Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Harper's Naked Self Interest Has Put This Country's Business on Hold

Despite their constantly changing messages about why they prorogued Parliament, we know it was to shut down the Afghan Detainee issue, which will now be abolished through backroom maneuvering; and the lobbying scandal that is being investigated.

But shutting down Parliament had an impact on Canadians across the country. One woman in Dundas voiced her concern over this extremely selfish act.

Facebook protest just keeps growing
January 27, 2010
By Laura Feeney

Last weekend, demonstrations were held across the country regarding prorogation of Parliament for the second time in less than a year.

In all, 36 pieces of legislation died on the order paper, after months of hearings and debate, and when Parliament finally does get back to work all this legislation will have to start all over again.

It will cost the taxpayer millions of dollars to re-enact these 36 pieces of legislation, as well as keeping Parliament shut until March 3. I don't know about you but I can think of other uses for my tax dollars, and with the numbers who showed up this past weekend it is apparent other Canadians felt the same way.

On Saturday morning, the population of "chattering classes" (as per a quote from MP Tony Clement) on the Canadians Against Prorogation of Parliament had reached 212,000.

As I write this, it has topped 216,000, and this is the Monday after the demonstrations across Canada. I joined this group as a Canadian who sees democracy under attack, and I spoke outside Oshawa MP Colin Carrie's Oshawa office on Saturday and said exactly that.

Members of my family fought in the Second World War against actions like this, and while our troops are over in Afghanistan fighting for democratic freedoms Stephen Harper is back home trampling on ours.

There was no need for Mr. Harper to prorogue Parliament. None. He did it simply to avoid questions about the Afghan allegations of torture and accountability, and then he has the nerve to tell me that Canadians "don't care about Afghanistan, they care about the economy."

Funny, I don't recall Mr. Harper asking me what I thought and I am perfectly capable of thinking for myself, thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. Any MP who steps out of line or causes waves is up for demotion, or as Mr. Harper has said himself: "You will find your political career very short."

Monday was to be the day that MPs were to be back in the Commons, representing their constituents and doing the job we are paying them to do.

Instead, we have closed and locked doors on our House.

And Dr. Kirsty Duncan outlines what it has meant in another important area:

Dementia in Canada: Important work on hold while Harper shuts down Parliament
January 27, 2010

Stephen Harper's decision to shut down Parliament in a secretive, undemocratic gesture on December 30th has generated a lot of discontent among Canadians. We've heard a lot about the consequences of this prorogation on the important work of the Parliamentary committee investigating the Afghan detainees' scandal, but there are a number of other venues where Harper's decision is letting the government escape tough questions regarding their responsibilities.

Case in point, the prorogation also put on hold the work of the Neurological Diseases subcommittee. Parliamentarians from all opposition parties worked hard to create this subcommittee, which was finally established recently with the aim of looking at strategies to reduce the burden of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer's disease , and Parkinson's disease -neurological diseases borne across each age group and every segment of society in Canada.

We have an ageing population, which will be sadly impacted by Alzheimer's and Parkinson's; both diseases will place significant demands on our health system and our economy. One in three, or 10 million, Canadians will be affected by a neurological or psychiatric disease, disorder or injury at some point in their lives. Last week's report from the Alzheimer Society of Canada highlighted that while there was one new case of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias in Canada every five minutes in 2008, there will be one new case every two minutes in 2038.

A common thread links ALS, MS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's: namely, there are no cures, and no effective treatments that consistently slow or stop the course of these devastating neurodegenerative diseases. The prevention and treatment of these disorders represents one of the critical goals of medical research today. NeuroScience Canada estimates that about $100 million at most is invested in operating costs for neuroscience research in Canada annually. This is far from enough.

The Neurological Diseases subcommittee was to begin two days of expert testimony in February; witnesses were to include decision-makers, scientists, and stakeholders. They were very keen to have the opportunity to discuss how we can pool resources to address neurological disorders, what kind of research should be pursued, and what kind of help should be provided to families affected by these diseases.

Unfortunately, as more and more Canadians are realizing, this government is mainly driven by electoral goals, which does not go along with the responsibility to address long-term issues like dementia. With his self-interested decision to shut down Parliament, Stephen Harper not only demonstrated that he was ready to do anything to avoid accountability, but also that he was willing to waste so much of Parliament's work over the past year. Let's hope that the Neurological Diseases subcommittee will be reconstituted with little delay when Parliament resumes, so we can continue our work on this important issue for the benefit of all Canadians.

Dr. Kirsty Duncan, MP, will host an Alzheimer's and Dementia Roundtable on Parliament Hill on Friday, January 29th. This roundtable will further important discussions on research into the cause, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of dementia and neurodegenerative diseases. It will also address strategies to ease the burden on the caregivers and families of patients with illnesses. For more information, please contact Dr. Duncan's office at
or call 613-995-4702.

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