Dr. Swann Member Statement on Opioid Use – 9 March 2017

Taken from the Alberta Hansard for Thursday, March 9, 2017.

Member Statement – Opioid Use

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This week in a rare display of nonpartisan co-operation we held an important debate on the opioid crisis, and I thank my colleagues across both sides for that.

We also heard from two courageous advocates for better education and more action on the devastating effects of opioid abuse and addiction. Petra Schulz, who lost her son Danny, works with Moms Stop the Harm, a network of Canadian mothers and families whose loved ones have died from substance misuse. Rosalind Davis, who lost her partner Nathan, started the Changing the Face of Addiction organization, a not-for-profit seeking political change and reduced stigma on drug and addictions issues. They say that the government’s refusal to recognize a state of emergency is unacceptable. It perpetuates stigma about opioid-related deaths.

To its credit, the government has taken a number of positive steps, but its approach has mainly been reactive, not integrated across government and nongovernment organizations. Opioid-related overdoses and deaths are reaching unprecedented levels and have now become a national crisis. We don’t have the whole picture yet because the data is simply not available, but what we do know is deeply troubling. In 2016 there were 343 deaths just from fentanyl and many more from other opioids yet to be classified. This 33 per cent increase in one year shows that the crisis is growing at an alarming rate.

If we were getting ahead of it, then I might agree with the NDP, but we’re five years into this, and the government, by its own admission, is still developing the strategy. We require focused leadership and a crossdepartment strategy that would provide co-ordination between all government ministries and nongovernment sectors of society.

Finally, we need to recognize this for what it is, an emergency, and use every means at our disposal to save Albertans’ lives.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Dr. Swann Member Statement on International Women’s Day – 8 March 2017

Taken from the Alberta Hansard for Wednesday, March 8, 2017.

Member Statement – International Women’s Day

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. An honour to stand with the Liberal caucus on this important day of celebrating women. Today we celebrate the achievements made in gender equality over many years. Just over 100 years ago women did not have the right to vote. Even 50 years ago the franchise was still withheld from our First Nations women. Today women hold 1 in 3 seats in this House. While there is still much progress that needs to be made on many women’s issues, this is an encouraging trend. I look forward to seeing it continue into the future.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is Be Bold for Change. Across Canada, Alberta, and the world individuals and organizations are honouring this day by encouraging women to be bold and, by doing so, with the full support of real men, create real change.

I particularly want to acknowledge the work of Ask Her, a group in Calgary that’s working to encourage the greater representation of women in municipal politics. Ask Her recognizes that one of the reasons so few women hold public office is that they are too rarely asked to run. As such, they encourage Calgarians to seek out strong, qualified women in their communities and ask them to take leader-ship roles. This year Ask Her will ask 20 women to run for Calgary city council. At present only two of the city’s 14 councillors are women, a meagre 14 per cent. Ask Her aims to achieve 50 per cent female representation on council after this fall’s election, and they have my full support.

Our province, our country, our society are made better when strong, passionate, engaged women are involved in their communities and bring their voices to the table. This International Women’s Day we have much to celebrate in the progress women have made. I encourage women, especially young women, to continue to press forward, be bold, and take the lead in creating the change we all so desperately need.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. [Standing ovation]

Dr. Swann Member Statement on Violence against Women and Girls – 24 November 2016

Taken from the Alberta Hansard for Thursday, November 24, 2016.

Member Statement – Violence against Women and Girls

Dr. Swann: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It’s my honour to stand, too, and speak to International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Around the world mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers are at risk of injury simply because they are female. In Canada alone the statistics are horrifying. Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence. On any given night in Canada 3,500 women and

2,700 children live in shelters because it isn’t safe at home, and on any given night 300 women and children are turned away from shelters that are already full in Canada. Finally, every week a woman is killed by her intimate partner in this country.

Violence includes the far more common psychological abuse, trauma every bit as damaging as physical trauma, causing fear, anxiety, and even suicide among women and their children. These may appear to be distant acts committed by anonymous people, but the women suffering, often in silence, are our friends, our neighbours, our family, our co-workers.

Right here in this Chamber the hon. Member for Calgary-North West has to be guarded physically because of the utterly contemptuous threat to her life. Tomorrow is not only a recognition of this widespread violence; it’s also a commitment to end the violence, a task that falls to all of us.

Silence is complicity. Strong supportive voices, especially from men and boys, must be heard to say that misogyny, whether oral, in print, in social media cannot be tolerated. Awareness, education, and advocacy are tools used to fight this, but we in this Assembly have the power to do more. We can pass bills, reduce poverty, increase access to education and life skills for girls and boys, and ensure stable, safe living environments for women and children, as well as improve the criminal justice response. By speaking and acting together against violence wherever it occurs, by increasing the supports available to women and the children they care for, we will end violence against women.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. [Standing ovation]

Dr. Swann Member Statement on Hon. Peter Eric James Prentice – 21 November 2016

Taken from the Alberta Hansard for Monday, November 21, 2016.

Member Statement – Hon. Peter Eric James Prentice, PC, QC July 20, 1956, to October 13, 2016

Dr. Swann: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The passing of Jim Prentice and three others in the tragic airplane crash last month is a loss to us all. Jim’s story is quintessentially Canadian, the blue-collar son of a hockey player who worked the mines to pay for law school, a lawyer who chose to direct his career towards the most challenging and perhaps least glamorous area of Canadian law, helping First Nations. Jim was a statesman whose principles demanded his participation in the public sphere, both federal and provincial, and whose talent brought him to the highest levels. Above all, Jim was an Albertan who saw his province in need and returned to make peace where there was division and unrest.

Jim and I disagreed on many things – after all, he was a Conservative and I’m a Liberal – but our ridings overlapped, and on the occasions where we worked together, I saw what so many had. Jim was kind, earnest, hard working, intelligent. His constitu-ents had no greater advocate than Jim.

For Jim’s family he was a devoted father and husband rather than the great politician the rest of us knew, and his passing is certainly one of personal tragedy. Their home is a stone’s throw from my own, and I know our community has mourned with the family. Words, of course, are insufficient, but please know that you, the family of Jim, are in our hearts, thoughts, and prayers.

The world is changing quickly, and there are tumultuous times ahead for Alberta and for all of Canada. Jim’s passing has taken from us someone whose guidance, patience, and experience will be missed sorely. I believe, though, that his legacy as coal miner turned lawyer turned statesman will inspire in us all a belief that we’re all in this together, and it is celebrating our differences, not trumpeting our similarities, which makes Jim Prentice’s Canada strong and free.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Dr. Swann Member Statement on Oil Sands Emissions Limit Act – 10 November 2016

Taken from the Alberta Hansard for Thursday, November 10, 2016.

Member Statement – Oil Sands Emissions Limit Act

Dr. Swann: I stand today to speak on a very difficult new reality for Albertans who believe the science of climate change and the urgent need for greenhouse gas mitigation. Strong leadership was long overdue in Alberta. All of us must share in the cost of reducing emissions. This government has shown welcome leadership, but real change is never easy. It’s even less easy following the election of an unpredictable U.S. President who denies man-made climate change.

While I support the targets and timelines for cleaner energy development with its triple benefit for climate, jobs, and an alternate economy, we must hit pause on other parts of our energy-focused legislation, especially on less urgent bills such as Bill 25. Given Alberta’s deep dependence on oil and gas, our current economic weakness, and the yet unknown economic threat from the U.S., I see merit in pausing and allowing the new reality and expert views to inform further our decision on the bill before us. Not stop, just pause, a pregnant pause, perhaps.

I’ve heard the Premier say that her climate plan was developed independently and that actions of our biggest customer and competitor will have no effect. Even so, I don’t believe that anyone planned for the U.S. to go full speed in reverse. Proposals announced by Mr. Trump in his truth-challenged campaign have already begun to unfetter the U.S. fossil fuel industry and may drastically alter the investment climate and competitiveness here in Alberta. The ramifications of this election are sending shock waves through the global and Canadian economies. From free trade to energy, many U.S. policies are now in doubt. We have no idea yet what economic effect these changes will have on Alberta, nor have we in opposition yet seen a reasonable analysis of the effects our Alberta carbon policies might have.

Here in this House we serve Albertans. We’re mandated to craft for them the best possible laws, policies, and regulations. Our struggling economy and uncertain investment climate are now faced with unpredictability that will be better understood in the new year, when the oil sands advisory group reports.