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Results: 1 - 15 of 218
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-03-11 16:32 [p.4926]
Madam Speaker, I can appreciate the gravity of the debate that has been taking place on this very important piece of legislation. It is nothing new to members, no matter what side of the aisle they are on. Those who have been around for the last four or five years have literally seen hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of debate and discussion when we factor in what has taken place in the Senate and its committees, the hours of debate in second reading and third reading, the committee hearings and the special committee hearings.
An amazing amount of consultation has taken place, in particular, with the current minister responsible for the legislation. I know the parliamentary secretary to this particular ministry has done a phenomenal job in terms of reaching out and explaining the many complicated aspects of this legislation, and comparing it with what had taken place previously.
The issue of medical assistance in dying has been on the floor of the House and in our communities for years. We are in this position now because of a specific superior court ruling from the province of Quebec. I think the deadline is now the end of the month. This is the second or third, and final, extension, as has been made very clear. I believe that we need to have legislation dealing with medical assistance in dying and that it needs to comply with our courts. I very much support the rule of law in our democratic system.
I understand there are extremes on either side of the issue. There are those who, for personal and passionate reasons, believe that we should not have the legislation and those who, for personal and passionate reasons, believe that we have to have the legislation. I have chosen the side of supporting the legislation. I made that determination for a number of reasons. I respect the debates that have taken place over the years. I have seen tears on the floor of the House of Commons as MPs plead their position on MAID, at times with a great deal of passion. It is not easy for many, if not all, members of Parliament to ultimately make that determination.
We have heard from our constituents by email, by Canada Post, by telephone and by public meeting. Many of our constituents are following this issue and want us to make a decision from their viewpoint. What I have often found when speaking to constituents is that they understand why we are in the position we are in today. Some would ultimately not want to see this legislation pass, period. They are prepared to use whatever mechanisms they can. I am referring, in particular, to members of the official opposition. They will take whatever actions they can to prevent the passage of this legislation.
When asking a question of the Minister of Justice earlier, I indicated I had listened to many hours of debate on this issue, and I had posed questions to other members.
Let it be put on the record clearly that I believe there are members within the Conservative caucus who do not want this legislation to pass, period. End of story. As a whole, the Conservative Party has taken the position that it wants to continue debate and has somehow drawn the conclusion that it is inappropriate for the government to move closure. I want to highlight two aspects of that, because I think it is very misleading for the Conservatives to try to give the impression in any way that the Government of Canada has not been listening to Canadians, or is trying to ram through legislation.
First, we are in a minority government. We could not be doing this without the support of a majority of the members sitting in the House of Commons. That means that many opposition members are supporting the need to allow this legislation to come to a vote. I suspect, when it does come to a vote, that some of the Conservatives who voted against allowing it to come to a vote will vote in favour of the legislation, so the Conservatives are using the rules to try to prevent that. It is important to recognize that it is not just the government saying the official opposition is being irresponsible with respect to this legislation.
Second, the Conservatives are saying they want more debate and that is what this is all about. They do not want the government to bring in closure. That is just not true. That is not the case. I do not believe that for a moment. Those who are following the debate need to understand and appreciate that the Conservative Party of Canada was offered not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions the opportunity to continue to debate this issue for hours on the floor of the House of Commons. The Conservatives said no to every opportunity they were provided for additional debate. That clearly demonstrates that the Conservative Party is not interested in having more debate time; rather, it wants to filibuster this legislation. In one sense, the Conservatives would be very happy if we debated this bill every day. If we accommodated their so-called desire, they would criticize us for not having more debate on other government bills.
There is a finite amount of time on the floor of the House of Commons. In my opinion, the Conservative Party continues to abuse the opportunity to allow for healthy debate. With Bill C-7, we are talking about life and death. There are examples I could give that further show what I believe has been a very destructive attitude by the Conservative Party of Canada when it comes to the proceedings in the House.
If it were not for shaming the Conservative Party of Canada, some of the legislation and other things that have taken place in the last 24 hours would not have occurred. If Canadians understood the tactics the Conservative Party is using, I believe they would be outraged.
Today is about life or death and Bill C-7. On other occasions, and I would cite Bill C-14 as an excellent example, there were hours and days of debate. I suspect there were probably more days of debate on Bill C-14 than there were on a budget bill, and more speakers than on a budget bill. Conservatives wanted to talk it out. I believe we finally got it through because they were shamed into doing so.
Bill C-7, as I indicated at the beginning, concerns a complex and deeply personal issue. It is about reducing suffering, among other things. In previous debates on this issue, I have shared with the House my own experiences of the passing of my father at Riverview and of my grandmother in palliative care at St. Boniface Hospital.
In these debates, there has been a great deal of discussion about what else we could do. For example, the importance of hospice care and the issues of long-term care, recognizing the federal government has a role to play in those areas—
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Speaker, we are debating a particular amendment that would allow facilitated suicide through the medical system for people struggling with depression and other forms of mental illness, and the member speaking did not address that whatsoever in his remarks.
The government is framing its approach to this issue as some kind of open-ended consultation, but it is not an open-ended consultation. If the amendment passes that government members want to concur with from the Senate, then the existing provisions on facilitated medical suicide for those struggling with mental health challenges will expire in two years regardless of whether the House has legislated it.
The House is welcome to study this issue, but why is the government not supporting our amendment, which would ensure people with mental health challenges were not automatically falling off a proverbial legislative cliff in two years? Why not support our amendment to these Senate amendments so the issue can be studied and legislated on in a reasonable time frame without the guillotine coming down?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-03-11 16:46 [p.4928]
Madam Speaker, as I indicated, I have listened to many, many hours of debate on the specific amendment the member is making reference to, as well as the wider aspects of the legislation. I can recall some members, even within the Conservative Party, talking about the importance of wording and the messaging sent out.
It is irresponsible for any member to say the government is trying to facilitate suicide. That is not an appropriate thing to be tying to the legislation, and I think many of my colleagues would suggest it is very insensitive. This is a very complex and deeply personal issue. I do not think a generalization of that nature does anything to contribute to a healthy debate on the matter at hand.
View Luc Thériault Profile
View Luc Thériault Profile
2021-03-11 16:48 [p.4928]
Madam Speaker, our Conservative colleagues do not seem to share our view that the role of the state in an issue as personal as someone's death is not to decide for Canadians what is best for them, but to preserve those conditions which allow them to exercise their freedom of choice and make a free and informed decision.
The Conservatives are very concerned about the protection of people with disabilities and about the state of palliative care. The government's motion provides that a committee will study precisely the points they are concerned about.
Can my colleague tell me why the Conservatives refuse to come to the table, responsibly and in good faith, to rationally discuss the points that matter most to them in a process that could result in a broad consensus?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-03-11 16:49 [p.4928]
Madam Speaker, if I may, I would just acknowledge and recognize my colleague, and thank him for supporting the need to seek closure, as his party has recognized that we do have a Superior Court of Quebec decision with a deadline. It is important for us to deal with this.
To answer the member's question a little more directly, there is a certain element within the Conservative Party, as I tried to point out, that has no intention, if it could, of ever allowing this legislation see the light of day. I believe that there are some Conservatives who want to see this legislation. Now the issue has been kicked off to the House leadership team and is being manipulated to a certain degree as a tool. That is most unfortunate and one of the reasons it was necessary for us to bring in closure.
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 Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-03-11 16:51 [p.4928]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the question. I suspect that if we were to review the last 12 months, we would see that tens of thousands of Canadians have been engaged and that a wide range of things both in and outside the legislation were covered. There have been health experts and other stakeholders who have come before the House of Commons and the Senate. I believe we will continue to have opportunities in the future to look at ways to improve the legislation.
However, the current legislation, as it is with the amendments, will in fact not only meet the Superior Court's decision, but also be closer to Canadian societal mores.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2021-03-11 16:52 [p.4928]
Madam Speaker, with respect to the last comment, the consultations included 300,000 Canadians reaching out online, and many meetings conducted around the country by the three ministers, me, and two other parliamentary secretaries, where we heard from stakeholders, including persons with disabilities.
I want to touch on the parliamentary secretary's experience in the House and ask him how he interprets what I see as a bit of double standard. We have had the Conservative justice critic state in the Telegraph-Journal in New Brunswick that we need to have extended hours for debate. Yet, to the point made by the member from the Green Party, when the proposition was put to the Conservatives on three occasions for extending debate on these very Senate amendments, it was turned down.
How does the parliamentary secretary reconcile those two positions?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-03-11 16:52 [p.4928]
Madam Speaker, it is really important for anyone who is following the debate to recognize exactly what the Conservative Party has done here.
On the one hand, the Conservatives are saying that they want to have more debate. On the other hand, they are not allowing that additional debate. It makes no sense at all, unless they are using it as a destructive tool in the House against the legislative agenda of the government. To me, that is a fairly pathetic thing to be doing on such important legislation, using this as a tool to frustrate the government.
The Conservatives have been offered the opportunity for additional debate, and on three separate occasions they have said no on the floor of the House of Commons.
View Colin Carrie Profile
View Colin Carrie Profile
2021-03-11 16:54 [p.4928]
Madam Speaker, I would like to address what the parliamentary secretary just said, because what has actually happened here is that the Senate has made significant amendments to this bill. It is a completely different bill from what was sent to it. The proper way of looking at it would be to have a committee before this bill is made into law. They want to reverse it.
What is really important for people with mental illness is that they be heard. The minister has said that he has a consensus. I have a letter from 129 organizations that support people with disabilities in the community. If the minister has a consensus, can he name one organization for people with disabilities that supports his position? I just want one.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-03-11 16:55 [p.4929]
Madam Speaker, it is important that we recognize the motivation of the Conservative Party. We saw their motivation back in December when they started the whole process of delay, and yes, it ultimately did pass and did go to the Senate. It has come back. Now the Conservatives see another opportunity.
In the minds of some Conservatives, I think they are genuine, but the Conservative House leadership team providing leadership on this, I think, is using it as a manipulative tool to frustrate the government's legislative agenda in the House. That is inexcusable.
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 Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2021-03-11 17:06 [p.4930]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his contributions. To begin, I do not think we are going to apologize for not only responding to Truchon, but also expanding on the regime to address the Audrey Parker amendment, which is critical for Atlantic Canadians and all Canadians.
Second, we did hear, and the member opposite knows this, at committee from Dr. Gupta, Dr. Gaind and other people on the mental illness issue.
Third, I take strong opposition to the member saying, which I wrote down, “the government deems the work of Parliament is a nuisance”. That is absolutely illogical when we are entertaining the acceptance of three amendments by the Senate, a chamber of Parliament, showing that the work of Parliament is not only venerated, it is validated.
I would like to point out to the member opposite the logical inconsistency of his own statements to the Telegraph-Journal in his own province when he said that we need to sit evenings and weekends to deal with the very important amendments that have been suggested, but then his party did an about-face in rejecting three different opportunities to do just that.
Could the member please respond?
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.
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