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Liberal MP for Yukon (Yukon)
Won his last election, in 2015, with 54% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Committees of the House May 16th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
The committee advises that, pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business met to consider the order of the second reading of private members' bills introduced in the Senate and recommended that the items listed herein, which it has determined should not be designated non-votable, be considered by the House.
Public Service Labour Relations Act May 11th, 2016
Madam Speaker, two members approached me about some items they would have liked to have seen included. When I asked about this, there was mention of large consultation. I was also told that the template was similar to that in other police forces, about which I would not know. There are mechanisms in the RCMP to deal with the concerns of members, although I was told by one member that those mechanisms did not work.
Could the member comment on any of those alternatives?
Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1 May 10th, 2016
Madam Speaker, the member wisely did not answer that last question, because it showed a misunderstanding of the omnibus bill procedure.
I am delighted the budget had so many things for so many Canadians that it had to deal with a number of other acts. However, what it has not done, and what people were incensed about in the past, is include a whole bunch of information from things that are not related to the budget, other issues that government wants to get through, which is the improper use of omnibus bills.
Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1. May 10th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for seeing, like the government, that there are a lot of things that need to be done for veterans. I appreciate her outlining some of the things that still need to be done.
When the member talked about the good things relating to veterans that were in this budget, which is probably more than a lot of budgets in the past, would she add the reopening of a number of offices that were closed for veterans, and re-employing a number of employees to help the veterans? As she mentioned, after what veterans have done for our country, the waiting times are totally unacceptable.
Criminal Code May 2nd, 2016
Mr. Speaker, in 30 seconds I cannot deal with the advance directives other than to say it is very important that the committee deal with this in depth. That is why I am glad that, failing that, it will be taken up in the five-year review of the bill.
With respect to nurse practitioners, yes, in places like rural areas, there are huge, vast areas, larger probably than any country in Europe, that do not have a single doctor. So, nurse practitioners are increasingly playing a very important role. I think that is why the government included them in this legislation.
Criminal Code May 2nd, 2016
Mr. Speaker, none of the health care people I talked with were concerned that their protection was not in the bill, but I certainly hope the committee does look at it.
Criminal Code May 2nd, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I definitely agree with the member. I am very happy that the minister is so committed to palliative care, which is an important part of this whole process, so that a person does not have to make a decision on assisted death just because good palliative care is not available.
My mother had wonderful palliative care in B.C., and I would hope that is available to all Canadians.
Criminal Code May 2nd, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise on this very important debate. It affects all of us, including my wife Melissa, my seven-year-old daughter Aurora, my four-year-old son Dawson, me, and everyone. Not all bills affect every Canadian, but this does. It is a very critical debate.
When this first came up in the House, I voted against it, because sadly there is much elder abuse in Canada, people who take advantage of those with less capacity. I encourage all legislatures, all four levels of government in Canada, all government workers, and all journalists to do everything in their power to work to eliminate elder abuse. That includes the protections needed in this particular bill.
I was also not comforted by what happens in some European countries with legislation. Many people are assisted in dying without their consent.
I have now been convinced by six items. First is the great care that was put into the protection provisions of this bill. There are two doctors or nurse practitioners, totally independent from each other, who are needed to approve the consent.
Informed consent is needed, and again at the time that the act will be carried out. The person must be suffering from intolerable pain. They must provide written consent. They must be in the process of dying, and there must be a 15-day waiting period.
There must be a five-year review of this bill, with the additions that many people might be suggesting during this debate.
Also, I have been convinced by the overwhelming support of my constituents who have contacted me, saying that people should have assistance in choosing the time to end their intolerable suffering.
I have also been convinced by the government's strong conviction, ensuring that there is good palliative care, so that the lack thereof is not what forces the choice of this other decision under this law.
I am also convinced by the cautious approach the government has taken to ensure that such a major life-and-death decision is done right.
Finally, I am convinced that there will be no sanction against health care workers who do not want to participate. I talked to a very experienced medical administrator who suggested that it could be up to 90% of doctors who would choose not to participate. For the provincial and territorial governments, that will provide an administrative challenge for those very small communities that may only have one practitioner.
I have asked my constituents, through the newspaper, to give me feedback. I received very heartfelt thanks and heartfelt views on all sides of this legislation, similar to what I am sure the other 338 members of Parliament have from many of their constituents. Of course, they were not all the same.
I have not had any bad experiences, as a number of MPs have had. However, I was moved by the sad stories of those who did, primarily with family members.
I remember a call from a mayor who told the story of the terrible suffering of a family member. It had gone on far longer than was ever needed. There was no benefit to the person. They did not want to be there.
I remember a call from another friend in a very similar situation. They exposed the myth that it was important not to do this in order to have family gathering together for a peaceful end. They outlined how that is a myth because at the end, in that particular case, the person was in so much pain and it was so distracting, the person did not want to or have the ability to see or gather with anyone.
I had feedback from another constituent whose father and other relatives had Alzheimer's disease. It was a terrible end that they did not want to have, and it could have been ended earlier.
Other constituents gave a large number of different views. One person said that if we allowed such suffering to go on in an animal, we would be charged. Another person talked about their husband who had a rapidly deteriorating disease. He wanted to die at home with family and could not. The doctor explained how that was not possible. They had a terrible painful experience in the hospital for their last few days.
On the other side of the issue, I had a nurse contact me who is totally against the bill and did not think we should proceed with it.
Then there were two views related to the people who are left behind in these situations. There were a number of people who, when in this terrible pain and suffering, did not want the suffering of their relatives and friends to go on. They wanted to terminate their lives so there would be no suffering left for their family and friends. On the other side of the coin, a person suggested we did not want to deny family and friends the wonderful ability to care for that person to the end.
Another person suggested that we have to make sure that all publicly funded health care facilities must allow this.
I also had a suggestion from someone who works with seniors, wanting an advance directive, similar to what is in the Yukon Care Consent Act for end of life that exists right now.
In summary, a majority of my constituents were in favour of assisted dying. Some were against it, like a woman from the small community of Haines Junction. Of those in favour, a number of them want some of the suggestions that people have talked about here today. Many were in favour of having advance directives. I would say that is the biggest amendment they would like to occur at second reading.
I want to close with a couple of suggestions for the committee to wrestle with. First is the advance directives. If people have a debilitating disease, they have to give informed consent at the very last minute, but they may not be able to, as they might not be in condition to do so, so it defeats the whole purpose. Perhaps it should be allowed only for those who are not capable at the last minute so that, as has occurred in the past, people with advance directives who in the end did not want them carried out are not taken advantage of.
The second biggest suggestion was related to the description of foreseeable future. On one side it may provide the flexibility that people want to make the right decision at the right time. On the other hand, it may not be enough definition. Medical workers want more definition, so they are not caught on the wrong side of a criminal law suit.
I had a student ask me an interesting question: what if a person suffering from an insufferable physical disease also has a mental illness and therefore could not give the informed consent? I am glad the committee will further study mental illness. I had a number of people suggest that mental health, Alzheimer's, and even mature youth need to be dealt with.
I want to thank my constituents and members of the House for this very non-partisan, thoughtful debate on this life-and-death situation for all of us. Hopefully, in the end we will find the combination that gives the most peace to the most Canadians.
Petitions April 21st, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I have another petition from a number of Yukoners who feel that, whereas transparency is a goal of the Liberal government, it should make mandatory the labelling of genetically modified organisms, GMOs, in Canada.
Petitions April 21st, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I have a two petitions. The first is from a number of Yukoners who feel that, when the number of MPs a party's supporters elect does not reflect the number of voters who cast ballots for that party, they would like the House of Commons to undertake consultations across Canada to amend the Canada Elections Act. They want to ensure that voters are governed by a fairly elected Parliament and they can live under legitimate laws approved by a majority of elected parliamentarians representing a majority of voters.