Mr. Speaker, much has been said about the painful compounding of tragedy when government policy and legislation lack coherence as they pertain to the actual people they are intended to serve.
I would like to use my time to share with this chamber just how tragically things can unfold, and how helpless and devastated people may feel when faced with a tragedy and subsequently victimized by existing flawed legislation.
Before I do this, I would like to quote from the Good Book, a little passage from James 4:17, which says, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” In our case, if it is within our power to correct a great injustice and we fail to do it, how much more unjust are our actions?
My wife Almut and I were soulmates back in 1978, and this unbelievable love only grew. I still remember when my wife-to-be began walking down the aisle at our wedding on a September day in 1993. She was so radiantly beautiful that she took my very breath away. We could not wait to be married and grow in our love for each other, and extend that love beyond ourselves by having a good number of children. From natural birth and adoption, we have seven children.
The following June, we welcomed Christopher into the world, and our joy was overflowing. He was healthy, so was mom, and we were looking forward to being parents. He was a handful, but we were willing and quick learners.
I do not mind saying that with help from some of our great mentors, friends, and family, motherhood and fatherhood fit us like a glove. For Almut and me, next to our love for each other was the love for our children and the awesome quest to help them grow into principled, contributing, and ethical adults.
It was not too long thereafter that Almut became pregnant once more, and we were more excited than ever to greet the next addition to the Sweet family. We were a bit concerned, because Almut seemed to be growing at too fast a rate as her pregnancy progressed, but this was only marginally dampening our spirits compared to the opportunity of a new child.
She visited an obstetrician early, as suggested, and as referred to by our GP. Sure enough, through amniocentesis and ultrasound, she was diagnosed with polyhydramnios, which is too much amniotic fluid too early.
Of course, we were concerned, but the doctor comforted us that there was a low percentage of complication with such a condition, and that he would watch Almut and the new girl closely. We found out it was a girl due to the tests that were needed to determine the cause of the increased fluid production.
Knowing a girl was coming excited us even more, and we did the usual thing. We painted the red room pink and made sure we had all of the corresponding toys to welcome a female infant.
The following months involved a lot of appointments to continue to monitor Almut and the baby with the fluid buildup. It is my recollection that, other than these appointments, it did not seem like our health team was overly concerned, so we were not either. Consequently, our expectations grew and grew, as did our preparations.
I believe it was around two in the morning in the seventh month of the baby's term, although I must admit I am still hazy on the details, when I heard one of those screams that no one ever likes to hear, particularly if it comes from the person one loves the most. I ran in the direction of the scream. My wife was in the bathroom at that time. She was in shock, and I was quite shocked as well to see the feet of the baby exposed from her. Because of the abundance of amniotic fluid, her membrane had burst with such force that it forced our daughter, who had not turned yet, breeched into the birth canal. This was a terrifying predicament for young parents with little to no medical knowledge to find themselves in.
I did all I could to bring comfort to Almut and assure her that I would move heaven and earth to save our baby's life and to keep her safe as well.
Fortunately, my sister, who was staying with us at the time, ran in to see what was going on. She called an ambulance and got our obstetrician on the phone as well. The doctor was not calm. I had to reassure him to calm him down. Fortunately, he came around and began to give me instructions.
First, he said, I needed to reach up and unhook each arm. It felt like those little arms were going to come off at any moment. Nonetheless, I was able to free her left arm and then her right arm.
Immediately upon my releasing her right arm, her little body moved down so fast that it looked like it was going to blast out across the room it. Of course, it did not, because when a baby is breech, the jaw hangs up on the pelvic bone, which is why the baby needs to turn for a good, successful birth.
I said to the doctor, “There must be some kind of manipulation or process. What can I do now? I don't want to tear her fragile little head off of her body.” To my surprise, he hung up on me. To this day I do not know why. Maybe it was because he was afraid of some kind of responsibility, or maybe he panicked himself. However, I was there alone with my bride, who was panicking, and my young daughter, who was trapped in the birth canal and was beginning to suffocate.
There are a lot more details that I could share with respect to this story. The ambulance came. However, of course it was too late. My wife was in shock. Thank the Lord, she recovered completely, physically and psychologically, but all of our hopes and dreams for our daughter vanished. It was like we were in a very dark tunnel all alone. Though we had many friends to comfort us, the gut-wrenching emotional pain of the loss was so great that it was like we were in another dimension. We knew they were there, but we could hardly hear their voices. This heartbreaking, mind-numbing, strength-sapping emotion took a long time to begin to lift.
Today, Ruth Gisela Sweet rests in Meadowvale Cemetery in Brampton, Ontario. Thankfully, the faith that we live by assures us that we will be together again.
I share this painful story with the House not for any personal comfort or catharsis, but so all members may have a clear understanding what it is like when, annually, hundreds of Canadian mothers and fathers go through such an event as this. It is my hope that knowing this, there will not be any resistance to passing this motion that is before the House so that a great injustice can be corrected quickly, completely, and properly.
After going through this kind of trauma, no one should be faced with a form letter that advises them that on top of their immense pain, they will now have to face financial hardship as a result of being cut off from government benefits. How cruel and malevolent it must seem to people who have gone through such suffering to have to experience that as well.
Let us do all we can to quickly pass this motion, get the study started, and make recommendations in order to ensure this injustice comes to an end once and for all.