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Compassion

"And the men who hold high places,
Must be the ones who start,
To mold a new reality,
Closer to the heart"
Rush


The debate on M-381, the legalization of marijuana for health and medical purposes, took place in Canadian Parliament between March 4 and May 25, 1999. It demonstrated compassion was foremost on the minds of politicians as they debated whether to allow the sick and dying to choose a safe, harmless herbal remedy.

Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont, BQ) moved:

With a view to changing this unacceptable situation, I introduced a motion one year ago in favour of the legalization of marijuana for health and medical purposes. For me, this is a matter of compassion toward sick people suffering from nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, and other major discomforts which accompany a number of chronic diseases.
 
In this connection, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is totally devoid of understanding and compassion toward the chronically ill, who want nothing more than to live in dignity. This act must be changed as soon as possible, in order to allow the medical use of marijuana by those who need it.The Ontario court has already found part of the Narcotic Control Act to be unconstitutional. Clearly, the ball is now in our court here in the House of Commons.

Yesterday, it was the usual scenario. On the eve of the first day of debate on the motion that marijuana be legalized for medical purposes, the Minister of Health suddenly feels a need to demonstrate compassion towards the chronically ill.

Ms. Elinor Caplan (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health, Lib.):

We would also be sure to develop appropriate clinical guidelines to make sure that it was used appropriately. It would allow us to respond in a sensitive and compassionate way to those who are terminally ill, who are suffering and are coping with symptoms where the anecdotal evidence would suggest that medical marijuana might be helpful to them. We want to find solutions for Canadians who are suffering. We want to help Canadians. We want to do it in a way that is appropriate.

The government cares and has compassion for Canadians who are suffering from serious illnesses. For this reason our plan will include access to a safe quality supply of marijuana. We do not want Canadians to gamble with their health in using drugs of unknown quality and drugs which may in fact do more harm. As well, its distribution would need to comply with the requirements of the food and drugs act and regulations to ensure product safety, efficacy and quality.

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Ref.):

I have only recently undertaken the role of the official opposition's deputy critic for health. My constituents and my colleagues are proud to have me speak to Motion No. 381 and express our compassion for the predicament faced by those Canadians suffering from the diseases and conditions that cause them to turn in desperation to marijuana to ease their symptoms.

Looking through the lens of compassion, my efforts on this issue are dedicated first and foremost toward the thousands of Canadians who are desperately seeking medicinal therapy for various illnesses.

In conclusion, I would say what is important to me is compassion. If nothing else works for the diseases and suffering, I do not see anything as a barrier.

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP):

Members of the Reform Party have presented different positions to us and they are certainly going through a great deal of soul searching about where they stand on this issue. There are broader issues to be addressed. I think for today it is important for all of us to say that we must address this issue from the point of view of compassion and we must do it on the basis of a great deal of urgency.

Mr. Greg Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest, PC):

Madam Speaker, the debate today really centres around the word compassion. I want to read the motion so that the viewing audience has a chance to hear it once again: That, in the opinion of this House, the government should undertake all necessary steps to legalize the use of marijuana for health and medical purposes. Those are the key words, health and medical purposes. We are talking about a compassionate use of a substance which is illegal.

Mrs. Sue Barnes (London West, Lib.):

It is a welcome step what we are doing. We need solid research efforts to commence soon. We also need to help set up a system so that those on trials are not open to criminal harassment. It is a matter of compassion. It is not fair to these people who have to fight both their disease and the law at the same time.

Mrs. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in today's debate on the use of marijuana for health purposes. This is a health debate, a justice debate, based on the values of fairness,mutual aid and compassion that we all share as a society.

Mr. Bernard Patry (Pierrefonds Dollard, Lib.):

Despite all that medicine has done to understand the human being and try to stave off death as long as possible, it seems that compassion for human suffering sometimes falls short. Demonstrating compassion towards the sick is also the role of politicians and that is why I support any legislative measure to provide controlled access to the therapeutic and medical use of marijuana.

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):

We have to be very clear that the Minister of Health has the discretion and the power today. He had it last year and the year before that but he has it today to approve applications on compassionate grounds for the medical use of marijuana. There are applications before him.

 Mr. Maurice Dumas (Argenteuil-Papineau-Mirabel, BQ):

This is an issue of compassion. The chairwoman of the board of the Vancouver Compassion Club, an organization with a membership of over 700 individuals, also supported the motion. She signed the postcard sent to federal parliamentarians, asking them to support the motion to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The club is a non-profit organization which has been providing safe and high quality marijuana since 1996 to seriously ill individuals.

Mrs. Christiane Gagnon (Qu*bec, BQ):

This is also a matter of compassion towards those who suffer from nausea, vomiting and other symptoms that often accompany chronic illnesses or are side effects of their treatments. Thousands of patients affected by cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and other illnesses reported considerable relief from smoking marijuana.

Ms. Diane St-Jacques (Shefford, PC):

As my colleague from New Brunswick Southwest said, this issue must be addressed from a compassionate point of view. We must keep an open mind and show compassion throughout this debate.

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, Ref.):

We do not know if the effects of marijuana consumed under those conditions are due to a medical or therapeutic effect due to the intrinsic pharmaceutical property of marijuana or whether this is a placebo effect. As a physician, I personally do not care. In my view, if somebody is dying they should be able to participate in whatever it takes to relieve their suffering as long as it does not hurt anybody else.

Mr. Maurice Dumas (Argenteuil-Papineau-Mirabel, BQ):

This is an issue of compassion. The chairwoman of the board of the Vancouver Compassion Club, an organization with a membership of over 700 individuals, also supported the motion. She signed the postcard sent to federal parliamentarians, asking them to support the motion to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The club is a non-profit organization which has been providing safe and high quality marijuana since 1996 to seriously ill individuals.

Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville-Musquodoboit Valley-Eastern Shore, NDP):

I do not think any one in the House could actually dictate to people who are seriously ill, who have AIDS and other ailments of that nature, what they should and should not do to feel better. Yes, we have to put precautions in place. Yes, we have to make sure that the safeguard of all Canadians, especially when it comes to their health, is paramount in any decisions that the House makes or in any recommendations from individuals. However, we have to take ourselves out of our suits once in a while and place ourselves in the position of those people who are severely disabled through various diseases, especially, for example, when it comes to the issue of AIDS.

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough, PC):

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Nova Scotia for the brevity of his remarks so that I might participate. I say at the outset that the Progressive Conservative Party agrees with comments which have been made with respect to Motion No. 381 put forward by the member for Rosemont. This is an issue of compassion.



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Last Modified:Saturday, 29-Jan-2005 19:09:41 PST
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