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Ontario Hansard - 01-October2018

Mr. Joel Harden: Speaker, it’s an honour to rise today, given what the minister had mentioned. This is National Seniors Day, and I appreciated the words the minister just spoke.

I also appreciate being the critic for a minister who considers himself a human rights advocate in the work you named that you did. Minister, it’s impressive. Thank you for sharing that information with us.

I also want to acknowledge that I wouldn’t be here today, personally, without seniors in my life. I think of people like Erma Davison, my grandmother, a fearless—and people in my grandparents’ church would say at times a ruthless—parishioner who made sure that our church was engaged in building our community and helping the most vulnerable.

I think of my grandfather Walter Russell Davison, who served in the Second World War, in Normandy, and taught me every day the value of fighting for freedom and the need to speak up against hate and intolerance. He told me about his comrades who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

I think of my mother, who is now a senior, Rosemary Harden. Soon we’re going to be celebrating her 70th birthday. All of my siblings and I are going to get together and remember mom, an arts teacher, a chorister, a private piano teacher who, as the previous speaker had indicated, builds our community up through the arts; my father, Reg Harden, who had a successful small business in Hawkesbury, Ontario, in jewellery retail, who sent me to school and gave me a successful lot in life.

I celebrate all of these seniors who made my life special.

When I think about the legacy seniors gave us—particularly the class of 1946, the veterans who came back from the Second World War—I think about the Canada they wanted to build, a Canada with public health care for all, a Canada where everybody who was able and willing could find themselves decent employment, a Canada that made sure we looked after people with disabilities and people who are marginalized through no fault of their own. When I think about that legacy, I can’t help but reflect on things I’ve seen in this House in the last three months.

Specifically, Speaker, I arrived in this building late today because I spent the morning in a courtroom in Ottawa. I was in a courtroom in Ottawa bearing witness and friendship to Norman Traversy. Norman Traversy was a firefighter in the city of Mississauga who, for 12 years, has been fighting for WSIB coverage for five diagnoses of post-traumatic stress. We’ve had a lot of platitudes expressed in this place about respect for police, firefighters, paramedics and crisis workers. But my friend Norm was in a courtroom today—a personal civil suit he’s had to launch against the city of Mississauga—because his post-traumatic stress has not been diagnosed. Next month, Norm will be 63. Most firefighters retire at the age of 60. It’s a difficult job that bears considerable mental and physical duress.

I think it’s high time for us to celebrate what the minister has said, to celebrate seniors every single day, but into the record today I want to acknowledge that we’re dealing with a government right now, in this place, which has lowered safety and insurance premiums for employers by 30% in January.

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