Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Kavchak Slams Harper Conservatives Shameful Autism Hypocrisy

The Hill Times opinion section features a letter by well known Canadian autism advocate Andrew Kavchak slamming the shameful hypocrisy of the Harper Conservative Party on the national autism issue.


The Hill Times
Monday, March 5, 2007.
Editorial Page, p. 8.

Page 8 has a picture of MP Pierre Poilievre with a caption that reads: "He's a government man now: Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, above, and the governing Tories voted against Bill C-304, turning their backs on disabled children, says letter-writer Andrew Kavchak."

Letter to the Editor

Conservative Hypocrisy on autism and Bill C-304

It was with profound disappointment that families with autistic children across Canada watched the Conservatives gang up with the Bloc on February 21, 2007 to defeat Bill C-304 after second reading and before a House committee even had a chance to examine the Bill's contents.

The Bill would have created a National Autism Strategy and included autism treatment in Medicare which is currently a huge gap in our public health insurance system.

It is difficult to understand Conservative Party schizophrenia on the autism file. In the last election they ran on healthcare and childcare. This gave parents of autistic children hope since their kids were getting neither healthcare nor appropriate childcare.

Moreover, just two months ago the Conservatives voted in support of Motion M-172 to create a National Autism Strategy. However, motions are not binding.

Bill C-304 would have required the Health Minister to negotiate a strategy with his provincial counterparts and table the plan in the House. That won't happen now. Are national strategies only reserved for conditions which the provinces already treat? What kind of leadership is that?

Perhaps the Conservative Party's approach is best understood by the writings and actions of Pierre Poilievre. When Mr. Poilievre was in opposition he was approached by a number of families with autistic kids who pleaded for assistance. He attended and spoke at an autism rally and press conference. His position was stated in an op-ed article of his that was published with his picture in The Hill Times on March 21, 2005 with the title "Birth of a child shouldn't become healthcare roulette: exclusion of autism treatment from Canada's medicare".

After accusing the then governing Liberals of "a new and shameful low in Liberal hypocrisy" for their intervention at the Supreme Court of Canada in the Auton case, he went on to say: "So what can be done? We must amend the Health Act so medicare will include effective, scientifically-validated autism treatment for children with autism".

Now that he voted against Bill C-304, shall we call this turning of their backs on disabled children "a new and shameful low in Conservative hypocrisy"?

Andrew Kavchak,
Ottawa, Ont.

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