Many of you know I have been doing speeches against euthanasia since retiring from the National Post in January 2014. Most also know that I have a very painful spinal issue that limits my activities.
So it was with some trepidation that I agreed, many months ago, to speak at a dinner in Cambridge Ontario. I figured by the time it rolled around I would be feeling much better.
I was so wrong.
But a promise is a promise so on a recent Thursday I headed out to Cambridge west down the dreaded 401. What should have taken 70 minutes with no traffic or two hours with some traffic turned into three hours of misery. Then to add to the fun I got lost. Urbanites like myself do not do well with regional roads.
So at some point, in pain and with a throbbing headache from said pain, I ended up in a nearby city. I don't own a cell phone but I figured I'd be able to use a phone at a gas station or find a pay phone. Guess what? No one likes to let you use his or her phones for fear you'll call your Oma in Berlin or you favourite Aunt in Hong Kong. And, as I discovered, there are no pay phones.
Finally some good soul took pity on me and lent me his cell phone. The connection was so bad that I couldn't hear what was being said so I finally broke down babbling and yelling that I would never make it. It wasn't one of my proudest moments but every once in a while I cut myself a break.
Someone standing by where I was yelling heard me mention the conference centre. He gave me simple directions and miracle of miracle I did find the right Canadian Tire at the bottom of the right hill.
By the time I arrived at the conference centre I was in massive pain and sweating. As I got out of the car, hobbled, I thought that there was no way I can pull this off. Though I did.
I had enough personal fury to carry me through. For as angry as I was for getting lost and being in severe pain it could not match my disgust with what is happening in Parliament and how we are being kicked down the road to perdition.
It didn't help that CBC radio was doing endless stories of what some dim light named "elbowgate" — the ridiculous event in Parliament when our illustrious prime minister ran across the floor and grabbed the Tory Whip (very kinky sounding to an American) and in the process elbowed a NDP MP by accident. I nearly punched the dashboard when I heard that some Tory MP accused Justin Trudeau of molestation. Oy vey!
The CBC report kept replaying the endless "profound" apologies of Trudeau's. Then there were the endless discussions about what his misbehaviour meant for his future and the future of the House of Commons.
I'm not a wise guy but I knew the answer: Nothing.
But barely mentioned on CBC or in the newspapers following the “incident” was what drove Trudeau across the floor. He was attempting to close debate on Bill C14, the euthanasia bill.
Two things here: We know that Trudeau, despite his claims otherwise, is anti-democratic. This was the same man who banned pro-life candidates from the Liberal Party. Then this motion to limit debate also showed a strong authoritarian streak. What is the purpose of Parliament if not to air important issues? Though as many of us who oppose euthanasia know that this is not really an important issue. Just another bill in the business of Parliament.
It's shameful enough that there was no debate during the federal election concerning euthanasia but now it's barely taking place in Parliament. That is what was driving my fury. Shouldn't the media in this country be outraged at that? I understand procedure and the need for it to be followed but walking across the floor of the House is not exactly a nuclear attack or molestation.
I don't remember much about my talk in Cambridge. It seemed to come out of me without barely looking at my notes. I can only say for certain that I was on fire. It was as if something else took over and I gave way to my disgust and anger about what is going on in our country. Clearly the listeners caught my mood given the number of ovations and the questions that followed.
Let me add one more thing. The last question of the night was from a very thoughtful woman who asked the following:
"Have we as a nation become complacent?"I was about to answer but stopped myself. Instead I asked the woman a question:
"Have you become complacent?"The question stopped her dead.