Autism Reality

National Autism Political Strategy, Dartmouth, May 26, 2007

Yesterday began early up at 5, off to gas up and then on the road to the Dartmouth Holiday Inn to meet the folks from FEAT-BC as part of their national autism strategy tour. Above, the charming ladies at the registration desk got everybody signed in and welcomed. My sister, Belinda Doherty, and Chris (aka Jim aka Bruce ) Armstrong arrive from the Valley. (Annapolis Valley), Shawn Murphy, Senator Jim Munson and Andy Scott exchange pleasantries, Andy and Jean Lewis from FEAT-BC, Denise Cameron Scott TRIES to grab a relaxing moment after a long journey but is bothered by a pesky blogger, Brian Rimpilaenan travelled from Fredericton for the event, and last but far from least, Peter Stoffer, who with Andy Scott in presenting a national autism strategy motion in the House of Commons cleans up on the door prize a beautiful piece of art by a BC First Nations artist.

It was a great day and the message we all shared was crystal clear. It is time for the autism community in Canada to GET POLITICAL. The courts have, as was noted in some of the speeches, washed their hands of Canada’s vulnerable autistic citizens. For autistic children in Canada section 15 has been turned into an empty and hollow promise by the Supreme Court of Canada decisions in Auton and Deskin-Wyneberg. Political solutions are all that is left and political solutions, as past history in BC and Ontario has shown, will not come easy, with politicians, once elected, backtracking on and backing out of their promises. For some unknown reason judges and political leaders both feel free to disregard the compelling realities, needs and challenges of Canada’s autistic children and adults.

But politics remains the only solution and there has been progress, real progress, on the national political scene. The Scott-Stoffer motion put autism in the national political consciousness. The valian effort by Shawn Murphy was defeated on the votes but it continued that growth of political consciousness, and continued the momentum towards a true national political solution to Canada’s autism crisis.

The FEAT people intend to focus on ridings where the margin of victory in the last election was 2% or less and work on electing candidates with a commitment to autism. That looks like it will achieve some good results but it is not enough. Individual MP’s do not establish laws or otherwise govern in our party based parliamentary democracy. Parties, usually under tight Prime Ministerial direction, govern in Canada. That means the autism community must help elect parties that WILL introduce legislation to include ABA, and any other evidence based treatments for autism, in Canada’s national medicare coverage scheme. As Murphy, Munson, Stoffer and Scott all noted, that can be done in Canada’s cooperative form of federalism regardess of who has primary constitutional jurisdiction over Health care.

But our political history is clear on this subject. Medicare was an idea borne of the NDP (CCF) and was put into effect by the Liberals. More recently the Bloc Quebecois and Stephen Harper’s Neo-Con Conservatives all voted unanimously against including autism treatment in medicare. Any realistic national political strategy must acknowledge these realities. And we must be candid with the autism community and with Canadians. As a dad with an autistic son my party is the Autism Party which exists only in my mind and my heart, but guides my political actions. And it tells me that the best interests of autistic Canadians will be served by electing Liberals and NDP members of parliament so that one or either or both in a minority government situation, can actually pass legislation to include autism treatment coverage in Medicare. Let’s GET POLITICAL, let’s elect a government which will include autism treatment in Medicare so that autistic Canadians wherever they live will receive effective government funded autism treatment.

Thanks to Jim Young of FEAT-NS whose province hosted this event and the folks from FEAT-BC who have done so much for the cause of autism in Canada. Special thanks too, to the politicians with consciences, Andy Scott, Peter Stoffer, Shawn Murphy and Jim Munson, all of whom have made serious efforts to advance the cause of autism nationally.

May 27, 2007 Posted by | Andy Scott, FEAT BC, Jean Lewis, Jim Munson, Jim Young, national autism strategy, Peter Stoffer, Shawn Murphy, Stephen Harper | 1 Comment

FEAT-BC Goes Coastal, Salutes Autism Champions at Halifax Sat May 26, 2 to 5

FEAT-BC has been a leader in the autism struggle in Canada and now they are coming east to Halifax this Saturday May 26 from 2 to 5 at the Holiday Inn to salute four federal autism champions Andy Scott, Peter Stoffer, Shawn Murphy and Jim Munson, and to meet with Maritimers to discuss development of a national autism federal election strategy. Interested in autism? Then come on out!

“FEAT BC goes coastal” tour to Halifax

Vancouver, B.C. – Jean Lewis, founding director of FEAT-BC (Families for Early Autism Treatment of BC) today announced that she and other representatives of FEAT-BC will be travelling to Halifax on Saturday, May 26th for a gathering of parents of autistic children and their supporters from across the Maritimes.

“One purpose of this event is to recognize the leadership of MPs Shawn Murphy, Andy Scott, and Peter Stoffer, as well as that of Senator Jim Munson, in the fight to get Medicare coverage for autism now,” said Lewis. “These men have distinguished themselves among Canadian parliamentarians with their dedication to curtailing this emerging health care crisis. Parents of autistic children and supporters look forward to thanking them personally.”

The principal purpose of the gathering is to organize a team of FEAT activists for deployment during the upcoming federal election in select constituencies across the Maritimes.

On the way to Halifax, stops are planned in Ottawa and Toronto for meetings with Ontario-based parent activists.

At 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 24th, a news conference will be held in the Charles Lynch Press Room on Parliament Hill.

FEAT-BC (Families for Early Autism Treatment of BC) is a not-for-profit volunteer organization of parents and professionals working towards universal access to effective, science-based treatment for all Canadians diagnosed with autism in Canada.


For further information, contact: Jean Lewis at, or telephone 604-925-4401 or 604-290-5737.

May 23, 2007 Posted by | Andy Scott, autism, FEAT, Jim Munson, national autism strategy, Peter Stoffer, Shawn Murphy | Leave a comment

Autism Supporter & Election Candidate – Stewart C. Paul (L) Tobique-Mactaquac

The current Conservative government of Stephen Harper, backed by the separatist Bloc Quebecois, voted down the Shawn Murphy motion to amend the Canada Health Act to ensure that autistic children, regardless of where they happened to live in Canada would receive government funded proven effective ABA treatment for their autism. The budget brought down by the Harper government gave $0 ZERO dollars for autism. Conservative MP’s across Canada have marched in lockstep uniformity to deny federal government assistance for autism even elminating funds for a well respected autism summer camp in Ontario. The next election will be critical for the success of efforts to put in place a serious national autism strategy in Canada and it is important to identify and support candidates who are prepared to support a national autism strategy. One such candidate is Stewart C. Paul the Liberal candidate for Tobique-Mactaquac here in New Brunswick.

Stewart is a long time friend, and professional associate, who has been very supportive of my efforts on behalf of my son Conor and of the cause of autism generally. He has pledged to support a national autism strategy if elected and he has the background to know how to offer effective support on the national scene. Stewart Paul is the Liberal candidate for Tobique-Mactaquac and a supporter of the cause of autistic persons on the national scene in Ottawa. If you live in the Tobique-Mactaquac area and have an autistic child or know someone who is autistic or if you are yourself autistic remember Stewart Paul when you cast your ballot in the next federal election.

Born and raised in the riding of Tobique – Mactaquac, in Tobique First Nation, Stewart Paul graduated from Perth High School, where he was active in student life and served as President of the Student Council.

As a young person, he was moved by the difficult social conditions and economic disparities evident in his home community, and developed an early interest in issues related to social justice, economic development, and education.

He attended the University of New Brunswick, where he took an undergraduate degree in arts (majoring in history and sociology), then a law degree. In addition to his BA and LLB degrees, he earned a Diploma in Social Leadership from the Coady Institute at St. Francis Xavier University. He is a 25-year member of the Canadian Bar Association and the Law Society of New Brunswick.

His first jobs were as an education consultant with the NB Department of Education in Fredericton, and as a Policy Analyst with the Assembly of First Nations in Ottawa. In the early 1980’s, he co-founded the Mi’kmaq-Maliseet Institute in the Faculty of Education at the University of New Brunswick, a respected organization dedicated to the training and professional development of Native educators. He practiced law for several years in Fredericton before returning home in the late 1980’s to enter political life. He served several terms as Chief of the Tobique First Nation during which time much about the community was transformed. He maintained a private law practice in Perth-Andover throughout this time and to the present day.He also presently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Peace Hills Trust, a national financial institution. He has been married for 40 years. He and his wife, Sandra, have four children and nine grandchildren.

He brings experience to the table that spans job creation, education, health, natural resources, business development, and community infrastructure. He has strong skills related to leadership, management, and government administration. He has worked in regional and national policy development, and has experience with complex legal and financial negotiations. He is also familiar with Ottawa and the provincial government.

As a lifelong resident of Tobique-Mactaquac, he is committed to the entire region. He has been an active member of the Liberal party in this region for nearly 20 years, and he understands the challenges facing the region, and the aspirations of its people. He has much to offer, and would be a strong representative of the people in Ottawa. He is a seasoned political leader, a strong campaigner, and a hard worker.

He was nominated as the Liberal candidate for the Electoral District of Tobique – Mactaquac on April 28, 2007.

May 18, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, Canada Health Act, election, Liberal Party, national autism strategy, Stewart Paul, Tobique-Mactaquac | Leave a comment

National Autism Rally – Saturday May 26 – Dartmouth NS

[L to R – Andy Scott, Jim Munson, Peter Stoffer, Shawn Murphy]

The Supreme Court has spoken folks – twice. In Auton and Deskin-Wyneberg the Supreme Court of Canada has made it crystal clear that the equality rights provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are of no help to famlies seeking government funding for treatment of their childrens’ autism. The SCC has left only one serous option to seek such remedy – the political arena. It is time to GET POLITICAL. FEAT-BC has been a Canadian leader in the fight for treatment for autistic Canadians and they will be at the Dartmouth Holiday Inn on Saturday May 26 to explain their national autism political strategy. Let’s join this effort and fight for treatment for autistic Canadians. And let’s say thank you to federal politicians who have fought for our autistic children – Andy Scott, Peter Stoffer, Shawn Murphy and Jim Munson. I hope to see you at the Holiday Inn. If you will attend please check out the registration info below and register before May 20.

An Invitation to join Families for Early Autism
Treatment of BC

(F.E.A.T. of BC) to say THANK YOU to:

Shawn Murphy, MP

Andy Scott, MP

Peter Stoffer, MP

Senator Jim Munson

For their dedication and commitment to improving the
lives of
Canadians affected by autism…


To hear about F.E.A.T. of BC’s exciting plans to “go
coastal” with
our national political initiative to achieve universal
health care
coverage for EVERY Canadian affected by autism.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Holiday Inn, Harbourview

101 Wyse Rd.

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia,

B3A 1L9

2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

$25.00 per person – Refreshments will be served

Please make cheques payable to:

F.E.A.T. of BC, c/o Louise Witt, 2135 – 129th St., Surrey, BC, V4A 8H6

R.S.V.P. by May 20th. to Louise Witt, email: taylorwitt@shaw. ca or
call 604-538-1370.

For local enquiries: Luigi Rocca – luiroc@gmail. com 869-5444 (B) or
382-2239 (h)

May 13, 2007 Posted by | Andy Scott, autism disorder, FEAT BC, Jim Munson, national autism strategy, Peter Stoffer, Shawn Murphy | Leave a comment

Swift action needed for autism strategy

Swift action needed for autism strategy

The following is a letter to Andy Scott, MP for Fredericton.

If at all possible, could you at some point address the House with the following:

As a member of the Canadian Forces, I have served to honour the ideals and freedoms that we all enjoy as Canadians. As a father of an autistic child, I relate to the struggles of families across Canada who are touched by autism. I respectfully ask that the government respond to the Senate recommendations regarding the autism crisis in Canada with swift action towards the implementation of a national autism strategy.

There is much to be done to address the immediate needs of autistic individuals of all ages. This is the great passion that I have to serve my provincial autism society at the federal level.



May 11, 2007 Posted by | Andy Scott, autism awareness, autism disorder, national autism strategy, senate | Leave a comment

Vancouver Province Calls for National Autism Strategy

The Vancouver Province has issued a call for a national autism strategy, including an amendment to the Canada Health Act to include autism as an insured health service. One omission from the Province’s statement is the need to address the plight of autistic adults particularly those living a custodial existence in mental health care and residential facilities. Still the Province’s call for a national autism strategy provides much needed support in the struggle to improve the lives of Canada’s autistic population and is appreciated by this father of a severely autistic boy.

A national strategy is urgently needed for autism victims

The Province

Published: Sunday, April 15, 2007

Advocates for the estimated 200,000 Canadians suffering from the neurological disorder known as autism suffered another setback last week in their campaign for greater government support.

A court battle launched by 28 Ontario families to try to get their provincial government to fund treatment for their autistic children ground to a halt when the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear arguments in the case.


The help they get depends on where they live. Alberta, for example, pays up to $60,000 a year to age 18 for treatment. But B.C. pays $20,000 a year to age six and only $6,000 a year thereafter.

B.C. Liberal MP Blair Wilson, who campaigns for autism victims, says such inequity is unacceptable. We agree, and endorse a Senate committee’s call last month for a federal-provincial conference to develop a national strategy for autism, which now affects one in 200 children.

The plan should include an awareness campaign, plus more money for research and tax breaks for victims’ families. One sweeping solution would be to amend the Canada Health Act to include autism as an insured health service.

We are well aware that the additional burden on health costs would be considerable and would have to be weighed against competing priorities.

But, as a caring nation, we have a moral obligation to do what is right.

April 15, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, autism treatment, Canada Health Act, national autism strategy, Supreme Court of Canada, Vancouver Province | Leave a comment

FEAT-BC Response to Senate Autism Report

Monday, April 2, 2007

Vancouver, BC
– “The Senate report ‘PAY NOW OR PAY LATER, Autism Families in Crisis’, released to the public last Thursday is yet further evidence that, no matter how serious the public policy issue, there is absolutely no sense of urgency in Ottawa about it”, said Jean Lewis, a founding director of FEAT-BC [Families for Early Autism Treatment of BC]. “While the sub-title of the report acknowledges the existence of a crisis for those families [more every day in Canada] that have an autistic child or children, the Senate recommends that the federal government convene an inter-governmental ministerial conference and implement a national public awareness campaign. This report is worthy of Sir Humphrey Appleby of Yes, Minister fame.”

Despite the existence for 25 years in our country of a Charter of Rights, and the operation for even longer of an allegedly universal health care system, autistic children continue to be denied access to appropriate public-funding for medically necessary treatment. “The title of the Senate’s report, ‘PAY NOW OR PAY LATER’ speaks volumes”, states Dr. Sabrina Freeman, founder and executive director of FEAT-BC. “Why is this core health need continually addressed in financial terms when such is not the case with, for instance, AIDS/HIV, cancer, heart disease or orthopaedic surgery?”

Contrast the Senate recommendations, and the approach to date of the federal government, with what is happening in the United States. Last year, the US Congress unanimously passed the “Combating Autism Bill”, legislation that puts $945 million into the fight against this epidemic disease. In recent weeks, two US Senators have introduced another bill, one that will, if passed, pour a further $350 million into key treatments and services for autistic children and adults, together with their desperate, and often destitute, families.

Our Senate has missed the point with this report. It has, however, re-inforced the determination of parents of autistic children across Canada to participate aggressively in the upcoming federal election campaign in an effort to elect MPs, regardless of partisan affiliation, who will fight for Medicare coverage for autism treatment now.

Further information, contact:
Jean Lewis

April 2, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, autism treatment, Canada Health Act, Jean Lewis, national autism strategy | Leave a comment

A Fredericton Autism Father Thanks MP Andy Scott

Brian Rimpilainen is a Fredericton father of an autistic child who has been a hard working advocate on behalf of autistic persons in New Brunswick and Canada. In this letter Brian offers his appreciation to Fredericton MP Andy Scott who steered a private member’s motion through the House of Commons calling for a national autism strategy.

To MP Andy Scott and his staff, I offer my sincere thanks for all the work that has been done to raise the awareness of autism at the federal level.

I was very proud to be in attendance for the second hour of debate for motion 172. I had to wipe my teary eyes as I shared in the frustrations of other parents across Canada. I hope that the Liberal Caucus will continue in support of Andy Scott’s efforts and move the issue forward.

It does indeed look as though there will be a new federal election in the future. I hope that autism will be raised for election debate. While M-172 passed with support from both sides of the House, Bill C-304 (introduced by the MP for Charlottetown) did not. This was a disappointing outcome, considering that all Members now know of the importance and urgency of a national autism strategy.

It is to my understanding that Scott will not be running in the next election. My best wishes to his family and future endeavours.



March 31, 2007 Posted by | Andy Scott, autism disorder, Fredericton, national autism strategy | Leave a comment

Kavchak Slams Harper Conservatives Shameful Autism Hypocrisy

The Hill Times opinion section features a letter by well known Canadian autism advocate Andrew Kavchak slamming the shameful hypocrisy of the Harper Conservative Party on the national autism issue.

The Hill Times
Monday, March 5, 2007.
Editorial Page, p. 8.

Page 8 has a picture of MP Pierre Poilievre with a caption that reads: “He’s a government man now: Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, above, and the governing Tories voted against Bill C-304, turning their backs on disabled children, says letter-writer Andrew Kavchak.”

Letter to the Editor

Conservative Hypocrisy on autism and Bill C-304

It was with profound disappointment that families with autistic children across Canada watched the Conservatives gang up with the Bloc on February 21, 2007 to defeat Bill C-304 after second reading and before a House committee even had a chance to examine the Bill’s contents.

The Bill would have created a National Autism Strategy and included autism treatment in Medicare which is currently a huge gap in our public health insurance system.

It is difficult to understand Conservative Party schizophrenia on the autism file. In the last election they ran on healthcare and childcare. This gave parents of autistic children hope since their kids were getting neither healthcare nor appropriate childcare.

Moreover, just two months ago the Conservatives voted in support of Motion M-172 to create a National Autism Strategy. However, motions are not binding.

Bill C-304 would have required the Health Minister to negotiate a strategy with his provincial counterparts and table the plan in the House. That won’t happen now. Are national strategies only reserved for conditions which the provinces already treat? What kind of leadership is that?

Perhaps the Conservative Party’s approach is best understood by the writings and actions of Pierre Poilievre. When Mr. Poilievre was in opposition he was approached by a number of families with autistic kids who pleaded for assistance. He attended and spoke at an autism rally and press conference. His position was stated in an op-ed article of his that was published with his picture in The Hill Times on March 21, 2005 with the title “Birth of a child shouldn’t become healthcare roulette: exclusion of autism treatment from Canada’s medicare”.

After accusing the then governing Liberals of “a new and shameful low in Liberal hypocrisy” for their intervention at the Supreme Court of Canada in the Auton case, he went on to say: “So what can be done? We must amend the Health Act so medicare will include effective, scientifically-validated autism treatment for children with autism”.

Now that he voted against Bill C-304, shall we call this turning of their backs on disabled children “a new and shameful low in Conservative hypocrisy”?

Andrew Kavchak,
Ottawa, Ont.

March 6, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, conservatives, hypocrisy, national autism strategy, politics, Stephen Harper | Leave a comment

Autism Cause Loses a Champion – Andy Scott Will Not Run Again

The cause of autism in Canada is losing a champion.

Andy Scott, Liberal MP representing Fredericton in the House of Commons since 1993, has announced that he will not be running in the federal election expected to be called in the next couple of months. “Andy” as he is referred to by most in Fredericton is amongst the rarest of politicians and people, someone who actually listens, someone who actually cares. He has been notoriously accessible to the citizens of Fredericton, at times literally paying a price in personal safety for being so accessible, but remained readily available. Andy has been a champion for persons with disabilities in Canada. As an experienced and savvy federal politician he authored a private members motion, passed in the House of Commons, calling for a national autism strategy which, although by no means everything necessary to address the extraordinary challenge that autism represents in Canada, did open the door to allow further discussion and development of a national response to Canada’s autism crisis.

Thank you Andy, and the “very best” to you and your family.

Harold Doherty

March 6, 2007 Posted by | Andy Scott, autism disorder, Fredericton, national autism strategy | Leave a comment