While there’s no doubt navigating the federal political field in Canada can be confusing for some, it’s important to remember that our elected leaders—whether we voted for them or not—are on our side.
Following that, Mark Strahl, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Chilliwack-Hope, introduced a private member’s bill in the House of Commons last week at the behest of one of his constituents.
“I’m proud to champion an issue that is important to my constituent, Deanna Badiuk, in Ottawa,” said Strahl on the floor of the House. His bill seeks to create greater awareness around Acromegaly, an extremely rare disease affecting about 2,000 Canadians, by declaring November 1 of each year Acromegaly Awareness Day.
“I am thankful that she brought this matter to my attention and for her tireless efforts to raise awareness for this rare disease,” continued Strahl.
Acromegaly patients may suffer from complications including arthritis, diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension, colonic polyps, carpal tunnel, and enlarged vital organs. And Badiuk, who’s the president and founder of the Vancouver Acromegaly Support Group, came up with the idea for the bill and brought it forth to Strahl for his consideration.
Within the Canadian government, private member bills provide opportunities for legislature to be introduced by a member who’s not acting on behalf of an executive branch.
“Every Member of Parliament who’s not a member of Cabinet can present private member bills to try out new input or to raise awareness of certain issues,” explained Strahl during a telephone interview.
There are limitations, however, as MPs can’t introduce bills that commit the government to spending any money. And it’s also a timely process: the bills must go through the legislative council and the Library of Parliament, who drafts it in (both official languages) before it’s tabled.
But “it’s an opportunity for people who aren’t a member of Cabinet to shape the debate for a certain number of hours each week. I took the opportunity to raise an issue that’s important to a group of people in my riding.”
Which is why Strahl says he introduced his bill on Feb. 28: “I tabled it on Rare Diseases Day because it is a rare disease.”
And while Strahl says “there is no chance I will be able to debate (the bill),” because it was introduced as a private member’s bill, rather than an executive bill, it won’t die on the order paper when the election is called this fall, but will instead remain when Parliament is prorogued.
“I take it very seriously when a constituent comes in and asks for help (but) Deanna is one of the first (to make this very specific request), so I’ve taken my direction from her on this (and) I’m thankful … for her tireless efforts to raise awareness of this rare disease.
“If other constituents have ideas (they’re passionate about), I would take those as they came in a case-by-case basis,” continued Strahl.