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Results: 1 - 15 of 158
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I have been contacted by numerous municipalities in my riding regarding their applications to the investing in Canada infrastructure program. Unfortunately, many of them have been receiving the cold shoulder from the federal government and have not heard back on the status of their applications, as they watch other projects across this country being announced. As the minister knows, time is running out for municipalities to start construction.
When will the municipalities in my riding of Elgin-Middlesex-London be able to announce and begin construction on these projects?
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, last night I stood among 10,000 Canadians who came together to grieve, commemorate and address the issues of Islamophobia. Following the horrific attack on a London family this past Sunday, leaders from all levels of government, representing all political parties, came together to honour the Afzaal family: Salman, Madiha, Yumna and Talat. Nine-year-old Fayez remains in the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Together we listened to leaders of the Muslim community. Together we witnessed the number of people impacted by this.
We must end racism. We must end hate. There needs to be hope, and that begins with all of us working together. As a parliamentarian, and after working in federal politics for many years, I have seen an increase of intolerance, and I have seen an increase in the fear. I pledge to work with leaders in our community and in this country to build a stronger, more inclusive society. We should feel proud to be Canadians, but that will come with patience and commitment. It takes more than words.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I move:
That the prima facie contempt, concerning the misconduct of the Member for Pontiac committed in the presence of the House, be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
I will be sharing my time with the member for Banff—Airdrie.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I want to read from Standing Order 10, “Order and decorum. No appeal”, which states:
The Speaker shall preserve order and decorum, and shall decide questions of order. In deciding a point of order or practice, the Speaker shall state the Standing Order or other authority applicable to the case. No debate shall be permitted on any such decision, and no such decision shall be subject to an appeal to the House.
I just wanted to bring that forward as I believe there is a lot of discussion here today and we would really like to understand why this will be going forward.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, on a point of order, we will be debating a motion that we do not believe is admissible in the first place. Those are some of the concerns as we are moving forward here.
If we could please have that precedent put forward so that we have an actual authority to move forward, that would be wonderful. I would really like to have the precedent before—
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, and to all my Conservatives colleagues, the reason we are seeing this lack of decorum today is that we are outraged. We recognize that they are taking the right of Canadians' free speech away in this bill and this is exactly what we are seeing here. They have chosen to move—
Mr. Mark Gerretsen: Point of order.
Mrs. Karen Vecchio: Excuse me. I appreciate that the member for Kingston and the Islands has lots to say and he has spent all of his time here for the last number of weeks. I have not been able to hear my own colleagues because I have heard his voice over these things.
I recognize this is the issue. We went immediately into the 30 minutes of debate before we even had the opportunity to discuss our points of order. This lack of decorum is because the freedom of speech right here, especially what we are seeing in the sections of these amendments, is being quashed and we will continue to fight.
I request, Madam Speaker, that you please deal with the points of order so that we can have decorum in this place. I do believe that it is the right of Canadians.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I recognize that this is a very difficult topic, so I would ask that we actually move to statements of the day, go to question period, and then reconvene to this discussion.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I respect where the gentleman is coming from, but the fact is that it is extraordinarily difficult for one person to measure how many people may be in another room due to hearing voices. I am not going to indicate how many people are in this room, but I can tell members that Liberal voices are very loud in this House of Commons regardless of how many are present.
An hon. member: Thank you. I am doing my best.
Mrs. Karen Vecchio: Madam Speaker, I would ask if the member could, just for one moment, be quiet.
As we know, today has been a very difficult day. We have been working hard for the dignity of democracy and for the free speech of all Canadians. The the member is now questioning who we have in the lobby. Recognizing that we do need to have support staff, we are always going to have somebody sitting at the desk in the lobby, which is the appropriate thing to do. We also have a member from the House leader's office who is also assisting me. However, for recognizing that there must be many people there, the member is way off course. All he is trying to do is say that Conservatives do not care about health. That is so not the case.
We are doing our job. We are putting all of the people in place, but the member wants us to go in there and count how many people there are. We are working, and perhaps if the member would care more about what his party is doing and a little less about what we are doing working together, we may have a little better discourse.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, it is a wonderful place to be as we honour you today.
On behalf of the official opposition, I would like to ask the House leader what our scheduled business will be for the remainder of this week and next.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, it truly is an honour to be standing here to speak about this very important bill, Bill C-6. As usual, I do my research, I write my notes and then I stand in the House of Commons and decide I am not going to talk about all the things in my notes, but will share some of the experiences I have had as an ally to the LGBTQ community, recognizing some of the relationships that I have built in this community as an ally and speak with their support.
Back in 2018, I was invited to view the documentary The Fruit Machine in Ottawa. The director brought forward this documentary speaking about what happened in the Canadian Armed Forces to members of the LGBTQ community from the 1950s up to the 1990s. It is their stories that we need to hear today; we need to talk about what actually happened.
To begin, I would like to thank Sarah Fodey for her work to bring this story to light. Sarah was the director of this documentary and stated:
I want people to leave this documentary angry that this [injustice] happened, and committed to talking about it in their own communities. I also want people to cry and laugh in parts of this film.... [Many of the survivors] have used humour as a way to cope, I suspect.... They are magnetic. You want to hear more from them because they make you laugh on the heels of making you cry. It's a beautiful combination.
We need to look at the history of discrimination against the LGBTQ community in Canada to reconcile what has happened and see how we can move forward. That is why Bill C-6 is something to move forward. I will be honest that there are some concerns. Those concerns are not so embedded in me that I feel we cannot overcome them, but I do understand some of them. We need to look at the history in Canada and what has happened to members of the LGBTQ community. We should have great shame. I know that back in 2018 there were formal apologies from all of the party leaders in the House to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP and some members of the civil service, who lost their positions and careers because they were identifying as members of the LGBTQ community.
I want to back go to the history. As I indicated, this goes back to when the fruit machine was being used. During the Cold War, Canada investigated federal employees and members of the Canadian Armed Forces deemed susceptible to blackmail by Soviet spies. This is 2021 and we do not see that anymore, but back then there was a huge concern that members of the LGBTQ community would be used as collateral. They would be used and held as collateral and they did not know what to do in those positions.
Homosexuality was grounds for surveillance and interrogation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police under the directive of the newly established security panel. Over the course of four decades, thousands of men and women had their privacy invaded, their careers ruined and their lives destroyed because of this scientific machine and a disgraceful mandate that was put forward.
We ask what this machine was all about. To be honest, when we look at it, we can say it is like conversion therapy. They used this machine. They would hook people up and see whether their pupils dilated. For three years, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP and the civil servants were put into this situation and had to prove they were not members of the LGBTQ community. This fruit machine was being used to test them, just like a lie detector machine. They were asked personal questions. The types of responses they gave, whether were they stressed or lying, were looked at. We have to understand the discrimination that so many members of this community had gone through while all they were trying to do was serve our great country.
The development of this machine was very riveting. Lots of people wanted to know about it, but it was a failure and after three years, its use was discontinued. The fruit machine story captures the imagination and is truly symbolic of what members of the LGBTQ community were feeling, like conversion therapy. I look at these two things as coinciding.
I look at the way members of our Canadian Armed Forces were treated and think of a story that was published in The Washington Post by Todd Ross, who was in naval combat. I want to read this to look at what we have done in Canada, how we can do better and how this bill would move us forward.
It states:
Todd Ross was a naval combat information operator on the HMCS Saskatchewan in 1989 when he was called out over the public address system, escorted off the destroyer by officers and told he was the subject of an espionage probe.
Over the next 18 months, Ross was given six polygraph tests and interrogated about his sexual orientation and loyalty to Canada.
Eventually, he broke down. Facing a two-way mirror, he admitted to a stranger what he had not yet told some close confidants.
“Yes,” Ross said. “I'm gay.”
The 21-year-old seaman was given an ultimatum: Accept an honourable discharge or lose his security clearance, effectively extinguishing any prospect of career advancement. He chose the discharge and returned home to New Brunswick, where only a few years earlier he had been named the province’s top army cadet.
Ross was one of thousands who lost careers in the armed forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other government agencies during the country’s notorious “gay purge” from the 1950s to the 1990s. A legal challenge brought the policy to an end in 1992. Now its victims are gaining greater recognition.
I want to talk about the person who actually started this process. I have been so fortunate to meet her, not only at the status of women committee as a witness, but also through this work she has done on the LGBTQ purge. Her name is Michelle Douglas. Many people are probably very familiar with Michelle Douglas here in Ottawa and the great work that she has done for the LGBTQ community. She was talking about her time in the Canadian Armed Forces. I want to read from a committee report. It said:
The Committee heard testimony that was consistent with the findings of the Deschamps Report: many witnesses described a sexualized and male-dominated workplace where a culture of abuse, discrimination and harassment based on gender, gender expression and sexual orientation exists. Women and individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit or as other gender identities and sexual orientations...are disproportionately affected by sexual misconduct and harassment in the CAF. The Committee was told that, although there is a belief that the CAF is a “gender neutral” workplace, it is not the case. While women can perform brilliantly in military roles, some do so by conforming to and adopting “highly masculine behaviours and, for some, masculine world views, attitudes and values.” For this reason, witnesses stressed the need for cultural change to create a more respectful and inclusive workplace for all CAF members. Michelle Douglas, Chair of the LGBT Purge Fund, said:
I believe that the military's policy regarding inclusion, particularly towards women—both cisgender women and transgender women—is actually quite good. The military has, of course, all of the things that they must have: pay parity, access to career paths, family support and so on. The establishment of the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre is a good thing and so was the establishment [of things and practices to ensure that we can move forward.]
These are things that I want to talk about because I look at the fact that we are sitting here today and can see how far we have moved forward, but the journey is not over. For members of the LGBTQ community, it is a very important time. That is why I want to talk about what is occurring starting tomorrow, which is the beginning of pride month here in Canada.
I will be honest. Back in 2018, I was really excited to do 160,000 steps for pride. I had gone on the pride circuit and was joining members of the community across this country to celebrate who they are and the fact that they are just the same as me. They deserve the same rights, the same opportunities and equity in this great country.
As I said, pride is such an important time. With pride starting tomorrow, we have to understand where it started. This truly was a political movement. This was because of things that happened in places like the Canadian Armed Forces. We can also talk about New York and things that were happening down there.
This was born out of a fight for the rights of LGBTQ communities. We are doing a really good job when it comes to education, engagement and bringing people together to have these conversations. This is exactly why I am so proud to be a member of Parliament and to have great friends even within this chamber.
Outside the chamber, I also think of my dear friend Anthony who I love dearly and who should be clapping out there. It is great conversations with people like Anthony that help me move forward with my own thoughts. Having those types of conversations is very vital to understanding and education.
I will never walk in the shoes of a member of the LGBTQ community. I am a heterosexual woman who is married with five children. I have never been discriminated against because of who I have chosen to love, but I do understand that members of the LGBTQ community have. That is why I think we need to look at these important milestones.
We look back at 1969, when Canada decriminalized homosexual acts through the Criminal Law Amendment Act. Then we look at some things that happened in 1971. There was the first gay rights protest. Across the cities of Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto and in some smaller communities, hundreds of people gathered to protest and to bring forward the rights of LGBTQ communities. It was 1971. That was the year I was born. Fifty years later, we are still talking about it; we still can do better, and Bill C-6 is one of those ways.
I look at 1973, and pride week in 1973. It was a national LGBT rights event held in August 1973 in Ottawa, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Saskatoon and Winnipeg, so even in two years we saw the growth of this.
However, there was still a lot of discrimination. We can look back at 1981 where, in Toronto there was Operation Soap. These were raids that took place. The police actually stormed bathhouses in Toronto and they arrested almost 300 men for being gay. This was Canada's stonewall. We hear a lot about the stonewall that happened and the movement of pride in the United States that had started to occur in 1969. Operation Soap was one of the largest mass arrests in Canada, and it was over 35 years ago.
When we look at those things, what can we do? We know that the police officers have apologized. The Toronto police chief actually came out and formally apologized. Those are ways of making amends. Those are ways of bringing us together so that we can start having those conversations. Once in a while, it is okay to say, “I did not understand” or “I did not get it”. Understanding what some of these men had gone through during Operation Soap is so important, and I really thank them.
In 1988, here in our own House of Commons, MP Svend Robinson came out as the first openly gay member of Parliament. Today, I know that there are many others and I am so proud because, at the end of the day, we are all here representing Canadians. Regardless of who we love, we are all people first and that is what we always have to remember when we are having these conversations. We are all equal. It does not matter who one loves. We are equal.
In 1990, we saw that there was a change, and the indigenous community started to gather in this, and that is when the term “two-spirited” was coined. This was just taking in the concept that when we are speaking about LGBTQ, we understand the rights of the indigenous people who are also of this community.
In 1995, sexual orientation was included in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These are things that are progressively getting better, making things better for all Canadians. I am so proud of that. We do know that back in 2000, once again there was another raid. This took place in Toronto and it was a lesbian nightclub that police raided this time. We ask, “why did they do this?” It was because people were homophobic. People were concerned with people's actions and sexual orientation. To me, it is no one else's business.
However, as we are talking about this, I do understand also some of the concerns I am hearing from those who are saying there needs to be a better definition. I can still have that conversation. I know that many members in this chamber will sit there and say someone is either right or is wrong. Sometimes they do not have to be right or wrong. Sometimes, there is just something that is so minute that it could make things a bit better. I was listening to my friend from Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan and I know he is always pushing for just a bit better.
The reason I am looking at this is the testimony that was brought forward in committee. Timothy Keslick is an ASL-English interpreter. I want to read his introductory statement. It is just a little phrase, but this is where we need to talk and this is where talking always comes out better and we do not have to think of it as conversion therapy. Sometimes it is just understanding. In Timothy's opening statement, he stated:
Under this bill, this kind of therapy would be taken away from me. The bill doesn't make any distinctions between good therapy or bad therapy. The bill would capture my therapy as one that wants to reduce non-heterosexual attraction or, more specifically, sexual behaviour. Without realizing that my therapy isn't actually trying to stop me from dating any guy, it's simply trying to stop me from dating the wrong guy. It's there trying to help me avoid people and situations that would harm me and have already harmed me.
That is why I wanted to bring this up. When we talk about this, there are so many discrepancies on what conversations are, what “talk” is. I do understand. When we see bills like Bill C-10 that are just so poorly written come out from this House of Commons, I understand why many people will say that they cannot trust the current government, that they do not think the government is going to do exactly what they want.
That is why, when I look at this bill, I understand how the government so poorly writes legislation. I get it. It does not mean I have to agree with it, but I understand why there is some conflict within people.
If we look at Bill C-10, for instance, we know that it needs an amendment, but when the government gets the idea that it is right, it doubles down. On this bill it has doubled, tripled and quadrupled down. At the end of the day, I think it is so imperative that we have open and honest discussion. This is why we are having this discussion on what is good and what is bad therapy.
When we are talking about families, I think therapy helps remove the stigma, which is probably one of the most impressive things I have seen over the last couple of years. With COVID, we see that a number of people need to talk to people. I need to talk to people. My colleagues need to talk to people. Once in a while, we just need to bounce an idea off somebody else who is not a family member, or we need to bounce something off somebody who has been in the same situation.
I think of my own case. I do not know of any members of my family who are LGBTQ, and that is fine. Regardless, I am saying it is important that we have these conversations with our children, that freedom of conversation. I think of my son, who will be 18 years old in two weeks. It is important that I talk to him about sex. Members may ask why I want to talk to my 18-year-old about sex. It is because I want to ensure that he understands consent. I want to ensure he understands how to treat a woman. I want to ensure that he has a healthy relationship.
I have come from unhealthy relationships in the past and that is not a good thing. It takes a lot of time for people to be able to find that bright light, so sometimes having these talks is exactly what somebody may need. That is why when I hear some of my colleagues say that Bill C-6 is not a good bill, I understand why they would say the government writes poor legislation. We want to get it right.
I want to go back more to pride, the members of the LGBTQ community and why I will be supporting this bill overall. I look at the fact we have seen things such as the fruit machine here in Canada. We have seen this in our own backyards, where members of the RCMP, the Canadian Armed Forces and members who serve this great country were told they could not participate because they were gay or lesbian.
There is no space in this world or this country for people to not have equal opportunities because they are gay and lesbian. To me it does not matter who people love, as long as they can love. Those are the things I look at. These are the conversations we should be able to have, but because it is so political, we cannot have them all the time.
I have walked on behalf of the LGBTQ community out there, supporting it as an ally, because I know it is the right thing to do. I know that discrimination continues to happen. I have been in pride parades and had people yelling at me for walking in them.
I felt shame for that person who was yelling at me for walking in that parade, but I was so proud to be walking with those other thousands of people who are walking in them. If I am being yelled at as a heterosexual, I can only imagine how the people of that community feel. Sometimes that is what we need to look at.
This is about compassion. It is about how we help people. It is not about changing their sexual orientation. I do not believe that is something we should be focusing on. I believe in healthy lifestyles. I believe in healthy relationships. I believe in talk therapy when it is good therapy, not bad therapy.
I do not support conversion therapy and I never will, but I thank everybody for having these conversations, and I ask that we do better once in a while. When we have these conversations, let us not tell people they are wrong just because they are a Conservative. Instead, let us figure it out and find a way of getting there together. Unfortunately, in this place, sometimes we find that extraordinarily difficult.
I will be supporting Bill C-6. It is not perfect, but I believe in the principle. I feel eternally inside of me that I must support members of the LGBTQ community, and that is what I will do.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I recognize that Canadians have big problems and issues and many challenges right now, so it is regretful that I rise today on a question of privilege concerning the admissions published late last night by my colleague, the member for Pontiac, concerning his conduct while attending the House on Wednesday.
In a statement released on Twitter at 10:34 p.m. last night, the member—
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I recognize that Canadians are being challenged right now. There are many issues and problems that we must face, but it is my regretful duty to rise today on a question of privilege concerning the admissions published late last night by my colleague, the member for Pontiac, concerning his conduct while attending the House on Wednesday.
In a statement released on Twitter at 10:34 p.m. last night, the member admitted, “Last night while attending the House of Commons proceedings virtually, in a non-public setting, I urinated without realizing I was on camera”.
This shocking event is, in my respectful view, a contempt of the House. On page 81 of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, it explains that :
There are, however, other affronts against the dignity and authority of Parliament which may not fall within one of the specifically defined privileges. Thus, the House also claims the right to punish, as a contempt, any action which, though not a breach of a specific privilege.... ....or is an offence against the authority or dignity of the House
To do what he did within the House is quite frankly an offence to the dignity of Parliament. Though a very quick scan of our precedents does not reveal any past cases of contempt of this specific nature, I would suggest two things: First, such shocking and reckless conduct is likely unprecedented, and second, no specific precedent is required for the House to act.
On page 81 of Bosc and Gagnon, it explains:
The House of Commons enjoys very wide latitude in maintaining its dignity and authority through the exercise of its contempt power. In other words, the House may consider any misconduct to be contempt and may deal with it accordingly. This area of parliamentary law is therefore extremely fluid and most valuable for the Commons to be able to meet novel situations. Throughout the Commonwealth most procedural authorities hold that contempts, as opposed to privileges, cannot be enumerated or categorized.
On page 83, it continues:
Just as it is not possible to categorize or to delineate every incident which may fall under the definition of contempt, it is also difficult to categorize the severity of contempt. Contempts may vary greatly in their gravity; matters ranging from minor breaches of decorum to grave attacks against the authority of Parliament may be considered as contempts.
Even though it is impossible to complete an exhaustive list of what might constitute a contempt of Parliament, the United Kingdom's Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege included in a 1999 report a collection of various categories of contempt. At the top of the list was: “interrupting or disturbing the proceedings of, or engaging in other misconduct in the presence of, the House or a committee”
That list, including the item I quote, is favourably cited by Bosc and Gagnon at pages 82 and 83. The actions of the member for Pontiac without a doubt represent the engagement in misconduct in the presence of the House.
I know that some could be quick to stress the part of the member's statement that he was “in a non-public setting”, but frankly, there is no part of the House of Commons that is non-public. While I am speaking right now, the cameras are on me and more than 95% of the rest of the chamber is not in the camera shot. That does not mean that what is happening outside of the camera shot is non-public or what not happening inside the chamber. It certainly does not stop us from properly calling to order those who are disorderly, wherever they may be.
I would also refer the Chair to paragraph (c) of the special order adopted on January 25, 2021, which authorizes our current hybrid proceedings, as follows:
any reference in the Standing Orders to the need for members to rise or to be in their place, as well as any reference to the chair, the table or the chamber shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the virtual nature of the proceedings
Consistent with the decision of the House and by all logic, to turn on our camera and to log onto the House Zoom feed is the same as opening one of those doors behind me and walking down to any of the 338 seats in this majestic room. The use of our webcams in our proceedings is less than an year old and, if I have anything to say about it, only temporary.
The television cameras filming us have been here since 1977. The House of Commons is, on the other hand, an ancient institution and its rules and its rights long predate cameras and broadcasting equipment. To claim that what happens in the House is only what is broadcast on the outgoing television feed is nonsense and it cheapens what is the institution and what it represents.
Whether something happens right here on the floor of this chamber, either in or out of the camera shot, or in the extension of the chamber through the video conferencing, we must apply equal treatment to members' conduct. It falls to us to respond to offensive behaviour in the same manner too.
The member's behaviour, whether committed right here or via Zoom, cannot be condoned.
Finally, let me address one further technical matter. On Wednesday evening, the House was sitting in committee of the whole, though it is not clear whether the misconduct of the member for Pontiac occurred before or after the House resolved itself into the committee of the whole. In normal practice, questions of privilege arising in committee shall first be reported to the House from the committee itself. However, given the practical realities surrounding how committees of the whole conduct their business, you ruled on July 22, 2020, at page 2,701 of the Debates:
I accept that the particular circumstances of this situation, notably the challenge surrounding the committee of the whole format, do make it appropriate to bring the matter to the Speaker.
In closing, this is not the first time the member for Pontiac has exposed himself while virtually attending a sitting in the House. It is not even the first time this spring. I recognize that he has apologized, and acknowledged that he requires some form of assistance or intervention, but it does not absolve him of the responsibility for his conduct and his choices while attending a sitting in the House.
Even if the member's conduct was unintentional or lacking in malice, we must also recognize that it still puts his colleagues, plus all of the hardworking staff of the House of Commons administration, in a very uncomfortable position. It is incumbent upon us to ensure that the House of Commons is, and remains, a safe and respectful workplace.
Canadians send us to Parliament to represent them because they believe we possess the good judgment necessary to make these important decisions on their behalf. The reckless conduct the member for Pontiac admitted completely undermines that for himself, for each of us and for the institution of Parliament as a whole.
What is more, it is becoming clearer by the day that we must draw a bold, bright line that confirms that logging into the virtual House is the same as entering into this room, and that standards of behaviour in both places must be the same. Perhaps the procedure and House affairs committee would be able to make this point should the matter eventually be referred to it.
Madam Speaker, should you agree with me that there is prima facie contempt, I will be prepared to move an appropriate motion, even if I wish these circumstances had never happened.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all of the speakers tonight because I think they have brought so much warmth to this discussion. The fact is that diabetes, as all speakers have said, is something that is preventable in 90% of cases. I think this is a great time to all join together and talk about this.
I am so glad it is you in the chair, Mr. Speaker, because I can share with you the types of phrases that are used in my house, or my mom and dad's house, every day. Any time I walk into my parents' house I hear, “Karen, your father's sugar is high. Ask your dad how many cookies he ate today. Your father's sugar was at 15 and he is miserable." This is all I hear: “Your father's sugar is high” and “Karen, are you watching your sugar?” These are my parents. They love me.
I am from a family where many of my elderly relatives have been challenged with diabetes. That is why I am so happy to speak on this bill today, Bill C-237, a national framework for diabetes act, which is focused on prevention and treatment. According to Diabetes Canada, there are 11 million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes. These are really important things, so we have to understand the three different types of diabetes there are and what we can do as well.
I am going to start off with the least simple one, which is type 1 diabetes, and then I will talk about what many of us have discussed, which is type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 is an autoimmune condition where the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. The damage is permanent. If we look at who is going to have these issues, we recognize that type 1 diabetes mostly impacts people before the age of 35, though it can develop later on in life as well.
It is one of those things that people are born with, or there is something determining that they will end up with type 1 diabetes, whether genetics or whatever it may be. There is no solution to what is causing these issues. These are things I think many families are very concerned with because having a child who has diabetes is life altering. This is something I look at as a mom.
The research being done through our juvenile diabetes associations and all of those groups is really important because of the impact type 1 diabetes has, especially on our youth. I am sure everybody in this House has probably seen a young person on a field playing soccer, baseball, or whatever it may be, with a pump on their side.
The first time I saw that was probably about 15 years ago. A young girl came to my house to visit with the kids and she had her own insulin pump. It is incredible to think of this very active child and of her parents knowing she is on the soccer field and there is a chance of her passing out or having issues at any time. This national strategy is important because it would help all families.
We understand this form of diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body is not able to create insulin, so we have to ensure we have the technology and the advancements to make sure that person has a whole life. I am talking about these young children. Earlier in my career, I had some people come in from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the JDRF.
It was great when they came in because they were talking about some of these little pieces they were wearing on their hips that showed how many carbohydrates they had in their diet, what proteins and all of these things. Having a framework and funding is so important because this is a disease we can do more about.
Type 2 diabetes is something that we talk about most often, and 90% of diabetes cases are type 2. This has more to do with insulin resistance, where the insulin hormone is not used efficiently. That takes me back to first year university biology, when we talked about the impacts on the kidneys if the pancreas is not working, which can have a very negative effect on a person's life.
We will talk more about that because I think, when talking about type 2 diabetes, we can really pinpoint what we can do. There truly is a path to limit and reduce the number of people who are living with diabetes. There is prevention, and that is why I think this is a really important strategy as well.
Gestational diabetes is an issue that pregnant women have when insulin-blocking hormones occur, and we see many women going through their last weeks of pregnancy with diabetes. In many cases, it goes away quickly and they will be fine, but there are some cases we have to be concerned with.
Diabetes, as I indicated, has been an important part of my life. I think of my family members who have lived with it. I remember back in the mid-1970s when my grandmother came to live with us because she had to have her leg amputated due to diabetes. Of the common issues there are with diabetes, amputation seems to be very common, especially when we are talking about 45 years ago. It is incredible to see how things have changed in the last 45 years. We are not seeing as many amputations. We are seeing that proper care and maintenance that needs to be done.
With someone who has type 2 diabetes, we have to be worried about heart and stroke issues, nerve damage, and the eyes and retinopathy. There are many factors that we use to control and manage these things. That is why I think that with type 2 diabetes, we really need to look at a national strategy.
This plan would be very useful in seeing how can we have a national strategy that really takes some of the best practices from our provinces and territories. We can work together, ensure that the research is being done and see how we can assist by funding. We can assist the provinces and territories in recognizing that we are a partner here. We are not the main game holder, but we can enhance people's lives.
In some of the key factors of managing and controlling, we need to look at nutrition and fitness, including meal planning, healthy eating, exercise and activity, and weight management. To drill down into this more specifically, I pulled out a report from 2012 done by the Government of Ontario focusing on some of the key recommendations. Many of the diabetes factors and many of the things we can move forward on are truly common sense things.
For instance, we can reduce obesity. We know that being overweight is a key factor to diabetes. What can we do? How can we ensure that somebody is going to increasing their physical fitness and activity? We know that with insulin, when someone is exercising, it is more controlled. Over those two or three hours of exercising, one's glucose tolerance actually starts to change with those activities. People should be aware of this.
We know that overall the physical exercise someone does will give them better health, including for their heart. We need to make sure that we are maintaining healthy weights. That is something I will be very honest about. I am not sure what I would be at a healthy weight. We know that, especially women. We can look at stress as another factor that can lead to this. Right now people are sitting at home due to stress, due to COVID and doing different routines.
We know a lot of people have packed on what some people call the “COVID 15”, or the “frosh 15”, if one went to university back in the nineties. A lot of people have gained a lot of extra weight. What are some things that we can do to ensure people are going to be healthy again? We know that maintaining a healthy meal plan and making sure we are eating proper foods are other ways of doing so, by having a healthy diet. Another thing is not to smoke. We know that with diabetes, smoking is something that can cause great complications.
I heard my colleague from the Bloc indicate this also, and I am very proud, being from Elgin—Middlesex—London, that we have a statue honouring Sir Frederick Banting who, in 1923, along with John James Rickard Macleod, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine. They codiscovered insulin. This is the type of great work that we need to do. This was over a century ago. This is what we need to do. This is what makes our country better.
I really like the direction we are going in. I recognize that members from the government have talked about all the funding they have given and what they are doing for this. I just hope they stay on target, stay focused and get it done right. We know a lot of times that sometimes we may put money into it, but we are not sure if it is being spent properly. Are we focusing on what the provinces and territories need? How can we do that? I hope we do get it right.
To the member who put this forward, I do have great respect for her. I know she was one of the persons putting a motion forward so that we studied this in HESA. It is really important that we are doing that as well. I hope that we get this right.
This is something that we can do together. This is something that we should be proud of, if we come up with a strategy that works. I wish everyone the best on this going forward to make sure it gets to committee and we can look at it as thoroughly as possible.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Chair, I rise on a point of order, as the English translation is not working.
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