I want to take a moment to just steal another thought. When I was away I came to where I saw news broadcasts in a different light. What I saw was that they appeared as manifestoes of truth. They took on a new predominance. Forgotten was my privilege of being a member of Parliament where I had an inordinate other range of sources by which I could seek other opportunities for research and knowledge. I found out that when the media prepares the seed bed of knowledge, it almost always harrows and seldom ploughs. Moreover, when it does plough it is usually looking for worms rather than for turning up more fertile soil.
By and large the news is too negative. While I was away, I watched dead body TV news broadcasts, features where bodies from Yugoslavia, Somalia, South Africa, airline crashes, convenience store hold-ups or wherever else they might be found. No one would deny that these subjects are newsworthy, but news ought not to be limited to being a catalogue of misery. News disseminators must go beyond presenting an index of what went wrong on a given day. We have a legitimate right to ask: Where are the achievements, the advancements, the excellence, the happiness, the joy, family, camaraderie, peace, opportunity, heroics and a thousand other positive dimensions of human life? I am 55 years of age. Apart from funerals, I have seen one dead Canadian body in my life. In the news death is a daily diet.
I am a member of Parliament and I have witnessed excellence and achievements from groups such as women, men, youth, educators, scientists, industrialists, agriculturalists, new Canadians, established Canadians, senior citizens, artists, musicians, across a spectrum of trades and a host of other categories. News tends to be an overemphasis of graphic treatment of violence and disorder. Too much attention is given to champions of wrong.
Many Canadians, unfortunately, are becoming dropouts to news observers and I found it very amazing, the number of educated people that I associated with in hospital who said they no longer watched news. I say to the media: "Scrutinize we who are politicians because you should, but note you enjoy a special privilege. You are uniquely immune from formal criticism. If there is to be hope and happiness, we need a free press but we need one that balances good and evil, hope and despair".
I want to make three quick comments that reflect on my surgery and then take my seat.
I am feeling well. I feel very well. I am also cognizant of the fact that it is only by the coincidence of luck that I and my needs were able to be attended to and corrected because I was among the fortunate whose needs and this technological moment in histoiy coincided. This is not a situation I planned or made happen; it is purely a fact of existence beyond my control. I am grateful for my fortune.
Second, though I have realized this before, now more than ever, I am thankful for being Canadian. Not only am I a citizen in a nation of medical excellence, but also one who was privileged by the reality of our medical affordability. Some other nations as wealthy as ours cannot make that claim.
Third, my present existence is a blessing that is not in disguise. My family's relief flows from another family's sorrow. My opportunities continue because another's ended. My gratitude toward the family of an unknown donor is daily and it shall be life-long. To whomever those persons are and all others who are willing to become organ donors, I express my thanks.
I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, that I would never, even after my inordinate advantage, ask all Canadians to become potential organ donors. First, there is not such an extensive need. Second, there are many who for personal and moral and sometimes religious reasons have cause to resist being organ donors. This is a legitimate opinion and it must be respected.
However for those who upon examining their consciences are willing to allow themselves to be organ donors, I appeal to them now to talk about it with their families and loved ones, affirm their conclusions, and then sign the donor permission card and carry it on their person. Importantly I say: "Don't do it this weekend or over the Christmas vacation or some other time in the near or distant future, but make a note now and do it at your very first opportunity".
In a survey done by the Kidney Foundation of Canada, 90 per cent of respondents expressed a willingness to be organ donors, yet only 20 per cent have talked it over with friends and family or signed organ donor cards.
Today the need for organ donors is much larger than our available capacity, yet our need could be met if only 50 per cent of potential donors had provided an affirmative signal to be one. The need is most acute and most unfortunate among children.
It is an interesting irony that I come from a small community in Alberta, the community of Camrose with only 13,000 persons, and two of us from that area within a month required transplant organs. The two differences between us, significant differences, are that she required a liver and I required a heart. The other difference is that I was nearly 55; she was just 5. But her situation was very critical and very urgent in terms of the amount of time she had left. An organ was found from another community, from another province, and Jenny, a beautiful, ambitious, active child, is healthy and well today. But she is so, again because a program was available.
For the hope of Canadians, and there are so many, I simply plead: "If it is within your conscience to sign an organ donor card, do so because you are being so helpful to so many others".
November 26, 1992
As I take my seat, I want to restate how pleased I am to be back among all members and to be working together on behalf of Canada and Canadians. I wish to share with them that they are as lucky as me for while I have benefited directly from the marvels of modem medicine, all of us as members of Parliament and all us as Canadian citizens have the assurance that Canada is a caring place capable and willing to help should we ever be in a situation where that need occurs.
I say, Mr. Speaker, thank you, Canada; may we always stand on guard for thee.
Topic: ORAL QUESTION PERIOD