Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure tonight to speak to the bill. I think it is one of the most important bills we have had in this Parliament because it affects all of us in a major way.
I have to compliment the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country. He has taken a dynamic leadership role in, first of all, making MPs aware of healthy eating and healthy living styles. Parliament Hill is a place where we eat on the run. We eat unhealthy foods because we are so busy. We are on airplanes all the time, and need I say more about airplane food and the inactivity of sitting on an airplane? We have chronic issues there.
Having said that, when I was first introduced to the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, he was starting all these fitness programs around this place. I am possibly the least sports- or fitness-minded person. As a mother, I took my kids to every sport known to man, from hockey to soccer. I was the hockey mum and the soccer mum and did all those kinds of things. My husband is a wonderful athlete and does everything from martial arts to hockey to whatever. That certainly helped him when he got chronic cancer, because today he is in remission, and I credit that to, number one, prayer, and second, his fitness level was fantastic.
When I look at what the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country has done, it has began to turn or reset the channel of even Parliament Hill, the seat of Parliament where we are supposed to be producing laws for all Canadians and being examples for all Canadians.
I had a big challenge personally, because at a very young age my brother drowned and it hit our family very hard, particularly my mum. I was a baby at the time, so I do not remember my older brother, but I remember my mum sitting in a rocking chair and every once in a while she would start to cry. Even when I was a teenager, my dad would say, “Leave mum alone for a while. She just needs this time”. She was remembering the tragic loss of her son and our brother. I have to say it sort of seeded a fear of water in me. I love to look at the water. I love to put my toe in the water. When I was very bold, I would walk into water up to my neck and hope I could still reach the bottom, because I liked the water in way, but I feared it dreadfully.
One day the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country said, “Why do you not come and learn how to swim?” I kept telling him I did not have time, and I really did not have time. I was very busy. However, it was a very healthy thing to do and he is very persistent and very persuasive. I could not believe it. I bought a bathing suit, goggles, and a cap. I looked like something from outer space, and I do not have the greatest figure in the world, so getting me out there just on that basis was a challenge.
Having said that, I started going into the water, and today I am not a bad swimmer. I know how to swim and I have learned how to go under water. The most exciting thing is having my goggles on going under water and seeing all the things that are happening there. I got over my fear of water, but it also got me into physical activity.
The other thing I do on a regular basis is biking. We could be walking down Wellington or O'Connor and there we would see the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country early in the morning on his bike. It never ceases to amaze me how he can bike in extremely cold, windy weather.
I am not that dedicated, but I am dedicated to a charity I started, and I biked for victims of human trafficking. I have done that kind of thing, which motivated me as well.
The member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country has changed the environment around this place through his leadership, and it is an environment of activity that involves people from all parties. It is just amazing. We can get together, no matter what party we belong to, and we can run, bike, or swim, and it is pleasant. It became a three times a week event for me over the summer. I am now down to two times a week, but I do other things.
One of the members said earlier that taking care of our bodies is like taking care of a 1950s car. I wish I were a 1950s car. My car would be a little older than that. Having said that, we have to take care of our bodies and repair them so we will end up living longer.
This awareness that the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country has brought forward is of paramount importance in my own riding. I love the idea of the first Saturday of June being a national day to promote health and fitness for all Canadians. I love that idea because it would make us all aware. A school will not change our mindset. Parliament will not change our mindset. I have always said that education is our greatest weapon. The more we know about the problems we have, the better off we are. It takes a tremendous toll on our families if we are sedentary and do not take care of our bodies. Not only does it take a tremendous toll on our families, but it also takes a tremendous toll on our lifestyle and our quality of life.
We have heard members talk about the different aspects of the health care system. One-quarter of colon and breast cancers are attributable to Canadians' sedentary lifestyle. Twenty-seven per cent of diabetes in Canada and 30% of chronic heart disease is attributed to inactivity.
It is telling when one in three Canadian children are overweight or obese. It is telling when health care costs due to overweight individuals and inactivity amount to $7 billion a year. We can do something about that. Under the leadership of the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, we have been caught up in the awareness of physical activity.
I have talked to many municipal leaders in my riding about doing something special on that day. There could be free entry into the pool or maybe a special thing for seniors to get them out, like a bike-a-thon. We could do anything on that national health day. Each municipality has the ability to do that.
It says a lot when only 13% of Canadians participate in sports. It says a lot about our need to become aware of the health benefits from activity. It says a lot as well when only 6% of Canadians choose to spend their leisure time in sports.
That would have been me before, but not anymore. When I have some leisure time, I either go for a swim or a bike ride. I take part in some activity. Through this process I not only managed to overcome a fear of the water, which was tremendous, but I now enjoy the lifestyle and the physical activity. Exercise of some sort clears our minds in such a way that we feel better mentally and physically.
I congratulate once again the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country for his tremendous leadership on this issue. I urge members to look for him on the Hill. He will be recognized because he always has a bicycle pin attached to his lapel. I think it is marvellous. He gave me one of those little bicycles and I wear it quite frequently now. I am proud to say that I am a bit of a sports jock now. I could not have said that before.