Mr. Speaker, as you know, I submitted a letter to you under Standing Order 52(2) for an emergency debate.
I am applying for an emergency debate and appealing to you because of the very grave situation in my community, Vancouver East, particularly in the downtown east side, where recent reports showed a very deepening crisis, an alarming situation.
The HIV infection rate for aboriginal people is twice the rate of the infection rate for non-aboriginal people, which in that community is already much higher than where it is elsewhere in the population. We are facing a very severe health crisis.
We have seen no response from the government and no action. There are aboriginal people who are living in very desperate situations, who are living in poverty. I do think that this is very noteworthy.
It is something that we should be deeply concerned about, that we should be debating, and we should be taking action. We should be calling on the government to respond to this emergency in the downtown east side that is affecting the lives of so many people. Many lives have already been lost to this crisis of HIV-AIDS, particularly among injection drug users.
I put forward my application on that basis, but I would like to make one additional point. As you know, Mr. Speaker, there have been a number of requests for emergency debates that you have not approved based on your interpretation of the Standing Order and you know that we have tried valiantly to have take note debates as well. In fact, the government has not been forthcoming on that matter.
We have not had take note debates for over a year. This is a lost opportunity for members of Parliament to have a thorough debate in the House on subjects that are of concern to local communities or of national concern.
The fact is that we have the avenue of emergency debates that seems to have been cut off and now we have the avenue of take note debates that has been cut off arbitrarily by the government.
We feel that this has left us in a very difficult situation where our ability to bring forward issues and express points of view, and to draw attention to some of these situations, such as the forestry industry and what is happening in local communities, and the impact of lost jobs.
One of my colleagues also brought forward an application dealing with emergency services for aboriginal people on reserve. So, all of these issues, I do believe warrant attention.
On this particular issue today concerning HIV-AIDS among aboriginal people, I do believe that this is something that the House should debate forthwith.
Mr. Speaker, I would ask for your consideration of this and I would ask you to consider the broader context in which we find our ourselves and respect the will, I think, of Parliament to make sure that these issues are addressed and we have an opportunity to bring this forward, to press the government, and to make our points of view known.