World Autism Awareness Day

Statement by the Honourable Mobina S.B. Jaffer on Senator Munson’s efforts to ensure that each and every World Autism Awareness Day is officially recognized by Canada.

Honourable senators, on April 2 landmarks around the were lit up in blue: the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro, the Empire State Building in New York City, the Great Buddha in Japan, Humayun’s Tomb in India, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy and entire skylines in cities like Chicago and Shanghai.

Nearly 3,000 structures in over 600 cities, 45 countries and 6 continents were illuminated in blue to shine a bright light on autism. Were it not for the hard work of Senator Munson, Toronto City Hall, the Vancouver Harbour Centre, the Peace Tower and many other Canadian buildings might not have been among them.

Honourable senators, Senator Munson’s incredible dedication, hard work and perseverance demonstrate just how much he cares about autism and autism awareness. Senator Munson has been advocating for children with autism and their families for more than a decade. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to recognize World Autism Awareness Day on December 18, 2007.

On June 6, 2008, Senator Munson introduced Bill S 237, An Act respecting World Autism Awareness Day . Of course, only a few months later, an election was called.
When Parliament resumed in November 2008, Senator Munson again introduced Bill S 213, also called An Act respecting World Autism Awareness Day. Days after Senator Munson delivered his second reading speech, Parliament was prorogued.

On January 27, 2009, Senator Munson again introduced his bill for a third time in the form of Bill S 210. The Senate passed Bill S 210, and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health was about to begin its study when, for a second time in as many years, Parliament was prorogued.

Senator Munson introduced the bill once again on March 10, 2010, this time as Bill S 211. The Senate passed the bill with amendments, the House of Commons began its review, and then Parliament was dissolved and the writs were dropped. Senator Munson was not to be deterred.

On October 4, 2011, Senator Munson introduced Bill S 206 which, as honourable senators know, received Royal Assent a little over a year later on November 1, 2012, after five bills, years of work and endless dedication.

Senator Munson is tirelessly dedicated to the issue of autism because it is estimated that 1 in 88 Canadian children has autism spectrum disorder, up from 1 in 110 two years earlier. Autism awareness could not be more important. I am absolutely certain that Senator Munson would have reintroduced his bill 50 more times if that is what it would have taken for his bill on autism to become law.

What I have learned is Senator Munson is a senator who truly cares about Canadians, especially Canadian children, who we represent. Senator Munson and Senator Marshall have perhaps the most unenviable jobs in the Senate. In their roles as whips they have to manage diverse personality needs and requests. They both do extremely well because they care.