I do not understand the apathy I am witnessing regarding Bill C-54. Anyone with an interest in mental health should be up in arms. I was once simply depressed, I was once simply bi-polar, I was once simply suicidal. If you think your illness will never carry you to places that seem extreme and unpalatable you are blessed with some static form of mental illness. You are also naïve. My path was not chosen, it wasn’t imagined or predicted…neither is yours!
This government is implementing a law based on extreme cases and public outcry. Where was the Photo Op with Not Criminally Responsible individuals who have been rehabilitated and lead productive and peaceful lives? Possibly Stephen can’t smile twice in a day. Such a scenario would diminish the fear which the Conservatives are using to catapult this Bill into law. The math of the situation is such that there are more individuals who do less and do well. If the Conservatives abandoned their misinformation they might have to alter a law that they assume will garner votes. There is no sensationalism in a life that returns to normal.
What does this government propose to do about the backlog that will only be exasperated by incarcerating individuals with “sentences”? We will have the mentally ill housed in jails for longer periods putting not only their safety in jeopardy but also their health. I am not the only one who spent extended periods isolated in the Hole.
It is commendable that this government is giving voice to half of those affected by severe mental illness. It is deplorable they do not consider victims of mental illness. One in five is affected by mental illness. It seems this government is more interested in a popular decision rather than a proper decision. It would be unfortunate if the one in five stood up and said “no thanks”. If a law can save one life it needs to be considered. When others have to lay theirs down it should be scrutinized.
If I suffer from a delusion and commit an act that offends society and subsequently myself I am diseased; I am not the devil. I felt no fear while on Forensic units. People were not evil, they were simply ill. Being in jail was quite different. Evil cannot be medicated.
When a delusional father murders his children we cannot understand. Severe mental illness is foreign to most of us and such acts fly in the face of the love we can all identify with parenthood. Only if you remove the robes and step down from the judge’s perch can you consider the fact that mental illness is the true culprit. It is part of the accused but it is not the accused. It can be controlled but mental illness is immune to your thirst for retribution. You can punish the offender but that person is only a vessel. It is like throwing out the pitcher that housed the spilled milk. It is the agent and not the vessel that is responsible.
This government is punishing the severely mentally ill. I have lived without the “privilege” of walking outside. It withers the soul and denies the spirit the breath of life. The next time you take your medication replace your juice with absolute incarceration. Imagine for a moment how therapeutic your existence would be locked on a ward with bars on the windows. Imagine for a moment the value of sunshine; imagine for a moment the value of a breeze. Be thankful you do not stand in line for those medications and please be indignant over the fact that your government considers this access to treatment.
Life is not fair. Tragedy strikes. Regardless of our actions after the fact, regardless of our treatment of the accused we must live with the loss. Enacting revenge may provide a sense of justice but at times justice does not exist. Should we decapitate Vincent Lee; who among you will eat his heart? An eye for an eye leaves two people blind. We can never forget but forgiveness is the only avenue to peace. As Canadians we have agreed that an eye for an eye is not what we wish to emulate yet it still occupies many hearts. It is an ill fated attempt at exacting control of uncontrollable events.
Outside of votes I can see no reason for a government to pander to misconceptions and perpetuate stigma. We throw our support behind anti-stigma campaigns and anti-bullying programs while the government throws dirt on mental illness and steps on the necks of its most vulnerable citizens.
If you believe Bill C-54 will prevent atrocities like those that found expression through Vincent Lee you have been duped by your government. Only improved mental health services on the street could have prevented this sadness.