose death is not reasonably foreseeable. One of these safeguards would require a medical practitioner to discuss with the person the means available to relieve their suffering, including palliative care.

  (1140)  

    The safeguard is even weaker for those whose death is reasonably foreseeable, requiring the medical practitioner to merely inform the person of these vital options. The government failed to follow through on its promise to invest $3 billion in long-term care, which includes palliative care. There does not appear to be any political will whatsoever to improve palliative care.
    Canadians have also been calling on the government for a long-awaited national strategy for palliative care. There is a thirst among Canadians for real solutions to end-of-life care. The government seems all too willing to ignore the 70% of Canadians without access to palliative care and, instead, attempts to impose on them a flawed, one-size-fits-all regime. We can already see the consequences of pushing forward an assisted dying agenda when there is little regard for palliative care.
    In British Columbia, the Delta Hospice Society was stripped of 94% of its operating budget for refusing to provide euthanasia in a facility intended for the provision of palliative care. Despite repeated attempts to defend its Charter-protected, faith-based objection to being required to provide euthanasia and reach a compromise in good faith, 10 hospice care beds are now at risk and will be surely defunded.
    Why do the Liberals continue to ignore the voices of those who have a different perspective on the issue of end-of-life care? People who seek hospice care are seeking it for a reason. They do not desire a medically assisted death. In effect, what has happened in B.C. is an attempt to redefine what constitutes palliative care.
    In fact, the Fraser Health Authority's decision flies in the face of the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians, which has clarified that euthanasia and assisted suicide are distinct from palliative care. I caution Canadians not to regard the Delta Hospice Society's situation as an isolated one. The government has shown little interest in supporting hospice care, and I would not be surprised by further attacks on the ability of Canadians to chose to end their lives naturally.
    In The Globe and Mail, Sarah Gray put it well, stating, “The hospice isn’t a place where people come to die. It is where they come to live — to live well for the little time they have left. It is a place of celebration, connection, comfort and support. It is a place of safety for the dying and the grieving.” In Cardinal Collins' words, let us work to create a “culture of care”, rather than rush toward a culture of “death on demand”.
    The government would also be wise to recall that much of the debate on Bill C-14 revolved around calls for a solid framework of conscience protection for medical practitioners involved throughout the end-of-life process. At committee, witnesses stated that the protection of conscience should be included in the government's legislative response to Carter v. Canada.
    The Canadian Medical Association confirmed conscience protection for physicians would not affect access to physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia. Its statistics indicated that 30% of physicians across Canada, or 24,000, are willing to provide it. I live in a rural area of Canada, and I can assure members there are many provisions that are not available to me directly where I live.
    Unfortunately, the Liberals failed to defend the conscience rights of Canadians in Bill C-14. I also found it disappointing that they failed to support, in the last Parliament, critical legislation put forward by David Anderson in Bill C-418, the protection of freedom of conscience act. It would have made it a criminal offence to intimidate or force a medical professional to be involved in the procedure. It would also have made it a criminal offence to fire or refuse to employ a medical professional who refuses to take part directly or indirectly in MAID.
    Here we are four years later, and Bill C-7 is also void of any provisions that would protect the section 2 rights of Canadians. In Canada, everyone has freedom of conscience and religion under section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. No one has the right to demand all services from all providers in all circumstances. As David stated, protections are needed for doctors and health care providers who are not willing to leave their core ethics behind when they are at a patient's bedside. Access to euthanasia and conscientious objection are not mutually exclusive.
    We, as legislators, must ask ourselves where the Liberals will draw the line. There will always be the voices of those in our society who feel that the limitations and safeguards are too stringent. When will it be enough for the Liberal government? How far are they willing to go? What message are we sending to the most vulnerable and fragile in our society?
    Over the last five years I have advocated for our veterans. I know there are countless veterans who appear able to cope with debilitating physical injuries, but they are extremely vulnerable in their mental health. We are all concerned about the number of them choosing to end their lives by suicide because of complications after serving our country. It is antithetical to try to prevent them from taking their own lives, yet tell them that there are government-designed opportunities to do so.

  (1145)  

     Bill C-7 fails to provide conscience protection, fails to protect the vulnerable and fails to fulfill the need—
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Guelph.
    Madam Speaker, unfortunately I found a lot of partisan comments in the member's intervention in contrast to the comments from the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London. This as a non-partisan issue.
    I was visiting businesses in downtown Guelph this morning and I spoke with one of the business owners. He talked about his parents in England, how they had gone through this choice and how other countries provided ways in which people who faced death could control their exit through proper legislation.
     I wonder if the member could comment on getting the personal comments directly from people who face those choices, even posthumously, as the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London presented to us, and should we should be looking at including those comments in the committee's study should we be able to get the bill to committee?

  (1150)  

    Madam Speaker, I would disagree with the member's comments. I totally agree with the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London. We are on the same page on this.
    That being said, we have approached it from two different perspectives. On the personal side, I hear those things all the time. The concern is that at what point do we come to a decision on what the responsibility of the government is. I understand we want choice, but the problem is that there are not enough safeguards for those individuals, where it is creeping into a sense that their rights and privileges under the charter are being challenged. That is what I expressed here. Right now we are at the place where we are the line between those who want a certain thing and those who do not. Someone's rights will be trampled if we do not deal with this very carefully.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, as citizens, we should all agree that it is important to prevent needless suffering at end of life and that it should be up to individuals to decide how they want to end their lives with dignity. However, we also need a legal framework to ensure that doctors can act within the law without being faulted after the fact for having helped someone end their life.
    Would my colleague not agree that doctors need a legal framework to be able to do this work?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, a legal framework was presented in Bill C-14. However, the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians has said that there is creep where palliative care facilities are being shut down because the physicians do not feel they should be providing assisted suicide or euthanasia, and their rights are being trampled upon. Many people in our country choose not to go that route. Their rights and their protections need to be in place as well.
    That is why we need a better focus on palliative care. We cannot say that we are giving people an option when people do not have an option. The government committed to a national strategy on palliative care and it is our responsibility as national legislators to make it very clear that palliative care is distinct from euthanasia.
    Madam Speaker, I definitely am in full support of my hon. colleague's very moving remarks. A disability advocate called my office this past week. She was very concerned about watering down protections for vulnerable people by removing the requirements on physicians and having a physician who specializes in the area being involved.
    Is there any provision for social workers to be involved? Frankly, physicians are not always equipped to recognize when there might be undue family pressure or other intersectional pressures being put on the patient to make an assisted-death call. What are my hon. colleague's thoughts on that?
    Madam Speaker, there needs to be clarity in that regard. We are hearing stories, but, as was mentioned, these things are not being brought forward and prosecuted or there are not enough safeguards in place to ensure people are not being coerced in that way. I have had individuals come to me in tears over that very issue. It is becoming commonplace that this is naturally something that is offered to a lot of individuals who are in end-of-life scenarios.
     Palliative care is an opportunity for individuals to live their life thoroughly to the end, along with their family. When individuals make that choice, they should not be coerced. We really need to be careful of this.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Oakville North—Burlington.

[English]

    This is a very difficult bill and subject for us to deal with. In this case, the sanctity of life, something that all of us cherish, conflicts with the liberty interests protected under section 7 of the charter. This is one of those difficult times where we have to recognize that our own religious views, our own moral views are not the ones we can simply impose on Canadians. We have to recognize that charter rights are sacrosanct. Sometimes, as a member, those are difficult moments.
    I personally have said before that I would not choose medically assisted dying for myself. Nor would I encourage family members to avail themselves of the opportunity for medically assisted dying. However, I also fully respect the right of every Canadian to choose for his or herself whether this right should be exercised personally.
    In the Carter decision, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld that under section 7 of the charter, there was a certain subgroup of Canadians whose liberty interests were violated by the existing provisions in the Criminal Code on not assisting someone to commit suicide. The Supreme Court in Carter told us that there was a subsection of Canadians, those who were in constant enduring pain and suffering that could not be alleviated by medical treatment reasonably acceptable to them, who had the right to have their death hastened by having medical professionals assist them in doing so.
    In the last Parliament, our government brought in Bill C-14. I had the privilege of being the chairman of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. We heard from a great cross-section of Canadians. We heard from those who represented the disabled community and those who believed in the right to die with dignity. We heard from members of the clergy from all faiths. We heard from university professors, lawyers and doctors. We heard from a great cross-section of Canadians who had very diverse and different opinions.
    What we tried to do was craft a law that brought Canadian society together, that protected the vulnerable but yet still afforded everyone the right that the Supreme Court had recognized in Carter, which was the right to decide for one's self whether to terminate one's life in the event he or she was in enduring pain and suffering that could not be alleviated by medical treatment reasonably acceptable to that person.
     As well, we had to recognize that when we dealt with the Carter decision in Bill C-14, Canada was at the beginning of a list of countries dealing with medically assisted dying. There were very few countries in the world that had gone where Canada was going. Belgium, Holland, Uruguay and a few American states were, but that was it. Canadian society needed to come to terms with medically assisted dying and learn more about the process before we went too far.
     That is why, at the time, I supported a clause in the bill that said that medically assisted dying was limited to those whose end of their natural life was reasonably foreseeable. However, we knew that would change over time and that as Canadian society looked at the experience of medically assisted dying, the bill would come back for review before Parliament and would need to change.
    At the justice committee, we proposed a number of important amendments to that bill. We inserted, by unanimous agreement at the committee, conscience rights to ensure that the doctors, nurses and pharmacists whose own beliefs would be offended by medically assisted dying were not compelled to participate in the process. We said that Parliament would need to review some subjects that we were not dealing with, such as the issue of mental illness on its own; the issue of mature minors; and, probably most important, the issue of advance directives for those suffering with dementia.
    We also adopted a motion that palliative care had to be part of that review. People should have their death hastened because palliative care treatment is not available to them in Canada.

  (1155)  

     This bill takes the medically assisted dying regime, Bill C-14, a step further based on the Truchon decision. It held that the provisions we had put in the law about reasonably foreseeable death were not constitutional and that a subgroup of Canadians who may have many more years to live but were in constant pain, enduring interminable suffering, and could not have that alleviated by medical treatment reasonable acceptable to them also had the right to medically assisted dying.
     This bill establishes that this group of people also have the right to medically assisted death in Canada, but also imposes additional safeguards on them, namely a 90-day waiting period. We understand that certain people, for example, may suffer a traumatic injury and need time to consider all their options and come to terms with their situation before finally going through with a medically assisted death.
    Also, based on the Canadian experience, we are amending the bill to allow certain Canadians who are about to lose their ability to offer agreement to medically assisted dying, because they have lost their capacity to consent, to do an advance consent.

  (1200)  

[Translation]

    Some Canadians want to access medical assistance in dying knowing that they may still have a few more weeks to live. The only reason they want to access it sooner is that they do not want to lose their capacity to consent to medical assistance in dying.
    Personally, I want these people to be able to continue to live and spend those last few weeks with their families. I do not want them to end their lives prematurely because they are worried about losing their capacity to consent to the procedure.
    The amendment to the law, this bill that is before us, gives hope to this group. These people will have permission to sign a contract with their doctor indicating that they want to put an end to their life on a specific date, even if they lose the capacity to consent to medical assistance in dying in the meantime.

[English]

    However, there is still a safeguard in the sense that if people who have lost their capacity to consent show through any action or words that they no longer wish to end their life, the doctor must then stop the procedure.
    I strongly support the bill. I think Canadian society has evolved with respect to how we see medically assisted dying. As Canadians, we now have seen where the procedure works and where it does not work. We have seen which groups have been positively impacted and which groups have been left out and where we can improve on the procedure.
     Following a great deal of consultation and national interest and seeing a change in how Canadian opinion sees medically assisted dying, this bill is the right one at the right time.
    Madam Speaker, I had the privilege of serving with the hon. member for Mount Royal on the justice committee when we studied Bill C-14
    The member rightfully talked about the process in which we heard from a diverse range of viewpoints. It is ironic that this legislation circumvents that opportunity to hear from a diverse range of viewpoints by pre-empting a legislative review, which should have started in June.
     The hon. member will know that this decision goes well beyond the scope of the Truchon decision. One such area is with respect to advance consent, to which he alluded. Arguably this goes beyond the scope of the Carter decision inasmuch as Carter stated not once, not twice but on three occasions that a patient must clearly consent.
     How can the hon. member defend that with respect to legislation that arguably goes beyond the scope of Carter? How can consent be truly meaningful if it is not contemporaneous?
    Madam Speaker, I want to say how much I enjoyed serving with my hon. colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton. He always brings a great deal of intelligence and rational thought to these situations.
    First, as the House knows, the government and Parliament are not limited to simply creating a law that repeats the Carter decision; Parliament is perfectly entitled to go forward further and protect liberty interests that were not recognized in Carter. Nobody excludes the right of Parliament to go further than Carter.
    Second, I believe that the legislative review on the subjects that we were supposed to review will continue to proceed. This law is a separate piece of legislation dealing with other subjects.
    Finally, I would say that, regarding the issue of capacity to consent in advance to medically assisted dying, this is simply for somebody whose death is already foreseeable, coming up in the very near term, to agree with their doctor to end their life if they have lost the capacity to consent to further prolong their life, because otherwise they would make that decision more prematurely. I support it for that reason.

  (1205)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois agrees with the proposed amendments and welcomes them.
    The issue that has not been addressed and that I think is important is advance consent. I would like to know where my colleague stands on that issue.
    Would it not be a good idea for people who meet the criteria set out in the act to be able to give their consent in advance, as we do with organ donation, in the event that they are diagnosed with a degenerative disease? Is that an issue that was examined? If so, what is my colleague's position on that?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Rivière-du-Nord. He always provides an intelligent perspective to the debates.
    To me, this is one of the three issues Parliament has to address. The first is the issue of mature minors, the second has to do with psychological illnesses only, and the third has to do with advance directives. I agree with the way in which the bill allows certain people to make an advance request.
    The issue of advance directives is very complicated. If we allow people to give such a directive in advance, then we must put in place very clear and precise guidelines. This will certainly be part of our discussion during review of the legislation.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to follow the wise words of my colleague, the member for Mount Royal.
    I am pleased to speak in favour of Bill C-7, an act to amend the Criminal Code, medical assistance in dying. As hon. members know, this bill responds to the Superior Court of Québec decision that struck down the eligibility criteria that naturally occurring death be reasonably foreseeable.
    In the last Parliament, I spoke during debate on the original MAID legislation. At that time, I talked about the need for us to have conversations with loved ones about death and dying. “Death” is a word that elicits strong emotions. We celebrate life, we embrace life and we talk about living. However, we avoid talking about death. We shy away from those conversations because they make us uncomfortable. I know there are those who feel this legislation goes too far. However, regardless of where people fall on this legislation, I think we can all agree that the way we deal with and talk about death needs improvement.
    Whether a grievously ill patient chooses to die at home or in a palliative care facility or chooses medical assistance in dying, we should be having these conversations sooner and lovingly assisting those who are ill in the end of their life. These decisions are often made during a health crisis. Ideally, each of us should be engaged in advanced care planning.
    I would like to share the story of Bob Lush, an incredible man, respected lawyer and my friend. Bob and his wife Maureen shared a love and bond that was obvious to all who met them. Bob died on March 17. This summer I had lunch with Maureen and she shared with me the decision they took to use MAID. With Maureen's permission, I would like to share Bob's story.
    Bob had been diagnosed with multiple system atrophy and pulmonary fibrosis. He also exhibited symptoms of Parkinson’s. While his body was failing him, his mind was as sharp as ever. Over time, these serious health issues would worsen, which led his doctors to tell him that he was palliative and that there was nothing more they could do. A palliative care nurse asked if they had thought about MAID and provided them with a brochure. It was not an option they had considered before, but Bob and Maureen together decided that this option would be the most loving way for Bob to leave this earth. I cannot possibly put into words the tremendous love these two shared.
    Maureen described for me Bob's last days. They chose March 17. All medical equipment was removed from Bob's room and it was filled with flowers and candles. They loved listening to James Taylor's “American Standard” album, and it was playing. Maureen and Bob's son John were by his side. As Moon River played, the doctor administered the MAID drugs. Bob closed his eyes and peacefully, painlessly and humanely passed away. To hear Maureen describe it, I could hear both the love in her voice and the sadness of losing Bob, but she had no regrets and, in fact, wanted Bob's story to be shared so that other families could consider this option for their loved one, if it was the right decision for them.
    The legislation before us here today would update our MAID laws in several ways. The bill would maintain existing safeguards and ease certain safeguards for eligible persons whose death is reasonably foreseeable. New and modified safeguards would be introduced for eligible persons whose death is not reasonably foreseeable. Persons whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable, who have been assessed as being eligible for MAID and who are at risk of losing capacity, can make an arrangement with their practitioners in which they provide their consent in advance, which allows the practitioner to administer MAID on a specified day, even if the person has lost their decision-making capacity.
    For persons who choose MAID by self-administration, a person could waive in advance the requirement for final consent in case complications arise following self-administration, leading to loss of capacity but not death. These new safeguards would exclude eligibility for individuals suffering solely from mental illness. It would also allow the waiver of final consent for eligible persons whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable and who may lose capacity to consent before MAID can be provided.
    This legislation would also expand data collection through the federal monitoring regime to provide a more complete picture of medical assistance in dying in Canada. These are important changes and ones that have been called for since 2016, when the government responded to the Carter decision with its original legislation.

  (1210)  

    Since MAID became legal in June 2016, there have been more than 13,000 reported medically assisted deaths in Canada. This figure is based on voluntarily reported data from the provinces and territories prior to November 1, 2018; and the data collected under the new monitoring regime after that date. MAID deaths as a percentage of all deaths in Canada remains consistent with other international assisted-dying regimes.
    The government undertook extensive consultation in order to update the MAID legislation. In January and February 2020, the Government of Canada engaged with provinces, territories, Canadians, indigenous groups, key stakeholders, experts and practitioners to receive their feedback on expanding Canada's MAID framework. Over 300,000 Canadians participated in online public consultations between January 13 and January 27 of this year.
    It is important to recognize that MAID is not the right option for everyone. We still have work to do to educate Canadians about end-of-life options. When the former Bill C-14 was debated in the House, I spoke about palliative care and the need to educate Canadians about it as an end-of-life option. I was pleased the Senate amended our original bill to include palliative care in the legislation. Our government has worked collaboratively with partners, including the provinces and territories, to develop a framework on palliative care. We are implementing a targeted action plan of providing $6 billion directly to provinces and territories to better support home and community care, including palliative care.
    I would like to share once again Bonnie Tompkins' story, a story I shared in 2016 during debate on the original MAID legislation. She is currently compassionate communities national lead for Pallium Canada, a national non-profit organization focused on building professional and community capacity to help improve the quality and accessibility of palliative care in Canada.
    When her fiancé, Ian, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he was adamant that he wanted medical assistance in dying. As is common, his biggest concern was the burden he would place on loved ones as his illness progressed. After he saw Carpenter Hospice in Burlington and was educated on the options available—

  (1215)  

    We seem to have lost the connection with the hon. parliamentary secretary.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary has about two minutes left.
    Palliative care is something that too few people consider, let alone discuss with their loved ones. Just as Bob Lush's decision was the right one for him, so too was Ian's. These are deeply personal and extremely hard decisions that people make as they near the end of their lives.
    This legislation today would address concerns about eligibility for MAID and allow more people who wish to use MAID to do so. I want to applaud the Minister of Justice for his leadership on this bill; as well as the Minister of Health; and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. I would also like to give a shout-out to the member for Don Valley West, who chaired the committee in 2016 that reviewed options for MAID legislation and that laid the groundwork for where we are today.
    It is my hope that all members of the House will support this important legislation.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, especially for sharing those personal thoughts with us because this issue we are debating today is a very personal matter.
    I wanted my colleague to comment on a statement by her colleague, the member for Mount Royal, who said in his speech that nobody should have their death accelerated due to lack of palliative care.
    We know that my colleague from Sarnia—Lambton brought forward a private member's bill that was in response to this decision, that was basically to allow Canadians to live as well as they can, for as long as they can. This private member's bill was dedicated to providing a national palliative care action plan.
    I wonder if my colleague could comment on the government's response to providing appropriate palliative care so people do not have to choose medical assistance in dying, considering that approximately 70% of Canadians do not have access to appropriate palliative care.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his question, and I also applaud my colleague, the member for Sarnia—Lambton,, for her advocacy on this issue.
    One of the problems is that people do not know what palliative care is and what is available, as the story I told about Bonnie Tompkins's fiancé demonstrates. People need to be educated on it, but not going into palliative care does not automatically mean they are choosing medical assistance in dying. That logic is flawed, in my opinion.
    There is a need for more education on all aspects of people ending their lives. I think there are conversations that need to be had between families and loved ones so that when or if they become ill, families will know what options are available. As I described in Bob Lush's story, had a nurse not provided information on MAID, the family could never have chosen that option.
    Our government is committed to palliative care.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, the bill proposes removing the requirement of final consent for eligible people whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable.
    Would it not be appropriate to allow for advance consent and waive final consent for people with degenerative, incurable diseases? What are my colleague's thoughts on that?

  (1220)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, these are indeed very difficult conversation to be having, and that was certainly discussed in 2016. My understanding is that part of the parliamentary review that is to take place on this legislation is about the issue the member has described regarding the people who have a terminal illness and want to provide direction and demands. It is something Parliament needs to look at, and we need to have a fulsome discussion on how we proceed if we choose to proceed on that.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her very compassionate and heartfelt speech. It was very moving.
    I have a question about requiring a person with an incurable disease to obtain permission from a medical practitioner specializing in the disease in order to get access to medical assistance in dying. In the case of people living in rural or remote regions that do not always have the appropriate medical specialists, does this requirement not constitute an impediment?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the question from the member is an important one. One does not have to be in a rural area to not have access to medical practitioners who may have expertise. In speaking with Maureen Lush, I know there is only one doctor in Oakville who is available to perform MAID, and there is no one at all in Burlington.
    I think it is very important that people have options and that we remove the stigma of MAID. Hopefully telling these stories will help to educate people on the right option for them and if this is the way they should proceed.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to the important Bill C-7. We need to know its origins to understand why we are at this point today.
    In 2016, working on Bill C-14 was a rather difficult exercise given that the Liberal government was intent on bulldozing it through. I believe that is the right expression, because the government refused all amendments proposed by the different opposition parties, including the Conservative Party, the NDP and the Bloc Québécois.
    The government put pressure on the Senate by giving it a deadline. The Senate wanted to improve the bill before the House voted on it. What was the end result? In September 2019, the Superior Court pointed out that the bill passed by the House was not adequate, especially with respect to the issue of the foreseeability of the date of the person's death.
    That is where we find ourselves today. We are in the House debating an extremely sensitive subject, but we have not had much time to consult the experts.
    Everyone has a different perspective on the issue, whether they are members of the House or members of the public in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada.
     I wrote a speech, but I have decided not to read it. Instead, I would like to share my own experience with my colleagues.
    The vote on Bill C-14 was the hardest vote I cast in my first four years in Ottawa.
    On the one hand, I had some constituents asking me to vote in favour of the bill, while others wanted me to make sure that the legislation would protect the most vulnerable and honour the conscientious objection rights of medical practitioners. On the other hand, I had constituents going through a very difficult time with a loved one who was suffering and could not access MAID.
    I did not sleep well the night before the vote. I knew that no matter which position I took, whatever I said in the House could be interpreted by the media and by Canadians. Allow me to explain. Some members voted against Bill C-14, and I would imagine that others will vote against Bill C-7. Members voting against the bill are doing so not because they are against it, but because they do not think it goes far enough.
    The opposite is also true. Some members voted in favour of Bill C-14 in 2016 because they wanted to make sure people got the bare minimum. No matter which side we took, we had to explain something extremely sensitive, and I do not think a simple yes or no could accomplish that.
    I often ask myself, who am I to decide for someone else? As lawmakers, it is our duty to protect the most vulnerable, especially if we remove the criterion of reasonably foreseeable natural death for access to MAID. This is reflected in the questions that some members have been asking in the House. I am sure it reflects the opinion of many Canadians who wonder what would happen if a person wanted to give advance written consent in case their situation changed over time. There is much more to this debate, and I do not think we are done talking about it.
    Madam Speaker, I forgot to tell you that I will be sharing my time with the member for Calgary Signal Hill.

  (1225)  

    I am very concerned about ensuring that this bill enables all Canadians, wherever they may live in this country, to have access to the appropriate resources to make the right decision for their situation. The current pandemic has exposed the weaknesses in our health care systems. I doubt all Canadians in rural areas have access to specialists who can guide them and give them the right information so that they can make a decision based on their circumstances.
    I am also very concerned about minors and vulnerable people. During the study of Bill C-14 in 2016, I had the opportunity to hear the testimony of two witnesses who had suffered accidents and endured the most traumatic ordeals a human being can experience. They told me that, had they had access to MAID back then, they probably would not have been talking to me that day because they had been in such a dark place at the time.
    I know people who were there for the final moments when someone who was suffering asked for MAID. I am certainly concerned about all that, and it makes me wonder what the best solution is. Is it because we do not have the necessary palliative care resources? Is it because both the federal and provincial governments and health care facilities are making poor decisions? I am wondering about that.
    I must say, I feel like we are rushing the process today, because has been quite a while since the courts asked Parliament to modernize this legislation after what happened in Quebec. This is a government that shut down Parliament under the pretext of being in a pandemic, as though we could not do more than one thing at a time. There are 338 MPs. Committees could have continued to sit. We could have heard from experts who could have explained this issue to us properly so we could make the right decision, the best decision.
    Again, this is something that will not be easy for many of us. We have differing opinions within our party and elsewhere. However, I would like to note that I am proud of my party for letting me vote freely. I want to thank my leader for allowing this, without any pressure from my organization. I hope that all political parties will offer this choice, because this is a vote of conscience, and it is challenging for us to represent our constituents, who do not all share the same opinion. We also have our own conscience. For some, this is a matter of religion or beliefs, which means we may not all see eye to eye on this file.
    Personally, the thing I wrestle with the most is wondering who I am to decide what is best for someone who is suffering. I believe that is what will guide my decision on the day of the vote. I hope that I will be able to make the right decision and that all of us can then work with the government to put all the necessary resources in place to properly inform and educate the public, and provide everything we can to vulnerable people who are going through tough times with loved ones, so that they are adequately supported in making the best decision.
    In closing, I hope that next time, we will have more time to talk about people who are not vulnerable, sick or about to die, but still want to express advance consent.

  (1230)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Richmond—Arthabaska for his very frank and candid comments.
    I would just like to clarify something. He mentioned that the Liberal Party did not accept the other parties' amendments. That is not quite accurate, because during the debate on Bill C-14, we accepted an amendment endorsed by all parties concerning medical practitioners' freedom of conscience and religion.
    I would also like to point out that Bill C-7 does allow for advance consent, but not advance directives. The issue of advance directives will be dealt with in the comprehensive review, which will take place every five years.
    I would also like to point out that there is a 90-day waiting period to eliminate the impulsiveness my colleague pointed out in his speech. For example, when a minor has an accident, we do not want them to make an impulsive decision on this matter.
    Does the member opposite believe that having a specialist is necessary? For example, Mr. Truchon, who was from Quebec just like the member opposite, had cerebral palsy. Our party believes that a physician must have the requisite expertise to treat and advise patients before they make their decision.
     Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and for the clarifications he provided.
    I do think that some expertise will be required. This is a very big decision for patients and their loved ones. There is the whole issue of grieving, a whole process. Yes, it makes sense that the doctor would be a specialist in the individual's illness or disability. However, I wonder if everyone will have access to those resources during the decision-making process. The devil is in the details, as they say. This shows just how urgent it is to deal with the matter of medical assistance in dying and, in particular, Bill C-7.

  (1235)  

    Madam Speaker, this is a particularly meaningful day to talk about this sensitive issue. Yesterday, October 18, marked the first anniversary of the passing of my aunt Claire, who chose to access medical assistance in dying. She was not looking to end her life, but she simply wanted to choose how she would put an end to her suffering and to do so with dignity. I think that the word “dignity” is important, because that is what we are talking about here.
    I heard the speech by my colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska, and I appreciated the considerable sensitivity he showed in expressing his concerns. The topic of palliative care is a very important one.
    If every patient across the country had fair and equal access to palliative care, would my colleague agree to remove the element of final consent, so that people with degenerative diseases could make a decision several weeks or months in advance, or even years, before their unforeseeable, yet inevitable, death?
    Could my colleague speak to that?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
    At the end of my speech, I talked about reflecting on the notion of who am I to decide on behalf of someone else going through such a terrible ordeal. I had those discussions, that very debate, more than once with friends over dinner. Some of those friends were going through this situation with their mother or father, or a brother or sister. This is what is really giving me pause right now.
    Ultimately, I should allow these individuals to have access to this resource. I am not sure “resource” is the right word; I should say, people should have this as one of their options.
    I do want to ensure, however, that the government does everything it can to protect vulnerable people if the time ever comes in their life that they want to end it. It should not have to come to that, and that is what I am wrestling with at the moment.
    Ultimately, I hope to be able to let go and vote in favour of this bill, as my colleague mentioned earlier, to let everyone decide for themselves.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, it is an honour to participate in the debate on Bill C-7, which will amend the Criminal Code.
    As someone who travels four or five hours to get to Ottawa on a regular basis, often I sit in Parliament and ask, “Do my constituents really care about what we are talking about?” I am pleased today to participate because I believe that this is a subject matter that every Canadian feels strongly about, one way or another, and that potentially could impact every Canadian. I feel very honoured to participate in this debate today.
    We are doing so because the Supreme Court deemed certain provisions of the original medical assistance in dying legislation, MAID, to be unconstitutional. That provision, deeming death must be reasonably foreseeable, is being withdrawn in Bill C-7. The second important piece of this bill is the removal of the 10-day waiting period. In my remarks today, I want to address both of those changes.
    First, I would like to state at the outset that I support the bill. In contrast to some others who have spoken, I do not believe the government should have appealed the Supreme Court decision. While I commend the government for finally bringing forward this legislation, it is unfortunate that the Liberals are only acting when being made to do so by the courts. This is somewhat of a repeat of four years ago when the government was forced by the courts to introduce the original MAID legislation.
     Those suffering near the end of life should not have to resort to the courts before government acts. I guess one could say, however, that late is better than never, and it is certainly better than endless appeals of the decisions.
    Four years ago when the original bill was introduced in the House, I made a special effort to obtain the collective views of my constituents. While I personally supported the original legislation, I also wanted my vote to reflect the feelings of my constituents. I reached out extensively to survey my constituents through phone calls, emails, Facebook and direct mail.
    The responses at that time were from all age brackets and all demographics. The end result was 77% of several thousand respondents supported the legislation. Ironically, that number is awfully close to the percentage of support I received in the general election just one year ago. I am confident that a similar survey today would yield the same results, and the majority of my constituents would be supportive of the changes being proposed in the bill.
    What I heard from constituents reflected my own personal views. While I respect some deeply held views from constituents who do not support MAID, I am of the belief that I, and only I, should determine how much pain and suffering is reasonable for me when end of life is near. I do not believe any institution or government should deny me my constitutional right.
    Some medical professionals do not support MAID, and that is their constitutional prerogative. Those advocating against these changes feel those rights are not adequately protected in the legislation. That may be legally correct, but medical professionals not wanting to administer MAID clearly have a professional responsibility to refer patients. In Alberta, the website for Alberta Health Services has a listing of doctors who are willing to perform MAID. If it is the view of a medical professional that he or she is not prepared to perform MAID, they can make a referral.
    The second important piece of this bill is removing the 10-day waiting period. I also support this. The contention that someone who is suffering to the extent that they ask for MAID one day will simply wake up a few days later and change their mind, I do not agree with. In my view all the 10-day period provided for was additional suffering and an opportunity, for those who oppose MAID on fundamental principles, to try to change the patient's mind. In my view, both are wrong.
    I am sure most MPs are receiving the same emails I am getting, many from constituents asking that I support the legislation and others who are opposed. I have no issue with those opposed to MAID. Where I do take issue is with some of the rationales that are being used. Medical professionals' conscience rights is one, and I have spoken to that.

  (1240)  

    Others claim the legislation would take us down the slippery slope of other countries, where euthanasia is available to children and those with mental illness. Clearly those are red herrings because this legislation would do none of that. Others are asking for more study, another delay tactic, similar to appealing the court decisions. It is more work for lawyers, less satisfaction for those suffering.
    Increased funding for palliative care has also been raised as an option by those opposing this legislation. Enhancing palliative care is always welcome, but in my view is not directly related to this issue. We are talking here about people wanting to end excruciating pain and suffering. These people are not asking for their pain and suffering to be made more comfortable.
    Our health care system must do both things well. It must allow for people to live with dignity and receive excellent care as they reach the end of their lives. In addition, the provision of health care is a provincial responsibility, and I do not believe it should be part of this discussion.
    Since the original MAID legislation was passed four years ago, I have taken a special interest in this issue. Unlike some other members who spoke earlier, I have not attended a death where someone has chosen MAID. However, I have had dozens of constituents make a real effort to tell me they experienced MAID with a loved one and that it was very special and appropriate. They personally thanked me, as someone charged with making laws in this country, for making this provision available at end of life for their loved one.
    I have not had one constituent call me to say how bad this experience was. In almost all cases, these same constituents have said that society needs to go further. In fact, many constituents seem to believe advance consent already exists. They cannot believe they are not allowed to prepare a legal document, while of sound mind, that would provide their loved ones with guidance in the event they are nearing their end of life but are no longer of sound mind. For that reason, it is critical the minister get on with his public consultation on a broader review of MAID, which was promised some time ago.
    The minister needs to find out what Canadians want and not make those suffering take years to go through the court system to get change. Like most things, the Liberals blame COVID. However, there are many ways of seeking input from the public regarding other changes to MAID, and the minister needs to get this discussion moving now.
    In summary, I look forward to the bill being studied in committee. I know there will be those opposed to the bill and those in favour making presentations, and all need to be heard. For me personally, I have consulted and listened to my constituents and feel very comfortable voting in favour of the legislation.

  (1245)  

    Madam Speaker, the member for Calgary Signal Hill is the member of Parliament for my brother, and I appreciate the effort he is putting forward in reaching out to his constituents to find out what they are thinking on the issue. Our role as members of Parliament is to put aside where we may want to head in favour of finding out from our constituents how we can best represent them.
    My question is regarding the speed of reaction. The legislation we introduced last time was a result of a lot of discussion and consultation. The consultations reached 300,000 throughout January of this year. We are being very careful to go one step at a time to avoid slippery slopes.
    Could the hon. member talk about the importance of avoiding those slippery slopes by taking the proper amount of time to do the consultations we need?
    Madam Speaker, I am suggesting we need to launch these consultations that have been promised because there are Canadians who believe this particular legislation could be even further enhanced. The Liberal government needs to get on with these consultations and listen to Canadians.
    As mentioned, at the end of the day we are here to represent our constituents. When I did my survey, I did not know how my constituents were going to react. Even though I felt strongly about this particular issue, I wanted to make sure I was representing their views, and I believe in both cases that was the case.

[Translation]

    It is with great emotion that I rise in the House to speak to the bill on medical assistance in dying.
    First, this bill is the result of a decision handed down by the Superior Court of Quebec. I am very familiar with that court. I had the great honour and responsibility of arguing cases before it in my previous life. Barreau du Québec lawyers have the privilege of working with one of the best courts in the world.
    This court rendered a decision and rather than appealing it, the Liberal government said yes. Quebec will once again be leading the way for the rest of the country. Our progressive and forward-looking Quebec will guide Canada. That makes me proud both as a lawyer and a federal government MP from Quebec.
    The purpose of Bill C-7 is to ensure that people like Ms. Gladu and Mr. Truchon have the same rights, opportunities and freedoms as those who are facing an imminent or reasonably foreseeable death.

  (1250)  

[English]

    The ruling in Truchon found the eligibility criteria of reasonably foreseeable natural death to be unconstitutional. Our government also agrees that MAID should be available to relieve suffering and pain from serious medical conditions and is now proposing through this legislation to amend the Criminal Code so that Canadians can end their lives with medical assistance if that is the right choice for them. To accomplish this, Bill C-7 proposes to repeal the requirement that natural death be reasonably foreseeable, opening up access to those who are suffering in a wider set of circumstances.
    The changes to the legislation propose to create two pathways in terms of the procedures that must be followed to assess a request for medical assistance in dying. While I do not have time to get into the details of the two regimes in full, there are a number of points that I wish to highlight today.
    For those people who are suffering intolerably from a serious medical condition, but whose death is not reasonably foreseeable, the safeguards put in place emphasize the importance of ensuring that sufficient time is taken to evaluate the request. A minimum of 90 days will be needed so that the person can be assessed by a doctor who has some experience with this condition, which will help to ensure that the person gets all of the information, services and tools that might help them improve their quality of life.

[Translation]

    Bill C-7 also creates new safeguards with respect to consent. Individuals requesting an assessment for medical assistance in dying give their consent, of course. Clearly, they also give their consent to receive MAID when they officially sign their request. However, what matters most is consent when MAID is about to be administered. There must be no doubt as to the person's desire to receive MAID at the moment they receive it. Doctors will be more comfortable proceeding under those circumstances.
    Depending on their illness, some individuals risk losing their capacity to give consent between the time they are approved for MAID and the day they would like to receive it. Although we expect that most people are ready for MAID rather quickly once their request is approved, some people may wish to wait for a specific event such as a child's wedding or the birth of a grandchild. Those who wish to wait before going ahead with MAID are caught in an impossible situation if there is the risk of losing capacity. Either they wait for their special family event and risk losing their ability to die as they wish, or they move up the date of the intervention and miss a very important moment with their family and friends.
    Therefore, this bill will enable individuals in real danger of losing their capacity to consent prior to the day specified for administration of MAID to make special arrangements with their practitioner. Such arrangements must be made in writing. The doctor and the individual must work together to come to an agreement that works for both of them. This safeguard is important for individuals as well as for doctors because they are the ones who bear the tremendous burden of ending someone's life.
    The bill addresses another difficult situation.
    Let us suppose that, when the day comes, the person has lost their capacity to consent to MAID, but remains conscious and alert, although not competent. Let us also suppose that they act in such a way or make gestures clearly indicating that they do not want to receive MAID. The bill addresses this situation—which we obviously hope will be rare—by clearly stating that the physician must not proceed because, in this case, it is no longer what the person wants.

[English]

    The concept of freedom of choice, for me, remains central to all of this. I watched my grandmother suffer from Alzheimer's. Not long after I was born she was diagnosed, and when I was very young she used to repeat the same stories over and over again to me, about her own life and the life lessons that she wanted to pass on. She would tell me about how she used to work two and then three jobs, taking shifts overnight in order to buy her family's first home and provide a better life for her children. What that repetition instilled in me was certainly an understanding that my grandmother was probably the strongest woman I knew, that she was a force of nature.
    When I was about seven or eight she forgot who I was, she forgot who everybody was, and I had to very painfully remind her every time I saw her. By the time I was 10 she no longer remembered language at all, and it was just humming, which I still somehow found very soothing, comforting and somehow okay. The degradation from there continued; her eyes no longer opened at all, she was in a wheelchair, the humming had completely stopped and when I was 15 the only muscles that worked were reflexive ones. Even if nothing else in her body moved, she would chew food if it was put into her mouth. It took two people to move her from her wheelchair to her bed or to change her, and this situation went on like this for 10 years.
    As a teenager I used to wonder constantly what it would feel like to be trapped in a body like that, wondering if that was really the same strong woman in there or not. It was 10 years of listening to hushed voices in the kitchen saying, “...but there's nothing we can do.”
    I do not know for sure, of course, what my grandmother would have decided for herself, but I do know for sure what I would want. For those who would decide something different for themselves, or for whom their beliefs are contrary to assisted dying, this framework provides everyone with the freedom to decide for themselves.
    It is not a crime under the Criminal Code to take one's own life. It is a crime to take someone else's. The changes proposed would ensure that those people who need and who would like doctors to help them in order to end their life with dignity, at the time that they choose, can do so.
    MAID is certainly one of the most challenging social issues in our society, which is made up of people with very diverse viewpoints and needs. I believe that this bill would achieve the right balance between the freedoms and rights of those who are dying and who are seeking a peaceful medically assisted death and our medical practitioners who need a clear framework for timing and consent.
    I call on all members of this House to support Bill C-7.

  (1255)  

    Madam Speaker, when I think about this, and about the importance of choice, I am thinking about the horrible situation that has been uncovered in long-term care homes across this country. I am thinking of a gentleman named Roger Foley from London, Ontario, who has a degrading neurological condition. He is not being adequately supported by our health care system. He is not getting assisted living, and so how can people be truly given a choice when their choice is between living horribly in a health care system that does not support people or having medical assistance in dying?
    Would the member not agree that we need to invest more in our health care system and more in improving the lives of our seniors and those with diseases before pushing forward and liberalizing assisted dying?
    Madam Speaker, I do not disagree with him. I do believe that we need to ensure that the quality of life that is available to our elderly and the people who are living in assisted-living homes and centres across the country allows them to have the option of living with dignity, but I do not believe the two are mutually exclusive.
    Our government has invested in health care recently. We have made numerous transfers to the provinces in order to make sure that our seniors are being cared for, and we will continue to do so, but that does not mean that medical assistance in dying should not move forward at the same time.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her speech, which was very personal and very moving. I just want to pick up on the idea of the foreseeability of death.
    Alzheimer's follows a certain progression. My colleague's grandmother went through that progression, as have some other people I know. People can experience different forms of dementia with aging, and some are more difficult than others.
    With that in mind, would it be good to include the possibility of advance requests for medical assistance in dying in Bill C-7, along with very specific criteria?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
    We need to keep this conversation going. We need to ask Canadians what they think and what they would be comfortable with. That is certainly not out of the question, but at this point in time, I think we have presented something that not only responds to the Quebec Superior Court's ruling but also meets the demands of those seeking medical assistance in dying.
    I certainly think more needs to be done. I know this is a very real concern in Quebec. My constituents also ask me about this. I think we need to keep the conversation going and see how we can move forward into the future.

  (1300)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I appreciated the words of my colleague across the floor. My father passed away in February just before COVID from Alzheimer's, after nine long years in care. However, I also do know what his desire was. The member spoke of choice. That, I think, is the issue here, right down to the choice for doctors.
     The member talked about making sure safeguards are in place. What about doctors who do not feel they can go forward in participating in this? They are not being properly protected across our country. As well, the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians has made it clear that euthanasia and palliative care are two very distinct things.
    How does the member feel about her government's position on palliative care? Would she be willing to say that those two things are very distinct and should exist independently?
    Madam Speaker, I have spoken to a few doctors who have told me they themselves are uncomfortable with the procedure. They have a system in place that appears to be working in which they can refer to their colleagues, other practitioners, in order to perform medical assistance in dying. That appears to be working for some.
     I am not aware, of course, of the situation of all medical practitioners across the country, but I certainly was comforted to hear from a number of doctors who, for different reasons, including religious beliefs, do not feel comfortable with this. There is a process in place for referrals.
    I would also note that medical practitioners do have the moral obligation to—

[Translation]

    Order. The parliamentary secretary.
    Madam Speaker, I am so pleased to be able to speak to Bill C-7, which seeks to amend Canada's medical assistance in dying legislation.
    This is officially one of the hardest decisions I have had to make since entering politics, first at the municipal level in 2009 and then at the federal level. I never used to get my family involved in my decision-making. However, on this issue, I decided to get my wife and adult daughters to sit down with me at the kitchen table for a frank and serious family discussion.
    Our government has been working on this bill since 2019. We have had discussions about the future and the choices that we need to make as parents. These discussions were extremely difficult. I know that this is an issue that hits very close to home for Canadians, but we do not talk about it in public very much. However, medical assistance in dying is a very complex and very serious issue for me.
    Yesterday, when I came back from my run, a neighbour was waiting on my doorstep. We had an intense discussion, a very good discussion, on medical assistance in dying. He had just been diagnosed with ALS and was very emotional, which made me very emotional. He asked me if I had voted for or against the bill the last time. Because I understood that an individual's right to choose is very important, I voted in favour of the bill. This time too, I agree with the amendments proposed by the Quebec courts.
    I have deviated somewhat from my speech, but events like these give us an opportunity to reflect on the reasons we are here. This subject has not been talked about very much in the House, and some opposition members have asked why it is up to all of us here to make these decisions. It just so happens that we chose to be decision-makers and that sometimes we have to make tough choices like this one.
    We immediately embarked on an inclusive process with the provinces and territories in response to recent court rulings about MAID rules. We held extensive consultations. We talked to doctors, organizations, vulnerable people and eligible individuals. The consultations were part of our government's progressive approach to ensuring that the federal framework reflects evolving views and Canadians' needs. That is how we always make decisions here in the House. Our goal is always to improve Canadians' lives and be as fair as possible.
    We were particularly focused on making sure that people with disabilities could express their views on the subject. People with disabilities are extremely important to me, given my past experience as parliamentary secretary to the minister responsible for persons with disabilities. That was an incredible experience, and we drafted the first accessibility act, which is near and dear to my heart.
    Bill C-7 would amend the Criminal Code provisions respecting medical assistance in dying to provide greater autonomy and freedom of choice to eligible individuals seeking medical assistance in dying.
    Protecting vulnerable individuals and respecting the right of people with disabilities to equality and dignity are essential considerations. More specifically, this bill would broaden medical assistance in dying to people with irremediable medical conditions who are in an irreversible decline but are not at the end of life.

  (1305)  

    The bill also proposes excluding persons whose sole underlying condition is a mental illness, introducing a host of safeguards for persons whose death is not reasonably foreseeable while maintaining and relaxing existing safeguards for persons whose death is reasonably foreseeable.
    The bill also proposes permitting persons whose death is reasonably foreseeable and who were deemed eligible for medical assistance in dying to provide consent in advance of the time of the procedure even if they lose the capacity to consent prior to the day specified in the arrangement with the medical practitioner.
    Supporting and advancing disability inclusion is not new for our government. From day one, we have been committed to achieving these objectives and have improved our programs to better respond to the needs of persons with disabilities. It should be noted that the Government of Canada fully respects the equality rights of Canadians with disabilities. That is why we have been working hard since 2015 to advance the accessibility and inclusion of persons with disabilities.
    For example, in 2018, we acceded to the optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This means that Canadians have additional recourse for filing a complaint with the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities if they believe their rights under the convention have been violated.
    In July 2019, we passed the Accessible Canada Act, which we are in the process of bringing into force. This legislation is considered one of the most important advances in federal legislation on human rights for persons with disabilities in more than 30 years.
    In 2019, we also launched the accessibility strategy for the public service of Canada, in order to make the public service more accessible and inclusive. In addition, we improved data collection, in particular regarding indigenous people with disabilities. We recognize that integrating people with disabilities is about more than simply passing a law, and we are working with these people and other stakeholders to combat stigmas and prejudices. The culture needs to change so that the significant contributions made by Canadians with disabilities are recognized and valued as much as those of other Canadians.
    Bill C-7 gives vulnerable people new, concrete safeguards against pressure and coercion, to ensure that MAID remains an informed, voluntary decision.
    Today, as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Seniors, I see that this has once again become a hot topic in my riding and in our discussions. I see how important it is to give people the right to make their own end-of-life choices. Fundamentally, we hope to strike a fair balance between respecting the individual autonomy of people who request MAID and protecting vulnerable people. We want this measure to be as compassionate as possible.

  (1310)  

    I want my colleague to know that I really appreciated his speech.
    In the bill and in practice, there has been a lot of talk about importance of the role doctors play when someone makes the final decision to request medical assistance in dying. However, we must not overlook the caring presence of the social workers who support these individuals throughout the process, allowing them, as my colleague said, to make an informed decision and fully and knowingly consent. The presence of a social worker is an important part of the support provided to individuals and families, as this decision is often made as a family.
    I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on the arguments raised since this morning in favour of an individual's right to express their wishes in advance when they are diagnosed, know that death is inevitable and want to plan how they will leave this world. Would my colleague support including a way to express one's wishes in advance in this legislation?
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her question.
    It is an excellent question. Any avenue for helping vulnerable people and helping those who want to support access to MAID is appropriate. All we want is to have federal legislation that provides a framework for all the regulations to ensure that there is a system in place in every province and territory of Canada so that people have the fairest opportunity to make a decision.
    However, if the provinces want to implement any measures, given that health is a provincial jurisdiction and that Quebec asked for the legislation to be amended, we will always be there to support the best outcome for the vulnerable.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am concerned that this bill would create two classes of Canadians. In one case, able-bodied persons suffering from mental illness would be provided with suicide prevention; in the other case, persons who happen to be in wheelchairs would be eligible for MAID.
    Is the member not concerned that this bill would create two classes of Canadians?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, what we are saying is that we want to make the fairest decisions for each group of people.
    People dealing with mental health issues are just as important as people with disabilities and people who are terminally ill and highly vulnerable.
    This is a very sensitive debate, and people with mental health problems who are not capable of making decisions are excluded from this law.
    Madam Speaker, I want to begin by saying that I was very touched to join my colleague in attending the commemoration of the great sacrifice of Canadian soldiers during the Second World War, in Caen, France.

[English]

    I will put that aside for a moment.
    I listened with interest to my colleague talk about the rights of handicapped people and how much the government cares for them. However, we saw complete indifference toward the crisis faced by handicapped people during the pandemic. We had to work hard and push the government to give a measly $600 to the most impoverished people when it was not going to give it. Handicapped people suffer extraordinary levels of poverty because they are marginalized from the workforce.
    Given the fact that the Human Rights Commission had to call out the government on its lack of action and interest in supporting handicapped people during the pandemic, I would expect my colleague to recognize that the government needs to do a better job in addressing the rights of handicapped people so they can get through this unprecedented economic and medical catastrophe.

  (1315)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to respond to my colleague who was also a travel companion in Normandy.
    My colleague may be referring to the Speech from the Throne in which the Prime Minister put forward some very important decisions for persons with disabilities. We provided $600, but that has nothing to do with medical assistance in dying. However, I am pleased to inform him that we were there for persons with disabilities—
    The hon. member for Shefford.
    Madam Speaker, I would first like to mention that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou.
    I am speaking here in the House of Commons today about Bill C-7, an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to medical assistance in dying.
    Many people here have had unique experiences involving the end of a loved one’s life. Personally, my most recent experience was last year, when I held my father-in-law’s hand until we were sure that he could die without suffering. I realized then that not everyone is that lucky. I thought about my grandmother, who fought a long and painful battle with cancer for many years.
    Naturally, as the Bloc québécois critic for the status of women and seniors, I was contacted by a number of groups about this bill. I will therefore recap all of the work my party did on this important issue, while emphasizing the great sensitivity of Quebeckers when it comes to medical assistance in dying. I will conclude with the position of some seniors’ and women’s groups who have made extremely useful recommendations.
    First, let us talk about the reason for this debate. In September 2019, the Superior Court of Quebec ruled in favour of Nicole Gladu and Jean Truchon, both suffering from incurable degenerative diseases, stating that one of the eligibility criteria for medical assistance in dying was too restrictive, both in the federal legislation covering MAID and in Quebec’s act respecting end-of-life care.
    Two brave individuals, and I know people who knew them personally, simply asked to be able to die with dignity, without uselessly prolonging their pain. Suffering from cerebral palsy, Mr. Truchon lost the use of all four limbs and had difficulty speaking. Pain killers are no longer working for Ms. Gladu, who suffers from post polio syndrome, and she cannot remain in one position very long because of the constant pain. She said that she loves life too much to settle for mere existence.
    What we are talking about here is the “reasonable foreseeability of natural death” requirement. Justice Christine Baudouin said it well in her ruling when she wrote that “The court has no hesitation in concluding that the reasonably foreseeable natural death requirement infringes Mr. Truchon and Mrs. Gladu's rights to liberty and security, protected by section 7 of the Charter.” That is the crux of this debate.
    The defendants were challenging the fact that they had been denied access to medical assistance in dying because their death was not reasonably foreseeable, even though they had legitimately demonstrated their desire to stop suffering. Jean Truchon had chosen to die in June 2020, but he moved up the date of his death as a result the pandemic. Nicole Gladu is still living, and I commend her courage and determination.
    The Bloc Québécois' position on this ethical question is clear. I thank the member for Montcalm for his excellent work and co-operation on this matter. I remind members that, as many have already pointed out, legislators did not do their job properly with Bill C-14. As a result, issues of a social and political nature are being brought before the courts.
    We need to make sure that people who have serious, irreversible illnesses are not forced to go to court to access MAID. Do we really want to inflict more suffering on people who are already suffering greatly by forcing them to go to court for the right to make the very personal decision about their end of life? This will inevitably happen if we cannot figure out a way to cover cognitive degenerative diseases.
    Obviously, we agree that we need to proceed with caution before including mental health issues, but that is not the issue today. The exclusion from the bill of eligibility for medical assistance in dying for individuals suffering solely from a mental illness requires further reflection, study and consultation, which will be completed at the Standing Committee on Health as soon as the motion that has already been moved by my colleague from Montcalm is adopted.
    I would like to remind members of the important role Quebec played on this issue. Quebec was the first jurisdiction in Canada to pass legislation on this issue.

  (1320)  

    Wanda Morris, a representative of a B.C. group that advocates for the right to die with dignity, pointed out that the committee studying the issue had the unanimous support of all the parties in the National Assembly. This should be a model for the rest of Canada. Ms. Morris said she felt confident after seeing how it would work in Quebec and seeing that people were pleased to have the option of dying with dignity. The Quebec legislation, which was spearheaded by Véronique Hivon, was the result of years of research and consultation with physicians, ethicists, patients and the public. It has been reported that 79% of Quebeckers support medical assistance in dying, compared to 68% in the rest of Canada. That is important to point out.
    In 2015, when the political parties in the National Assembly unanimously applauded the Supreme Court ruling on MAID, Véronique Hivon stated:
    Today is truly a great day for people who are ill, for people who are at the end of their lives, for Quebec and for all Quebeckers who participated in...this profoundly democratic debate that the National Assembly had the courage to initiate in 2009. I believe that, collectively, Quebec has really paved the way, and we have done so in the best possible way, in a non-partisan, totally democratic way.
    In this time of crisis, we must work together constructively to put people's well-being first. This is not about which has greater merit: palliative care or medical assistance in dying. This is about being able to offer both, to offer a choice. That is why I would like to remind the House that health transfers must be increased to 35% because Quebec and the provinces are the ones who know their regions' needs best and are in the best position to minimize disparity among the regions.
     I would now like to tell the House about a meeting I had with the Association féminine d'éducation et d'action sociale, or AFEAS, in my role as critic for seniors and status of women. During the meeting, the AFEAS shared its concerns about this issue with me. I will quote the AFEAS 2018-19 issue guide:
     Is medical assistance in dying a quality of life issue? For those individuals who can no longer endure life and who meet the many criteria for obtaining this assistance, the opportunity to express their last wishes is undoubtedly welcome. This glimmer of autonomy can be reassuring and make it possible to face death more calmly....
    As the process for obtaining medical assistance in dying is very restrictive, those who use it probably do so for a very simple reason: they have lost all hope....
    This procedure cannot be accessed by individuals who are not at the end of life....People with degenerative diseases, who are suffering physically and mentally, do not have access to medical assistance in dying.
    That meeting took place last January. Last week I received a call from the president, reminding me how important this bill is, not only to her members but to all Quebeckers and Canadians. Work on this bill must continue in committee so the necessary improvements can be made.
    Before being elected, I was a project manager responsible for raising awareness about elder abuse and bullying. I used to teach that violating people's rights is a form of abuse, that any attack on rights and freedoms, including the failure to recognize an individual's capacity to consent and to accept or refuse medical treatment, is a form of abuse. In 2020, a focus on proper treatment is long overdue.
    Let me conclude by saying that I hope all of these comments and all of Quebec's lived experiences, in terms of respecting people who request and choose to die with dignity, will encourage all members of the House of Commons to give their unanimous support to Bill C-7 and to medical assistance in dying. Let's show some empathy for everyone who is suffering. Let's give them the choice. It is said that we do not choose to be born, but once we are, the cycle of life begins. Let's ensure that we ourselves have the choice to die with dignity in accordance with our own final wishes. This bill is long overdue. We need to act.

  (1325)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Shefford for her speech and her very analytical and honest comments.
    I have two simple questions for her since she took part in today's debate. It was said that consultations on Bill C-7 were inadequate. In my opinion that is absolutely not true, given that we have already heard from 300,000 people. I would like her thoughts on that.
    The other question I want to ask her has to do with the dignity and autonomy of the person who wants to receive medical assistance in dying. Will changing the number of witnesses from two to just one independent witness and eliminating the 10-day waiting period improve or diminish the dignity of a person who has opted for medical assistance in dying?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.
    Eliminating the 10 days is a matter of dignity. This will allow some people to avoid suffering for days unnecessarily. As far as the committee work is concerned, we are aware that there is a world of difference between Bill C-14 and Bill C-7.
    It is already planned, but the committee will have to address the issues of advance requests, which is something many seniors' groups are calling for, particularly for some people with degenerative diseases. There is also the issue of mental health and that of minors.
    There are more issues that need to be studied, and I know that the committee will do the most exceptional work possible with input from all parties.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians has put out a statement, indicating that euthanasia-assisted suicide is distinct from palliative care. We talk about choice and opportunity here, knowing that 70% of Canadians have absolutely no access to palliative care, yet it is part of this conglomerate of other options that are presented within the bill on euthanasia.
    What is the member's perspective on the need for palliative care in Canada and should it be considered distinct from euthanasia?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
    I already addressed this in my speech. We must remember that it is important that we not pit palliative care against medical assistance in dying. We must continue to ensure that Quebec and the provinces receive the money they need for their health care systems through health transfers. Palliative care just like medical assistance in dying are part of a continuum of care. It is truly important to provide choice. I have already mentioned that.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.
    We agree on the fact that people must be given the choice. They must be able to leave this life with dignity and avoid useless suffering. However, there is a provision in the bill that concerns us a little, and that is the fact that the physician must have expertise or specific knowledge of the person's illness.
    In the case of people living in rural or remote areas, there may not be a physician with knowledge of a rare illness. Would that not be an obstacle to accessing this right?
     Madam Speaker, that is one more reason to ensure that health care systems across Quebec and Canada have adequate funding through health transfers, as we have pointed out. This would give people access to specialists who could weigh in. That is why the government must increase health transfers and ensure that people everywhere have better access to care.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I agree entirely with my hon. colleague from the Bloc Québécois.
    I wonder if there could be a response to an earlier question posed in the debate, which suggested that this legislation would open the door to seeing the possibility of medical assistance in dying for those who were not facing death but who were facing mental illness. As I read the legislation, that is specifically not contemplated here.

  (1330)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
    I remind members that the notion of mental health is not addressed in this bill because my colleague, the member for Montcalm, pointed out the need to be careful when dealing with such a sensitive issue as mental health.
    Madam Speaker, no one likes to talk about death. It reminds us that we are mortal, as are the people we love and the people we are emotionally attached to. We do not like to feel negative emotions. Our brain reacts negatively to these emotions by releasing hormones that make us panic.
    Death is such a difficult subject that most people worry when a loved one starts talking about wills, last wishes or funeral plans. They worry about the person’s health, when that person is only trying to plan for the future. This may sound ghoulish, but life always ends in death. Our entire lives are planned, starting with our parents planning our education and then us planning our careers, moves, children, and so on. We can plan for death and funeral arrangements the same way, even if we do not have suicidal tendencies.
    For there to be death, there has to have been life. We have a short time on this planet, so we need to act responsibly, not only for ourselves, but also for the generations to come. We are only borrowing this planet. The place where we live is temporary.
    I listened to my colleagues’ arguments last week, and I also read a lot about medical assistance in dying. I even discussed it with my father. I love my father. I hope that he will be with us for a very long time. I am a daddy’s girl. Unfortunately, my father’s wishes are currently impossible. He told me that, if he were to be diagnosed with a degenerative disease and told what was going to happen, he would like to be able to tell his doctor, at a certain point in the progression of the disease, that he wanted medical assistance in dying and that he did not want to linger.
    For now, that is impossible. It is something to think about.
    Even if these discussions about our loved ones’ final moments are difficult, we need to have them. They are important. They ensure that we can respect the person’s wishes to the very end. It does not mean that the person will necessarily opt for medical assistance in dying. It means that we will know what the person really wants at the end. It can also prevent families from being torn apart.
    One of the points raised by my colleagues was the fear expressed by several disability advocacy organizations that people with disabilities will be urged to get medical assistance in dying. I must admit that I, too, was concerned before I read the bill.
    Once I read the bill, I saw that the request for medical assistance in dying must be made in writing by the person in question, and that it can be withdrawn at any time. When the substance is being administered, if the person gestures or speaks in a way that appears to be expressing a change of heart, everything stops there. That is the case not only for people with disabilities, but also for people whose death is foreseeable.
    The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that people with disabilities have the same rights as people without disabilities. This implies that they have the right to life, and that they are entitled to receive the treatments appropriate to their condition. Why would they not also have the right to medical assistance in dying if they meet the criteria clearly indicated in the bill? Do people with disabilities not have the right to decide for themselves simply because they have a disability? I find that unacceptable. I reject the idea. People with disabilities are capable of making their own decisions. They are rational beings. This has nothing to do with making decisions for other people.

  (1335)  

    It has to do with allowing people the right to make their own decisions concerning their own death.
    I would add that other safeguards have been put in place, namely the three-month wait time with support services. My colleagues talked about that. It is not always easy to get in touch with a doctor or social worker, for example. I used to live in the regions. My doctor was a general practitioner. However, I do not think anyone ever had a better doctor because, when the time came to pick up the phone and call a specialist, he was the first to do so. Nothing could stop him. I wish everyone had that kind of doctor.
    All of this makes me think that people with disabilities are not at risk. They will decide for themselves, they will have the same rights and responsibilities as people who do not have disabilities and for whom death is foreseeable.
    I read that people are concerned that doctors will suggest medical assistance in dying based simply on a person’s disability. The very idea is repulsive, since doctors would not encourage patients to die. They would first try to relieve their pain and make suggestions for how to live with their condition. Beyond that, according to the bill, it is not up to the doctor to decide, but the patient. Doctors assess the situation and the request. Their role is not to suggest but to inform. It is the patient’s role to request and suggest.
    I also read that some people believe that opening up medical assistance in dying to people with disabilities might suggest that their lives are not worth living. I have read and re-read the bill, and nowhere does it say that the life of a person with a disability is not worth living. Did anyone here tell Stephen Hawking that his life was not worth living? Did anyone tell any of our Paralympic athletes that their life was not worth living?
    I am getting worked up because I have a little cousin who suffers from severe cerebral palsy. She barely speaks, but when she wants something, she knows how to make herself clear. She will never be able to request medical assistance in dying. Given her personality, I am convinced that, even if she could speak, she would not request it, because she is a ray of sunshine, because she is the person in our family who always believes that everything is good, everything is right and, at the end of the day, we can get through whatever life throws at us. I love her. She makes us see the beauty of laughter and closeness.
    Although her life is complicated, it is certainly worth living. Therefore, saying that the bill is suggesting that the lives of people with disabilities are not worth living is yet another despicable point that was made.
    The bill’s preamble states that life and the dignity of seniors and people with disabilities must be respected and that suicide must be prevented. I agree. To deny people with disabilities who are capable of making the choice the right to decide whether to receive medical assistance in dying is to deny them their dignity. Are we prepared to do that?
    That amounts to treating these people as if they were less important, as if they were incapable of making decisions because of their disability. The very idea is repulsive to me.
    Not everyone with a disability will request medical assistance in dying, just as not everyone without a disability will request it. Medical assistance in dying is an exceptional measure. It is not the rule. It is a choice that is fundamentally personal and that should not in any way be imposed by another person.
    Some called in particular for the withdrawal of the 10-day wait period for people whose death is foreseeable.
    Once again, I have very personal reasons for supporting that withdrawal.

  (1340)  

    I had an aunt who was quite the character. She spent five years fighting cancer and receiving treatments, some of them experimental. At some point, she could no longer stand it, and asked for medical assistance in dying. Because of the 10-day wait period, she died the day before she was to receive the drug to help her die—
    I am sorry, but the time has expired.
    The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Beauport—Limoilou for her speech, and I would like to congratulate her for highlighting the autonomy of people with disabilities.
    I would just like to add that the two people at the centre of the Truchon and Gladu ruling that we are discussing today had disabilities themselves, and the judge recognized their autonomy in making choices.
    We have heard several times that our government made a mistake by not appealing the Truchon and Gladu ruling to the Supreme Court. When a provincial superior court decision is well developed, carefully analyzed, rigorous and clearly articulated, should we appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, or should we take action, as our government is doing, to protect the dignity and autonomy of vulnerable people?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
    I am not a lawyer. However, in this case, a superior court handed down a ruling to address an unfair and unjust situation, where a right was taken away from people who were supposed to be treated equally. In my humble opinion, continuing the legal proceedings would only have added to the impression that these people are separate and different. They are full citizens, and they are entitled to be given our consideration and included in our reflections.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the member mentioned that, in her opinion, there does not seem to be two classes of Canadians coming out of this. In the previous bill, there were two requirements: grievous and irremediable suffering, and reasonably foreseeable death. This bill would remove the reasonably foreseeable death requirement, therefore creating two classes of citizens. An individual who is suicidal and has no grievous and irremediable suffering would be given the host of services Canada provides to prevent suicide. A person who has a grievous and irremediable issue would be eligible for MAID.
    Does the member not see that this bill would create two classes of citizens?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
    Nowhere in the bill does it say that someone who is suicidal can access MAID. On the contrary, the bill states that someone with a degenerative disability would have 90 days to reflect on their decision and would have the necessary support to ensure that they are not in a state of distress. The necessary safeguards are there to ensure that someone in a state of distress would get the help they need. Furthermore, the request may be denied if the assessment indicates that the problem lies elsewhere.
    These are the same reasons for which mental health is not covered. We must start by providing support for mental health problems without giving people with mental illness access to MAID. A good assessment and good support are the safeguards in this bill.

  (1345)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague said that there is no way that a handicapped or disabled person could be given medical assistance in dying without their consent because, of course, they would write it on a piece of paper. Would the member not agree that there could be a number of factors put in there, from being put under pressure to feeling like they are a burden on society? Would the member not agree that there need to be protections to ensure that people are not being affected by other factors to ask for medical assistance in dying?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I have said it once and I will say it again: Yes, it is important to ensure that individuals make a free, informed decision and that they not be coerced. That is why the bill calls for a 90-day waiting period and support from a social worker.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, before I get started, I will let you know I am splitting my time with the member for Markham—Stouffville.
    Today, I have the opportunity to participate in this debate on Bill C-7 from my riding in Guelph. Before I get going on the debate, I would like to recognize that Guelph is situated on the ancestral homelands of the Anishinabe people, specifically the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.
    I am proud our government has brought forward a bill that proposes changes that respond to the Superior Court of Quebec's September 2019 Truchon ruling. The proposed changes were informed by concerns and issues raised during consultations earlier this year in discussions with provincial, territorial and indigenous partners. As a result, we have had careful consideration of past experience with MAID in Canada.
    I recognize medical assistance in dying is a deeply personal and complex issue. I have heard extensive feedback from my constituents on this topic as recently as this morning. During today's debate, we are hearing very personal stories from MPs that are very similar to what we heard when we first brought forward the legislation in Bill C-14. There are arguments for and against, which we need to recognize and look at.
    Some of my constituents who have shared their support for these amendments and the swift passage of this bill have noted to me the importance of dying with dignity, as well as consistent and equal accessibility for all Canadians, as part of what our legislation needs to provide.
    Earlier this year, I had a constituent reach out to me and share her personal story regarding medical assistance in dying. She told me that she felt very strongly about this issue because her husband of 56 years, John, had passed last December after four years of battling an illness and how appreciative she was that we had taken some first steps toward addressing these issues. She told me about the vibrant man John was, with a big heart, a successful career and an impressive education. She told me they had conversations about getting old together and how they would deal with aging, but these discussions did not include suffering or what might happen if the pain became too great. As John's illness progressed, he was moved into a long-term care facility where he spent the rest of his life. It was there that she saw so many others who were unable to be independent. She was saddened to see there was no dignity for these people, or for her husband John, as they were no longer able to look after their own personal needs. I saw this myself with my mother as she went through care in her last 10 years of life. The story of my constituent was one that conveys the importance of providing a diverse end-of-life option for Canadians that will help them provide the right decisions to be able to end their days with dignity, comfort and peace of mind.
    Of course, there are two sides to this debate. I have heard from other people and received a lot of feedback that they understand we are coming at this as a deeply personal and sensitive topic for everyone, but are concerned these new amendments may impact the disability community, something we have discussed in the debate today, and the conscience rights of medical practitioners or our work toward improving palliative care. They all really do stitch together. While I am sympathetic to these concerns, I am also pleased to see our new legislation strikes the right balance of autonomy and protection of vulnerable people. This is thanks to many disability advocates who have participated actively throughout the consultation process, including specific round tables that focused on issues faced by the disability community. As was mentioned earlier in the debate, 300,000 people had input throughout the month of January 2020 to help us get to where we are today.
    Additionally, our law specifically acknowledges the conscience rights of health care providers and the role they play in providing medical assistance in dying. These new amendments do not make changes to these rights and I know we will continue to work with provinces and territories to support access to medical assistance in dying while also respecting the personal convictions of health care providers.
    However, the most common concern I have heard from my constituents is the need to prioritize palliative care over medical assistance in dying.

  (1350)  

    It is really the end-of-life care that we are talking about in both cases. In palliative care, Canadians are approaching the end of their life, and they deserve to receive care in the setting of their choice and to live out their days in comfort and dignity. They also deserve the freedom to make this fundamental decision about life and death without fear of their personal choice being obstructed by politics or government.
    In Guelph, we are very blessed to have a wonderful palliative care facility that has been growing over the years as people recognize this as an option towards the end-of-life care that they are looking for.
     However, 70% of Canadians are left without access to adequate palliative care. We have the responsibility to act in the interests of patients and their families, which is why our government supports access to both palliative care and medical assistance in dying. End-of-life issues are as diverse as Canadians themselves, and these issues also change throughout the course of medical needs and procedures that are available.
     It is our responsibility as a government to provide as many options as possible for Canadians, so that they can take these deeply personal choices and make them on their own. That is why our government has worked collaboratively with partners, such as the provinces and territories, to develop a framework on palliative care. To support this framework, our government is implementing a targeted action plan that will help to improve access to palliative care for underserved populations; support families, health care providers and communities; and look at the funding that is needed to be able to execute our plans.
    I would like to take this opportunity to thank Hospice Wellington and its executive director, Pat Stuart for the amazing work they do to support our most vulnerable citizens, including through palliative care.
    I would also like to thank the constituents of Guelph who have personally reached out to me over the last several months to share their feedback, suggestions and personal stories around medical assistance in dying. I look forward to continuing to engage with my colleagues on this important subject and with my constituents, so that we can work to create a system that is responsive to the needs of patients, and creates an environment that can create comfort and reassurance for patients and their families.
    Madam Speaker, I wish to thank my hon. colleague for his perspective on this issue. Indeed, I want to thank all of the members from both sides of the aisle who have shared on this deeply important topic.
    My concern, and the member raised it, as did several of the previous speakers, is about the concerns expressed by the most vulnerable in our society, the disabled. They wrote, one month after the Truchon decision, to the Attorney General, 72 groups of them, pleading that this case be appealed to the Supreme Court for several reasons, that would buy time for a proper consultation process as part of the review, and that their voices would be further heard.
    Could my hon. colleague please comment on why this process has been chosen superior over the voices and wishes of 72 representatives of the disabled community?

  (1355)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Chatham-Kent—Leamington, where we also have family members. As we have these discussions, we do see the cross-ties across Canada as we look at these issues.
     The disability community is involved with the consultation process and will continue to be involved. We are reacting to the Superior Court ruling from Quebec, where we do need to look at some amendments. When we can get those in place, we will do the further review of Bill C-14, which will include the broader issues the member has mentioned.
    Madam Speaker, I will continue on in this vein.
    I am concerned that the bill creates two classes of Canadian citizens: one, where if they are attempting suicide, suicide prevention measures will be given to them; and, two, another class of citizens who have a grievous and irremediable condition and who will be offered MAID.
    Is the member not concerned with the two classes of Canadian citizens?
    Madam Speaker, similar to colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I do not see this as an issue of dividing Canadians, I see this as an issue to be able to reach all types of Canadians, coming from different experiences and different health needs. We will be addressing the needs of all Canadians through this bill, as well as through ongoing legislative review of this legislation.
    Madam Speaker, I know that my hon. colleague is a sincere man. That is why I was very disturbed by something I thought I heard him say, about some people at the end stage of their lives, that their lives were simply not dignified. Who is he to say that their lives were not dignified?
    Would the member state unequivocally that all human lives, regardless of what condition or how they are at the end of their lives, are always dignified?
    Madam Speaker, I apologize if I left that impression with the hon. member. All life is dignified in Canada.
    When my mother was passing away in Winnipeg I spent her last few days with her. Family members were looking at the question of how long to keep the machine going. My mom, in a moment of lucidity, came back to me when my brothers and sisters were out of the room and she said to me, “It's part of my decision as well, dear.”
    The people who make those decisions have to be dignified and respected, so that their decisions are included in the legislation. In fact, this legislation is central to their decisions and not the decisions of family members or others.
    Madam Speaker, what concerns me is that I have been in the House for many years, and twice now we have had to respond to court decisions in regard to end-of-life legislation.
    I brought forward, in the previous Parliament, a motion for a palliative care strategy that received support from every member of Parliament. I heard many of my Liberal colleagues get up to say great things about it and then we never saw any action on it. The concern I have is that, in all of the work I have done with palliative care groups across the country and with people I knew very closely who have died, the will to live is so incredibly strong.
     What we do not have ever, it seems, at the federal level is the willingness to make sure that we have standards in place to ensure the dignity of people in their final days and months, to ensure there are proper pain medications, supports and strategies in place. Here we are once again talking about amending the right-to-die legislation, but we have never ever gotten serious about responding to Parliament's call for support for people who want to die with dignity at their own time through palliative care.
    Madam Speaker, I do not mean to talk down to the hon. member across the way because I would not do that.
    The courts make decisions that then come back to Parliament so that we can review the decisions we have made on legislation to see whether further amendments are needed. This is a case where a court is telling us that there are further amendments needed. We agree with the court and are going forward with Bill C-7, so that we can make the amendments to try to satisfy the needs of the—

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

  (1400)  

[English]

Support for Local Artists

    Madam Speaker, during this time of COVID crisis, when many of us have been doing our part to socially distance, we have found solace and comfort in the arts. Music, poetry, television and literature have all become more meaningful in this challenging time, offering escape and relief.
    Artists have and will always be the first to stand up and volunteer their talents for a good cause, but now as many artists struggle, we need to step up and give them our support.
    On that note, I would like to highlight the amazing performances of the Celtic Colours International Festival, which celebrates Cape Breton's living Celtic culture and artistic partnerships. The Celtic tradition of music, dance and storytelling lives on through this festival, which has come to be a celebration of Cape Breton Island's living culture.
    This year, the festival was made free to stream by all Canadians. Celtic Colours speaks to the resilience of our musicians, of their love of the craft in difficult times and their willingness to support their communities even when they are facing their own hardships. I would like to commend them and ask all Canadians to do their part to support their local artists whenever and wherever they can.

Small Business Week

    Madam Speaker, this week is Small Business Week in Canada. This is a time to highlight and celebrate what small businesses and entrepreneurs are doing for our country to make our lives better and our economy stronger. The year 2020 has been a real challenge for small businesses, with COVID-19 proving to be as much a financial crisis as a health crisis.
    Despite all those challenges, entrepreneurs across the country are stepping up to the challenge, including people in my riding, whom I had the honour of visiting recently. I am thinking of Amy at Wildflowers Style & Co., Samantha at Oxygen Yoga and Fitness, Julia at the Bone & Biscuit and Stephanie at Mattu's Coffee & Tea. These people are standing up to the challenge.
    I thank them for their courage. I thank them for their determination, and I ask them to please keep leading the charge.

Donation to University of Toronto

    Madam Speaker, Winston Churchill said that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
    Today I rise to honour two Canadians for what they have given. Recently, James and Louise Temerty donated $250 million to the University of Toronto faculty of medicine through their foundation. This donation is the largest ever to a Canadian university.
    The Temerty Foundation gift will support advances in machine learning in medicine and biomedical research, commercialization and entrepreneurship, equity and accessibility in medical education, the creation of a new state-of-the-art faculty of medicine building and much more.
    James Temerty was born in Ukraine and came to Canada as a child after World War II. From humble beginnings, he has built a very successful entrepreneurial and business career. James and Louise have been generous philanthropists for many years, giving to a range of causes including the Royal Ontario Museum, the Royal Conservatory of Music, SickKids hospital, Sunnybrook Foundation and much more.
    On behalf of our community and all Canadians, I would like to thank James and Louise for the difference they have made in the lives of countless Canadians and people around the world. I thank them for what they have given.

[Translation]

Canadian Mining Companies

    Madam Speaker, I recently had the opportunity to participate in a webinar about Canadian mining companies' shameful treatment of people in the Cordillera region of the Philippines and of the activists fighting for them.
    I was there to explain what kind of work a parliamentarian can do in such situations. It was abundantly clear to the other participants and me that, thanks to COVID-19, regimes and corporations around the world are working hand in hand, quite happy that nobody is talking about their abuses, and that Canada is turning a blind eye. Never has it been more urgent for Parliament to do more to hold mining companies to account and punish them.
    Canada can no long knowingly serve as a port of convenience for these multinationals. As parliamentarians, we must all stand and condemn abuses perpetrated behind the facade of the maple leaf. It is unacceptable. It is unworthy of the people we represent.

[English]

Travellers to Canada

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Minister of Immigration for taking the input of MPs and bringing the necessary changes to expand the categories of travellers allowed into Canada.
    In my riding of Don Valley East, I had numerous requests during the pandemic for compassionate and family reunification. The minister has listened and is enabling spouses and fiancés to be reunited, people to visit their dying relatives and international students to come. With the safeguards that have been in place, we know that the importation of COVID-19 cases is less than 3%.
    I urge my constituents and everyone to check out the changes and note that we are not easing restrictions, but are being compassionate. We are doing that in co-operation with the provinces and territories and keeping Canadians safe.

  (1405)  

Festivals in Haldimand—Norfolk

    Mr. Speaker, for the past 16 years, I have had the honour of representing one of the best places to live in Canada and, boy, do we know how to celebrate. Haldimand—Norfolk hosts dozens of festivals, parades and fall fairs, and multiple community suppers, fish fries and barbecues. We even boast a Canada Day parade that has happened every year since Confederation, that is, until this year, when organizers of these events were forced to make the difficult decision to either cancel or move to a virtual format.
    While we could not see familiar faces at the fall fairs this year, I am looking forward to the future when we can come together, enjoy a Dixie dog and, personally, get to see an entire parade from start to finish for the first time in 16 years.

Women's History Month

    Mr. Speaker, October is Women's History Month in Canada, a time to learn about the lives of our great-grandmothers, grandmothers, mothers and sisters, and their contributions to our communities and country.
    We should know the women who built our country. We should learn about their history and achievements. When history has erased women's contributions, we need to uncover them, share women's stories and name unnamed women in archives and family photos, because they have shaped Canada's history. We must tell the stories of women through school, post-secondary education and beyond to ensure that they inspire this generation and the ones that follow.
    Let us recognize all women's contributions and celebrate every woman pioneer, trailblazer and rule-breaker who fought to take her rightful place, who fought for each hard-won right and who continues to fight for a better today and tomorrow. We stand on the shoulders of giants.

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are great at preaching to others, but not so good at taking action themselves.
    From the day he took office, the Prime Minister has done anything and everything to avoid talking about China. However, the threat is real. Whether it is about Huawei, the illegal detention of the two Michaels or the aggressive statement by the Chinese ambassador regarding people fleeing Hong Kong, the Prime Minister does nothing. Worse yet, he said he admired the Chinese dictatorship. It is not surprising, then, that the Prime Minister is using Canadians' money to support infrastructure projects in China instead of promoting projects here in Canada.
    It is high time we took a stand. Backing down from China will only weaken Canada and our economy at this time of pandemic. Failing to deal with China sends a signal to the international community that Canada is weak and vulnerable. Canadians deserve better.

[English]

Birthday Congratulations

    Mr. Speaker, recently I had the pleasure to join in the celebration of one of my oldest constituents, Mr. George Beardshaw, who turned 97 last month. Because of the pandemic, traditional festivities had to be changed, but the warmth, generosity and love inspired by George was abundantly clear. A classic car tribute five blocks long had been organized by his loved ones, while the drivers honked a happy birthday.
    George has led an amazing life. At the age of 18, he joined the Queens Own Rifles to fight in the Second World War to help liberate Europe. He was also part of the home child program, where orphaned and impoverished children from the U.K. were sent to Canada. As we know now, the children were often used as cheap labour on farms and in private homes. The 115,000 home children who came to Canada, like George, have given so much to their adopted country.
     I know my colleagues will join me in wishing George, a veteran of so much, the happiest of birthdays in these most difficult of times.

  (1410)  

Status of Women

    Mr. Speaker, women are the majority of those unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, an issue that has not gone unnoticed by the status of women committee.
     Recently the committee learned of the numerous negative impacts women have faced because of the Liberal government's failure to follow through with its commitment that all programs and funding would go through a gender-based analysis. Unfortunately, because of the Prime Minister's latest ethical lapse in judgment, we were not able to present our report and recommendations to the government to help address and alleviate their concerns and to find ways to help get women back into the workforce.
    Canadians are looking for stability and leadership. Women cannot afford to wait while the Liberals continue to play political games. Canadians can be assured that under a Conservative government, we will continue to put forward constructive ideas and solutions in addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on women in Canada.

Liberal Candidate for Toronto Centre

    Mr. Speaker, in this age of heightened tension, it is more important than ever that leaders stick to the facts and do not peddle misinformation. Conspiracy theories undermine confidence in democratic institutions and in the ability of people to influence the direction of our politics.
     While it is fair to disagree with authority figures, believing that those authority figures are controlled by a global cabal of lizard people undermines the possibility of effective democratic discourse. Frankly, anyone who has seen government up close knows that conspiracy theories vastly overestimate the competence of government.
     That is why I was so disturbed to hear that the Prime Minister's hand-picked Liberal candidate in Toronto Centre had tweeted about “what really happened on September 11, 2001”. Bill Morneau must be rolling in his political grave. The 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda and not by the U.S. government, Elvis or the people who faked the moon landing.
     At a time when our relationship with the United States is becoming increasingly challenging, this is not going to make matters any better. The Prime Minister has to explain why he thought it was appropriate, especially at a time like this, to appoint a candidate who has a history of using her public platform to lend credence to conspiracy theories.

Fiscal Stabilization Program

    Mr. Speaker, the fiscal stabilization program must be overhauled to get money to provinces like Newfoundland and Labrador suffering from serious loss of revenue.
     Becoming a have province has been great for Newfoundland and Labrador. We became so because of the oil revenues and royalties, and the many thousands of workers and their families earning good incomes and living better lives because of it. It also meant that we no longer qualified or required payments under the equalization, the constitutionally-mandated program to address inequities between the provinces.
    However, equalization does not help the sharp dip in revenues experienced by oil producing provinces like Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta and Saskatchewan recently exacerbated by the downturn in markets due to the pandemic. The fiscal stabilization program is aimed at that, but it needs to be retooled and upgraded with funding sufficient to address the serious financial crisis facing these provinces.
     The Liberal government needs to step up now and fix the fiscal stabilization program to provide the needed help.

  (1415)  

[Translation]

Local charitable organization

    Mr. Speaker, back home on the North Shore, there is a unique and essential organization that is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year: Cancer Fermont.
    Cancer Fermont helps cancer patients and their families by providing welcome monetary or personal support in order to reduce daily stress in the families' lives as much as possible.
    Under the leadership of the organization's founder, Denis Grenier, the entire team at Cancer Fermont volunteers year round and in the past 15 years has raised nearly $1 million for and by the Fermont community, bringing people together and fulfilling their dreams.
    As the member for Manicouagan, I am happy to have an organization as important as Cancer Fermont operating on the North Shore, in Quebec, for the well-being of our people.
    I wish Denis, Marlène, Caroline, Angèle and all those who contribute from near or far to the success of Cancer Fermont a happy 15th anniversary and much success for the next 15 years. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Wendake Tragedy

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday there were hundreds of us marching in the streets of Wendake. We all marched together in memory of the two young boys who died a week ago.
    These two brothers, aged three and five, were on this earth for less time than it will take for them to be forgotten. We were there to show support for their mother and their family, who will never experience the joy of watching these two angels grow up, come into their own and live their lives.
    As always, the people of Wendake stand together in their pain and in their courage, because this tragedy is not unique to Wendake. Similar tragedies have happened in Saint-Apollinaire and Granby. We are all human beings, and this speaks to all of us. Episodes of psychiatric distress can affect absolutely anyone, which is why it is important for us to try, as much as possible, to be aware of and responsive to the suffering of others.
    Investigations are under way and a murder charge has been laid. Justice will take its course, but it will never bring back these two little angels.
    A loved one said yesterday that we must ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again. We sincerely hope that it never will.

[English]

America's Got Talent

    Mr. Speaker, last month, Canadians across Canada and especially in my riding of Brampton North were blown away by 11-year-old Roberta Battaglia's powerful voice and even more powerful message.
     Competing in America's Got Talent, Roberta inspired us all as she spoke out against bullying in schools while performing a song incredible enough to receive judge Sofia Vergara's only golden buzzer.
    This recognition of talent sent Roberta straight to the finals where our Brampton star won fourth place, impressing both judges and the audience. To make her performance even more meaningful, Roberta chose to sing a song by Alessia Cara, who is not only Canadian but from Brampton as well.
    These are just two examples of the magnitude of talent that exists within Brampton. I applaud every person who is working hard to achieve their dreams.
     Roberta is an inspiration to us all, and I wish her the best of luck in her musical career.

[Translation]

Raymond Pitre

    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to recognize the contribution of Raymond Pitre, a resident of Hull—Aylmer who has been volunteering and helping out in the community for over 51 years.
    Raymond is retiring this month at the age of 89 after having been the president of the Optimist Club of Aylmer for the past several years. Before he took on this role in 2016, the club's future was uncertain, but he believed in the club's mission, which is to help bring out the best in our youth. Thanks to his hard work, leadership and management skills, the future of the club is now secure.
    On a more personal note, having frequently rubbed shoulders with Raymond, I would like to add that he is always in a good mood and a very persuasive person, which make him a practically unstoppable force.
    I would like to thank Raymond for all these years of work and for his dedication to young people and the community.
    We wish you a happy and well-deserved retirement, Raymond.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, for a month, the Conservatives have been warning the government about rising tensions in Nova Scotia. This morning, the Minister of Public Safety compared the current situation to a war zone in need of peacekeeping. The government has ignored this issue. The Minister of Fisheries has refused to take her responsibility to indigenous and commercial fishermen seriously, and now, instead of sending in negotiators a month ago, the government has to send in police officers.
    When will the minister finally do her job before more people get hurt?
    Mr. Speaker, let me join the leader of the official opposition, all members of this House and indeed the vast majority of Canadians in condemning the appalling violence that has taken place.
    Federal and provincial ministers are working together on solutions to maintain the peace and avoid any further violence. I am sure we all agree on the need for all parties to engage in respectful dialogue aimed at upholding the Marshall decision and the Mi'kmaq treaty right to fish while ensuring conservation and sustainability of the fishery.

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, leadership means acting before people get hurt.

[Translation]

    This government always goes with the worst possible option when it comes to leadership: it waits.
    The situation in Nova Scotia is getting worse and worse because this Prime Minister and this minister are slow to act. The Conservatives have been calling for mediation for months. Today, the police are on the ground.
    Will the fisheries minister show some leadership in resolving this problem or do we have to continue to wait?
    Mr. Speaker, we condemn the appalling violence that has taken place. Federal and provincial ministers are working together on solutions to maintain the peace and avoid any further violence. We agree on the need for all parties to engage in respectful dialogue aimed at upholding the Marshall decision and the Mi'kmaq treaty right to fish, while ensuring the conservation and sustainability of the fishery.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, another week, another provocation from China. As always, this Liberal government maintains the status quo. The Chinese ambassador threatened the 300,000 Canadians living in Hong Kong. Worse still, today the Chinese government called on Canada to apologize.
    Will the Prime Minister finally protect Canadians and stand up to China?
    Mr. Speaker, our stance on human rights and freedom of expression is very clear. That is why we have been clear on issues like the situation in Hong Kong and the treatment of the Uighurs. Obviously the Minister of Foreign Affairs has taken steps to clarify and officially convey Canada's point of view on the ambassador's comments. I want to emphasize that the government's decisions when it comes to immigration or any other domestic matter are made by Canada and Canada alone.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, what is clear is that the government is too timid to act. Last week, the Chinese ambassador threatened 300,000 Canadians currently living in Hong Kong. He has offered no public apology and the government has not demanded one. This morning, we learned that the Chinese government has doubled down and is complaining about our reaction to its threat.
    Will the government finally demand that the Chinese ambassador apologize to Canadians publicly in the same way that he publicly threatened them?
    Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. Our government is clear and outspoken in our defence of human rights and free speech in Canada and around the world. That is why we have been steadfast in defending the protests in Hong Kong and the 300,000 Canadians who live there, and in protesting the treatment of the Uighurs.
    Let me just say that the recent comments by the Chinese ambassador are not in any way in keeping with the spirit of appropriate diplomatic relations between two countries. Let me also add that Canada's decisions will be made by Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, the only thing that remains clear is the Prime Minister's continued admiration for the basic dictatorship in China.
    This morning the Chinese ambassador took his comments a step further. He has issued another vague threat against Canada if Parliament dares to condemn the ethnic cleansing against Muslim Uighurs in western China.
    Canadians in Hong Kong have been threatened. This House has now been threatened. Who else has to be threatened by the ambassador before the Prime Minister is willing to pull his credentials?
    Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. I am well aware of the character of authoritarian communist regimes. I have lived in one and reported on it. Let me also be clear that when it comes to the treatment of the Uighurs, an ethnic Muslim minority that is being persecuted, Canada will always speak out clearly and without any reservation. Let me assure the 300,000 Canadians in Hong Kong that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, and we will stand with them.

  (1425)  

[Translation]

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, the government is so intent on covering up the We Charity scandal that it would let the government fall if we were to vote on having a special committee that would shed light on this issue.
    In the midst of a pandemic, in the midst of a second wave, it is telling the opposition that it will trigger an election because it wants us to stop talking about We Charity. This summer, the Liberals shut down Parliament so we would stop talking about We Charity. Today, they are threatening to trigger an election because they do not want to talk about We Charity. That is very worrisome.
    My question is simple. What do they have to hide?
    Mr. Speaker, we are dealing with a global pandemic that has created the most serious economic crisis since the Second World War. We agree that it is appropriate for members to examine government spending. That is why the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons presented a reasonable proposal to his counterparts in order to start this work.
    I hope that opposition MPs and the leadership of each party will work together to find a reasonable way forward.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals want to create a committee to study $300 billion in COVID-related spending. We think that is a fine idea and have no objection.
    However, they offered $912 million to an organization that took off as soon as it lost the contract. We are entitled to ask questions about that. We can do both at the same time.
    Rather than threaten opposition parties, how about the Liberals just agree to creating a committee that will shed light on WE Charity?
    Mr. Speaker, let me review the facts for you.
    Officials turned over more than 5,000 pages of documents to the Standing Committee on Finance. Today, the Prime Minister released his speaking fees and expenses. The Prime Minister, his chief of staff and other officials appeared before committees to testify about this matter. That is transparency.

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal and Conservative governments have failed the Mi'kmaq people, and as a result, the Mi'kmaq are now the victims of violence, crime and intimidation. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is standing idly by.
    When will the Prime Minister protect the Mi'kmaq people and their constitutional rights and end the violence?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his very important question.
    Our government strongly condemns the recent acts of violence in Nova Scotia. We have approved a request for assistance from the province to increase the RCMP presence as needed. These acts of violence will be thoroughly investigated, and the perpetrators will be held to account.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this is not a new problem. The government has known about this problem for decades. Both Conservative and Liberal governments have failed the Mi'kmaq people, and as a result we have all seen the horrible images of fires being set to facilities, traps being cut, intimidation and assaults. While all this has happened, the Prime Minister has stood by idly and not acted. Leadership is stepping up.
    When will the Prime Minister step up, protect the Mi'kmaq people and their constitutional rights, and end the violence?
    Mr. Speaker, I very much agree with the member opposite that Canada has for decades and centuries failed the indigenous people in Canada, and it is time for us to put this right.
    We condemn the appalling violence that has taken place, and let me say I believe the vast majority of Canadians feel exactly that way. I think we all also agree on the need for all parties to engage in respectful dialogue in upholding the Marshall decision and the Mi'kmaq treaty right to fish while ensuring the conservation and sustainability of the fishery. Let us work for that.

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, more than a month ago the Conservatives asked the Prime Minister to de-escalate the Nova Scotia fisheries crisis. The Minister of Indigenous Services even said police are being overwhelmed, but still no action, just tweets. In fact, the Minister of Public Safety said it was the province's problem. Things literally burned to the ground before the minister looked into sending additional police resources to Nova Scotia. Chief Mike Sack said, “Do your job....protect us, and don't just tweet about it.”
    My question for the minister is simple. Why did he wait so long?
    Mr. Speaker, first of all, let me begin by reiterating that our government absolutely condemns the recent acts of violence and criminality that have been taking place in Nova Scotia.
    The RCMP have continued to increase their presence with each passing day. They are investigating and laying charges for the unacceptable assault on Chief Sack, and for the damages and the arson that have taken place.
    We did respond to a request for assistance from the Province of Nova Scotia. We are working very closely with the provincial authorities there, on the ground, to ensure that all acts of violence will be thoroughly investigated, that perpetrators will be held to account, and that peace will be maintained.
    Mr. Speaker, right, so it did finally act by responding to that request, even after he first said the government could not possibly do anything about it and actually respond.
    More than 200 people overwhelmed police last Tuesday. Vehicles and boats were lit on fire as early as the week before. The situation did not suddenly spiral out of control. It has been going on for more than a month.
     Colin Sproul of the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association said that this Liberal government is “hiding under a desk.”
    The reality is the public safety minister dithered while livelihoods and decades of relationship-building went up in flames. Here are more words tonight. The potential debate is too little, too late.
    Why is it that waiting for the worst to happen is the minister's approach to protecting Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, it is very important to understand that the responsibility of the police of jurisdiction, and in this case the RCMP, is to maintain the peace. They have deployed officers from the very first day, both on land and on the water. They have been working with the Canadian Coast Guard, responding to an escalating conflict in that area.
    We have continued to increase resources and, at the request of the Nova Scotia government, we have now significantly enhanced those resources. The police have an important job to do in maintaining the peace and, where acts of criminality take place, to thoroughly investigate them and hold those individuals responsible to account. They are doing that job, and we have ensured that they have the resources to do it effectively.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, the minister actually has an important job to do. Maybe instead of waiting, and blaming others and not doing anything about it, he should actually get on it.
    It seems that his usual practice is to ignore an issue and hope it goes away until he is forced to actually do something. He waited until people were assaulted and buildings were set on fire to give the RCMP additional resources in Nova Scotia. Of course, that is his pattern. Even in their grief and their horrible loss, loved ones and families of the Nova Scotia mass murder had to fight and beg him to have a public inquiry.
    Why does the minister always wait until things escalate so far before doing something?
    Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear that the police of jurisdiction in this case have been present right from the very first day. They have been working with both sides of the conflict. There are divisional liaison teams in place, which include Mi'kmaq officers, who have been working with that situation to try to resolve it.
    When incidents of criminality take place, the police immediately begin investigations. They have gathered the evidence, and they have done their job.
    Our government's responsibility is to ensure, working with the provincial authority, that they have the necessary resources in place to keep that situation peaceable and under control, and to uphold the laws. We have done that.
    Mr. Speaker, I asked about the public inquiry into the horrible mass murder in Nova Scotia on behalf of the victims' families and their loved ones.
    It is six months today since that mass murder occurred. The minister made families of the victims fight before he agreed to a public inquiry, but it still has not begun. It is ridiculous. There are many experts out there who could sit as commissioners. These guys do not need to wait for another Liberal to replace Anne McLellan.
    When will the public inquiry start so that families and communities in Nova Scotia can get the answers they deserve? Why on Earth is the minister waiting so frigging long?
    Mr. Speaker, in fact, in the hours after the terrible tragedy on April 18 and 19 in Nova Scotia, I reached out to the Nova Scotia government, and we began doing the work that was necessary together to ensure that Nova Scotians, and particularly the families of those victims, got the answers they needed.
    We have put in place the structure of a public inquiry and appointed commissioners. We have established the secretariat and resourced it. That work is already under way, and we will have more to say about it as the week unfolds. We are absolutely committed to ensuring that the families receive all of the answers to the concerns that they legitimately have.

  (1435)  

COVID-19 Emergency Response

    Mr. Speaker, I am sorry for my language, but the whole lives of loved ones and families of murder victims are impacted forever.
    On August 25, U.S. business executives came to Canada on a private jet and were granted quarantine exemption, which the minister said was a one-time mistake that should not have happened. However, it was just found out that on the exact same day, other big-shot U.S. executives came to Canada on their private jets and were permitted to travel the country freely.
    Canadians face restrictions and quarantines in their own country, but the Liberals just keep granting exemptions to American billionaires. Why is there always one set of rules for connected elites and another set for everyday working Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, our government has taken unprecedented action over the past several months to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 through non-essential travel restrictions.
    Just to correct the mistake that the member has made repeatedly in the House, there were no ministerial exemptions provided, and no ministerial involvement in the decisions pertaining to these executives or the one reported yesterday. In fact, following that decision and on the same day, I raised the concerns expressed with the president of CBSA and he instantly implemented additional measures. That updated guidance is working. The agency has denied cases of entry by executives intending to enter Canada for discretionary travel. We will continue to do the work of keeping Canadians safe.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we know that the Liberals' border management is a big disaster, but that is how the virus is getting into the country. American millionaires in private jets are being allowed to enter the country's three hot spots.
    Why the double standard?
    Why do Canadians have to quarantine while American millionaires do not?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity, if I may, to announce to the House that we have today extended the non-essential travel restrictions until November 21. I am sure that is welcome news.
    I would also reiterate, once again for the member opposite, that the decision of admissibility by border services officers was based on the information that was provided to them. As a direct result, I have spoken to the president of CBSA. The agency has implemented additional measures to prevent future incidents of this type, and the guidance that has been provided by the president of CBSA is working.
    The agency continues to deny access to entry for executives intending to travel for discretionary purposes.

[Translation]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister himself acknowledged that the federal government does not have the expertise to run long-term care facilities. He is right: our health care professionals are the ones with that expertise. His job is to restore adequate transfers to pay for health care in Quebec, but the federal government has been chipping away at transfers for 25 years. What happened in the long-term care facilities is a direct consequence of 25 years of federal negligence.
    Why is the federal government not boosting transfers, rather than trying to run the whole show after 25 years of negligence?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for such an important question about the role of the federal government to support provinces and territories, in particular during the COVID-19 outbreak.
    I will remind the member opposite that we negotiated $19 billion of support for provinces and territories, of which $700 million was to bolster supports for long-term care homes to protect seniors from what we saw happen in the spring surge. I will also remind the member opposite that we did not hesitate to offer support through direct service, through the Canadian Red Cross, one of our important partners, and certainly through the Canadian military to protect seniors. We will continue to do that no matter in which province those seniors reside.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, apparently the government needs a little reminder. Does it know who looks after seniors in Quebec's health care system? Orderlies, nurses and doctors do. National standards do not look after Quebeckers. People who work for money and need to be supplied with the necessary resources do. Our health professionals know how to do their job. They want to be equipped to do it with dignity. Quebec and the provinces are asking for money, not a lecture.
    Why is the government refusing to increase health transfers right now, no strings attached?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, the Bloc Québécois is making seniors the crux of the debate; they should not be the subject of debate. As I have often said, seniors are not a jurisdictional issue or a line written into our Constitution. They are flesh and blood human beings, and they have suffered more than anyone else during this pandemic.
    What the Canadian government wants to do is help improve the situation, not tell Quebec what to do or how to do it. It wants to work with Quebec and all the provinces to ensure that this never happens again.

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said last week that the tragedy that played out in long-term care facilities is an opportunity for the federal government; he called it an opportunity. Indeed, it is an opportunity for the federal government to interfere in Quebec and provincial jurisdictions. Caring for seniors during a pandemic is not an opportunity, it is a duty, and this government is not fulfilling its duty. Its duty is to restore health transfers to a level that would allow for seniors to be cared for with dignity.
    Why is it not seizing that opportunity and actually doing the right thing?
    Mr. Speaker, a day without a constitutional squabble is not a good day for the Bloc Québécois.
    What we want to do here is to work with all the provinces. How can we work together to improve the situation for seniors? We are talking about saving lives and improving the health of people who have suffered too much. I think everyone can agree on that.
    Again, seniors should never be the subject of constitutional debates. They should be seen for who they are, human beings who gave us society as we know it. We must be there for them.

[English]

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, with Canada having the highest unemployment in the G7 and the highest deficit in the G20, one would think Liberal finance committee members would be rushing to work on fixing the economic wreckage. Instead, they spent 20 hours filibustering to cover up the WE scandal, rambling on about Greek philosophers and cartoon characters just to pass the time.
    The Conservatives have a solution. Let us take the WE scandal out of the finance committee into a special purpose anti-corruption committee so that finance can get back to its job.
    Will Liberals support us so that we can get back to our work?
    Mr. Speaker, last night I sent a motion to my colleagues in the other parties. This morning I sent a letter talking about the creation of a committee to look at all of the expenses made by the government, because we have made a lot of effort to be there and support Canadians.
    I think that is the responsible approach, not that of the ultra-partisan motion that has been put forward to please only the Conservative Party and does nothing for Canadians.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, more threats. We remember this summer, when the Prime Minister said that if we asked questions about the WE scandal, he would shut down Parliament. A few months later, we are back, and now he is saying that if we continue to ask questions, he will trigger an election because he wants to prevent Canadians from finding out about the scandal at any cost.
    What is this secret that is so serious and so dangerous that the Prime Minister is willing to trigger an election to hide it?
    Mr. Speaker, we are in the midst of a pandemic. It is a very difficult situation with respect to health and public finances, issues on which the government must focus all of its energy.
    The government suggested to the opposition that a committee be established where we could all work together and where members could ask whatever questions they want. That is very different than a completely irresponsible, ultra-partisan committee that would seek to completely stall the government. That is irresponsible. The opposition should join us, ask the right questions and work on behalf of all Canadians.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has shown that he will stop at nothing to protect his secrets. That is why we had the cover-up prorogation. That is why we have had days and days of filibustering, with Liberal members reading newspapers and PCO memos into the record, trying to put us to sleep. The filibuster continues. The secrets must be damning.
     What we need to know is when will the Prime Minister release the documents and end the cover-up?
    Mr. Speaker, if they want to have a committee and ask all the questions they want, we have a solution for them. I sent a note to their House leader last night and a letter in more detail this morning. There is an option for all of us to work together.
    They can ask all the questions they want, but in the meantime the government has to keep working for Canadians. The government will keep working for Canadians in spite of what they want to do.

  (1445)  

Aviation Industry

    Mr. Speaker, COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the airline industry with routes cut, massive layoffs and customers being ripped off. Countries around the world facing these same challenges have shown leadership and put in place solutions, including taking on an equity stake to protect the public interest, but not Canada.
    It is not about helping CEOs. It is about protecting Canadian jobs and making sure passengers get their money back. When will the government stop dithering and commit to a rescue package of public equity, job protection and consumer protection, which the NDP has been calling for?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to assure my colleague and, indeed, all Canadians that we are working very hard. We recognize that there have been great difficulties in the air sector, including airlines and airports, and we are working on solutions that will ensure Canadians are able to have safe, reliable and efficient travel when we pull out of this pandemic.

Post-Secondary Education

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are hoping their scandal will go away quickly. Instead, it is the help they promised for students that has disappeared. They promised close to a billion dollars to help students pay for their tuition fees, rent and groceries, but after seven months of broken promises and scandal, students have gotten nothing. The Liberals have denied Canadians access to the truth, and they are denying students access to post-secondary education.
    Do students also need to hire a family member of the Prime Minister to get the help they need from the government?
    Mr. Speaker, our government will continue to be here for students, and that is why we have a full voice at the cabinet table. Since the pandemic hit, over 700,000 students have been supported through the Canada emergency student benefit. We doubled the amount of Canada student grants for full- and part-time students, and we instituted a six-month moratorium on Canada student loans, which includes the payment as well as interest. There is a new investment of $186 million in the student work placement program to help more post-secondary students across the government get paid work experience related to their field of study. We have increased funding for first nations, Inuit and Métis students for post-secondary funding. Our government will—
    The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis has the floor.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne reiterated the government's commitment to creating a Canada water agency to help protect our most precious resource. Last week I had the opportunity to be a panellist on a webinar designed to gather input from the water stakeholder community for the design of the agency. We know the agency will be a work in progress informed by the ongoing advice of water experts and other stakeholders.
    Can the Minister of Environment inform the House of the steps he is currently undertaking to lay the foundation for the Canada water agency?
    Mr. Speaker, with 20% of the world's fresh water, including two million lakes and rivers, Canada has a great responsibility to manage its water sustainably and ensure that it will be available for generations to come. The Canada water agency can play a key role in keeping our water safe, clean and resilient to the impacts of climate change.
    It is critical that a Canada water agency is developed in close collaboration with the provinces, territories, indigenous peoples, stakeholder organizations and the public. Together, these consultations will help us define the role and the mandate of the Canada water agency, and I look forward to sharing our next steps on this important initiative in the near future.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to know why the Liberals chose to shut down Canada's early pandemic warning system and what impact it had on the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. I would like to know why rapid testing for COVID will not be widely available in Canada until well into next year.
    We have been trying to get secret documents related to these issues for 10 days now, and the government has blocked us at every turn. At a time when Canadians are suffering the effects of the Liberals' failure to prepare for the second wave, why are the Liberals more interested in covering their rears than in protecting Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to let the member opposite know that any time she wants to receive a briefing from the department on where we are with COVID-19, and learn a little more about Canada's response and the support we have been providing to provinces and territories as we work through this together, I can make that happen for her.
    Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, we have worked with scientists and our public health officers to make sure that Canada is well situated to respond to COVID-19. I want to thank all of the hard-working scientists, researchers and, of course, our chief public health officer for the excellent advice and guidance they have provided to us.
    Mr. Speaker, that was a patronizing answer.
    I have had that briefing, and it was less than illuminating. I have been standing here for days asking the minister questions and there are no answers. I am convinced she does not know. I am doing my job. I am trying to get these documents and bring them to light so the public has answers. What do the Liberals do? They block us at every turn.
    We need this information so we can find out how to move forward, keep things open and keep Canadians safe. When is the government going to get out of our way and let us get these documents?

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, I will reiterate that every step of the way we have worked with partners at all levels. We have worked with municipalities, provinces, territories and, in fact, private sector partners, to make sure that Canada is well poised to deal with the second wave and whatever else COVID-19 throws at us.
    I reiterate to the member opposite that, if she wants to learn a little bit more about the COVID-19 response, she take us up on the offer of those briefings.

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, 12 young activists from Hong Kong were arrested while trying to leave Hong Kong and are now in prison in communist China. These young people are fighting bravely for democracy and trying to find ways to escape human rights abuses in China. Furthermore, the Chinese ambassador to Canada had the nerve to directly threaten the security of Canadians in Hong Kong.
    When will the minister release a clear plan to help Hong Kong's pro-democracy refugees and the 300,000 Canadians living in Hong Kong?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Canada stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Hong Kong. As we have repeatedly said, we are gravely concerned about China's passage of the national security law.
    We have an asylum system that is the envy of th world. We will continue to defend those who are seeking safe haven in Canada by offering them the opportunity to make that case in Canada. We will continue to examine all options to stand with the people of Hong Kong.
    Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the government has discovered that its appeasement to the People's Republic of China is deeply unpopular with Canadians, so now it is trying to sound tougher while changing absolutely nothing.
    This minister has real power. It is not about how he feels; it is about what he will do. The government could implement a real lifeboat scheme. It could hold diplomats accountable for foreign interference. It could impose Magnitsky sanctions on those who were involved in gross violations of human rights in Hong Kong, Xinjiang and elsewhere.
    Verbal machismo will not fool Canadians, and it will not help people in Hong Kong. Words are not enough. When will the minister act?
    Mr. Speaker, this government has already taken action by suspending our extradition treaty with Hong Kong, by imposing other sanctions and by continuing to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Hong Kong, which includes standing up for Canadians who are there.
     We will continue to defend human rights around the world. We have an asylum system that ensures that those who are seeking safe refuge in Canada are able to exercise that right in Canada. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Hong Kong.

[Translation]

Air Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, seven months after closing the borders, Ottawa has just realized that passengers who bought plane tickets want refunds. The Bloc Québécois has been talking about this for seven months, and the message is finally starting to get through. Airlines need to pay, not taxpayers. We have heard that the government might be offering financial assistance to Air Canada and WestJet.
    Will the government demand that airlines refund passengers before it offers the airlines anything? No refund, no money.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to assure my colleague and all Canadians that we are working diligently on matters relating to the airline industry, which has been hit hard by the pandemic.
    At the same time, I can assure the member that our priority is to ensure that Canadians have access to safe, efficient and affordable air transportation.
    Mr. Speaker, the government is preparing to help Air Canada and WestJet, but Canada's entire airline industry is struggling. Will it help Air Transat, which is on the brink of bankruptcy? How will it help regional airlines? Any financial assistance from Ottawa to the airline industry must benefit the entire industry and not just Air Canada.
    Will the minister provide support for everyone, or is he sacrificing competition and buying shares in Air Canada's eventual monopoly?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to assure my colleague: When I say that we are examining the airline industry, I mean the industry as a whole. This includes all major and minor airlines, large and small airports, and the service provided by Nav Canada, which is responsible for air traffic control. We are examining the industry as a whole, because the entire industry needs good solutions.

[English]

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, housing and health infrastructure on reserves across Canada leaves many first nations vulnerable to contracting and spreading COVID-19. The government likes to promote the fact that it has GeneXpert machines available, but it fails to mention that a shortage of cartridges means that only the most urgent cases can be tested in the communities. Other swabs are sent away, and it take days for the results to be returned.
    Why did the government not act quickly to procure enough test cartridges to ensure that first nations, and indeed all Canadians, had access to these rapid tests?
    Mr. Speaker, I have worked very closely with my counterpart, the Minister of Indigenous Services, and his expert medical adviser, Dr. Thomas Wong, who has been very focused on making sure indigenous communities have what they need to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
    Very early on, as the member opposite noted, we ensured that indigenous communities had GeneXpert machines so they could do a number of tests locally. We worked with them to make sure they had the supports necessary to put into place, through the spirit of self-determination, the kinds of measures that would protect their citizens.
    We will continue to work with indigenous communities, because their leadership shows it is working.

[Translation]

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, we have been waiting for the modernization of the Official Languages Act for over two years. For over two years, the government has been talking about studies, consultations and reports.
    The organizations have done their homework and so has the Commissioner of Official Languages. In his 2018-19 report, he made 18 recommendations. How many of those recommendations were implemented? None.
    Why is the minister refusing to give a timeline for the modernization of the Official Languages Act?
    Mr. Speaker, it goes without saying that our two official languages are extremely important for our government. That is why we took action. We protected and created Ontario's first French-language university. We helped create a historic action plan. What is more, we recently changed the census questions so that we can better protect our rights holders and access to education in the minority language.
    We have taken action at every level. We are committed to modernizing the Official Languages Act. That is exactly why, in the throne speech, we said that we are going to strengthen the act, and that is what we are going to do.

[English]

Small Business

    Mr. Speaker, many small business owners and Canadian farmers are still having difficulty accessing the Canada emergency business account. The government finally committed to fixing these shortfalls on August 31, after many months of opposition members asking for these changes. However, as of this morning, the CEBA website still states, “Businesses which choose to do their banking through a personal bank account are not eligible to apply for a CEBA loan.”
    After receiving no justification for being declined and then waiting on the so-called CEBA hotline for six to eight hours, business owners and farmers want answers. When will the government implement these promised changes?
    Mr. Speaker, nothing is more important to us than helping small businesses and farming businesses get through this very difficult time of COVID-19. I just learned that the hotline response time is within 48 hours, and many businesses are getting their answers right away, in under 48 hours but absolutely no more than 48 hours. We want to make sure the CEBA loan is getting out to all the businesses that need it.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, this being Small Business Week, I would like to talk about how important small businesses are to our country. They are the mainstay of the Canadian economy, employing millions of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
    COVID-19 is making things very difficult for most Canadian businesses, and our government knows that. From the beginning, we have created programs to help employers and small businesses.
    Can the minister tell the House how we are going to once again help Canadian businesses during the second wave of the pandemic?

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, as we celebrate Small Business Week, I would like to thank the member for supporting SMEs in Saint-Laurent.
    We are supporting our SMEs by extending the emergency wage subsidy that is helping SMEs with their fixed costs, as well as our new Canada emergency commercial rent assistance program, and we are expanding the emergency business account to help more businesses with an additional $20,000.

[English]

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, on June 30, the two bridge authorities, which operate the four international border crossings in the Niagara region, sent a joint letter to multiple ministers in the Liberal government. As these bridges have been hit hard by COVID-19, they requested assistance no different from support currently being made available to airports, as a simple matter of fairness. Sixteen weeks later, none of these ministers has even acknowledged receipt of this letter despite the important role these bridges play.
    Why is the government not taking this critical issue in the Niagara region seriously?
    Mr. Speaker, it is always great to talk about our infrastructure program.
    We are building projects across the country, thousands of projects, creating jobs across the country and improving communities. We are going to continue to do that. I am certainly happy to talk to the member opposite on particular issues, but we are going to continue building our great country.
    The hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest.
    We seem to be having a problem. We will move on to the next member and then come back.
    The hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa.

Telecommunications

    Mr. Speaker, millions of rural Canadians do not have access to quality cellphone service. This is an urgent matter of public safety. Earlier this year, destructive flooding and tornadoes threatened my constituents, most notably in the communities of Minnedosa, Rapid City, Rivers and Neepawa. Many were unable to contact emergency services, putting their lives at risk.
    When will the government finally prioritize rural connectivity? Will it be before or after another Canadian loses their life?
    Mr. Speaker, as a member of Parliament for a mixed rural and urban riding, I am too familiar to the challenges that come without access to broadband and cell service. As a member of Parliament in this House over the past five years, I am proud that we have been able to connect four times as many households as our Conservative colleagues were able to in the 10 years they were in power.
    We know this is an important part of Canada's economic recovery, and we will work hard to connect every Canadian household to this essential service.

COVID-19 Emergency Response

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians recognize that our TV and film industry is a vital driver of economic activity and jobs, including right here in Etobicoke—Lakeshore, which is home to the largest film studio in Canada and the largest equipment supplier in the country.
    The industry has been hit hard by this pandemic. COVID-19 has caused the shutdown of film sets in Canada and around the world. Given the current situation, the industry fears that it will not be able to fully resume operations.
    The Minister of Canadian Heritage has listened to the concerns of Canadian cultural workers and adjusted programs to ensure that they are better suited to their needs. Can the minister tell us what the government is doing to help the audiovisual industry?
    Mr. Speaker, our government is proud to support the Canadian film industry, as it plays an important role in the social, cultural and economic development of our country.
    We are taking challenges faced by the audiovisual sector very seriously, and that is why we recently announced a short-term compensation program to remunerate the lack of insurance and allow the resumption of audiovisual production activities across the country. This program will provide $50 million in short-term funding that will be administered by Telefilm Canada, along with the Canada Media Fund. This measure will, among other things, keep tens of thousands of workers and artisans at work and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity.

  (1505)  

Health

    Mr. Speaker, the governing United Conservative Party of Alberta has voted in favour of privatizing health care.
     Despite a guarantee during his election campaign to maintain public health care, Jason Kenney is gutting our publicly delivered universally accessible health care. Once the Conservatives destroy public health care in Alberta, which province is next?
    What is the minister doing to protect Canadians from two-tiered, American-style health care in Alberta and across Canada and what is she doing to make sure that premiers are adhering to the Canada Health Act?
    Mr. Speaker, I share the member opposite's deep concern about a Conservative Party that would seek to undermine a principle of our universal health care system, which is, by the way, the need for health care rather than the ability to pay.
     On this side of the House, we will fight to ensure that we protect something that all Canadians treasure, which is access to health care that is there for people, regardless of their income, regardless of their ability to pay, and we will stop at nothing to do so.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, the name Donald Marshall, Jr. will always be remembered in Canada. It is synonymous with systemic racism and injustice. He spent 11 years in prison for a crime he did not commit and then, as a free man, he fished for eels out of season, relying on his constitutional rights. That case got the Supreme Court of Canada 21 years ago finding the right of the Mi'kmaq to a fishery.
    How is it in this country that there is never any shortage of well-equipped RCMP officers to arrest indigenous non-violent protestors against pipelines in British Columbia, but no one to protect the indigenous catch in a warehouse in Nova Scotia?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to let the member know that this matter is top of mind for our government. Our government will continue to condemn the violence we have seen. We will work with all departments and agencies. We know that the Marshall decision needs to be upheld and that is why we will ensure that it is.
    We are working with a nation-to-nation relationship to ensure that we find a good way forward. As the Deputy Prime Minister has said, the majority of Canadians recognize the importance of this issue. We are working on it and will continue to do this important work.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago, the environment minister told me to read over his new jobs-killing plan to declare Canada's plastic manufacturers toxic. The minister should take his own advice. This important industry employs over 80,000 blue-collar workers across Canada, generating $35 billion of economic activity. According to the World Economic Forum, 90% of global plastic pollution comes from 10 river sources. None are in Canada.
    How big a hit will Canadian paycheques and our economy take on a Liberal plan that exports jobs and ignores real polluters?
    Mr. Speaker, I would again invite my hon. colleague to actually read the plan. The focus is on ensuring that we are not ending up with plastics in our landfills and plastics in our waters. It is about recycling, enhancing the recycling rate of plastics across the country. It is also about ensuring we are banning the six items that are on the list with respect to those that are harmful to the environment, those for which there are readily available alternatives and those for which recycling is not an available option.
    This is really about ensuring we are protecting the environment, but it is also about growing an economy that is based on ensuring we are actually using the materials that are in our economy in a thoughtful way, moving toward circularity in everything we do.

  (1510)  

    Mr. Speaker, in response to my question, the Minister of Immigration referred to sanctions that Canada had on China. I checked the foreign affairs website. We have no sanctions on China of any kind against any officials right now. I wonder if the minister wants to clarify his comments.
    I believe that is getting into debate, but we will give the equal amount of time to the minister if he wants to clarify that.
    No, that is fine.

Peschisolido Report

    Pursuant to order made on Tuesday, September 29, I wish to inform the House that a communication from Joe Peschisolido was received as follows on Tuesday, October 13:
    October 13, 2020
    Dear Mr. Speaker,
    Thank you for allowing me the opportunity as I would like to apologize to the House for reporting late: my getting married on July 7, 2018; that my law firm owed me money that I had loaned it through my shareholder's loan to the law firm; that I personally guaranteed my law firm's debt and that I was no longer an officer of my law firm.
     Yours Sincerely,
    Joe Peschisolido
    I now lay upon the table the relevant document along with a courtesy translation for the House.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Judges Act

    The House resumed from October 8 consideration of the motion that Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Judges Act and the Criminal Code, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    It being 3:10 p.m., pursuant to order made on Wednesday, September 23, the House will now proceed with the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the second reading stage of Bill C-3.
    Call in the members.
    And the bells having rung:

  (1550)  

    As mentioned in my statement in the House on Wednesday, September 23, 2020, and assuming that you did hear the question, if you wish to register your vote and were not able to do so, due to technical difficulties that are now resolved, use the raise hand function and the Chair will recognize you.

  (1555)  

    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 9)

YEAS

Members

Aboultaif
Albas
Alghabra
Alleslev
Allison
Amos
Anand
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arnold
Arseneault
Arya
Ashton
Atwin
Bachrach
Badawey
Bagnell
Bains
Baker
Baldinelli
Barlow
Barrett
Barsalou-Duval
Battiste
Beaulieu
Beech
Bendayan
Bennett
Benzen
Bergen
Bergeron
Berthold
Bérubé
Bessette
Bezan
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blanchette-Joncas
Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
Blaney (Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis)
Block
Blois
Boudrias
Boulerice
Bragdon
Brassard
Bratina
Brière
Brunelle-Duceppe
Calkins
Cannings
Carrie
Casey
Chabot
Chagger
Champagne
Champoux
Charbonneau
Chen
Chiu
Chong
Collins
Cooper
Cormier
Cumming
Dabrusin
Dalton
Damoff
Dancho
Davidson
Davies
DeBellefeuille
Deltell
d'Entremont
Desbiens
Desilets
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Diotte
Doherty
Dong
Dowdall
Dreeshen
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duvall
Dzerowicz
Easter
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Epp
Erskine-Smith
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Fast
Fergus
Fillmore
Findlay (South Surrey—White Rock)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Finnigan
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fortin
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Freeland
Fry
Gallant
Garneau
Garrison
Gaudreau
Gazan
Généreux
Genuis
Gerretsen
Gill
Gladu
Godin
Gould
Gourde
Gray
Green
Guilbeault
Hajdu
Hallan
Harder
Hardie
Harris
Hoback
Holland
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Jaczek
Jansen
Jeneroux
Johns
Joly
Jones
Jordan
Jowhari
Julian
Kelloway
Kelly
Kent
Khalid
Khera
Kitchen
Kmiec
Koutrakis
Kram
Kurek
Kusie
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lake
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Larouche
Lattanzio
Lauzon
Lawrence
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lefebvre
Lehoux
Lemire
Lewis (Essex)
Liepert
Lightbound
Lloyd
Lobb
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
Lukiwski
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacGregor
MacKenzie
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maguire
Maloney
Manly
Martel
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McColeman
McCrimmon
McDonald
McGuinty
McKay
McKenna
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLean
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
McLeod (Northwest Territories)
McPherson
Melillo
Mendès
Mendicino
Michaud
Miller
Monsef
Moore
Morantz
Morrison
Morrissey
Motz
Murray
Nater
Ng
Normandin
O'Connell
Oliphant
O'Regan
O'Toole
Patzer
Paul-Hus
Pauzé
Perron
Petitpas Taylor
Plamondon
Poilievre
Powlowski
Qualtrough
Ratansi
Rayes
Redekopp
Regan
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Rood
Ruff
Sahota (Calgary Skyview)
Sahota (Brampton North)
Saini
Sajjan
Samson
Sangha
Sarai
Saroya
Savard-Tremblay
Scarpaleggia
Scheer
Schiefke
Schmale
Schulte
Seeback
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Shields
Shin
Shipley
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Simard
Simms
Singh
Soroka
Spengemann
Stanton
Steinley
Ste-Marie
Strahl
Stubbs
Sweet
Tabbara
Tassi
Thériault
Therrien
Tochor
Trudeau
Trudel
Turnbull
Uppal
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Van Popta
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vaughan
Vecchio
Vidal
Viersen
Vignola
Virani
Vis
Wagantall
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Weiler
Wilkinson
Williamson
Wilson-Raybould
Wong
Yip
Young
Yurdiga
Zahid
Zann
Zimmer
Zuberi

Total: -- 327


NAYS

Nil

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

    (Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

    I want to draw attention to our Clerk, Jean-Philippe Brochu, for his first vote. I think he did a pretty good job. Congratulations.
    Before we go on, I want to remind hon. members the rules that apply in the House also apply when voting remotely. To the men who wore a jacket or a blazer for the vote, which is all except for two, I want to thank them for following the rules of the House.
    I want to remind hon. members that we are not to be eating in the House, so not eating when voting either. Also, it is up to individual members to make sure they have sufficient bandwidth to get their message across. It just makes it so much easier for everyone.

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Export Development Canada

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the pleasure to table, in both official languages, the annual report of the 2018-19 Canada account, as prepared by Export Development Canada.

Committees of the House

Canada-China Relations  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the first report of the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations.

Procedure and House Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 114 and the order of the House of September 23, 2020, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership of committees of the House and I should like to move concurrence at this time.
    This being a hybrid sitting of the House, for the sake of clarity, I will only ask for those who are opposed to the request to express their disagreement.
    Accordingly, all those opposed to moving the motion please say nay. Hearing none, it is agreed.
    The House has heard the terms of the motions. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay. Hearing no dissenting voice, I declare the motion carried.

    (Motion agreed to)

    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and if you seek it, you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
     That the membership of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be amended as follows: Mr. Daniel Blaikie, Elmwood—Transcona, for Ms. Rachel Blaney, North Island—Powell River, and that the name of Ms. Blaney, North Island—Powell River, be added to the list of associate members of the said committee.

  (1600)  

    This being a hybrid sitting of the House, for the sake of clarity, I will only ask those who are opposed to moving the motion to express their disagreement.
    Accordingly, all those opposed to moving the motion please say nay. Hearing none, it is agreed.
    The House has heard the terms of the motions. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay. There being no dissenting voice, I declare the motion carried.

    (Motion agreed to)

Petitions

Rail Transportation Safety  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise on behalf of over 4,000 of my neighbours who are signatories to petition e-2731, which calls on the Government of Canada to refuse the approval of the proposed CN logistics hub in Milton.
    The findings of the environmental assessment panel concluded inevitable and unprecedented adverse effects on human health and an increase in three no-threshold pollutants, unsafe at any level. The site has no direct highway access and it is a bad location for CN and Miltonians.
    Within one kilometre of the proposed site, there are 34,000 residents, 12 schools, a hospital, two long-term care facilities, as well as a future college, a university campus. Milton recognizes the importance of economic development, but this is an industrial project and industrial projects belong in industrial areas, not residential ones. The health and safety of Halton residents should matter most.
    I want to remind hon. members to keep it as concise as possible and just give the bare bones of the petition. It is a reminder for those who are standing now.
    The hon. member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon.

Telecommunications   

    Mr. Speaker, today I am presenting three petitions.
    The first one is on rural broadband. The petitioners in my riding acknowledge that the federal government has failed to improve rural broadband Internet services, especially in rural and indigenous communities. COVID-19 has only exacerbated the challenges these constituents face and they cannot wait until 2030, the government's timeline to get timely access to Internet services.
    The petitioners in my riding are calling on the Government of Canada to get the money out today to support them and their livelihoods.

Afghan Minority Communities  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition I am presenting relates to the Sikh and Hindu minorities in Afghanistan.
    The petitioners call upon the government to allow them to sponsor refugees privately, to support those minorities in Afghanistan who are suffering.

Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, the third petition is from my constituents on the ongoing challenges Uighur Muslims face in China.
    The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to call out the Chinese Communist Party on its human rights abuses in China.
    Mr. Speaker, I am also tabling three petitions today.
    The first petition is with respect to the horrific human rights abuses being inflicted on Uighur Muslims in China.
    The petitioners are very specific about calling for action in response to those events. They want to see the government use Magnitsky sanctions to hold those involved in these crimes responsible. This echoes the ask from a letter signed by over 100 faith leaders and human rights organizations today calling for genocide recognition and the imposition of Magnitsky sanctions, among other things.

Afghan Minority Communities  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is with respect to the plight of Afghanistan's Sikh and Hindu minorities, who are very hard pressed.
    The petitioners ask that the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship use the powers granted to him to create a special program to help persecuted minorities in Afghanistan receive direct sponsorship to come to Canada. I know that this is an initiative that has had the support of Conservatives, New Democrats and Greens, but so far no support from Liberal members.
    The petitioners also call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to highlight the issues of persecution with his Afghan counterparts.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, the third and final petition is in support of Bill S-204, which would make it a criminal offence for a person to go abroad and receive an organ that had not been given voluntarily. The petitioners want to see us work together to pass this common-sense human rights legislation, which would save lives. We need to get it passed as soon as possible.

Human Rights   

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition today that would draw the attention of the House of Commons to the campaign of Uighur birth suppression by the Chinese Communist Party.
    The signatories to this petition ask that the House of Commons formally acknowledge that Uighurs in China have been subject to genocide and to use Magnitsky sanctions in order to hold those who are committing those crimes to account.

  (1605)  

    Mr. Speaker, I too have the privilege of tabling a petition on behalf of Canadians calling on the House of Commons to formally recognize that Uighurs in China have been and are being subjected to genocide, and to use the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law) and sanction those who are responsible for the heinous crimes being committed against the Uighur people.

Responsible Enterprise  

    Mr. Speaker, in 2018, the Liberal government announced that it would be creating an ombudsperson position with robust powers to keep companies accountable, but it never delivered on that promise. Before the office ever got off the ground, the Liberals gutted it of all of its power.
    On behalf of over 6,000 Canadians who have signed this petition and the many individuals and organizations that have been fighting for over a decade, I am asking for an ombudsperson who is independent from government and big business; has the power to investigate, including the power to compel documents and testimony under oath from Canadians; and is committed to advancing human rights.
    Canadians expect that Canadian corporations will play by the rules, regardless of where they work; and if they do not, the office of the ombudsperson for responsible enterprise will hold them to account. We need an ombudsperson who can do the job and we need it now.

[Translation]

Transportation  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present petition e-2604, which has been signed by over 32,000 people in Quebec and across Canada. The petition basically calls on the federal government to do what it should have done six or seven months ago and require airlines to refund customers for services that were not delivered. Many consumer protection groups support this. Everyone hopes the government will listen to reason and comply.

[English]

Technology  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition on behalf of my constituents who are very concerned with Huawei telecommunications and the impacts if it were to be allowed approvals here in Canada. The petitioners worry about the relationship with our Five Eyes allies. They also worry about our autonomy and the Chinese government's having access or using Huawei technology for intelligence gathering. The petitioners feel that Canada needs to ban Huawei's equipment and make sure that it is prevented from building in 5G networks in Canada.

Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour and privilege of presenting two petitions today.
    In the first petition, the people who have signed it are looking for the government to do something about the genocide that is being carried out against the Uighur population in China. The Chinese Communist Party is using methods such as forced sterilization and abortion to drive birth suppression in the Uighur population. The petitioners are calling for the formal recognition of that genocide and for the Canadian government to use the Magnitsky law to bring action against the Chinese.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, in the second petition people are calling for the government to work quickly to pass Bills S-240 and C-350 from a previous Parliament. The petitioners are looking forward to that bill being passed. The bill would make it illegal for Canadians to go overseas to get an organ that may have been harvested.

Public Transit  

    Mr. Speaker, today, I am presenting petition no. 10619053, which speaks to the urgent issue of access to public transit. The petitioners note that the 10-year transit plan will end in 2027, and that there is a need for ongoing, sustainable, predictable funding to ensure that public transit is available to all Canadians.

  (1610)  

Equalization  

    Mr. Speaker, I am tabling a petition on behalf of residents in my riding on equalization. They are drawing the attention of the House to the fact that, net, over $600 billion has left the province of Alberta since the 1960s. Petitioners are asking for a fair deal for Alberta and Albertans within Confederation.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Request for Emergency Debate

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova Scotia  

[S. O. 52]
    The Chair has notice of a request for an emergency debate from the hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to propose an emergency debate on the urgent need for the federal government to address the domestic violence against the Mi'kmaq fishers in Nova Scotia and their constitutionally affirmed right to fish, as confirmed by the Marshall decision in 1999 to earn a moderate livelihood through fishing.
    With increased incidents of domestic terrorism, I believe this meets the bar of Standing Order 52, section (6)(a) that the matter proposed be a “genuine emergency, calling for immediate and urgent consideration”. The debate is urgent and must take place tonight due to the government's inadequate response to this crisis.
    As parliamentarians, we must take immediate action to protect the constitutionally enshrined rights of Mi'kmaq fishers and make sure they are kept safe from ongoing threats and acts of violence. We must ensure that the federal government is taking immediate action to provide justice for the Mi'kmaq victims of violence.
    Lastly, we must make sure that the government is at the table, protecting the human rights of the Mi'kmaq people and their right to fish for a moderate livelihood, as was affirmed 21 years ago. The right was already determined in the Marshall case and the 1752 treaty.
    Given the urgency for a peaceful and equitable resolution to this crisis, I believe it is important to hold an emergency debate in Parliament today.
    On the same issue, we also have the hon. Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.
    Mr. Speaker, as you are aware, I, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Indigenous Services submitted our notice of intention to request an emergency debate regarding the recent increase in violence around the fishery in Nova Scotia.
    Canadians are concerned about safety and security, and I am indeed working with my colleagues to lower tensions and to create the space necessary for collaborative dialogue.
    Reconciliation is a Canadian imperative and we all have a role to play. That means ensuring parliamentarians from all parties are part of this conversation. I support the request for an emergency debate on this very important matter.

Speaker's Ruling 

[Speaker's Ruling]
    I thank the hon. members for their interventions. I am prepared to grant an emergency debate concerning fisheries in Nova Scotia. This debate will be held later today at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

[Translation]

    Before we proceed, I wish to inform the House that because of the deferred recorded division, Government Orders will be extended by 43 minutes.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Criminal Code

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to discuss Bill C-7, an act to amend the Criminal Code in relation to medical assistance in dying, or MAID.
    As a physician, I took a keen interest when Parliament passed federal legislation in June 2016 to allow eligible Canadian adults to request medical assistance in dying. This was subsequent to the February 2015 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that parts of the Criminal Code would need to change to satisfy the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
    At the time, I was also a member of the provincial parliament in Ontario and was involved in how that province would ensure people would have their personal choice of access to medical assistance in dying, while also ensuring the conscience rights of health care providers would be respected. The actual implementation of MAID was our responsibility and was very carefully considered.
    Working with provincial organizations like the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, we established policies to ensure that, should physicians have conscientious objections to administering MAID, systems were in place to provide appropriate care options to the patient. Consistent with the expectations set out in the college's professional obligations and human rights policy, physicians who decline to provide MAID due to a conscientious objection must do so in a manner that respects patient dignity and must not impede access to MAID.
    They must communicate their objection to the patient directly and with sensitivity, informing the patient that the objection is due to personal and not clinical reasons. They must not express personal moral judgments about the beliefs, lifestyle, identity or characteristics of the patient. They must provide the patient with information about all options for care that may be available or appropriate to meet their clinical needs, concerns and/or wishes, and they must not withhold information about the existence of any procedure or treatment because it conflicts with their conscience or religious beliefs. They must not abandon the patient and must provide the patient with an effective referral. Physicians must make the effective referral in a timely manner and must not expose patients to adverse clinical outcomes due to a delay in making the effective referral.
    While there is importance in ensuring widespread access to MAID, the law specifically acknowledges the conscience rights of health care providers and the role they may play in providing medical assistance in dying. As a physician who spent all of my time in clinical practice doing my best to preserve life, I feel this balance is working well, and the amendments proposed in Bill C-7 do not make any changes to any of this.
    As a government, we remain committed to working with provinces and territories to support access to medical assistance in dying while respecting the personal convictions of health care providers.
    What are the amendments that Bill C-7 proposes?
    In response to the Superior Court of Quebec's Truchon decision, it repeals the MAID eligibility criterion that applies when a person's natural death is reasonably foreseeable. The criterion is the 10-day reflection period. One concern at the forefront is to ensure that measures are in place that provide safeguards for the MAID process. I believe Bill C-7 does precisely this. It proposes to create two sets of safeguards that must be respected before MAID is provided. For persons whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable, the existing safeguards, as amended by Bill C-7, would continue to apply. For persons whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable, the existing safeguards with additional safeguards would apply.
    I think we are all aware of the concern about increased risks where MAID is provided to persons who are not dying in the short term. That is why additional safeguards would apply where a person's natural death is not reasonably foreseeable. With these new safeguards, specific attention with respect to both time and expertise would be devoted to assessing requests for MAID and to ensuring those making the request are made aware of and seriously consider all other available means of relieving their suffering, including palliative care. In nearly half of the reported MAID deaths in Canada to date, the practitioner providing MAID had in fact consulted with at least one other health care professional in addition to the required second opinion from another practitioner. There is no question these practitioners are taking their responsibilities very seriously.
     For those whose death is reasonably foreseeable, Bill C-7 most importantly proposes to eliminate the 10-day reflection period, which many practitioners say can prolong unbearable suffering.

  (1615)  

    The proposed amendments of the bill will allow waiver of final consent for persons whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable, who have been assessed and approved to receive MAID and who have made an arrangement with their practitioners for waiver of final consent because they are at risk of losing decision-making capacity before their chosen date to receive MAID.
    We have heard many touching stories during the course of debate on this bill and situations like that of Audrey Parker, who chose to access MAID on November 1, 2018, despite her desire to see Christmas with her family. She feared that she would lose her capacity to give full consent before Christmas and so she requested MAID before then. Considering her case, we see the need for this amendment in real human terms. Ms. Parker, herself, stated:
    I would like nothing more than to make it to Christmas, but if I become incompetent along the way, I will lose out on my choice of a beautiful, peaceful and, best of all, pain-free death.
    Since the Truchon decision, our government has engaged in extensive consultations. Beginning in January of this year, over 300,000 Canadians took the time to participate in an online questionnaire on the subject. It should be noted that as part of this questionnaire, direct questions were asked about final consent for MAID. The following question was asked:
     Imagine that a person makes a request for MAID, is found to be eligible, and is awaiting the procedure. A few days before the procedure, the person loses the capacity to make health care decisions, and cannot provide final consent immediately before the procedure. In your opinion, should a physician or nurse practitioner be allowed to provide MAID to a person in these circumstances?
    Over 78% of participants said yes, that a person in these circumstances should be allowed to receive medical assistance in dying.
    In addition to the online questionnaire, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion hosted a series of 10 in-person round tables across the country, from January 13 to February 3 of this year. These round tables allowed the ministers to hear from over 125 experts and stakeholders, including doctors, nurse practitioners, health regulatory bodies, key health stakeholders, legal experts, civil organizations and, of course, the disability community.
    The ministers also hosted a separate round table focused on receiving specific feedback from indigenous practitioners and community leaders.
     The importance of palliative care continues to be raised in these discussions. Our government recognizes the need for quality and appropriate palliative care, which is why it has worked collaboratively with partners, such as the provinces and territories, to develop a framework on palliative care. To support this framework, our government is implementing a targeted action plan, which will help to improve access to palliative care for underserved populations and support families, health care providers and communities. In addition, our government is providing $6 billion in federal funding directly to provinces and territories to support better home and community care, including palliative care.
    There is no question that MAID is a very important consideration for all of us. This is an issue about which all Canadians care. I know in my riding of Markham—Stouffville, it is a concern that a significant number of my constituents have shared with me. This matter is extremely complex and further discussion will be needed during a future parliamentary review of the previous Bill C-14.
    There is a medical aphorism attributed to Sir William Osler, a Canadian who is considered the father of modern medicine and internationally recognized, that says that a physician's duty is to “cure sometimes, relieve often, comfort always.” Our MAID legislation provides comfort to those facing death. For now, let us move forward with Bill C-7 and provide compassionate care to those in need.

  (1620)  

    Madam Speaker, if I heard right, I heard the member say that she had practised previously as a physician. She also expressed the view that the requirement in Ontario for effective referral was consistent with conscience protection. That is the view she expressed.
    If the member happened to be practising medicine in a jurisdiction that allowed female genital mutilation, would she be willing to provide an effective referral for someone seeking that service?
    Madam Speaker, I fail to see how the example given by the member opposite relates to Bill C-7.
    What I am saying is that the relationship between patients and their practitioners is one that should be based on trust and clear communication and that health care providers should always do their very best to provide that type of compassionate care to their patients, and to discuss the matter as necessary and refer individuals to specialists in the particular area. This is the normal practice of medicine.

  (1625)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois was the first to introduce a bill on this matter. I am thinking of two of our members, who have now passed on. One is Francine Lalonde, who introduced a bill on this topic, and the second is Father Gravel, who was bullied by certain religious lobbies, which even wrote to the Vatican to have him removed from his position and driven out of the Catholic Church. I will spare you the details, but that was not easy for him. I will think of these two, who are dear to my heart, when we vote on this bill.
    I thank my colleague for her speech. Does she not think that we need to address the notion of advance consent, which is not in this bill, as quickly as possible?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the whole issue around the advance directives, which I think my colleague opposite was referring to, is one that comes up in conversations with my constituents. A number of Canadians are very concerned about the possibility. In most of the conversations I have had people are in favour.
     Bill C-7 at the moment is taking one step forward. This is a good improvement to the existing legislation. As I understand it, there may very well be a parliamentary review of the existing Bill C-14 and I have no doubt that these types of discussions will occur at that time.
    Madam Speaker, I know the Audrey Parker situation so well and I want to thank the member for putting those words into Hansard one more time, because they are so important as it pertains to Bill C-7.
     I wonder if the member could tell me her personal opinion on whether the bill provides the level of safeguards that the Canadian public will be comfortable with and need?
    Madam Speaker, I believe the required safeguards are there. Clearly there is a balance between individual choice and the fact that there could be perhaps some second thoughts in discussion with an individual, a change of heart in essence, as to what the individual might choose to do. There is the 90-day period of reflection. The assessment is very thorough. There is nothing in Bill C-7 that endangers those safeguards. We have them under the current legislation and they are preserved in this bill.
    Madam Speaker, it really amazes me how quickly we have gotten here. The 2015 election was five years ago today. One of the first issues we dealt with in that Parliament was a new law that legalized euthanasia. The government came up with a new term for it, calling it medical assistance in dying. At that time, the then minister of health and the then minister of justice said that it was a finely-tuned balance where there was the right mix of safeguards and opportunities. Of course, as a result of the SNC-Lavalin scandal, both of those ministers were kicked out of the Liberal cabinet and the Liberal Party, but they along with their colleagues said that this was a necessary balance that was struck.
    What was built into the process as well was a legislative review five years later. However, the government jumped the gun on that legislative review. It said that before the legislative review, it would remove some of the safeguards that were thought to be vital less than four years ago and would do that ahead of any review. The fig leaf the government used to do that was the Truchon decision in Quebec. This decision dealt with a very specific issue, the question of reasonable foreseeability.
    It was a political choice for the government not to appeal that decision because it did not want to. It wanted to be able to justify, ahead of the timeline set by the legislative review, moving forward with the removal of safeguards that it had said quite recently were vital. Then it packed into the legislation a number of critical changes that had absolutely nothing to do with the content of the Truchon decision.
    My colleagues have spoken eloquently about the specific issues around removing reasonable foreseeability and the concerns raised by people in the disability community. I want to focus on the aspects of this legislation that have absolutely nothing to do with the court decision to which it is supposedly responding.
    This legislation will bring us, for the first time, three things about which Canadians should be very concerned. First, it will bring us same-day death, the opportunity to receive death on the same day a person requests it. Second, it will bring us death without contemporaneous consent. It will bring us a situation where people will have their lives taken without being consulted in the moment. Third, it will bring death without the presence of independent witnesses.
    I am opposed on all three counts. I do not think we should have same-day death. I do not think we should have death without contemporaneous consent or any kind of contemporaneous consultation. I do not think we should have death without independent witnesses present.
    Let us talk about same-day death. Right now there is a 10-day reflection period. Let us be very clear that the law already allows that reflection period to be waived in certain circumstances. The waiving of that reflection period is not a long, arduous process. If the physicians involved say that because of the particular circumstances in this case that the 10-day reflection period should be waived, that 10-day reflection period can be waived, but it is a default. It says that on balance, except in exceptional circumstances, the 10-day reflection period between when a person requests death and receives it is a reasonable frame of time. I think we can all understand that people who are going through challenging circumstances and major changes in their lives will feel intense feelings of pain, suffering and angst in a moment. Those are real sincere feelings, but they might feel differently in a different space with a little time and opportunity for reflection.
    I would like us to be the kind of country where if people say that they have had enough and that they want to die, instead of being told okay, let us do it right now, they are told that we have this mechanism of review of consideration, take that time and even that review process can be waived. That is eminently reasonable.
    What we do not want in the country is a situation where I might go visit an elderly relative on Wednesday and seems totally fine. Then I come back on Friday and find that the person requested death yesterday and received death on the same day. We should leave in place a default of a 10-day reflection period. It is not only members on this side of the House who feel that way. I raised the question during questions and comments before prorogation. Even the member for Richmond Hill said that he supported leaving in place the 10-day reflection period.

  (1630)  

    I know other Liberals believe this as well, and I would challenge them to do the right thing and recognize the need for this amendment to remove same-day death. It just is not safe. It is dangerous. It is rife with abuse. It does not allow people the time and space to consider carefully in consultation with family members. The 10-day reflection period can be waived, but it is an important default to have in place.
    Secondly, we have a proposal on this legislation, and it has nothing to do with the Truchon decision, for death without contemporaneous consent. What this means is that a person could say in advance, “I want you to take my life on December 31, and if I don't have capacity then go ahead and take my life anyway.” There is no requirement in this legislation, on that future date set, for there to be any kind of consultation with the patient. In other words, a person, in whatever state of mind, could not even be told. They could have something slipped in their coffee without being told in advance. They could have their life taken without being asked in the moment.
    Members are giving me looks. They should look at the legislation. There is no requirement in the legislation for the patient to be told what is happening while it is happening. I would, at a minimum, propose we amend the legislation to say that if somebody has provided advance consent, that at least at the moment the action is happening the person administering it be required to tell them what is happening, and that the person is given the opportunity to, in that moment and regardless of their state of capacity, be able to offer some kind of objection if that is the way they feel. There is nothing in the legislation, as it is written right now, for a person to be told what is happening or asked their opinion in any way in the moment their life is being taken.
     I do not believe that, as a matter of principle, it is consistent with the ethics of choice and autonomy for my past self to be able to bind my future self. Garnett Genuis on October 19, 2020 might want a future version of myself to behave in a certain fashion, but that future version of myself should still have autonomy to make choices that contradict something that my past self wished for, especially in cases where disease and disability are involved where people adapt to circumstances. They adapt in ways perhaps they do not expect.
    The third point I want to talk about is that this legislation would bring us death without independent witnesses. It would remove a requirement for independent witnesses to be involved. I just do not see the purpose of that. Why not leave in place a requirement for independent witnesses? It ensures there are not abuses.
    When I finish my remarks, I am going to be sharing my time today with the excellent member for Peace River—Westlock.
    People advancing this legislation say it is about choice. I would say, in the context of choice, let us recognize the context and the architecture in which choice is made and let us protect people's ability to make a genuinely autonomous choice. Is that fair enough? Is same-day death consistent with giving people real choice, that the moment they ask for death they receive it right away, or is it more consistent with choice that they have the time and the space to reflect?
    Is it consistent with choice to remove the requirement for contemporaneous consent? I do not think so. Is it consistent with choice to remove independent witnesses who can verify what is happening?
    Same-day death, death without contemporaneous consent and death without independent witnesses are moving us in a dangerous direction that will leave people vulnerable. In the government's defence of this legislation, it says it held lots of consultations and that virtually everybody it talked to agreed with it. I doubt it. We have already had over 400 physicians sign a letter raising objections to this. We have had a joint letter sent by many faith leaders from different communities across the country. We had over 70 representatives from the disability community come out against this bill.
    May I say that the government runs consultations that involve loaded questions: questions that presuppose a particular result. One of my colleagues once talked about another consultation the government did as being like a dating website designed by Fidel Castro. When one asks loaded questions, there will be no meaningful result to the consultation. We are going to have what we have right now, which is hundreds of physicians and dozens of leaders from the disability community speaking out.
    Finally, is it not sad that the only time we talk about palliative care in the House is when we are bringing in more euthanasia and removing vital safeguards? That is the only time the government pays lip service to palliative care. It is so eager for assisted dying but it is taking no action on assisted living, and it does not appreciate that if people do not have proper assisted living and palliative care available, then they do not have a meaningful choice. People have read the reports about what is happening with seniors care in this country.

  (1635)  

    People do not have a meaningful choice when they do not have access to the care that they want and need. Let us do more for assisted living, instead of removing vital safeguards that protect people around the assisted dying regime.
    Madam Speaker, I must say right at the beginning that numerous members of Parliament, at least on the Liberal benches, have talked about the importance of palliative care. It has been incorporated in many ways, whether in budget issues or the throne speech.
    When we talk about this particular piece of legislation, the member is upset over two or three aspects of it. I can appreciate that. I suspect the bill will eventually get to committee and in a minority situation, the member will be afforded the opportunity to bring forward ideas and changes that he would like to see with the legislation.
    Would the member not agree that having this discussion, and having it go to committee, is a good thing to do? In regard to input, at the beginning of the year over 300,000 Canadians provided input on this legislation.
    Madam Speaker, I already spoke about the flaws in the government's consultation process. If this bill gets to committee, I certainly look forward to the opportunity to raise these amendments around removing the provisions dealing with same-day death, around removing the provisions that deal with death without contemporaneous consent, and around removing provisions that deal with death without independent witnesses. I hope government members and members of other parties will listen to those proposals, recognizing that those aspects of the bill have nothing to do with the court decision that this bill is supposedly responding to.
    The member is right to say that Liberals often speak about palliative care during debates about expanding euthanasia. However, what I have failed to see is action. How about they bring forward legislation on palliative care? How about they bring forward legislation on improving access to assisted living, instead of paying lip service—

  (1640)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech. He shared a number of concerns, but I have to wonder what is behind them.
    All members know that this bill is based on principles, and I think principles are behind his concerns. My colleague should know that our own personal principles should not violate someone else's principles. This is even more important in the case of dying with dignity. We cannot force our religious beliefs on others who may not necessarily share those beliefs.
    One part of my colleague's speech about choice stood out to me. He said that people should have autonomy to make choices. I would remind the member that the word “autonomy” derives from the two Greek words “auto” and “nomos”, meaning “to be ruled by one's own laws”. It is up to an individual to decide whether to end their own life. It seems to me that any attempt to impede that decision would be made under false pretences.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I would welcome the opportunity to speak with my colleague at great length, perhaps outside of the House, about our religious views and how all of our basic a priori assumptions about human dignity and human value may inform things we are talking about.
    We might find ourselves agreeing on the importance of some application of autonomy. I do not think removing the requirement for contemporaneous consent is consistent with autonomy. I do not think that if a person, at a low moment, says they want to die today, removing any possibility of a reflection period is consistent with autonomy. The values of autonomy should engage people in expressing their considered judgment over time with all the information in a situation where they have alternatives.
    If we tell someone their only choice is between living in a cockroach-infested facility and death, they are more likely to choose death than if they are given a real, humane, living with dignity alternative. Let us agree on the importance of autonomy, but let us recognize that the architecture of choice informs the choices that are and are not available to people. We can do better by giving them a context in which to make a life-affirming choice, if that is what they wish.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, we are not leading the way with this bill. We are already lagging behind. Hundreds of people have been dying in needless pain for years. We have the opportunity to take a step forward and let people die with dignity. It is not about moving from a cockroach-infested room to a clean one. It is not the same thing. People are prisoners in their own bodies and suffering needlessly.
    Why should they not be able to make that decision?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the member referred to court decisions. Again, the focus of my remarks was on aspects of this legislation that have nothing to do with court decisions. I want us to remove same-day death, to remove death without contemporaneous consent, and to remove death without independent witnesses. I think all three of those are reasonable changes, and none of them would interact with a court decision that was made.
    Madam Speaker, it is my honour and privilege to join this debate today, though it is a sad one for me. I remember coming to this place. We passed Bill C-14 right off the get-go. It is where I cut my teeth in politics, I would say. At the time, we mentioned that this was a slippery slope. We had seen it in the Netherlands. Currently the government there is passing legislation to allow children under the age of 12 to be euthanized. They are working with what's called the Groningen protocol, where it is not the individual but a group of doctors making the decision as to who gets to live and who gets to die. Here, we saw that this erosion of protection began virtually as the ink was drying on the original bill. We have seen the government not uphold the wishes of this Parliament. We have seen a junior court strike down the law, calling it unconstitutional.
    This is where I have some frustration. The ink was not even dry on the bill when it was being challenged in the courts. It had just passed through the House of Commons. It is incumbent upon the executive branch of government to defend the decisions of this place, whether the government agrees with a court or not, and this was a brand new law that had just been thoroughly discussed in this place. We had worked hard for the amendments. For the government to abandon all the work we had done and decide that a junior court decision stood and that it was not going to appeal it to a higher court, like the Supreme Court, was an abdication of the executive branch's responsibility, and I definitely want to acknowledge my frustration that the government did not appeal this court decision.
    That said, this bill is much broader than the court decision, and I would argue that we continue down the slippery slope. When Bill C-14 was introduced, I remember talking about the slippery slope and being assured it was not a thing. Yet here we are, removing safeguards from the bill.
    This bill definitely makes two classes of Canadians. Across the country, we see a big emphasis on suicide prevention. Every level of government in this country has suicide prevention strategies. We see community groups getting together to run hotlines. Facebook has a warning system to help folks who are considering suicide. Facebook will even identify them and notify people who are close to them that their friend is not feeling well. The American military has worked with Facebook as well, to identify veterans who are considering suicide. We see throughout Canadian society that there is very much a focus on preventing suicide.
    Where does that comes into play in this bill? It would create two levels of Canadians. In one case, there are able-bodied, otherwise healthy people suffering from mental illness who are considering suicide. All of those suicide-prevention apparatuses come to their aid. We even have bridges in this country that have nets to catch people in case they jump. All of that stuff comes to the aid of those particular people. However, for sick people who have a grievous and irremediable condition, that stuff is optional and they can request death. They can go to their doctor and say they are not feeling well and are suffering, and that their grievous and irremediable condition has affected their mental health and they are having suicidal thoughts. Then suddenly they are eligible for assisted suicide.
     This creates two classes of people. If they are otherwise healthy, suicide prevention is granted to them; if they have an underlying grievous and irremediable condition, they are eligible for, as the government likes to call it, medical assistance in dying or assisted suicide. That is what this bill would do.

  (1645)  

    Prior to this bill, there was a requirement that a person's death be reasonably foreseeable. I remember that when we were discussing this, we found it to be kind of nebulous. What did that mean? There was no timeline on it. I remember we said that for a death to be reasonably foreseeable, it would have to be in six months or within a year. Those were amendments we brought forward. The government did not go for them back then. Now we see the courts are taking that off and the government is not even defending it. That is definitely one of the concerns we have. We are creating two classes of citizens: one for which suicide prevention is available and one for which it is optional.
    The other thing I want to talk about is an amendment we brought to the original bill, one that I think would be an improvement on this bill. It is the need for video verification. In the current rendition of the bill, the timelines have been reduced or eliminated altogether, from the time of the request to the time when MAID is administered. There is a concern that family members may not be convinced that their loved one requested MAID and that they were giving consent at the moment thereof. There has been a suggestion by some groups that there be a video recording of the administration of MAID. That is an amendment I would seek at committee. We would definitely like to see something like this.
    Lastly, we would like to see the government work to enhance assistance in living. With COVID, many of our old folks in seniors care facilities are not able to see their loved ones because of restrictions on movements and not being able to travel. The military had to be called in to deal with some of the situations. We talk a lot in this place about dying with dignity, but maybe it is time that we started focusing on living with dignity, having a dignified life, taking care of our elders and being part of a family.
    I have talked to folks who have been working in the old folks homes lately and it has been a rough job. They say the loneliness is a major issue in old folks homes these days. The loneliness leads to mental health issues, and if those mental health issues are not addressed, people will become suicidal and will request MAID for loneliness. Is that what we really want in this country? Assistance in living is something we have to be concerned about.
     This also deals with palliative care. Palliative care is something the government pays lip service to. We have called for national strategies on this. We have called for money to be put into it. In the absence of palliative care, there is no real choice. There is no ability for somebody to say that this is what they are choosing. Palliative care is an acknowledgement that while there is, humanly speaking, nothing more we can do, we can make a person comfortable and allow them to be surrounded by friends and family as they leave this earth. We would very much like to see the government pursue a significant improvement in palliative care, rather than allowing the elderly members of our families to vanish into an old folks home, where we are not allowed to visit them at this point, to die of loneliness and be offered MAID as the first available option.
    This bill has many concerns. It is the first evidence of the slippery slope that is happening in the euthanasia debate, and I definitely wanted to raise that concern. I am also concerned that this bill creates two classes of citizens, as I clearly outlined. I am looking forward to the government making some amendments to the bill and look forward to being able to participate in those discussions at committee.

  (1650)  

    Madam Speaker, of course, no one is going to disagree with improving the lives of our seniors through better palliative care, but the soft paternalism that ran through those comments is completely fabricated, as though if we just focus on assisted living and just provide additional support, nobody in any position is going to want to end their life and exercise personal autonomy and individual rights. There are individuals who are suffering intolerably, people who are of sound capacity and mind to make decisions about their own lives. They are suffering from an effectively incurable illness and some members want to take those rights away.
    My question is simple. Has the member read the Supreme Court's unanimous decision in Carter, and if he has, what about the criteria established for eligibility does he disagree with?

  (1655)  

    Madam Speaker, I was pointing out that with Bill C-14, we entered a slippery slope, as the safeguards had been removed. Bill C-14 is the law of the land. I am merely pointing out that we are now removing the reasonably foreseeable requirement. We are not improving the safeguards at all with the bill. In fact, we are removing safeguards. In the absence of palliative care, in the absence of a true choice, that leaves folks with no choice at all.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I believe that two of my hon. Conservative colleagues in a row have spoken to us about palliative care and care in long-term care facilities, such as CHSLDs in Quebec. It seems to me that they are trying to sidetrack the debate. We are talking here about medical assistance in dying. The two are not related. They seem to be saying that, if we had better palliative care services, then there would be no need for this bill. That does not make any sense.
    However, if they want to go there, then I would tell my hon. colleague that his party was in office from 2006 to 2015 and the provinces were not granted the increased health transfers that the Quebec and other provincial premiers are calling for. In fact, the Conservatives made cuts to those transfers. It seems to me that this party, which is lecturing us on palliative care, had a role to play in the fact that the provinces do not have enough money to manage their jurisdictions.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I would say that is fake news. Under Stephen Harper, health transfers actually increased. Under Stephen Harper, the sovereignty of the provinces was improved. Under Stephen Harper, the separatist movements across this country were diminished, both in the member's province and in my province. Under the current government, divisions run deep across this country and separatist movements are growing not only in his province, but also in mine.
    Madam Speaker, as I mentioned earlier in this debate, unfortunately in a lot of the rural and remote communities and the many indigenous communities in my riding, and I imagine in the hon. member's riding as well, there is not an equitable access to health care services. That includes palliative care, unfortunately, in many circumstances.
    I am wondering if the member could speak to how important palliative care and all these health services are for every single Canadian.
    Madam Speaker, across Canada palliative care is inconsistent. We are looking for some guidelines from the federal government on what palliative care should look like, with standardization across the country. We want funding to be dedicated to it. We also want the conscience rights of folks and organizations working in health care to be protected. In the Delta Hospice Society case, for example, the provincial health authority is forcing its ideology upon a hospice that is quite convinced that MAID has no place whatsoever in hospice care.
    Madam Speaker, I am delighted to speak today to Bill C-7, an act to amend the Criminal Code, medical assistance in dying. Its proposed Criminal Code amendments to the medical assistance in dying regime are a true reflection of the value we as Canadians ascribe to individual autonomy.
    I wish today to address a specific aspect of Bill C-7, which is the exclusion from eligibility for medical assistance in dying, or MAID, of those whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness. This is an aspect of the bill that has already attracted some attention, and I am grateful for the opportunity to make these remarks to provide context around the government's choice to not extend medical assistance in dying in this area at this time.
    The government has heard from various sources that there are unique risks and complexities associated with medical assistance in dying on the basis of mental illness alone. These include the report of the Council of Canadian Academies' expert panel on medical assistance in dying where a mental disorder is the sole underlying medical condition, as well as the experts the ministers consulted in recent round tables on medical assistance in dying.
    In this Canadian-made context, very specific concerns have been raised in relation to mental illness, those illnesses that affect how a person perceives themselves, their environment, their place within it and sometimes their future. The first main concern is that the trajectory of mental illnesses is harder to predict than that of other illnesses. Unlike some dementia and intellectual disabilities, the underlying causes of mental illness remain largely unknown. Mental illnesses can spontaneously remit or can be difficult to treat for years until one treatment or one social intervention works and improves quality of life, reducing that person's suffering.
    For example, we learned from the Council of Canadian Academies' report that an important percentage of persons living with borderline personality disorder will see their symptoms go away as they age, and some people with problematic substance use disorders also spontaneously remit. Experts disagreed on whether a mental illness can ever truly be considered incurable. Indeed, the Canadian Mental Health Association has indicated, “CMHA does not believe that mental illnesses are irremediable, though they may be grievous or unbearable [and] there is always the hope of recovery.”
    A second main area of concern is that the desire to die can be a symptom of some mental illnesses. Here I address specifically the concerns just raised by the member for Peace River—Westlock around suicide. I acknowledge and recognize his sincere concern. Having a mental illness is, indeed, a significant risk factor for suicide.
    This underscores the difficulty of assessing the voluntariness of a MAID request from a person who may be experiencing a desire to die as a symptom of mental illness. Some practitioners also raised the concern that an expanded MAID regime could negatively impact suicide prevention efforts if MAID were a legal option in response to suffering caused by mental illness alone, both at the level of public messaging and at the individual clinical level.
    The Council of Canadian Academies' expert panel also noted the particularly troubling situation of suicide rates in indigenous populations. This is an issue that concerns us all deeply. It was the expert panel's view that the potential impact of MAID where a mental illness is a sole underlying condition, if any, on suicide prevention efforts must be explored more deeply with indigenous people.
    By contrast, there are other conditions affecting the brain that do not raise these same concerns. For example, the trajectory of cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer's, Huntington's Disease or other neurodegenerative diseases is more easily predicted, in large part because the underlying pathology is better understood.
    Intellectual disabilities are a permanent state and there are no concerns with an unpredictable illness trajectory or a person's perception of their place in the world being affected. Indeed, many do not consider such conditions to be a mental illness or mental disorder. While they may raise other concerns, these are likely more properly addressed by assessments of decision-making capacity.

  (1700)  

    On the other hand, those who live with mental illness can experience unimaginable suffering and even physical pain. There is no question that the suffering that some with mental illness endure can be intolerable. Some who suffer from both physical and mental illness have said that, if they were able to choose, they would easily choose to endure the physical pain if the mental anguish could end. It is understandable that there is no consensus on this issue.
    The group of experts the Council of Canadian Academies recruited could not agree on several fundamental questions, including whether it is possible to have a valid and reliable method of distinguishing between suicide and an autonomous decision for medical assistance in dying where a mental illness is the sole underlying medical condition.
    A subset of the Council of Canadian Academies' expert panel, the Halifax group, recently recommended that the MAID regime should not exclude persons whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness. Instead, there should be a legislative requirement that the decision to die be well considered to ensure that a MAID request is well thought out and not impulsive. Others say that to exclude those with mental illness only perpetuates stigma and discrimination.
     On the other hand, another subset of the Council of Canadian Academies' experts, the expert advisory group on MAID, recommended that the MAID regime acknowledge that, at this time, it is not possible to determine that a mental illness is irremediable or that a state of decline due to a mental illness is irreversible. Therefore, persons whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness could not fulfill the current MAID eligibility requirements.
    Given these diametrically opposed points of view from experts, it would not be prudent to permit eligibility for medical assistance in dying where a mental illness is the sole underlying medical condition at this time without more study and deliberation.
    We, as legislators, are not experts in mental illness. Let us, instead, take the time to listen closely to what experts have to say on such an important topic, where the consequences of a decision are irreversible.
    The parliamentary review will provide an opportunity to hear from experts and others, and allow parliamentarians to carefully consider, without the time pressure of responding to the Truchon decision, whether and how medical assistance in dying could safely be extended to persons whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness.
    The government understands very well that mental illnesses can and does cause intolerable suffering. By excluding persons whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness, we are not seeking to send a message that this suffering is lesser, that persons struggling with a mental illness cannot make decisions for themselves, or that their autonomy to choose when and how to die matters less.
    Instead, we are taking a pause and acknowledging that this very complicated question needs more time, careful consideration and requires us to proceed prudently. The Province of Quebec is adopting a similar approach, though not through legislative amendments. I think this is wise, and we will be paying close attention to the consultations taking place in that province as well.

  (1705)  

    Madam Speaker, the member mentioned mental illness quite a bit, however, he did not go into a lot of detail.
    Does the member believe that if someone's sole underlying condition is mental illness, they should be able to receive MAID?
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question, although I think that was the full focus of my speech, the contention that people whose sole medical condition is a mental illness should not be eligible for MAID at this time.
    We absolutely need to consider this. It is a very complex issue. We need to consider it much more thoroughly than we have the ability or capacity to do at this time in response to the Truchon decision.
    I would refer the member to my speech. We will happily consider the matter very rigorously as we go forward.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, my Liberal colleague's position is quite fair. We in the Bloc Québécois also agree that those whose sole medical condition is a mental illness should not be included in this bill.
    This is such a sensitive matter, I think it is important to send a clear message that we are capable of moving forward in our reflection.
    We must not sweep this under the rug because that would be dangerous, as my colleague, the member for Montcalm, has already said. We need to be able to get ahead of this, rather than waiting for the courts to tell us what to do.
    Aside from looking at what Quebec is doing, I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on how we too can start proactively reflecting on this.

  (1710)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, we know that part of the original legislation for medical assistance in dying provided for a review at the five-year mark, and we are coming up to that time. It is very important we exercise that opportunity to look deeply into questions of this kind and canvass them very thoroughly, because it is, as the member noted, a very serious and delicate question. It is very complex.
    We need to examine all aspects of it, as well as the other aspects of medical assistance in dying, to make sure that as we move forward we can adapt and move forward correctly on this very important bill.
    Madam Speaker, I found this was a very challenging speech. I appreciate the member's thoughtfulness in approaching the issue, which this bill does not touch. It is important to confirm for Canadians that, in looking at the new version and the amendments, mental illness is not to be considered an illness within the context of medical assistance in dying.
    Does the member think that we will evolve our understanding of certain kinds of mental illness? It seems to me that he is suggesting that we may in fact revisit this topic in the future.
    Madam Speaker, yes, I absolutely believe the proper place to deal with this question is during the more fulsome review that should be forthcoming. It is certainly my understanding that mental illness, as a sole underlying factor, would exclude a person from the regime of medical assistance in dying.
    Madam Speaker, I was glad that the member brought up mental health conditions. He was very attentive to the language being proposed in this legislation and how we would deal with it going forward. This piece of legislation goes much further than Justice Baudouin mentioned in her judicial decision where she struck down section 241.2(2)(d) specifically on death being reasonably foreseeable. I do not have a question for the member. I just want to bring this up and hear his commentary on it.
    “Reasonably foreseeable” was something I criticized in the last Parliament when this was being debated. I could foresee this exact situation in which different reasonable people could interpret it in very different ways. We already see this going on all over the country. Different provinces have interpreted it differently in their health systems. I want to hear the member's commentary on that.
    In this debate so far, people have mentioned incurable diseases. The minister mentioned it as well. Three of my living kids have an incurable disease called Alport syndrome. It leads to a chronic kidney condition, and in the case of males, it will eventually require a kidney transplant. In most cases it is also associated with the underlying risk of depression and social isolation. It is incurable today. That does not mean it will be incurable tomorrow.
    Diseases change and their statuses change. Things that were incurable 100 years ago and were considered lifelong conditions change over time as medical technology catches up. Our knowledge matches the necessity of the time we live in. That is my commentary on the member's speech.
    Madam Speaker, my understanding on this bill regarding a trajectory for an immediately foreseeable death is that, in some cases, the requirement has been reduced, but in other cases, it remains in place. It depends on the nature of the person's underlying condition.
    I certainly look forward to what I am sure will be a robust debate on medical assistance in dying when the review happens. I had the honour to participate on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights when the original bill was brought forward. I certainly recognize some of the questions we are dealing with now we also dealt with then, and we did the best we could. It is very helpful that in light of experience and court decisions, we can review those decisions. It is a great opportunity, as we move forward, to embrace fully the upcoming review.

  (1715)  

    Madam Speaker, I very much appreciate the commentary that I have heard from my colleagues about this very significant issue today.
    One of the things I remember doing in a past life is working with doctors on “do not resuscitate” orders. It became very difficult for doctors, whose oath it is to save lives, to have this type of discussion. They would do anything to get out of a “do not resuscitate” order. They did not want to touch it or undo it, because they were ending up with all sorts of complications with family members and relatives. All sorts of different things would happen with this type of situation.
    Does my hon. colleague feel the legislation would protect mental health with what is basically a “do not resuscitate” order in a different language?
    Madam Speaker, I would like to first note that medical assistance in dying and a “do not resuscitate” order are fundamentally vastly different concepts.
    In any event, I believe the checks and balances that are currently in the legislation around mental illness will prevail as we go forward, because this bill would not extend medical assistance in dying to people whose sole underlying condition is mental illness. That is an important distinction and it is a very important one to consider fully and robustly as we go forward. I refer all members to the opportunity that will present itself as we review the totality of the medical assistance in dying regime at its legislated juncture.
    Madam Speaker, it is a real pleasure for me to be joining the debate today, from my riding, on Bill C-7. I find myself in a unique position because, having given a speech on this very same bill earlier this year, I see we now find ourselves still at second reading for what, I would argue, is absolutely the most important piece of legislation we have before us at this time.
    I was also one of the members of Parliament who had the honour of participating in the previous debate on Bill C-14 during the 42nd Parliament. I can remember very much the debates that went on in 2016 and the amount of attention that was given to that piece of legislation. We had an expert committee. We had a special joint committee. There were many hours spent, both in the House of Commons and at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, on that important piece of legislation because it made a monumental amendment to the Criminal Code in recognition of a very important Supreme Court ruling that forced Parliament to finally take the necessary action.
    I remember, during that time, we in the New Democratic caucus ultimately voted against Bill C-14, but we always took the time to explain to people that we were ultimately supportive of what the overall aims of the bill were. Our major problem of the time was that the bill was too restrictive. I remember very well in 2016 referencing a particular section of the bill that I knew would be challenged by the court. Lo and behold, here we are in the year 2020, and we are revisiting that problematic section and having to fix a mistake that was made very clearly four years ago.
    It is good to see Bill C-7, and it is good to see that we are complying with challenges that were made before the courts, this time coming in response to the Truchon decision by the Superior Court of Quebec. I know that we are operating under quite a tight deadline. That being said, I still think Parliament has to do a full job on this bill. As parliamentarians, whether we support the legislation, have problems with it or are opposed to it, we owe it to the people of Canada to give this debate as full a discussion and time as Bill C-14 had.
    At this time, in particular for the benefit of the people of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, it is important to underline why we are here discussing this. It really centres on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, notably sections 7 and 15.
     I am increasingly seeing section 7 as probably the most important part of the charter or one of the most important parts, because so many cases seem to be coming forward that directly reference section 7. I know it it is open to interpretation, but if we go along with successive court rulings, my own personal view on the subject is that it is a very important section because it is ultimately making the case that every person in Canada has the right to autonomy over their own body. That is why it is such an important section. If we truly believe in the rights of individuals to make decisions for themselves over what goes on with their own bodies, section 7 is incredibly important. It is really life, liberty and security of the person. That is the part that has to be underlined.

  (1720)  

    We also have to mention section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees quality before and under the law and makes sure people are free from discrimination. Why those two sections have such an important bearing in this case is that this bill is trying to make sure people have the right to say what goes on with their own bodies and that in making that decision they are not going to be discriminated against.
     I have been listening to the debates on Bill C-7, both from the previous week and today. I acknowledge that many members are bringing forward some concerns with the bill, and I understand and want to validate those concerns. I do not believe we have to make the debate on Bill C-7 an overly partisan issue. That is why I made the comment at the beginning that it is important that all members of Parliament, no matter what party they belong to, be given the chance to fully air their views.