Help From the Hill

I spent some time on Friday trying to ascertain how I might become involved with Bill C-54. I did receive some guidance from my Member of Parliament’s office (see Curriculum Vitae) but was essentially directed to the Minister of Justice. This is where I began. I called Minister Rob Nicholson’s office (613- 995-1547) to get more specific answers. Since Mr. Nicholson also has a constituency I made the mistake of not calling the Justice Department he heads. Interestingly, the first answer or rather question was “What is Bill C-54?” It’s not really their shtick so I wasn’t surprised. I was advised to call the Ministry of Justice as they could answer my questions. I did so. “Could you give me some more information on Bill C-54?” “I don’t think that’s a Justice Bill…it’s not ringing a bell…just a minute.” The Justice Department can be forgiven for not knowing what Bill C-54 is. There are 360 Bills before parliament presently. This includes the 33 introduced by the senate. The majority are sponsored by individual MP’s. The Minister of Justice has introduced 8. I would be unable to keep 8 Bills straight so how can I expect someone who is paid to. Once it was confirmed that Bill C-54 was in fact a Justice Bill I was directed to a website where I could peruse the Bill itself. “How do I get involved in the processing of Bill C-54?” “You’ll have to ask Parliament of Canada.” “What is the next step for this Bill?” “You’ll have to ask Parliament of Canada.” 1-866-599-4999 pulled me into an automated loop with a busy signal through which I was eventually put on hold for 10 minutes. I ended up with a more cheerful voice who spouted off the next 8 or so steps for the Bill. “How do I get involved in the processing of Bill-C-54?” “You would have to get in touch with Minister Nicholson’s office.” “I spoke to his office and the Justice Department.” “I’ll connect you.” I got the office answering machine as visions of secretaries hiding under their desks flashed through my mind. I felt I had made enough of a pest of myself and was conscious of taxpayers’ dollars; besides I had an appointment to bang my head against the closest wall so I left no message.  Maybe we need a Canadian embassy in Canada to help citizens when they need to interact with their own government?

4 thoughts on “Help From the Hill

  1. I am so disappointed in our system and our society Brett. I know you have alot of contacts and am surprised that others in the mental health field are not speaking up. Keep trying. No response yet from my (conservative) mp — not surprising.

    • Thanks for your continued support Barb. I would be a fool to think it hasn’t always been there. It seems to be easier to interact with our politicians when there is an election. After the fact I fear they assume their mandate should remain unchallenged. Possibly, they do not wish to hear from someone who was once delusional. In my opinion the prime minister himself is delusional…he actually believes he has a majority. I wish others would contact their members of parliament regarding this bill at least. I believe the lack of outcry rests squarely on stigma. Many attitudes are based on headlines. When all that is reported are the atrocities and the act is the focus we lose sight of the person, their families and communities. This Bill could affect anyone but we assume bad things happen to bad people and that someone must pay the ticket. Mental illness can’t be punished or locked away so we act on the individual. Historically we have treated these individuals differently from their “common” counterparts. This bill will lead to life sentences for some and jail like conditions. When the government doesn’t even know the statistics for recidivism I assume they know even less about the numbers behind rehabilitation. Just because an illness is linked to a crime does not make it untreatable. How does an act or action in the past interfere with medication and therapy? Does the fact that I broke the law cause the medications to dissolve differently? I am preaching to the choir, thanks again for your support.

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