Mr. Speaker, as this motion will not be votable because unanimous consent was denied, we can debate this bill, but that it will lead nowhere. It is deplorable to have, in this House, debates and speeches on issues that come to nothing.
Another example, debates on parliamentary procedure and enhancement of the MPs' work will have to be closely examined, because they are starting to look more like a popular television talk show than parliamentary debates where serious work is done and worthwhile bills are introduced for the members to vote on. Whether we are in favour of or against a bill, our constituents, the people who voted for us and appointed us as their representatives, must be made aware of our position on every single bill.
Today, we are debating Bill C-414. I am pleased to take part in this debate because we will never say enough about the whole issue of abuse, whatever form it may take. This bill deals with verbal abuse. It is aimed at establishing the first week of October as Verbal Abuse Prevention Week. I think that nobody in this House can be against such a bill. It would mean being against a principle supported by everyone, namely that there is too much verbal abuse and that it should not exist.
We live in a strange society if we have to establish a Verbal Abuse Prevention Week when we should all agree that there is too much verbal abuse and that it should not exist. I am sure we all recognize that verbal abuse is the first step toward physical abuse. In a way, through our work in this place, through legislation and other means, we are trying to reach the objective of zero tolerance with regard to physical abuse. However, we must start somewhere. Anyway, it is unrealistic to think that we can reach this objective of zero tolerance with regard to physical abuse.
But as I was saying, we must start somewhere. I sincerely think that working to prevent verbal abuse is a good start. I know that certain provinces, including Quebec, have already launched ad campaigns and put in place verbal abuse prevention programs, particularly in the schools. We see some of these ads in movie theaters sometimes. I think this is a very positive initiative.
Having a Verbal Abuse Prevention Week to educate people and encourage discussion on this issue would be very positive. We could talk about it more with young people. Verbal abuse often starts at a very young age; it starts in the schools and the playgrounds.
I said earlier that we are a strange society, we tolerate a lot. Indeed, there is a lot of verbal abuse in games, hockey, amateur sports. We only need to go to an arena to see that parents are encouraging a certain kind of violence in their children taking part in sports. Parents use a lot of verbal abuse. I know there is such a thing as competitive spirit and it is healthy. One must be competitive. We are in politics here and we are all competitive. However, there is a line that must not be crossed. Frankly, I believe some parents do not know where to stop with regard to verbal abuse in arenas.
With a verbal abuse prevention week, maybe we could increase the awareness of parents involved in amateur sports and hockey, even professional hockey. One has to go watch a game at the Forum to realize there is verbal abuse. If one is close to the ice, from time to time one will realize that there is verbal abuse on the ice also.
This is a major societal problem, since this kind of abuse may one day lead to physical abuse, as mentioned by my colleagues who spoke before me.
When we look at violence in all its manifestations, be it verbal, which is the subject matter of the bill before us, or otherwise, the issue of violence tolerated on television comes up. There is also a certain level of verbal abuse tolerated in films. One day, we will have to look at this issue and the fact that it is encouraged. A verbal abuse prevention week might help these people realize that they may going down the wrong road. There is a point when lines have to be drawn and not crossed.
Earlier, the member seemed to compare verbal abuse and taxing in schools. We must really make a clear distinction between the two, because taxing is physical abuse; it is not verbal abuse. Those who practise taxing go beyond verbal abuse, since they commit an act. They say “Give me 10 bucks or I will break both your legs”. This is taxing and it is physical abuse; it cannot be considered as verbal abuse.
Anyway, to get back to Bill C-414, I believe we could have such a week, not only for young people, but also for the elderly. There is some verbal abuse among children and the elderly. Even in hospitals, there may be verbal abuse toward the elderly. I do not believe it is done maliciously, but at some point, because of fatigue, stress or for any other reason, one does something and it goes to the next level, that of verbal abuse. With time, it can lead to physical abuse.
We could have a special week to promote awareness of all this and get information on this issue. I believe it would be desirable. It would be productive for MPOs, for groups dealing with young people and people who are not so young, for those who look after the elderly.
I will conclude by saying that it is all very fine to consider a verbal abuse prevention week, but I believe it must be supported by public money. If we want it to yield results, if we are serious about it, if we want to be preventive--I believe a dollar of prevention ends up saving a lot of money in terms of health care, psychologists, penalties and physical crimes--to start with, maybe we should go for a verbal abuse prevention week. Eventually, maybe not today but some time in the future, we should also consider using public money to reach certain segments of society. We could reach the groups where verbal abuse is the worst and take preventive action to reduce its impact on society as a whole.