Four years and three elections -- that's how long Sharon Ruth has been
working to get the federal government to change its rules on
compassionate leave for parents with seriously ill children.
If the Oxford Station mother feels a bit discouraged, she can thank Prime Minister Stephen Harper for calling an election.
Earlier this summer, Ruth thought she'd broken through the brick wall that stopped her all those other times.
When her 11-year-old daughter, Colleen, was diagnosed with
cancer five years ago, Ruth had to take unpaid leave to care for her.
Gord Brown, her local Conservative MP, had taken her petitions
about the gaping holes in the employment insurance program for
compassionate care leave and crafted a private member's bill seeking
six months of benefits for a parent who has to stay home with a sick
Bill C-542 died on the order paper with the call of the Oct.
14 election, leaving Ruth frustrated with the political machinations
that shoved aside her political fight for financial support for
families struggling with a child's illness.
"It was very discouraging," Ruth said of the bill getting stopped in its legislative tracks.
Countless community-driven prospective laws get tossed on the discard heap when the writ is dropped and Parliament dissolved.
When Andy Moffitt was stabbed to death in a Sandy Hill bar just
days before Christmas 1998, his mother Paulette vowed to make his death
bring changes for other families.
Blitzing MPs and police officials with petition letters about
the lenient sentencing for assailants who use knives, Paulette and her
family took up the cause of changing the laws in memory of 23-year-old
Andy, a gifted University of Ottawa engineering student.
Brown has been the MP pushing the proposed changes, through a
private member's bill that sought mandatory sentences for knife crimes.
The proposed law had passed second reading in June and was set
to go before the House of Commons' justice committee but the election
call killed Bill C-393 for the second time.
"We don't want him to be forgotten," Paulette said. "We were
trying to do this in his memory and this would have been the final
thing, so it's disappointing."
The work that started with 400 letters mailed by Moffitt's
grieving brothers and countless hours lobbying MPs now rests with
Brown, who plans to restart the fight on both the knife and the
compassionate care bills if he's re-elected.
Brown said he plans to lobby the minister of justice to bring changes to knife crime sentencing.
"I would hope the government would take up the cause and bring it forward as government legislation," said Brown.