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Results: 1 - 15 of 17
View Manon Perreault Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Manon Perreault Profile
2015-05-05 15:29
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you for having me here as a witness, ladies and gentlemen. I must say that I am very honoured to present my bill to you. It is called An Act to establish National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day. I am happy to be back with you.
The bill has gone through its previous steps and has progressed expeditiously to this point. It is the result of collaborative work and I fondly hope that it will mark a turning point in the lives of those living with a spinal cord injury. I must also highlight the support of the partners who have supported us throughout this initiative and assisted us in one way or another as the bill has come to fruition. I am thinking about the Rick Hansen Institute, which provided us with data, Bobby White, the executive director of Spinal Cord Injury Canada, and Walter Zelaya, of MEMO-Qc. That acronym stands for “moelle épinière et motricité Québec” (spinal cord and motor skills Quebec), the full name of the organization that lent its support without the slightest reservation.
With this bill, we wish to designate the third Friday in September as Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day. After much discussion, we have come to the conclusion that this awareness day could prove very useful for employers and those involved in various areas, as well as for the general public.
There will most certainly be positive effects for those living with major spinal cord injuries. Colleagues, I am fully confident that I can prove to you that, with no associated costs, this bill, when in effect, can have a significant and genuine effect on those with spinal cord injuries and can demonstrate their interests and abilities in a much clearer way and on a greater scale.
This bill would designate the third Friday in September as Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day. Why did we choose the third Friday in September? We considered a number of factors, but two realities became clear. The accidents that happen during the summer mean that the resource and assistance centres are full at that time and winter injuries from skiing or snowmobiling also cause many spinal cord injuries.
We also created a symbol. The third Friday in September is symbolic because a person with a recent spinal cord injury faces many dark days ahead, as that fall season also does. In the months that follow—since care and rehabilitation can last up to six months—the patient will have to go through a time as dark as a harsh and difficult winter.
The bill is simple and effective, and it costs nothing. It provides an additional tool for those assisting spinal cord injury patients and for the organizations working in prevention and public awareness. It also recognizes the harsh reality just outside the door of the rehabilitation centre. You have to understand that, in a rehabilitation centre, everything is beautifully set up and fully accessible. The people there can show us how to manage. But when we get home, reality hits us like a slap in the face.
That is exactly when spinal cord injury patients first feel that those around them really are looking at them differently, that each and every outing will require considerable effort and that their new limitations mean that they have to dig to the very depths of themselves as they try to improve their lives each day and start living anywhere close to the way they did previously. They have to have the courage to forgo some activities or to summon the perseverance they need to match their activities to their new reality.
If I may digress a little, I had a riding accident.
I often tell people that I rode horses, but I do not remember when I started to do so. Getting back on a horse took a huge amount of effort. As a paraplegic, I can no longer jump or compete, of course. I often tell cyclists that it is like getting back on a little bike with training wheels or on a kid’s scooter. For me, it is much the same thing.
We have to make a major decision. The bill has three parts. Naturally, raising awareness among our fellow Canadians is the first objective. We want spinal cord patients to feel more encouraged to take an active part in society without any prejudice towards them. If possible, they should be encouraged to develop a talent and, even better, to use it for the benefit of others. In my view, that should become one of the fundamentals of human activity. This day will allow spinal cord patients to communicate with each other, to gather information about the possibilities open to them, and to listen to people with experiences to share.
There are a lot of new technologies that not everyone is automatically aware of. Often, it is just by talking to people living with a spinal cord injury every day that we find out about new ways of adapting vehicles or new crutches. This day would also make spinal cord patients more aware of things like that.
We must also recognize the determination of these people in building a new life for themselves. For everyone with a spinal cord injury, one of the great successes is to realize that life will not be without hindrances or costs. The higher the lesion in the spinal column, the more severe the physiological consequences and the earlier aging makes itself felt. Even those whose work requires little effort experience difficulties, because of travel, transfers, personal care, housework, ice, clearing snow off the car in the winter, and so on.
A man once told me that each transfer he does was considered the equivalent of about seven push-ups. Before getting to Parliament each morning, I do about 20 transfers. We do a lot of transfers. You have to understand that our shoulders are not intended to substitute for our hips. That is why spinal cord patients will often have major shoulder problems at 45 or 50 years of age. That was just a digression.
We also want to recognize the devotion of those who help spinal cord patients on a daily basis and who let them resume an almost normal life. It goes a long way in reducing the anxiety, the difficulties of all kinds and, above all, the physical exhaustion. Most importantly, in my opinion, it gently requires them to be disciplined. Let me explain. It forces them to not give in to the little voice saying that they do not have the inclination, the energy or the need to get up in the morning. Believe me, sometimes, that little voice is really very persistent and having someone to count on at moments like that is a true blessing.
We do not need to have a spinal cord injury to hear the little voice in the morning that tells us that we are still tired and we do not want to get up. But I confess that, since I have been in a wheelchair, it happens more often than my fair share. I sometimes need a little prod in the back to get through an entire day.
I do not want to disregard the tenacity of the scientists who are improving the lives of thousands of spinal cord patients with their research. In recent years, there have been major advances in neurosciences such as in sensorimotor cortex mapping. Neurosciences deal with the nervous system and everything involved with it. The cortex is the outer grey matter of our cerebral hemispheres and the sensorimotor areas are involved in everyday sensation and movement.
I did not invent that, of course; it comes from—
View Manon Perreault Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Manon Perreault Profile
2015-05-05 15:39
Okay.
The trauma program at Montreal's Sacré-Coeur hospital describes the spinal cord as being made up of tissue and nerve cells; it looks like a cable about as thick as a little finger. It starts at the base of the brain and passes inside each vertebra to end between the first and second lumbar vertebrae. Basically, the spinal cord is a communication pathway between the brain and the body.
Adapting to a spinal cord injury is hard and long. It takes a lot of personal effort, both from patients and those close to them. There is great upheaval often accompanied by a number of negative emotions such as fear, anxiety and anger. There are long hours of reflection, strewn with highs and lows. But like everything, there are also positive aspects. New patients are surrounded by—
View Manon Perreault Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Manon Perreault Profile
2015-05-05 15:40
My time is up?
View Manon Perreault Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Manon Perreault Profile
2015-05-05 15:40
Okay.
View Maria Mourani Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Maria Mourani Profile
2014-07-15 9:55
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I thank the committee for allowing me to present amendments and to speak to them.
I didn't present a lot, since I chose to focus on the aspects that I felt could help this bill pass the constitutional test.
I think it's very important for us to define prostitution in the bill, because if we don't, the justice system will use the common definition of prostitution, which is to provide sexual services for payment. However, this bill also addresses the purchasing of prostitution or sexual services.
I think it's very important that we show the Supreme Court and the justice system that the legislator's intention is to criminalize the purchase of sexual services. With a clear definition, we'll send a message to the justice system to consider that definition and not to consider the common definition found in dictionaries.
View Maria Mourani Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Maria Mourani Profile
2014-07-15 9:57
I really wanted to provide a definition for “prostitution”. I didn't specify the notion of “sexual services” because I thought that should be left to jurisprudence. There is already quite a bit of jurisprudence on this matter. There have been a number of cases dealing with prostitution.
My definition is rather broad. I would include almost everything, whether or not it refers to full sex, whether it happens in strip clubs or somewhere else. My definition could be quite broad. In this specific case, I chose not to focus on this issue and to give the justice system as much latitude as possible and to leave room for jurisprudence. That's why I didn't want to do that.
However, I did want to give an overall definition of prostitution. I wanted to tell the justice system directly that, even if the dictionary defines prostitution as providing sexual services for payment, the legislator wants the justice system to take into account another participant—the john—who is purchasing the service. The john is part of the system and helps keep it going. That's why I wanted to include this.
If we don't, judges, prosecutors and lawyers will have all kinds of leeway to use the common definition of prostitution, which is what happens now. What's different about this bill is that it introduces a new player in this game in a more direct manner. Johns were covered a bit by the former law. However, this bill is clear and there are sentences associated with that crime.
I think it's important to have that definition, to ensure that the justice system is even more clear about the intent.
View Maria Mourani Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Maria Mourani Profile
2014-07-15 12:51
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The purpose of this amendment is quite simple. When we look at the bill in its current form, we see that some exceptions are being made when prostitutes are working for themselves. They are then allowed to have a driver or a body guard, for example. These people would not be prosecuted because they are indirectly living off the avails of prostitution.
I agree up to that point.
However, the problem is that the same thing is being done with regard to child prostitution. Yet, the prostitution of children and adolescents can be nothing other than sexual exploitation. No exceptions can be made for individuals who act as body guards, drivers or in any other capacity related to child prostitution.
Without exception, every case of child prostitution constitutes exploitation and the government's goal is to protect children and adolescents who are being sexually exploited. We cannot imagine that children would prostitute themselves nor can we accept it because the government is responsible for protecting children and youth. The government can therefore not make exceptions for anyone connected with this type of prostitution because those individuals have a duty to speak out against such prostitution, not make a living from it.
There is therefore a lack of consistency between the need to protect children from prostitution and exploitation and making exceptions for those who would live off the avails of prostitution.
Thank you.
View Maria Mourani Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Maria Mourani Profile
2014-07-15 13:48
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I must admit that I am very surprised. I thought the Minister of Justice was very clear. The government's long-term goal was to abolish prostitution. The government also wanted to prohibit the purchase of sexual services, pimping, and so on. The whole point of my amendments is to clarify the government's true intention for its bill.
Since the members are rejecting my amendments, I am now sure that this bill will be struck down by the Supreme Court. I am very sure of that and I will tell you why.
In its Bedford decision, the Supreme Court worked from the premise that prostitution is legal in Canada. This means that, as legislators, we don't have the right to prohibit and criminalize the practice of a legal activity because that practice endangers those involved in it.
However, the Supreme Court never forbade us, as legislators, to change the framework of that activity. What does “change the framework” mean? It means to clearly establish that prostitution is illegal in Canada—that the government prohibits and denounces the practice of prostitution. Starting from that premise, we can criminalize the purchase of sexual services, pimping and all practices surrounding prostitution.
I am now convinced that this bill will be challenged—that much is obvious—and that it will not pass the test of the Supreme Court because you took up the same principle. You did not prohibit prostitution, but you did criminalize related practices. So we are going back to the beginning, and that's too bad because criminalizing the purchase of sexual services was a very good step. I'm sure that we will be having this same discussion here, in this House of Commons, in a few years.
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
Mr. Chair, my two amendments to Bill C-23 I think logically have to be considered together. IND-2 is on page 86 of the package and IND-1 is on page 1.
Simply, what I am attempting to do is, based on the evidence provided to this committee by Mr. Casey regarding the unlevel playing field between independent candidates and those associated with political parties, it proposes to change the amendment of what is a candidate by adding a new candidate definition in proposed subsection 67(7), which would be my second amendment on page 86. It would allow an individual not affiliated with a political party to apply outside of a writ period directly to the Chief Electoral Officer with the same requisite documents that a candidate would apply during a writ period, that is, $1,000, 100 nominators, and an official agent, and therefore could be declared a candidate outside of a writ period by a Chief Electoral Officer, thereby allowing all the rights and privileges of a candidate, including raising money and issuing tax receipts.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
No, the amendments have to be read together. Combined they would, if passed, level the playing field between independent candidates and those related to political parties.
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
Currently under the Canada Elections Act only candidates, political parties, or electoral district associations can raise money outside of a writ period and issue tax credit receipts. My amendments attempt to amend the definition of a candidate to allow an individual who's not affiliated with an official party to apply outside of a writ period, or practically before an election writ is filed, and become a candidate, provided he complies with all the requirements that a candidate would have to comply with during a writ period and be declared a candidate directly by the Chief Electoral Officer, therefore assuming all the rights and privileges, including raising money and issuing tax receipts.
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to the committee for that indulgence.
Mr. Casey, first let me say how much I appreciate your advocacy on behalf of independent candidates. I listened with interest about the two sets of rules between party-affiliated candidates and independents, and I couldn't agree more.
In 2006, you were elected as a Conservative candidate in Amherst, Nova Scotia, and in 2008 you were re-elected as an independent. It’s conceivable, based on these differential rules, that the Conservative candidate who campaigned against you in 2008 was able to rely on a surplus you might have left him following the 2006 election.
Is that fair to say?
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
You can appreciate that in 2015 I face the same dilemma where there'll be a Conservative candidate who will be running to unseat me with money that I raised in 2011.
Mr. Bill Casey: I'm familiar with that.
Mr. Brent Rathgeber: Based on your inquiries or your research, have you been able to determine any rational explanation for why Elections Canada and the current legislation prohibits non-affiliated candidates from raising money and/or issuing receipts between writ periods?
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
You may be aware that in 2003 the Supreme Court ruled that the section 3 charter-protected right to vote extends to more than just the right to cast a ballot. The court indicated that a voter must have an opportunity to balance various ideas in his or her own mind before meaningfully participating in an election process.
In your mind—and I realize you're not a lawyer, Mr. Casey—does the prohibition and the clear handicapping of independent candidates promote fair elections? Or in your non-lawyer view, would that be a violation of the right to meaningful participation in an election?
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Casey. I couldn't have said it better myself.
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