Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ottawa Rally Update

Here is an update about the Ottawa rally that we never made it to:

A message from Andrew Kavchak regarding yesterday's rally in Ottawa. Congrats to Sam and others in the Ottawa area for putting this successful rally together. Below Andrew's comments from the rally:

Hi Folks,

Well, today it rained a lot. Nonetheless, the autism press conference went off as planned at 11:30am in the Centre Block press room on Parliament Hill and this was followed by the rally on the steps leading to the Centre Block. Due to the lousy weather the crowd turnout was less than expected....however, the media came out and so did the politicians. I recognized TV cameras there from Global, AChannel, CTV, and Radio-Canada. Check out the news tonight!

We had two large "MEDICARE FOR AUTISM NOW!" banners displayed on the steps. A number of politicians came out to speak to the assembled including Peter Stoffer, Senator Munson (who stated that he would make a speech in the Senate this week or next calling for a Senate Inquiry into Autism), Colin Carrie (Parliamentary Secretary for Industry), Mark Warawa, Andy Scott, Susan Kadis, Peter Julian, Mr. Hubbard (New Brunswick), Gord Brown, Larry Bagnell, etc... The speakers were very interesting. Each expressed support for the cause. However, for the first time we had a sitting Parliamentary Secretary from the governing party come out and speak to us. He indicated that we are being heard. Also, the first time that I heard the expression "National Autism Strategy" was when I read an article in a national newspaper in 2004 that stated that Minister Andy Scott had suggested it to the Minister of Finance. I highlighted this and thanked Mr. Scott for coming to the rally and urged him to pick up that torch again.

Besides these politicians we also had a group of speakers including Josh Bortolotti, Laurel Gibbons and her son Robbie, Charles Matthews (Disabled and Proud organization), Denis Corriveau (Autisme Gatineau), Dr. Normand Giroux (psychologist at UQAM), etc... For the first time we had bilingual speakers and the French speech from Dr. Giroux won quite a round of applause from the Francophones in attendance. At the end, the new Conservative MP Mike Lake from Edmonton who has a son with autism came out and wanted to meet a few members of the community. He told me that he had just made his maiden speech in the House of Commons and he mentioned autism in it!

Special thanks to Sam Yassine for taking the lead on the organization of the rally and to Laurel Gibbons for her part in organizing the press conference. You know, April is supposed to be Autism Awareness Month. This past month so much has been done...we protested in front of the Premier's office (April 1), I recommenced my lunchtime protest (April 3), Bills C-211 and C-212 were tabled (April 6), we held a press conference and rally (April 24) and there may be a decision to launch an inquiry into Autism in the Senate before the month is over. Wow.

Cheers!Andrew Kavchak(Ottawa)

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