Mr. Speaker, “Hope is dependent on having a sense of connection to the future, even if that future is very short-term. Hope is the oxygen of the human spirit; without it our spirit dies.“ These words by ethicist Margaret Somerville of McGill University capture the essence of what this Parliament would do by passing Bill C-300 into law: provide hope.
At the heart of this bill is a clear call for national leadership, a coordination of the great efforts of many community groups across Canada, suicide prevention groups already doing all they can to bring hope. As has been acknowledged many times throughout this discussion, we all have stories to tell of how we, our families and our communities have been tragically impacted by suicide. We all know someone whose sense of hope was overcome by emotional pain and despair and consequently ended his or her life by suicide. The big problem is that suicide does not end the pain. It simply transfers it to family and community.
Bill C-300 acknowledges the complex nature of suicide and suicide prevention. We need to consider the biological, psychological, social and spiritual factors. We cannot pass all of the responsibility to government. We must remain our brother's keeper even and especially at their most vulnerable points. We as a Parliament can and must do more to protect this sacred gift of human life. The impact of the tragic, premature loss of life demands our attention. Shattered families and broken communities demand our commitment to action.
Suicide is the triumph of fear and the loss of hope. Suicide is most often the result of pain, hopelessness and despair. It is almost always preventable through caring, compassion, commitment and community. However, there is too much secrecy. Too many Canadians are in the dark about this problem. That stigma keeps it in the shadows.
I am so grateful for so many who have walked this dark valley and who are willing to shine the light. David Batters, MP, a friend and former colleague of mine, tragically ended his life by suicide in 2009. His wife, Denise Batters, has done so much to openly address the issue of mental illness and suicide prevention. My thanks to her and many others who have, in spite of their deep loss, found the strength to bring hope to others. In this way the secrecy is ended and the silence is broken. It is time to break the silence about suicide.
In closing, I said last year as this debate began that I expected more discussion than debate. I thank hon. members for meeting that expectation, for demonstrating that while we may disagree on so much, there remain a number of issues on which we are able to not only agree in private but also publicly express that agreement as our commitment to Canadians. I thank all members.
The tone and content of this debate should provide hope. As I said, “Hope is the oxygen of the human spirit”. Canadians can have hope that this Parliament will act to provide leadership on suicide prevention.
Bill C-300's passage would mandate the federal government to track statistics so we could chart our progress. Information relating to best practices would be shared so that organizations starved for cash, working on the front lines, would not need to reinvent the wheel but could instead focus their efforts on saving lives.
I am encouraged by this discussion. When we return to our ridings, I am sure that like me, many members will hear the usual complaints about the tone of this House. Members should tell them about this debate. They should tell them about the moment when members from all parties stood together for vulnerable Canadians with scarcely a moment of partisanship and not a word of blame, when MPs from all parties not only agreed on problems, but also stepped forward in unity toward a solution.
The truth is that non-partisanship is always fragile. A million events or circumstances could have soured this opportunity, but hon. members rose to the occasion. Many comments made by members not only have educated me, but also have affirmed my belief that passing Bill C-300 is the right thing to do. It is not the end of the road but it is that vital first step toward hope. I believe that Canadians will note that despite all our differences, we are taking this step together.