Thalidomide vote proved that Parliament matters

Tuesday marks the first anniversary of something unique in Ottawa. On Dec. 1, 2014, the House of Commons voted 256 to 0 to offer full support to Canada's victims of thalidomide. On the anniversary of the historic vote, and with a new Parliament about to convene later this week, we can now share a bit more of the behind-the-scenes effort. There are lessons for parliamentarians, the most important being that the campaign's success would not have occurred without the support and hard work of regular MPs. For many, the campaign to support Canada's thalidomide survivors must have seemed easy. The vote itself – rare and historic in many respects – came within one week of the public campaign being launched. Within 100 days, there was a second major success when the government announced immediate funding to address the urgent needs of survivors. And within six months, the entire funding support package of at least $180-million was created. How did this happen so quickly?