Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to elaborate on the question I raised in the House on April 29 pertaining to hepatitis C.
I am particularly pleased that my comments follow what I would consider to be an historic development in the House today. Unanimous support for an opposition motion, as I understand, is unprecedented. We are very pleased that we were able to play a small part in achieving this consensus.
Today's development gives us all a second chance. It gives us an opportunity to do the right thing, but I want to make clear that we acknowledge our work is not over, that we need to be as vigilant as ever and that this issue will not disappear off the political agenda until justice is served.
Also today's developments remind us all that we have a great responsibility to do the right thing. There is now the possibility of breaking the impasse and creating hope for a new approach that will lead us toward a solution that is grounded in the values held dearly by Canadians right across the country.
There is no doubt we have been through five very hard weeks. What is clear from this past month and more is that there is no consensus in the House, among provincial governments or in the Canadian population as a whole, for a limited compensation package that creates two classes of victims.
What is clear is that this deal has not withstood the test of time. It is not in the tradition of how we solve problems. It is not in keeping with our values as Canadians. It is not how we respond individually or collectively when people in our midst are in need. We know what will not work. That is clear now. We have to look to the future.
I want to make four points to the federal government as it begins this new phase in the history of the whole matter of blood injured Canadians.
First, we urge that the federal government go to the table of federal-provincial-territorial ministers prepared to show leadership with the message that nothing short of compassionate relief for all blood injured Canadians will do.
Second, we urge the federal government to go to the table acknowledging its own federal responsibility, acknowledging that blood injured Canadians have been the victims of a regulatory failure. This is a unique situation requiring federal responsibility and action.
Third, we must go to the table with additional funds and not empty pockets. We must acknowledge that the lion's share of responsibility for financial compensation rests on the shoulders of the federal government. That should be clear more than ever today.
Fourth, we must go with open minds and hearts prepared to listen and hear the voices of those who have been affected so directly and so deeply by this tragedy in our history.
Finally, I pay tribute to all victims of this devastating period in our history, pay tribute to all representatives of the hepatitis c society and the hemophilia society who have had the courage and the persistence to keep these issues before us. They have overcome great obstacles and much adversity to keep reminding us about the very serious issues before us.
I remember how much hope they had after Krever tabled his report and how much hurt they felt when the limited compensation package was announced. They have found much inner strength to be able to fight yet again for what only can be considered basic justice and decency in society today.