Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to address both Parliament, and of course the country, on this issue.
The Supreme Court has spoken. The Supreme Court, in a very declarative, very clear way has asked Parliament, not the government or a minister but all of us as parliamentarians, to be seized of this issue and to deliver a response quickly back to Canadians waiting for answers and direction.
This is extraordinarily important. We have a duty to respond. I understand and we all appreciate the complexity of this issue and the sensitivities around this issue. However, we also have a responsibility to make sure that we do not simply put this off for a very simple reason: people are suffering. The longer we take to make a decision on this, the longer some people's suffering will deepen and extend. As well, those who wish to seek to provide assistance to people are being held in abeyance. Their capacity to act as caregivers is limited by our inaction. We have a responsibility not to ask for a deferral while we do no work and not to put off until tomorrow what must be debated and decided today.
When hon. members stand up in this House and read emails and correspondence from their ridings, it shows us that Canadians are eager to contribute. That is good. It is very good.
We need to respond quickly, because waiting until after the next election will have the next Parliament starting flat-footed, and more extensions and delays will be required. That is just unfair.
The Supreme Court understands fully what our electoral cycle is. It understands entirely what our responsibilities are, and it has given us these responsibilities.
We are also lucky. The province of Quebec, the National Assembly, has given us context and guidance and a body of evidence from which to act. That is important, because it means that there is legislative precedence. There is also, from that process, a spirit of nonpartisanship that I think we can embrace and move forward with. I would like to thank the National Assembly and the people of Quebec for giving that gift to the rest of Canada as we consider this very difficult issue.
It is equally important to speak of the principles which need to frame our conversation around this issue. People with disabilities are also looking to this Parliament to protect their dignity, their charter rights, and their existence as part of the Canadian community.
Whatever decisions we make, they will not just be about the ease of suffering but also about making sure that charter rights and people's proper place in our democracy is protected and included in this process.
While we talk about the parliamentary process, the root of that word being “speaking”, it is really a process about listening. We need to listen to the courts. We need to listen to Canadians, then we have to take on the duties we have sworn an oath to and act. We have to act swiftly.
As I said, this is an issue that defines many of our lives. We have heard from both sides of the House about personal experience in carrying people towards the end of life and carrying them beyond. We have all had that, in my life included. As I sat with my mother and watched her live out her final days in suffering, seeking to ease the pain of her children, as all good mothers do, there was no capacity, there was no framework, to have a rational adult conversation with loving members of a family solving a crisis that is present in many households, too many households, today.
I urge members in this House not to look towards the politics of this event, not to look to the shortcomings of a parliamentary system that sometimes does not give us the space or the time to deal with these issues, but to open their hearts to this issue, to open their minds to this issue, to listen to the way people have described this phenomenon we are now charged with resolving, and to please support this motion. Make it a better a motion. Make it as nonpartisan as possible. Include those groups whose voices need to be heard on this issue. Above all, act to end the suffering, act to provide clarity, and act to provide a swift response to the Supreme Court.
Now is not the time to dither. It is not the time to debate between the libertarian values or the humanitarian values that are present in this conversation. Rather, sit down with Canadians, sit down with members of our ridings, sit down as parliamentarians, and come up with an answer Canada can be proud of.
We have a basis from which to act. We have a compelling set of arguments presented to us by the Supreme Court. We have to act.
I would ask all members to support the motion being presented to us by our leader today, to move forward together to resolve this issue as Canadians in a compassionate way, in a principled way, and above all, to act immediately to end suffering for those whose only option is to wait for us to respond.