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Results: 46 - 60 of 1285
View Rob Moore Profile
View Rob Moore Profile
2021-03-11 17:10 [p.4931]
Madam Speaker, as the hon. member would know or should know, as it is his party that is enabling the shutting down of debate today by supporting the Liberals' motion for closure, the minister has testified at the Senate that Alzheimer's and dementia is not included in the definition of mental illness, so this expansion by the Senate would now include people who are suffering from mental illness, suffering from severe depression, to be considered for medical assistance in dying.
Many of the individuals we have heard from are contacting our office and saying to please vote against this Senate amendment because it will have an impact on people like them who are suffering and are at a low point. We are sending the message that maybe their life is not worth living, and I know that is a message that parliamentarians do not want to send.
View Kerry-Lynne Findlay Profile
Madam Speaker, I find myself more distressed today, after nearly six years of service in this House, than I have on any other day, in any other debate. With the Liberal government's closure motion limiting debate, stifling the people's representatives in the very place we are elected to to give voice to the voiceless, the egregious affront to public policy creation playing out before us, the terrible precedent this sets for the future and the abandonment of the vulnerable in our society, I am left with the echoes of persons with disabilities and those I know who have come out the other side of the suffering of mental illness. This will not be a legacy to be proud of.
What started out as a bill that many in my community could and did get behind, if proper safeguards stayed in place and if conscience rights were protected, has gone from a scenario of some hope to a bad dream, to a nightmare. We know where this is going. The Liberal government will recklessly bring in legislation that grievously affects those who are struggling with mental illness, add them to the list of Canadians struggling with other disabilities, and say, “For you, fellow Canadians, for you, our most vulnerable, we have an exit plan, one we know you may not agree with, but one we have decided is best for you and society as a whole.”
How dare they? How dare the Liberals propose to abandon these Canadians? How dare the parliamentary secretary question my motivation or the motivations of my constituents? They are changing our legislative landscape without proper debate, without even allowing the justice committee to hear witnesses and without the legislated mandatory review that the government has ignored. I tell my colleagues to stop and consider that their actions fly in the face of testimony that has already been heard in committee, coercion does exist and not all Canadians are treated with equal dignity.
The Minister of Justice testified at committee today that his party members have been given a free vote, so it is up to each person elected to this place to be counted. The minister also stated that he will create a committee of experts to study the sensitive issues before us after this Senate-amended bill is voted on. If it is that important, if there is no consensus, as the minister previously stated, why would we pass an appointed Senate's version of a life or death bill? Why would we not give the proper thought and hear from the experts first?
To those whose sole underlying condition is mental illness, why are they are not worthy of being heard? When they are at their lowest in terms of coping with their lives, why should MAID be what is suggested to them? Why not suggest hope, or comfort, or a path to recovery? Where is the funding for this? Where is the debate on this? Where is our humanity?
I have had times in my life when I suffered from what is termed situational depression, which is a recognized mental illness diagnosis not due to an underlying chemical imbalance but to a coping challenge brought about by my situation at that time, when my husband suddenly died, leaving me with small children to raise on my own, and when my baby son died.
Life can be very tough at times. When people are in the grips of depression, they do believe that the world, and even those who depend on them for their fundamentals, would be better off without them. These ideations can be, and in my case were, transient, but I needed time and support to find my bearings again. What of those who have just suffered a catastrophic injury?
As a member of the justice committee, I studied this bill very closely, or at least a bill by the same name. In committee, we considered the impacts of expanding MAID to Canadians whose death is not imminent and the efficacy of removing many safeguards that were put in place in the original MAID regime in 2016, such as the requirement for two witnesses and 10-day reflection period. What we did not review is expanding assisted dying where the sole underlying condition is mental illness.
Whether members generally support the bill or not, and even if they support this specific Senate amendment, they cannot deny this: As elected representatives whose constituents rely on us to do our work in a measured, intelligent and compassionate way, we are not being given the opportunity to study this expansion and hear from those who are directly affected.
What of the experts who may assist us? We are told we will hear from them later. Will we, or will the government ignore the review mandate, just as it ignored the first one?
Is this our process now? Is this how Canada's Parliament creates good defensible public policy, with no diligent consultation and no close review of the implications? Are we just going to wing it now? Are we not going to challenge amendments from the Senate that fundamentally change this bill or other bills? This amendment would make Canada's assisted dying regime by far the most permissive on the planet.
The minister stated today that we were always going to study this very complex change carefully and look at it with the help of experts, yet here we are voting it into law and even closing down debate. How does this work?
I do agree with the minister's other statement today that we are parliamentarians and we have a responsibility. Yes, we are, and yes, we do.
Why not study this at committee? The Conservatives brought forward a motion to sit next week during a constituency week to study this. This motion was voted down. Minister Lametti also stated this morning that the Senate—
View Kerry-Lynne Findlay Profile
Madam Speaker, the minister also stated this morning that the Senate, for perhaps the first time, is actually doing its work and acting as a place of sober second thought. That is not what this is. The Senate did not just tweak this bill; it entirely changed its scope, affecting the lives of millions of Canadians.
If members think I am exaggerating, a simple online search shows that one in five Canadians experiences a mental illness or addiction problem at any given time, that 70% of mental health problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence and that those under 24 years of age are particularly affected. By the time Canadians reach 40, one in two has had a mental illness.
It was bad enough when the Liberals seemingly ignored calls for more safeguards from nearly every advocacy group for Canadians with disabilities, but to not even review this complex expansion is an offensive abandonment of responsibility. The Liberals' willingness to run with it is a complete 180° about-face.
On November 3, the Minister of Justice said at committee:
Bill C-7 proposes to exclude persons whose sole medical condition is a mental illness.... Experts disagree on whether medical assistance in dying can ever be safely made available in such cases...unpredictable illness trajectories mean there is always the possibility of improvement and recovery.... The exclusion gives Parliament more time to reflect on this complex question, which is fraught with serious risks....
Was this Senate amendment always part of the Liberal plan? Do we not need more time and more reflection?
The appointed Senate has entirely overreached and overstepped its mandate. Every member who votes in favour of this amended bill today should really think hard. I do not say this because I do not agree with their policy preferences. I have policy disagreements with members of my own party. However, this is no longer a discussion about policy. This is about fulfilling our role as parliamentarians. To vote in support of a bill fundamentally amended by an unelected Senate without review is an abdication of responsibility.
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given everything Canadians have gone through in the last year, how can we today, of all days, pass this law without study? There is still time to wake up from this nightmare before the bells ring. As John Donne famously wrote, “Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2021-03-11 17:21 [p.4933]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for South Surrey—White Rock for her contributions at committee and for her contributions today through the deeply heartfelt and very personal speech she just gave. However, I take issue with some of the points she raised.
First, with respect to coercion, the evidence indicates that no discipline or prosecution has taken place against any doctor or nurse in this country in the five years we have had MAID. Second, the notion that we would have the most permissive regime on the planet should these amendments pass is speculative. We know, for example, that the safeguards we would put in place are yet to be determined and that in the Benelux countries, for example, minors can avail themselves of medical assistance in dying. That is not on the table here.
No one takes issue with the fact that we need supports for people who have a mental illness, but I would ask the member opposite to comment on the Truchon case. As she is a lawyer, I know she reads jurisprudence, just as I do.
In the Truchon case, the court said that people with disabilities need to have the autonomy and competence to make decisions about their lives and—
View Kerry-Lynne Findlay Profile
Madam Speaker, I am a lawyer, as is the hon. member, but one of my fundamental disagreements with how this has proceeded is that the Truchon decision was a Quebec Superior Court decision, a court of first instance, in fact. It did not go to the Quebec Court of Appeal, nor did it go to the Supreme Court of Canada. It could have even gone to the Supreme Court of Canada by way of reference, but the government did not do that. The plaintiffs in the Truchon case do not speak for all persons with disabilities, as we clearly heard at committee.
View Luc Thériault Profile
View Luc Thériault Profile
2021-03-11 17:23 [p.4933]
Madam Speaker, I hate to say it, but listening to the Conservatives, I am left with the impression that they are exploiting the realities of persons with disabilities.
Who is more vulnerable than someone living with an irreversible medical condition, who is suffering intolerably and has reached their tolerance threshold? Ms. Gladu lived her life, but she had a degenerative disease that affected her physical autonomy. She was experiencing intolerable suffering, but even in a wheelchair, she was able to go to court and assert her moral autonomy.
I do not understand why the member is unwilling to come and discuss her concerns in a parliamentary committee to try to pinpoint exactly what her concerns are.
View Kerry-Lynne Findlay Profile
Madam Speaker, I find the hon. member's question fundamentally offensive because he is not talking about process. He is not talking about dealing with the Senate amendment through a proper committee review. He is talking about an overall bill, which we are not really speaking about here today. We understand the overall issue of persons with disabilities clearly, and we understand what plaintiffs had to say and why they took their case to court. However, that is not what we are dealing with here today. To suggest that I do not care about them is nonsense.
View Colin Carrie Profile
View Colin Carrie Profile
2021-03-11 17:25 [p.4933]
Madam Speaker, I have an important question to ask my colleague.
We have heard some Liberals say that no one is being forced to choose MAID. I have had experiences in my life with people who are extremely depressed. Because the mental health system in this country is not there for them and is not supportive, sometimes they feel there is no choice. Now we have a government that wants to bring in an entirely new bill without proper debate and without allowing us to hear from the people who would be affected and the experts.
Could my colleague please comment on the idea of choice? If there is no choice, there is MAID.
View Kerry-Lynne Findlay Profile
Madam Speaker, we heard from witnesses at the justice committee on this very issue. People with disabilities felt they had been coerced and that MAID had been inappropriately suggested. They said even though their quality of life may have, to the outside observer, not seemed full, it was full to them. What they were suffering from was a lack of support.
Let us put money into hospice care. Let us put money into helping those with mental illness. Let us help people, not put forward an amendment from an unelected Senate.
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Yorkton—Melville.
It is an honour to stand in the House today and give this speech on behalf of the constituents of Cypress Hills—Grasslands. This has been a very heavy issue for a lot of my constituents, and there has been a lot of engagement on it.
The Liberal government, already with many other scandals and failures, has hit an all-time low with the bill. The Liberals were already seeking to legally expand assisted suicide in ways that are unnecessary and uncalled for. However, now for Canadians everywhere, especially those with disabilities or mental health challenges and our medical professionals, the situation has suddenly gotten much worse.
The other place sent Bill C-7 back to us with some radical and outrageous amendments. They are unthinkable and should have been rejected immediately. Instead, the Liberals have accepted the unacceptable, and at the last stage of the process, they somehow thought to allow the bill to be made even more dangerous than it already was. They have been trying to rush it along ever since, and now they are shutting down debate after everyone has barely started to process what exactly is going on.
The Liberals have shown complete disregard and disrespect for the public, who are supposed to be represented in our democratic process. However, what is even more disturbing and offensive is the statement they are making to the people who are most at risk of suffering the consequences of their legislation. The message is already clear, not only in Canada but in the rest of the world.
We are supposed to be a place that cares about human life and dignity. We are supposed to a country that leads the way and takes a principled stand for people's rights. This is Canada.
Before the government agreed to make Bill C-7 even worse, The Washington Post published an article about it entitled “Canada is plunging toward a human rights disaster for disabled people”. In a way, it is more shocking to hear it from outside observers. This is a warning sign of where our country is headed. However, the point is not new. The article focuses on Roger Foley, who keeps fighting to survive and demands better from government and the health care system. He wants assisted life before he is ever offered assisted suicide.
Major disability organizations in Canada, which are now joined by mental health advocates, have been calling out the same discrimination and dangers involved. At the same time, the United Nations has specifically called out Canada for these same issues with MAID under the current law, never mind what the Liberals are bringing forward and what the Senate has put forward here now. Before the Truchon decision happened, the special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities publicly stated:
I am extremely concerned about the implementation of the legislation on medical assistance in dying from a disability perspective. I have been informed that there is no protocol in place to demonstrate that persons with disabilities have been provided with viable alternatives when eligible for assistive dying. I have further received worrisome claims about persons with disabilities in institutions being pressured to seek medical assistance in dying....
Since then, a new person has filled the role of special rapporteur, who, while testifying on Bill C-7, said, “even if safeguards would be strengthened to ensure genuine consent, the damage is still done by portraying—not directly but effectively nonetheless—that the lives of persons with disabilities are somehow worth less than others.”
However, we are not even talking about stronger safeguards either here. The government is choosing to remove multiple safeguards for disabilities, and now for mental health because of the amendments that the Senate sent us. The problem is clear to different Canadians, regardless of whether they support the law currently in place for MAID. I have heard this from several members, even within my own party, for example. The problem is that we are not discussing MAID anymore, and these amendments have made that absolutely clear, if it was not before.
I recently finished reading the book 1984 by George Orwell. Some members will say this sounds cliché and exaggerated, but they need to pay more attention to the point he makes about doublespeak and the meaning of words. If we twist the meaning of words, we subliminally change the values of society. If we do not say what we mean and mean what we say, we can easily lose sight of reality. What is worse, we can cover up harm and injustice.
We heard a Liberal minister defend Bill C-7 in a very telling way when he said, “Mental illness is a very serious illness. It is an illness. It needs to be treated as an illness. It was always going to be looked at in the second stage of the bill.” This was in response to a question about the concern of mistreating Canadians with mental illness.
The Bell Let's Talk Day was not long ago, and there are several other initiatives for mental health throughout the year. Are we going to contradict the message we all unanimously used in the House back then as we were supporting people who were dealing with mental health or are we now going to think of suicide as treatment? Are we supposed to believe it is an option for improving someone's mental condition? I should hope actual treatments and care are provided and that suicide is actively prevented rather than offered, even as a last resort, for those who want to kill themselves but are not dying. This is no way to treat people who are suffering.
When people consider suicide, we offer them a help line. We reaffirm their value that their lives are worth living. Suicide prevention is already hard enough. How are we going to convince them? If this law passes and if it keeps us from reaching them in time, what message is that telling those people who are signalling that they have already lost hope and that this bill essentially offers them no further chance at hope? This new law and the tangled web it weaves will not make any sense whatsoever.
When the government first opened a Pandora's box for assisted suicide back in 2016, it said there would be a required review process in five years. Five years went by and it never happened. It would have been a perfect opportunity to address the growing concerns with the current law for MAID. The Liberals did not wait and they did not prioritize doing it before trying to expand the law in response to a provincial court ruling.
In case anyone forgot, Bill C-7 goes far beyond the actual decision of the court, which the Liberals claim is a time restraint even though they did not bother to appeal it in the first place. They are forcing us into last minute amendments with one afternoon, really, of debate; and that is it.
I do not believe these rules reflect the true Canadian spirit. They would silence too many voices and perspectives that deserve to be heard after ignoring them for the past year and more. The average Canadian does not find it hard to be horrified at these changes, especially when they have barely seen the light of public scrutiny. Whether we live with or love people with disabilities and mental health challenges or if we have the basic idea of respecting the dignity and value of our fellow human beings, the problems are obvious. Someone who for any reason is distressed by what this decision represents is apparently not worth the government's time or consideration.
The Liberals say they have run out of time, but they have failed to make time or give time to those who need it most. They are the ones who control the legislative calendar. It was up to them. It is a lot like getting stuck with a pushy sales rep who avoids questions while trying to make a quick sale. By now, Canadians are used to Liberal excuses for their incompetence, but it is becoming clearer than ever how some of their radical views on social issues try to get passed through unnoticed.
This is all the more reason why we needed to have a thorough review of the current law, which was promised but not kept. The government now says that it will accept one amendment, requiring a review after the bill comes into effect. We will have to see how that goes.
Despite all the frustration and discouragement coming forward from strong advocates and citizens, which I share right now, I still have hope in the human spirit for the future. If the government wants to take us backward and if its allies in Parliament turn a blind eye, it will not be able to stop the truth and justice from winning out. It makes me think of a line sung by Johnny Cash, “What's done in the dark will be brought to the light.”
It is a shame that there will not be much longer to speak today, because there are so many more things that do need to be said about this important issue about these amendments from the Senate. Human life is worth far more than just a few minutes of debate and discussion.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2021-03-11 17:36 [p.4935]
Madam Speaker, this narrative of abandonment that we are hearing from Conservative interveners in today's debate is a bit concerning. The view of the court and the view of our government is that we are trying to empower individuals to make choices, including difficult choices. I commend to the member opposite the fact that Monsieur Truchon and Madame Gladu were persons with disability who were seeking constitutionally protected access to the MAID regime.
The notion that the amendments proposed by the Senate are radical and outrageous, to quote the member opposite, is false on its face. Collecting race-based data and other data about vulnerable communities accessing MAID is important. So too is having a joint study, which are two amendments to which we have agreed.
Does the member opposite agree and appreciate that we are not proposing to allow access to those with mental illness as a sole underlying condition, tomorrow or even next month, but only after a one-year review by an expert panel followed by a one-year review by Parliament, so Parliament can do the work that the member seeks to have done, which is test the safeguards to ensure that embarking in this area is done in a measured and appropriate manner that protects vulnerabilities?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
Madam Speaker, ultimately, all the sunset clause does is delay the inevitable. It is still signalling to these people, the people who are struggling with mental health and mental illness, that their life is not valuable. However, that is not true. Every single life matters and should be dignified. These amendments do not do that. They do not afford that and that is wrong.
View Luc Thériault Profile
View Luc Thériault Profile
2021-03-11 17:38 [p.4935]
Madam Speaker, at this current juncture, the Bloc Québécois is far from convinced that MAID should be broadened to include individuals whose sole medical condition causing suffering is mental illness.
Why? Because suicidal ideation is often a manifestation, a symptom of mental illness, and suicidal ideation is reversible.
I do not understand how my colleague can confuse these two things and how the Conservatives' amendment can allude to the fact that reversible suicidal ideation is suddenly an inclusion criterion, while the real criteria are the irreversibility of the disease and intolerable suffering. Why are they getting these things mixed up?
We may have to give it more thought, and that is what the government's motion is challenging us to do. It is challenging us to think about the issue across party lines.
Is my colleague prepared to sit down, invite the people he wants to invite, and correctly define the issue and find a solution?
If the expert panel and the special committee arrive at the conclusion that mental health should be excluded, it will be excluded. I do not see why they insist on remaining within the parliamentary framework of a debate which is getting us nowhere.
We need to think about this across party lines and reach a broader consensus. I am eager to hear what my colleague has to say in committee.
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
Madam Speaker, the whole point is rather than rushing to include a sunset clause in legislation, let us have that conversation now. Why wait a year or two years? We need to have that now. That is the whole point of this debate. That is what we have been saying over and over. These amendments need to go to committee so that conversation can happen now.
My other point is that suicidal thoughts are reversible. He is absolutely right. The problem is that suicide and medical assistance in dying are not reversible, and that is the whole point. That is why so many people are concerned about this. We need to have these conversations now. It needs to go to committee now. Not in a year or two from now; it needs to take place now.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2021-03-11 17:40 [p.4936]
Madam Speaker, could my colleague comment on the hypocrisy of the government to be putting money toward suicide prevention and, at the same time, deciding it is not enough to let people kill themselves, but that they will get medical professionals to help them out when they have mental illness?
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