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Results: 1 - 15 of 42
View Rob Moore Profile
View Rob Moore Profile
2021-03-12 11:11 [p.4971]
Madam Speaker, yesterday the Liberals invoked closure on their motion that significantly altered Bill C-7 by expanding medically assisted death to those with mental illness. They did so at the absolute last moment possible in the parliamentary process.
I have received hundreds of emails, letters and calls in opposition to Bill C-7, in particular from persons with disabilities and groups that advocate for them. Many of them wanted more time to speak out in committee against Bill C-7. The government has now expanded Bill C-7 so that MAID will be accessible by those with mental illness. This was done with no consultation directly on this issue in the House of Commons.
I call upon the government to actually listen to those who are raising concerns with the changes made by Bill C-7 and be willing to address them through the upcoming parliamentary review.
View Rob Moore Profile
View Rob Moore Profile
2021-03-12 12:01 [p.4982]
Madam Speaker, the government has indicated that it plans to finally move forward with a parliamentary review of Canada's medical assistance in dying legislation, nearly one year late. Persons with disabilities and mental health advocates are worried that their concerns will continue to be ignored. They are concerned that engaging in the process will be a waste of their time. Can the minister confirm that all options will be on the table in this review, including reversing some of the changes pushed through in Bill C-7?
View Jenica Atwin Profile
Lib. (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2021-03-11 16:50 [p.4928]
Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary mentioned thousands of hours of debate around Bill C-14 and Bill C-7.
Would the member not agree that, in comparison, when we are talking about this amendment about mental health or those who are mentally ill having access to MAID, that such a little amount of time has been given to debate such a large expansion of the definition of MAID?
Could the member comment on the discrepancy between the thousands of hours that went into the beginning stages of this bill and the short timeframe we have been given for this new piece of legislation that is a critical component that, I think, we need more time for?
View Rob Moore Profile
View Rob Moore Profile
2021-03-11 16:57 [p.4929]
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for South Surrey—White Rock.
Madam Speaker, it has been very interesting to hear the Liberal speakers today on this sad day when the Liberals have brought in closure on what is a very important life-or-death amendment from the Senate, and to hear the Liberals spinning their wheels and making up excuses and pretending that past studies on other bills dealing with medical assistance in dying somehow should be taken and counted in support of the huge expansion suggested by the Senate, which has only had a very few hours of consideration in the House before this closure motion today.
For those who are watching, closure by the government means that members of Parliament will not be able to further debate or further study the application of medical assistance in dying to those suffering with mental illness.
It is important to have a bit of context on this because when the Minister of Justice appeared at our justice committee when we were studying this bill, we did not hear from those in the community dealing with suicide prevention and with mental illness because that was not an aspect of the bill. The minister at the time said that there was no consensus in Canada when it comes to mental illness, and there was no consensus among physicians when it comes to mental illness; yet now, a few months later, the Liberals are ramming this through today in a very unfortunate and contemptuous way.
I expect that desperation we hear in the voices of Liberal members is because they are getting the same emails, phone calls and messages that the rest of us are getting. These messages are from those who are fighting for vulnerable people, those who are fighting for people with depression and people suffering from mental illness, saying, “Please do not pass this Senate, and now Liberal government, amendment”.
From the beginning the government has mismanaged this issue. The Liberals say that Bill C-7 was originally aimed at responding to the Quebec Superior Court decision from 2019. Conservatives, at the time, said very clearly that the government should defend its law and should have appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. Instead, the Minister of Justice, who himself voted against Bill C-14 on medical assistance in dying because it did not go far enough, saw this as an opportunity to rapidly expand the medical assistance in dying regime under the cover of responding to that Quebec court decision.
I disagree with the position of the Liberals not to appeal this to the Supreme Court. As the Conservatives said, that would have given Parliament clarity on how to legislate going forward. However, the Liberals took the highly unusual approach of not defending their own legislation. If the Liberals simply wanted to respond to the Quebec court decision, they would and could have done that. They chose not to do that. Instead, today, they are trying to ram through this bill that goes dramatically beyond that. It is very clear that the Liberal government sees the work of Parliament as a nuisance and that anything other than complete acceptance of its legislation must be opposed.
When this bill was first introduced just over a year ago, it was done one week after the government had already asked for its first extension from the Quebec court decision. Therefore, the Liberals were already failing to meet the court deadline that they said was their goal. Then, rather than introduce a bill that simply addressed the Quebec court decision, the Liberals introduced a far more expansive bill that requires a significantly greater amount of scrutiny by Parliament.
Under Bill C-14, the government's original MAID legislation, a legislative review was required five years after the bill received royal assent. That was scheduled to take place last year. This review would have looked at the impacts of Bill C-14 and would have provided insight on how to proceed forward. Let me be clear: Rather than allow Parliament to do that work first, the government decided to expand MAID legislation in Bill C-7. Again, rather than simply responding to the court decision and allowing Parliament to do the work necessary to study this issue, the Liberals overreacted and brought in expansive new legislation.
The government ended up receiving an extension from March 11 to July 11, 2020, and, with the COVID outbreak, Parliament's scrutiny was limited for a number of months. As time ticked toward July 11, it was apparent that yet again the Liberals would not be able to ram their bill through Parliament, and another extension was requested on June 11, this time for December 18, 2020. When Parliament eventually resumed in September 2020, we could have had the opportunity to debate Bill C-7, but of course we were, ironically, prevented from doing so by the Liberals who are now so keen on passing Bill C-7, because they prorogued Parliament, wiping the legislative slate clean. We all know this was done to avoid scrutiny of the WE scandal to protect the Prime Minister and other senior members of cabinet.
Based on the communications over the past couple of days, one would expect that the Liberals may have had a sense of urgency to reintroduce Bill C-7, instead they did not introduce Bill C-7 again in the first week or the second week. It took the Liberals until the third week of Parliament after they prorogued to actually reintroduce Bill C-7.
The Liberals have set themselves up time and time again to miss their own deadlines, and they have set themselves up for failure, but now there is this rapid rush. however, as has been pointed out, this is an entirely new bill that has come back from the Senate because it includes what was explicitly excluded by our House of Commons, which is made up of elected members of Parliament from all across this country. The mental illness component was specifically and deliberately excluded, and now it is being added in.
By including mental illness as a sole underlying condition to be eligible for MAID, the government wants to expand MAID even further in a way that is a complete 180° turn from Bill C-7 as it was introduced a year ago. This is a completely different bill than was originally debated in the House. As the vice-chair of the justice committee, I know we did not seek to hear from experts on this topic because the government's bill explicitly said expanding medical death to those with mental illness was not being considered. Now, at this last stage of the bill, the government is recklessly accepting a dramatic expansion of the bill, an expansion to which the Minister of Justice himself said there was no consensus.
What are people saying on this mental illness issue? It is unfortunate because Canadians are not going to be able to be engaged and participate in this conversation before we vote on the matter tonight. However, for those of us who are listening, the CEO of the Mental Health Association sounded alarm bells in an article urging all members of Parliament to please vote against the Senate amendments. Her point in the article is that MAID should not be broadened to those with mental illness until at least the health care system adequately responds to mental health needs of Canadians.
She highlights that it is not possible to determine whether any particular case of mental illness represents an advance state of decline and capabilities that cannot be reversed. She concluded her article writing, “We have to cure our ailing mental health system in Canada before we even begin to consider mental illness incurable.”
In a CBC, Dr. Mark Sinyor, a psychiatrist and associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto recently wrote, “As a scientist, I have to be open to the possibility that all of the claims advanced by MAID advocates are accurate. But enacting law, one which literally governs life or death decisions, based on a possibility isn't good enough.”
He continued, “In other areas of medicine, thoughtful scientists typically devote whole careers to meticulously studying benefits and harms of treatments before rolling them out. Here, that proven approach has inexplicably been replaced with hand-waving and moralizing.”
We know that it is our job as members of Parliament to study these things and hear about them at committee from experts, those that are directly impacted, before passing new legislation. We heard this week at a press conference from Wayne Wegner. He told his story of struggling with mental illness. Wayne had a series of difficulties in life that led him to a very dark place, and he urged members of Parliament to please vote against this legislation.
In conclusion, this is not how we should be operating. We should not be dealing with closure today. We should be listening to persons with disabilities and persons suffering from mental illness issues and their advocates. We should all do our jobs as members of Parliament and listen first before we act. That is our duty.
View Rob Moore Profile
View Rob Moore Profile
2021-03-11 17:07 [p.4931]
Madam Speaker, as the parliamentary secretary knows, even as late as today at the justice committee, Liberals rejected an opportunity for us to hear from mental illness professionals, from those who would be impacted by this legislation, and that is our job. We are listening.
I received a letter signed by 129 organizations, such as Inclusion Canada, the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association and the DisAbled Women's Network. There are 129 organizations asking us to please support the Conservative amendment, and please do not include mental illness as a grounds for someone to receive assisted dying.
We need to listen to the experts first, and the parliamentary secretary knows that we have not done that. We had committee meetings on Bill C-7, but this was not part of Bill C-7 when we had those meetings.
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 Richard Bragdon Profile
View Richard Bragdon Profile
2021-03-11 19:43 [p.4953]
Mr. Speaker, it is very important for all of us to step back and reflect or, I would say, take a pensive pause when it comes to major decisions such as this. When we have seen legitimate concerns from associations such as Inclusion Canada, the Canadian Mental Health Association and other groups that are looking at this and saying this is literally a life and death situation and life and death legislation, should we not take the pause?
View Jenica Atwin Profile
Lib. (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2021-02-23 11:24 [p.4422]
Madam Speaker, I am concerned a bit about moving forward. The member talked about the importance of getting this right. I too want to get this right, especially for the disability community. However, I am really concerned about some of the rhetoric, some of the hyperbole and some of the examples that are given that do not align with what this bill outlines.
Coercion, for example, is illegal. One must be offered proper care. It is important to highlight the stories, as mentioned, of the positive aspects of following through on a life with a disability. That needs to continue to be talked about in a positive way and not add more fear and untruth to the conversation.
Does the member agree that we must be very careful with our wording around this?
View John Williamson Profile
Mr. Speaker, the final petition is on Bill C-7.
The petitioners are requesting that the Government of Canada return the safeguards it has removed specifically related to the 10-day reflection period and the number of witnesses, so someone is properly consoled and consulted.
View John Williamson Profile
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with the hon. member for Battle River—Crowfoot.
I rise today to participate in this important debate on Bill C-7, which seeks to expand medical assistance in dying, or MAID. While the Liberal government has summarily dismissed the role of Parliament with respect to the all-party committee study, an evaluation of this law, I believe it is still important to ensure my remarks appear on the record because Bill C-7 is literally a matter of life and death.
Let me begin by quoting my hon. colleague, the member for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, who posed this question to the government during the earlier days of our hybrid sittings. In the context of advocating for defibrillators to be placed in community halls, hockey rinks and other places Canadians gather, he asked:
It will cost approximately a billion dollars to renovate Centre Block. I believe that's accurate. It will cost $5 million to put these AEDs, defibrillators, into all police cruisers. This would save 300 lives per annum. Is the cost of saving 300 lives per annum—one half of 1% of a billion dollars—more or less important than renovating Centre Block?
My colleagues on both sides of the House know I am a strong supporter of our institutions and our history, and of protecting them for future generations to appreciate, learn from and, in some cases, even revere. This is true of Parliament, historic sites across Canada and even statues of our founders for their vision and even, at times, for their faults, and sometimes many faults. My hon. colleague for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston was posing a simple but profound question to Parliament, which was what is the value of life, and how can it be measured? It is a question that all members of Parliament have been consumed with since the start of the coronavirus pandemic: How can we protect and save lives? It is a question that will form the basis of debate in the House of Commons for the remainder of our natural lives and well beyond.
In just over eight months, all levels of government have spent a combined half a trillion dollars in their struggle against the pandemic. Rich or poor, old or young, married or single, with kids or grandparents: it does not matter what families or households look like. Everyone is impacted by COVID-19, and governments have acted. The measures brought forward were, in one way or another, based on one simple, profound truth: that elected officials at every level of government across the country support life, and want our nation to fight for it and protect it.
I stand today as someone who will be voting against this piece of legislation, Bill C-7. Medically assisted death is a practice that, if left unchecked, could in some dark corners of society turn the right to die into an obligation to die.
How is it that a government that advocated overwhelmingly to accept closures and economic lockdowns in response to the coronavirus can be the same government that has unmoored us from protecting Canadians, by vastly expanding the legal parameters of medically assisted death? It is grisly.
I would like to quote the member for Vancouver Granville, the former minister of justice, who stated the following about this legislation, Bill C-7:
[Why] is Bill C-7, medical assistance in dying, abolishing the safeguard of a 10-day reflection period and reconfiguration of consent, thereby introducing advance requests for MAID?
Nothing in the Truchon decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal, which the government chose not to appeal, requires this, and the Supreme Court of Canada, in Carter, insisted on the requirement of clear consent. Palliative care physicians, disability advocates and other experts insist that this is an important safeguard and, like other legislated MAID reports on mature minors and mental disorder, advance requests also raise significant challenges.
It is very troubling that this is the direction the Liberals have chosen. A single decision in a single province by a single lower court has upended the law as it stands today, passed by a previous Parliament.
A culture of life is abandoned. Even the most basic safeguards are deemed by the current justice minister, the cabinet and caucus to be overly restrictive. We have a fragile consensus established in the last Parliament and with Bill C-7, we will undo that important consensus. I hope we can rediscover that consensus again in a future Parliament when its leaders are more reflective on matters of life and death and perhaps will express some humility when we face these questions.
We must, as parliamentarians, even those who sit across the aisle, reject the unwise extension of medical assistance in dying in our society. However, I am dismayed that this will not happen.
Bill C-7 is medical assistance in dying in name only. Its sponsors cling to that description to give it a fig leaf of respectability and to make it palatable to the public. Bill C-7 would strip away both safeguards to protect vulnerable Canadians and even the belief that one's death should be near, imminent or even reasonably foreseeable. Whereas medical assistance in dying has built in safeguards, today's bill does not and we are simply left with medical assisted death.
View John Williamson Profile
Madam Speaker, I do think that would have been the better approach, to examine the ruling and appeal it the Supreme Court to get a broader interpretation of the law.
The last Parliament was right in the approach it took in crafting the legislation by striking an all-party committee. That committee came up with recommendations. Not everyone agreed with it, but the bill that came out of Parliament had broad consensus in the House despite some of the flaws, which even I see in the current legislation. At least it had that democratic participation. As well, it went through the Senate, received royal assent and became the law.
Today we are left with a single court decision, as my hon. colleague said, from a lower court judge that was not appealed. I think that was done as a rush to judgment by the government to make changes. I will note for the chamber, and I am sure it has been noted before, that the current justice minister voted against the current law.
At the time, he felt it was not sufficiently robust or expansionary. Opportunities have allowed him to re-craft that law in a way that ignores Parliament and ignores the input from the last Parliament, which was sought from all parties. Today we are left with a much diminished bill that breaks that consensus. Because of that, we will be debating this into the years ahead and in Parliaments ahead.
View John Williamson Profile
Madam Speaker, that is exactly right. The crafters of this bill like to tell us in Parliament and Canadians that they were forced to do it, that a lower court forced their hand to come up with this legislation. However, in many cases, as my hon. colleagues have pointed out and as the former minister of justice who is now an independent member has noted, this bill goes far beyond the court ruling. It would remove safeguards.
For example, the 10-day reflection period is be gone. Other important safeguards have been removed. This will have an impact, I believe. It will have a grisly impact over time as medically assisted death becomes just a push to death in some corners as people are forced to consider things they would not have otherwise considered. I worry about this. I worry about it for those Canadians who are in a vulnerable position or near their end of life or even people who have given up for a brief time. Often, we know, with health care and with better care, that people can rebound, not always, and I know there are tough cases out there, but this legislation will send us in the wrong direction on these important questions.
View René Arseneault Profile
Lib. (NB)
Madam Speaker, when I hear my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent, whom I hold in high regard, say that the government is dragging its feet, everyone will remember the Carter case.
Everyone will recall that the Supreme Court of Canada had at the time unanimously ordered the Harper government to introduce the legislation that would become Bill C-14. For 10 months, the Conservative government dragged its feet to such an extent that when our Liberal government came to power in 2015, we had only two months to introduce that bill. We had to ask for an extension, which was unprecedented.
My colleague says that we are going too fast. It is always the same doublespeak: we are either dragging our feet or we are going too fast.
In fact, Bill C-7 is a logical continuation of Bill C-14. My colleague sat with me at the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying that was behind Bill C-14. Does he agree that we failed to hold all the consultations necessary to comply with the Carter decision from the outset?
View René Arseneault Profile
Lib. (NB)
Madam Speaker, I have listened with great interest to the debate on Bill C-7, having myself been a member of the joint committee behind Bill C-14.
I heard my colleague say that he has the utmost respect for the Supreme Court of Canada. I would remind him that we cannot talk about Bill C-7 without first talking about Bill C-14, since Bill C-7 is the logical and natural continuation of Bill C-14. On top of that, the Supreme Court of Canada, in which my colleague has great confidence, issued a unanimous ruling in Carter.
Is it not entirely reasonable to keep to the Carter decision, for example, since the Truchon decision addresses in some ways the gaps in Bill C-14, to accept that Bill C-7 finally closes the loop of the Carter case and Bill C-14?
View Richard Bragdon Profile
View Richard Bragdon Profile
2020-12-08 16:40 [p.3171]
Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to rise in the House again this afternoon and speak to a bill that I believe deserves long and serious consideration. The ramifications of this bill will last a very long time, beyond any one Parliament or group of parliamentarians. Hence, it would be behoove this Parliament to make sure that we spend adequate time reflecting on this bill and making sure we get it right. As I have said before, and I believe it bears repeating, especially as we debate this bill, the character of a nation is reflected in how it treats its most vulnerable citizens.
There is an ancient writing from the Book of Psalms that many members would be familiar with. It has been utilized all over the world and has been heard for centuries and generations. Psalm 23 simply states, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for [you are] with me”.
In one of my previous roles, as a minister, I had the privilege of walking with individuals and families as they traversed that valley of the shadow of death. I have both witnessed and experienced personally what it means to be affected by the passing of a loved one, as I am sure many, if not all, in this chamber have as well.
This bill brings with it great responsibility. It literally deals with matters pertaining to life and death, and decisions of absolute and complete finality. I believe it would behoove this House to take adequate time to reflect upon the powerful testimonies we have heard at committee. Testimonies such as Mr. Roger Foley's, which shares his story of being denied the health services he requested and being pressured, instead, to pursue a medically assisted death. He is now fighting for others to not be put in the same situation he was, and he supports our amendments to the bill.
Krista Carr also gave testimony at committee. She is from Inclusion Canada and works with persons with disabilities. She stated at committee that the worst fears of those living with disabilities are being realized by BillC-7. The government's own Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion has stated that MAID should not be brought up by doctors to the disabled.
Indigenous leaders, including the former attorney general and minister of justice for Canada, have also raised serious concerns over this bill and its inadequate safeguards. Medical practitioners have raised concerns pertaining to conscience rights as they pertains to medical assistance in dying.
In light of all these concerns that have been brought to the table, and all of these powerful testimonies that we have been able to hear, we can see that Canadians from across the country are raising the alarm bells and encouraging us parliamentarians to get this right because of the finality that this decision entails.
What would be wrong for us to pause and adequately reflect about such serious matters, and take the time to ensure that adequate safeguards are built in so that the concerns of the most vulnerable people among us are adequately addressed? No one could deny that those concerns have not been expressed with fervency and urgency. At this point, we as parliamentarians should take the time to reflect and ask, what steps are we taking to make sure those concerns are being addressed in this legislation?
In my time as a pastor, I got to know a lady who was suffering greatly with a disease that had caused her to become incapacitated, in many ways. She could not walk. She could not even lift her arms to feed herself as the disease progressed. Her health was deteriorating. Her emotional stability was already ravaged by having gone through the loss of her husband overseas.
I remember visiting her in the hospital and at that time watching as her mother had to feed her with a spoon. It was almost a pablum-based type of nourishment because she was slowly losing her ability to chew food. Her circumstances were overwhelming. While visiting and being in the hospital with her and her mom at this time, we could not leave without being affected by what we saw.
I must say that our local, faith and church communities responded and did everything they could to provide encouragement, visits and make sure adequate food and support was provided where possible. She had been through so much she even had a hard time expressing everything she was going through. I remember one day when it did not appear she had all that long to be with us, I went to visit her in the hospital and witnessed her taking the nourishment from her mom. I remember leaving the hospital room shaken and wishing there was a better way for this lady.
I am glad to report to members that she had an amazing turnaround. Her story did not end where we thought it was going to end. Though her pathway up to that point had been marked with a lot of suffering, discomfort and terrible loss, I am glad to say that over 12 years later this woman has fully recovered, is married again, enjoying life and doing well.
One would ask what that has to do with what we are talking about. It has a whole lot to do with it. I believe there are many other Canadians who have walked through that valley of the shadow of death who wondered if their life was still worth living and if they could make it to the other side. Because of the supports, care and love from the friends, family and community members who stood by them in that most difficult of circumstances, they were able to get through that valley and get to the other side.
How many other Canadians in terrible circumstances at the moment, who are feeling overwhelmed by what they are facing, would benefit from having people walk with them through that valley? It may be all they need to get to the other side. It may not be the case for everyone, but I know it was for that lady. I am so glad it was the case for her. It made all the difference in the world to know that others kept believing when she had lost the ability to believe herself. Now, after getting to the other side, she serves as an inspiration for many others.
I want to conclude with this. Though the valley of the shadow of death casts a very long and dark shadow for those going through it and for their families, as a member here who has lost a loved one, I can attest that we have an obligation as parliamentarians to pause and ensure that every safeguard is in place, so that when people are walking through that valley, they do not make a decision while still in the darkness, when they are near the end of that valley.
The last part of the writing I shared earlier is “for [you are] with me”. I think the questions every parliamentarian needs to ask themselves are these: Are we going to be there for all Canadians who are in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death? Are we going to be with them by ensuring every safeguard is in place and the supports necessary to carry on are amply supplied?
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