Mr. Speaker, I am not going to engage in debate today either. I am very heartened by the members of all parties saying they want to bring this to a vote tonight. I am also heartened, listening to two members of the opposition who have been around here for a long time, who have both said they have learned something new about autism in the last little while. I am excited about that. I look forward to having further conversations with them. If there is any way I can help them increase their understanding any more, or put them in touch with others who may also be able to express similar types of challenges, certainly I would be glad to do that.
I want to recognize a few people today, if I could. I want to thank Senator Munson for moving this bill in the first place. I really appreciate that. I appreciated having the opportunity to work with him on this issue over time. I want to thank some government ministers: the Minister of Health, the Minister of Human Resources, the Minister of National Revenue and staff who we worked with to try to move some of the issues.
The opposition members talked about some of the challenges. We have had the opportunity to bring forward some of those challenges to these various ministries and their staff, and stakeholders have been received very well as we have tried to move some of these issues forward. I want to thank those ministers.
I want to thank the member for Kitchener—Conestoga for picking up the bill in the House and for his very enthusiastic support of it, as with everything he does. The vigour and the positive attitude with which he supported this have been really encouraging.
I am doing a lot of thanking today, but I have spoken a lot about the issue. I want to thank my own staff, who I do not thank enough, for their work on this issue. They have embraced the issue as their very own. They have embraced Jaden as though he is their family member. It is a lot of work on top of the regular life of an MP. The work they do to raise awareness of this issue on top of their regular workloads is astounding, and I really want to thank them for that.
Jaden and I had the opportunity to go to New York a couple of weeks back. We went there for a UN event. The World Autism Awareness Day actually arose out of an initiative by the UN and Bob and Suzanne Wright, who founded Autism Speaks. It arose out of conversations they had. They have continued their work to raise awareness on this important issue.
We were there for a couple of days, and while we were there we had a chance to speak to the spouses of world leaders. There were 15 or 16 spouses. We actually spoke with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and the President of Panama at the same time. We were very enthused and excited. We had the chance, as we were speaking to them, to play a bit of football in front of them. I had to explain that North American football is a bit different from the football most of them are used to. We do that to settle Jaden down, because he sometimes gets very excited and intense when we are doing some of these things. Playing football kind of calms him down, so we had the chance to show them how that works for him.
While we were in New York, I was constantly working, so Jaden was grabbing my shoulder and hanging off my shoulder, staring at my BlackBerry the whole time because he had to be on top of what the schedule was, but he was more excited than I have ever seen him in two days. We really had a fun time.
We went to Times Square on Friday night and, in terms of autism awareness, one of the things we have to be aware of as parents is that when we are in situations like that, Jaden is very excited, hanging off my shoulder, but if he gets two feet away from me in a crowded atmosphere like that, I might never find him again. We had the opportunity to experience Times Square together with all the excitement of the bright lights and everything else. It was a spectacular time.
We had the chance to do about five media interviews while we were there. I do want to recognize the folks in the media who have really worked to raise awareness of this issue. David Ariosto from CNN did an interview with us, and so did David Common from CBC. They both got it immediately. They both understood Jaden immediately. They made that connection with Jaden, and their stories reflect that. That was similar to the things that Tom Clark and Steve Paikin and Evan Solomon have done here when they have had the opportunity to raise awareness. We talked to Marci Ien at Canada AM and a lady named Susan James at ABC News. All of them really took an interest in this issue. It was not just another day in their lives of work, but they actually took an interest in really raising awareness of this issue.
They had a chance to get to know and connect with Jaden and move that issue forward. I want to thank them for doing that and for taking the time to go above and beyond in their approach to this.
I do not want to take much more time. I know that we want to pass this bill. No one wants that more than I do. However, I would be remiss if I did not thank the families of people with autism. When it comes to autism awareness, we can do a lot in the House, but it is the families that model the grace, perseverance and love for their family members, the sons, daughters, siblings, and in some cases, parents, who may not have been diagnosed until later in life as being on the spectrum. No one who advocates is more aware of the challenges than they are. They live every day with this. We discuss it once in a while in the House, but every single day those families live with this.
We heard the hon. member down the way refer to individuals with autism and their own unique perspectives. There is certainly a whole variety of unique perspectives. When we focus on the challenges, we also have to focus on the amazing, unique skills and talents these people have. As a society, we need to try to find ways to include them, take advantage of their incredible strengths, and learn from them. They make our lives better. My life is infinitely better because my son Jaden is involved in it. I would say that everyone in the House who has had the opportunity to meet Jaden, without exception, would say that their lives are better for having had the opportunity to give him a high five, a hug or a kiss.
With that, I will close. I thank all members from all parties for the way they have embraced Jaden during the time I have been a member of Parliament. God bless them all.