Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her speech, which truly was a speech of hope. As always, it is a pleasure for me to stand today to speak for the citizens of Oshawa, but especially those who are most vulnerable, those who today may be at their lowest point. Hope is exactly what they need.
Today, we are commemorating a year since we have been locked down with COVID. I think of all of us here and in our constituencies. I think the increased mental health issues, the suicides, the anxiety and the overdose deaths. I feel so sad that today the government brought in closure for this bill. It is shutting down debate on Bill C-7, and the irony is not lost.
This is a substantially different bill than was originally debated in the House. It is substantially different from the bill that was studied in committee. It is substantially different because it opens up MAID, medical assistance in dying, to those with mental health issues.
Last month, many of us contributed to Bell Let's Talk Day. I remember being a parliamentary secretary when Bell started this initiative. Everyone was very supportive of it. I was so happy that Bell took this on. I applauded and supported them. In the House were saying to those who were suffering from mental health issues that their lives were important, and we all embraced that House.
Last night I was watching T.V. and I saw the commercial put out by CAMH. It was quite sad. It is a man who is sitting alone, and it talks about “not today“. It is about someone who is down and at his worst and needs that support. I do not know if members have seen it.
It is important that we get the opportunity to debate principles. If we look at our legal system, it is based on the principle that it is wrong to take an innocent human life. When the state is making an exception to this principle, it is incumbent that we are very careful. Why? Because the results are permanent and irreversible.
The original bill that was provided to the House had many things that the people Oshawa could support. However, substantial changes have been made by the Senate that would open MAID up to those with depression and mental health issues. I cannot support this changed bill. Frankly, I am extremely disappointed and upset with the government. The Liberals are not even allowing us to properly debate this new bill. They have invoked closure.
Today, the minister said that there was consensus, but that is simply not true. The minister said of the original bill that there was no consensus on MAID for people with mental illness. Instead of allowing committee to call witnesses affected by the bill, and the experts, the minister wants to push this bill through tonight and close down debate. He wants to pass this bill and then create a committee of experts to study the bill. This is exactly the opposite of the normal process of the House. We are here today making Canadians aware of that, because this is unprecedented. I have never heard of this before. It is almost like the government telling us to trust it, that it is going to do do this, not to worry about it and to let us get this through. However, the minister and the government have a credibility issue.
I know I am challenging the minister, and I hope he questions me about it. He needs to make things clear. The original MAID bill was due for a legislative review after five years, which was supposed to happen last year. That did not happen. We know the government prorogued. We know it had the WE scandal it wanted to cover up. If it did not do its legislative duty for the original bill, how can Canadians trust the Liberals and the minister to follow through? Instead of challenging the Quebec court's decision, the minister did not even defend his own legislation, and I find this incredibly unusual.
We are talking about trust, and when people are depressed and at their lowest, they need a government they can trust. In Oshawa, we have one of the most prominent experts in palliative care. Her name is Gillian Gilchrist. She practised medicine for over 50 years. She started a palliative care clinic in 1981 and was the first chair. I called her today, and she told me that when people are on a cliff, they need someone to trust. They need someone to talk to. They need someone to care. They need someone to be there. They need someone to talk them down. She said our system needs more resources for people with mental health issues.
Proper medical care is expensive, but MAID is not. I heard the Liberals say today that no one is forced to choose MAID. However, we have heard colleagues today in the House, and I think some of our Bloc colleagues said over and over today, that we need more resources for health care. I would argue that we need more resources for mental health care, because when Liberals say that no one is forced to choose MAID, if there is no proper mental health help available and there is no one to talk to, no one to listen, no one to care and no one to say “not today”, I submit there is no choice. Until the government invests more in mental health care for that choice, the only option offered is MAID. How sad is that?
I am suggesting that the minister has to address his credibility problem. Today he said he has consensus for the bill, but in committee he said there is not consensus for MAID for people with mental health issues. I have a letter from Vulnerable Persons Standard. This letter has been signed by 129 organizations, which tells us that the minister does not have consensus.
The Liberals were mandated to do a legislative review of the original bill after five years. That would have been last year, but, as I said earlier, instead of doing what they were legislated to do, they prorogued to cover up a scandal because they have a credibility problem. I say they cannot be trusted to follow through on this one either.
This is not from Conservatives. Three United Nations experts have warned the minister that Bill C-7 will violate international human rights conventions to which Canada is a signatory, but the minister is closing down debate today. Canadian legal experts warned that Bill C-7 will violate the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but the minister is closing down debate today.
The people of Oshawa and the people of Canada expect us to debate these difficult issues and to study this bill at committee. This bill is sanctioning the taking of the life of someone who is mentally ill and the taking of someone's life when the mental health care system is not there for them, someone who is depressed, someone who is at their most vulnerable and someone who is reaching out to us for their voice and their life. What is more important than that?
Today I am sad because I fear our system will fail. It will fail Canadians with disabilities and with depression who want real choices. It will fail Canadians who want us to listen to their views, who want to be given the opportunity to hear from experts in committee, who want to make sure someone is there for Canadians with disabilities and depression to tell them “not today”.