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View David Anderson Profile
Madam Speaker, I have a number of petitions on two subjects.
The first consists of eight petitions, including an electronic petition, with almost 4,000 signatures. The petitioners call on the government to ensure that conscience rights of medical personnel are protected by passing Bill C-418.
View David Anderson Profile
Madam Speaker, the second petition references that on April 7, 2017, Arianna Goberdhan and her unborn child Assara were murdered in a brutal act of domestic violence. At the time of the murder, she was nine months pregnant with her soon-to-be-born daughter. Assara and other preborn children in similar circumstances deserve to be recognized as victims of a crime and should be entitled to justice and legal recourse. Therefore, petitioners call upon the House of Commons to pass legislation that recognizes that when an assailant in the commission of a crime attacks a pregnant woman and injures or kills her preborn child, the assailant may be charged with an offence on behalf of that child.
View David Anderson Profile
Madam Speaker, the government's environmental plan is all show and no go. Yesterday, we saw a climate emergency declaration that is all show and no go. That is on top of the fact that today the Liberals brought in a pipeline approval that is all show and absolutely no go. Now, we are dealing with Bill C-48, which is all show and no go. That is on top of the foundation of the Liberals' climate plan, which is a tax plan and not a climate change plan; again, it is all show and no go. Does the minister realize how much of a joke Canadians realize his environmental program actually is?
View David Anderson Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I will be getting up again in Parliament. We are coming to the end of this time and I will not be back in the fall, so I want to take a moment to recognize the staff members who spend so much of their time trying to get us ready so that we can come into the House and do our job. I want to particularly acknowledge my present staff, Anita Hindley, Anna-Marie Young, Joycelin Mosey and Tristan McLaughlin, for the work that they do.
In the House we often find ourselves at odds in terms of perspectives on issues and certainly that has been the case with the bill. Liberals have failed in so many areas in terms of justice bills. I think of Bill C-45, when they were told they were going to end up in court over their drunk driving provisions. That certainly is happening.
This bill lessens sentences for dozens of different offences in spite of what the Liberals are saying tonight. I am wondering if the member opposite could tell us why all of their conversation about justice issues is focused basically on giving criminals a break and so little of it is focused on protecting the public and victims of those crimes.
View David Anderson Profile
Mr. Speaker, I have 17 petitions to present from seven provinces, including my own province of Saskatchewan.
The petitions address the issue of Bill C-14, which prohibits compelling health care providers or institutions to provide medical assistance in dying but lacks clarity for effective enforcement.
Bill C-418 would provide that protection and make it an offence to intimidate a health care professional for the purpose of compelling him or her to take part in the provision of assisted suicide or to affect his or her employment.
The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to ensure that the conscience rights of medical personnel are protected by passing Bill C-418.
View David Anderson Profile
Mr. Speaker, I have four petitions on three subjects. The first two petitions deal with Bill C-418.
The petitioners ask Parliament to support the bill. It would amend the Criminal Code to make it an offence to intimidate a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or any other health care professional for the purpose of compelling them to take part in the provision of medical assistance in dying. It would also makes it an offence to dismiss from employment or to refuse to employ such practitioners for the reason only that they refuse to take part in that activity.
View David Anderson Profile
Mr. Speaker, the third petition calls on the Government of Canada to fully fund the RCMP in order to deal with rural crime issues.
View David Anderson Profile
Mr. Speaker, my last petition calls on Parliament to enshrine in legislation the inalienable right of farmers and other Canadians to freely save, reuse, select, exchange, condition, store and sell the seeds from their farms. It recognizes the inherent rights of farmers to freely do that.
View David Anderson Profile
Mr. Speaker, when I first put forward my name for nomination, an older friend asked me if I knew the similarity between politicians and babies' diapers. I said I did not but I bet he was going to tell me, and he said they should be changed often and for the same reason. Here we are, 19 years later, after six elections, and it is a time for a change for all of us.
I am here tonight to say thanks, first to the people of southwestern Saskatchewan, the best people in the world. Cypress Hills—Grasslands is a place where common sense still exists, where people feel both freedom and responsibility and where hard work is expected and rewarded. They have been exceptional in their incredible and unwavering support and it has been my privilege to represent Cypress Hills—Grasslands.
I have gained so many friends over the years. When one takes this job on, everything changes. Friendships, casual relationships, all of them, change. Much of the challenge for me has come from the massive size of my riding and the 10- to 12-hour one-way commute from home to Ottawa. Being gone much of the time, it was a challenge to keep up the friendships I have had in the past, but I need to thank our lifelong neighbours. Many of them have helped Sheila and me time and time again with renovations, blowing snow off the roads, feeding cats and dogs, and checking our house when we were gone. There are too many to mention, but that is just one more benefit of living in a small community.
As time went on, we made so many other friendships throughout the riding: small town leaders, grocery store owners, hockey parents, professionals, business people, fellow motorcyclists and people I met on the ferry. Yes, we do have a ferry in southwestern Saskatchewan.
It takes a while when we get here for members to settle in. The pace is crazy right from the beginning and there is not much of a training program, but over time, we cross paths with those who work here, in the cafeterias, on the bus and every time we enter a building. Over time, we become friends as we share small parts of our lives, including family issues, vacation plans and always the weather. Sometimes it amounts to more than just the Hill. I remember going motorcycling with some of the folks who work here on the Hill. I had the only Harley. It was the one that gave trouble and I was the one they gave grief to, but we went out together a few more times.
I need to especially mention Lynn, who serves us so faithfully on Wednesday morning. One of my most satisfying experiences has been the weekly prayer breakfast at 7 a.m. on Wednesday that has changed and cemented so many relationships here over the years. Lynn has served us for many years on Wednesday mornings.
I want to thank the young Conservative staff who have worked behind the scenes and made us look good. I want to thank my six elections' worth of colleagues. We have gone to war together. We have had victories and we have had losses, personal and political, and it has been my privilege to serve with them.
I would like to give a special thanks to those who have helped in the constituency and have been involved with us politically, some from the very beginning and others who joined later and put so much time and effort into helping us out. My friend Wayne Elhart showed up at our doorstep in mid-summer 2000 to encourage me to run. We chased him off, but he came back about three weeks later with my sister Wendy and her husband Wendell. We sat down together, had a conversation and began to pursue this. They were stuck with farming while I came and went, and now, 19 years later, their son Jeremy is running in the nomination in my riding to replace me.
I remember going to Swift Current for the first time to look for support and meeting with a small group. I got two things out that meeting: one person told me to go get a haircut and some decent clothes, and Alice Wall, who was the first person in Swift Current to say she would help me. She and John have been with me ever since and I thank them. Many others have been part of six campaigns and 20 years of board activities and fundraisers and all that goes with political life in a riding.
I am so grateful for my staff. Three of my four current staff members have been with me for over 10 years. They have had an incredible capacity to do the work. They addressed the issues, they gave great service to my constituents and they are known for that. It feels a bit like I am deserting them. This is where I have the most mixed emotions.
Over the years, many of them have become more than just workers. They have become friends. Many of them are here with me tonight. Victoria, Erin, Carla, Sarah, Justin, Craig and Patrick, thanks for joining us. Leanne, Naomi, Tim and Aaron are sorry that they could not be here. I hope I have not missed anyone on that list. It is fun for me to see past staff members running for nominations for our party and two of them are now candidates for 2019.
I have said our work here is often like getting a free world-class master's program; the best in the world are available to us if we are interested. We have done lots of work in our office, from Canadian Wheat Board stuff that took 12 years to get completed, to agriculture and trade work, as well as working on a motion declaring Parliament's support for religious freedom, and serving as a PS to 10 ministers, including natural resources, agriculture and foreign affairs, and then spending almost the last 10 years focused on human rights and religious freedom.
I want to thank Sheila, who is my love and my conscience. She is the one who has kept us going all these years and the one who has sacrificed more than anyone will know. We will be spending more time together.
To Amy, Andrew and Charis, Josiah and Ellis, and to Angela, who has become part of our family along with Hunter and Harley, we love them and thank them for being willing to pay the price so that I would have the privilege to do this job.
I want to thank my mother, Betty, who has prayed for me for decades.
I should mention that during my first campaign in 2000 there was a couple from Herbert, Saskatchewan, who helped me out, and at every turn, they mentioned their son-in-law, who was also running in Crowfoot, Alberta. When we came down here, the member from Crowfoot and I met. In our travel schedules of 10 hours to 12 hours one way for each of us, we both decided staying in hotels was not working very well for us and became roommates in early 2001. That must be some sort of record for Ottawa. I have to thank Darlene Sorenson, who has allowed her husband to share an apartment with me for almost 20 years. We have far outlasted much more well-publicized roommate relationships such as the one of the members for Cape Breton—Canso and Sydney—Victoria, who were elected at the same time.
Last and definitely not least, I thank God, whom I know is real. That knowing has changed every aspect of my life and is what brought me here. It is also what is taking me away. Although I do not know what the future will be, I do know that being an MP has given me a great opportunity and responsibility. It is our privilege to be a very small part of his work, and I hope and pray that I have been faithful in some way.
It is my expectation that my colleagues will form the next Government of Canada. While I know I will miss being here, I give them my support and best wishes. I will miss serving the people of Cypress Hills—Grasslands in the future. May God bless Parliament and may God bless Canada.
View David Anderson Profile
Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, before the government House leader sat down, I was going to call attention to the fact that she can discuss her issues with her caucus at any point in time. There are questions and comments that some of the rest of us would like to ask the member as well.
View David Anderson Profile
moved that Bill C-418, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Madam Speaker, the first thing I would like to do is to thank the many people across Canada who have shown up to work on this bill. It has caught on across the country. It has restored my faith in the good judgment of Canadians and, hopefully, we will see that same good sense shown in the House and we can have some restored faith here as well.
I am here today to speak to Bill C-418, which is the protection of freedom of conscience act. I need to point out again that I am surprised at the way this has caught on and caught the attention of the Canadian public. We should thank many Canadians and groups for whom this is an important issue for their work on publicizing and advancing conscience rights in Canada.
To begin to understand Bill C-418, we need to back up a bit. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms has a number of sections in it. Section 1, of course, guarantees our rights and freedoms. However, immediately following that is section 2, which declares the most fundamental rights, and that begins with freedom of conscience and religion. In 2015, the Carter decision in the Supreme Court said that although section 7 of the charter provides for the right to die, it also explicitly said that no one is required to participate in or be part of it.
We then came to Bill C-14, the government's assisted suicide bill. It is a bill that attracted much attention and controversy and laid out the groundwork for the first round of assisted suicide legislation in Canada. Whether they call it euthanasia, medically assisted dying or assisted suicide, they are all different names for the same thing. Medical practitioners were divided on the issue of participating in ending the lives of Canadians. Whether we supported Bill C-14 or not, it was clear that many within the medical community were very concerned. They did not and still do not want to participate in this activity.
When Bill C-14 was passed, it included subsection 241.2(9) which did say, “For greater certainty, nothing in this section compels an individual to provide or assist in providing medical assistance in dying.” That was not adequate because it did not lay out an offence, there was no framework for it and there was no penalty in Bill C-14 if someone violated that. It ended up being nothing more than a statement in Bill C-14.
While the Liberal talking points have repeated this, and the Liberals also claim that everyone has freedom of conscience and religion under section 2 of the charter, this is not the reality that medical personnel are facing across Canada. In spite of the fact that on the surface the charter, Carter and Bill C-14 supposedly agree, the reality is that physicians and medical personnel in this country are being pressured to participate in something with which they fundamentally disagree and there is no protection provided to them.
Conscience forms the basis of medical professionals' motivation to pursue their particular field. Doctors practise every day with the knowledge that it is their conscience that motivates them to test the limits of their knowledge and skill. Medical professionals know that patient care will suffer if they are deprived of the ability to live with integrity and to follow their consciences. They know the importance of these beliefs to them and their patients better than anyone else.
For a great many Canadian doctors, the core of their conscience prohibits their participation in taking a life. Indeed, many doctors remain devoted to the black and white of the ancient Hippocratic oath, a pledge that prohibits the administration of a poison to anyone. Through the availability of assisted suicide on demand across Canada, threats to conscience are no longer confined to the theoretical or to the rhetoric of the courtrooms. They are increasingly present in the examination room as well.
That is why I believe it is time to take action in defence of conscience rights that have stood the test of time for generations. Therefore, Bill C-418 seeks to amend the Criminal Code to do two things.
The first is to make it an offence to intimidate a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or any other health care professional for the purpose of compelling them to take part, directly or indirectly, in the provision of physician-assisted suicide.
The second provision makes it an offence to dismiss from employment or to refuse to employ a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or any other health care professional for the reason only that they refuse to take part, directly or indirectly, in the provision of physician-assisted suicide.
My bill would provide the teeth that Bill C-14 acutely lacks. The Liberals' attempt to provide protection for doctors consisted solely of a rudimentary clause, which stated, as I said earlier, that nothing compels someone to provide or assist. However, the provision lacked the teeth needed for its effective enforcement, as evidenced by the ongoing pressure that is being exerted on physicians, particularly by their regulating bodies.
I guess the question is whether these protections are really necessary, and I would say that they are. Throughout the legislative process, I have spoken to doctors who feel overt pressure to leave family medicine because of their conscientious beliefs. I have heard of palliative care doctors in Ontario who have stopped practising altogether. Nurses who feel increasingly bullied are choosing to shift their focus or retire early. I have had personal conversations with people who work in old folks' homes who explain they do not want to participate in this but are increasingly feeling pressured to do so. The pressure on these professionals exists and they are looking for relief.
What is more, regional associations such as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario have introduced regulations compelling conscientiously objecting physicians to participate by providing what they call “effective referrals” for physician-assisted suicide. A recent court decision has upheld this directive, contravening the assurances provided in Carter v. Canada and creating an even more urgent need among physicians for protection. This is in spite of the fact that in this situation in Ontario I am told that the majority of physicians support an allowance for conscientious objections, but the college has not taken that position.
As strange as it sounds, the recent court decision refers to the college's suggestion that if physicians do not like to participate then they can find other areas of medicine to take up. This is unusual, particularly in a situation where we have such a shortage of physicians and medical services. The college suggests that if they do not like participating they can take up things like sleep medicine, hair restoration, sport and exercise medicine, skin disorders, obesity medicine, aviation examinations, travel medicine or perhaps become a medical health officer.
For many of us across this country, particularly those of us in rural areas, we know there is an increasing lack of physicians in an increasingly challenged medical system. I find it passing strange that the college would be the one suggesting such a thing for its physicians. The answer does not have to be to do it, find someone else to do it or get out of medicine. Medical personnel and resources are scarce. Why would one try to force people into doing what they believe to be wrong? The example of the province of Manitoba and its conscientious objection legislation shows there does not need to be compulsion in the medical system when it comes to this issue.
My bill does not address the social acceptability of euthanasia and assisted suicide; that is not the point of it. Protecting physicians' conscience rights is not at all a physicians versus patients scenario. By protecting physicians' conscience rights, patients' rights are enhanced. Bill C-418 is about protecting the fundamental freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed to all Canadians in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Parliamentarians from all parties cannot ignore the groundswell of support this bill has received from average Canadians who believe it is time to stand up for doctors and health care providers who are not willing to leave their core ethics behind when they are at a patient's bedside. This is not theoretical. I have had photos sent to me of the revolving TV screens that we see in hospital wards, with pictures of what seems to be a physician's hand gently resting on the arm of a senior citizen, touting assisted suicide as a medical service whereby physicians or nurse practitioners help patients fulfill their wish to end their suffering and a phone number is provided. Interestingly, it makes no mention of palliative care or other ways to reduce pain and suffering. It makes no mention of access to counselling.
With government, the courts and health care facilities promoting access as a right, should not those who object be allowed to have that fundamental freedom of conscience that is so important?
I want to close with a quote from “The Imperative of Conscience Rights” by the CRFI. They write:
The outcomes of the current controversies that engage freedom of conscience will not only signal the extent to which Canadians can conscientiously participate in public life—in other words, whether they can live in alignment with who they are and what they stand for in matters of morality. These outcomes will also speak volumes about who we are and what we stand for—as a society. Suppressing beliefs with which we disagree or that we find offensive in the name of tolerance and liberalism is a contradiction in terms. The fact that the state has deemed something legal does not remove a person’s freedom to express her moral opposition to it. This freedom is not absolute, but its roots—integrity, identity, and dignity—are necessary for human flourishing. These roots must therefore be top of mind whenever limitations on freedom of conscience are proposed. We believe that governments should only limit this human right if there is a compelling justification.
View David Anderson Profile
Madam Speaker, I can tell my colleague opposite that the OMA, as far as I know, has come out in favour of protecting the conscience rights for the doctors who are part of its association, so the college and the OMA are not on the same page on this one.
The college in Ontario has brought in a much stricter set of guidelines, if we want to call it that, than virtually anywhere else across Canada. Manitoba has brought in a conscientious objection law, which would allow physicians to opt out of this and make it much simpler for them to do that. In Ontario, the requirement is that they “must effectively refer”, which are the words that are used. Many people feel that they just do not want to participate at that level and in this day and age of electronics, there are many other ways that people can access the information. There are a number of other suggestions out there about how that might be done.
The point of this bill is, first of all, to give the conscience protection that people need if they want to be able to continue to do their work.
View David Anderson Profile
Madam Speaker, I actually believe that we can. It has been done in other places across the country, but there are numerous ways that people can come to information about assisted suicide or medical assistance in dying. There are certainly a number of options open as to how they might access that information. The question is whether physicians are obligated to refer that, to provide that, or if they can opt out and give them another way to find that information. We believe that is very possible.
View David Anderson Profile
Madam Speaker, the interest in this bill has been surprising to me. There are some bills that really catch people's imaginations across the country. There are other ones that we really have to work hard to try to get people to pay attention to. It has been surprising to me how people have taken this on. There is an onslaught of petitions coming into my office every day and I am passing them on to my colleagues as well so that they can understand the interest that people in their ridings have in this issue.
People generally want to be fair to other people and allow them to have the capacity to operate off of the things they believe in. Every single one of us has a set of beliefs. We have a right to operate under our set of beliefs as long as we are not destroying somebody else's life or are in other people's faces. In this situation, we should be giving medical professionals, who operate every day from a sense of conscience in what they do, the opportunity to do that.
View David Anderson Profile
Madam Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, there are a number of options for people to find the information they need. There are many doctors and facilities that will provide this service if they want it, but there are other doctors and medical personnel who do not feel that assisting in someone's premature death is a part of the mandate of what they have been called to as physicians or medical personnel.
There are enough choices out there that people can have and we can allow those who disagree with this procedure to have their freedom of conscience and be able to live their professional lives in that fashion.
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