May 15, 2000


To the Committee Members:

 My name is Graeme Bacque, and I'm a Psychiatric Survivor. I will not be using the word 'consumer' in my remarks since I long ago escaped from, and have since successfully evaded the 'mental health'  system for many years. There is also the fact that the term 'consumer'  suggests freedom of choice. The truth is, available voluntary options within the system are already severely limited, and will disappear altogether if this legislation is enacted. There are clearly no legitimate 'choices' made available through coercion.

 It is my understanding that we are here to discuss possible amendments to this draft bill. On this basis I will state categorically, from the start, that there is only one possible valid amendment for this legislation, but it is one of the utmost urgency. Simply put, this bill must be 'amended' by immediately tearing the thing into numerous small pieces, then ensuring that it  is placed on the curb for collection with the rest of the days' trash. This legislation is, purely and simply, an irredeemable human rights travesty.

 If this Government were serious about 'community safety' or enhancing the quality of life for persons labeled  'mentally ill' it would instead enact 'Edmond's Law', in memory of the late Edmond Yu. This proposed law would place severe restrictions on the actions of  the police or any others who on occasion may find themselves wielding literally life-or-death power over ordinary people, and would end forever the prejudicial 'targetted policing'' of disadvantaged communities. 

Another appropriate legislative proposal would be 'Cinderella's Law', in memory of Cinderella Allolouf and the numerous others who have died of gross neglect or abuse in the Queen Street Mental Health Centre and similar facilities. Cinderella was a person who found herself placed at the mercy of shrinks and other 'medical' personnel who were so intently focused on what they believed to be wrong with her mind, that they apparently forgot to provide for what was happening to her body. 

Under 'Cinderella's Law', these irresponsible hospital personnel would have found themselves facing court proceedings for their gross criminal negligence, along with the prospect of being permanently stripped of their 'professional' status. 

Still another helpful statute would be 'Jennifer's Law' in honour of 20-year old Jennifer Caldwell, who died so horrifically when her makeshift shelter caught fire this past March. 'Jennifer's Law' would establish in Ontario, once and for all, the natural, inalienable human right to decent affordable housing, and impose a binding obligation upon governments at all levels to ensure provision of such. 

 In addition to the above measures at the Provincial level, amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada are required that would extend protection under this country's anti-hate laws specifically to persons who bear a psychiatric label. 

Such would provide some justice to the late Joey Pace, a homeless man who was viciously kicked to death under an Oshawa bridge last November, by two men who 'didn't like' how this quiet, gentle soul presented himself to the world.  Such amendments might have also offered some protection to Michael Wilson, who was the target of a heinous unprovoked attack that left him critically burned just before Christmas of 1999.

Such amendments to criminal law, if properly enforced, would also hopefully block future attempts by the Province to implement spiteful, stereotype-driven measures such as these proposed amendments to the Mental Health and Health Care Consent Acts. They might also prevent the recurrence of the yellow, grossly misinformed journalism that demonized these innocent human beings, and basically set the public stage for legislation of this kind.

 What we as Survivors require for our emotional well-being is no different from anyone else - namely, decent accommodation, meaningful work at a living wage or accessible, adequate income supports when steady employment isn't possible, and the support of a strong, caring community of friends who respect our wishes and right to make our own personal decisions.  It is along this path that lies personal empowerment and true emotional healing.

What 'Brian's Law' offers us instead is arbitrary loss of liberty under the flimsiest of pretexts, being subjected to forced ingestion of body-destroying, mind and spirit-numbing chemicals (even in our own homes!), and still greater demonization at the hands of politicians, media and members of the public alike. It imposes a possible sentence of crippling movement disorders such as tardive dyskenesia or parkinsonism upon us or even a potential verdict of death through neuroleptic malignant syndrome, increased susceptibility to heatstroke, immune system compromise or any of the other myriad known effects of the commonly used psychotropics. 

Even worse is the fact that it makes the move of singling out a specific sector of innocent persons from the broader community for rights abrogation and repression, on the basis of criteria that are little better than superstition.

Ultimately it is clear this legislation is intended to serve as a companion piece to the Safe Streets Act,  the plan to enforce mandatory drug screening upon social assistance recipients and the municipality-administered program of 'targeted policing' of poor and homeless persons. As such, it represents the latest and most blatant effort by this Government to silence and render invisible the victims of its earlier policy decisions.

 If there is one thing this Government can rest assured of, it is that implementation of this legislation will be vigorously resisted by Survivors and all true advocates of civil and human rights. Such acts of conscience are the right, and in fact the moral obligation, of any responsible citizen when they are faced with a dangerous, unjust farce of a policy such as 'Brian's Law.'

 I thank you for your time and attention.