A vote too close to forget

dementia logoDear Editor:

 On May 6, your local MP Mr. Gordon O’Connor voted against a national dementia strategy becoming enshrined into Canadian law.

 MP Claude Gravelle’s private member’s bill C-356 was sadly defeated 140-139.

 Yes, one vote.

 Mr. O’Connor’s vote made a difference on the defeat of a credible national dementia strategy that needs anchoring in a law, with leadership from Ottawa.

 This was not a straight split among parties. Nine Conservative MPs did their homework and supported C-356. Now the Conservative government is claiming the bill encroached on provincial healthcare jurisdiction. In fact, as several media have reported, a deal had been reached between the Health Minister and the NDP for passage of the bill with several amendments. Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott even said there was nothing in the bill that could not be fixed.

Why do I care? My dear wife of almost 17 years, Lisa, was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia at the age of 43 and taken and placed into long-term care a mere two months later. Since that time, I am endeavouring to raise our three young children as best I can. However, in reality, I remain a widower with a living spouse.

That May 6th evening, our youngest son Peter (10) valiantly watched the proceedings unfold in the House of Commons. Like me, he was hoping with all his might that MPs would do the right thing so that people like his mother would be assured of receiving the care they so desperately deserve. Alas, it didn’t happen. Both he and I were heart-broken. The next day, the head of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Chris Simpson, called the result “a lost opportunity.”

MP votes matter. Mr. O’Connor’s vote mattered. It is urgent that people understand the importance of those votes and each vote and listening to what people want.

Despite the outcome, Peter and I remain resolved to do what Dr. Simpson has urged all Canadians to do – and that is to remember how MPs voted come the October election.

Matthew Dineen, OCT

Ottawa, Ontario