Lib­er­als Mov­ing For­ward on As­sisted Sui­cide and Eu­thana­sia

The Drumheller Mail - - REAL ESTATE -

Over the years, many con­stituents have con­tacted me to ex­press their con­cerns over physi­cian as­sisted sui­cide, or eu­thana­sia. In 2010, then Bloc Que­be­cois, MP Francine Lalonde in­tro­duced a Pri­vate Mem­ber’s Bill in the House of Com­mons that even­tu­ally came to a vote. We were op­posed to her pro­posed eu­thana­sia law and so were the ma­jor­ity of Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment who voted down her bill.

It is only a few years later, and the un­elected Supreme Court Jus­tices have pushed the is­sue of as­sisted-sui­cide back onto the fed­eral political agenda, de­mand­ing Par­lia­ment to pass a law be­fore the House rises this sum­mer. As your Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, I am skep­ti­cal and find it wor­ri­some that once again, a few un­elected jus­tices are ac­tively short-cir­cuit­ing the law-mak­ing process Canada has that pro­vides for demo­crat­i­cally elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the peo­ple to de­cide th­ese is­sues. It seems to me that too of­ten pol­icy de­ci­sions are re­peat­edly forced on our leg­is­la­tures by ju­di­cial ac­tivists. We all know of is­sues that have been brought for­ward re­peat­edly un­til the de­sired out­come of the mi­nor­ity is achieved.

Most re­cently, the Re­port of the Spe­cial Joint Com­mit­tee on Physi­cian-As­sisted Dy­ing has been tabled in Par­lia­ment. This com­mit­tee, dom­i­nated by a ma­jor­ity of Lib­eral Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment, makes rec­om­men­da­tions in their Re­port that even go far be­yond the is­sues raised by the Supreme Court and ig­nores deeply held be­liefs that many Cana­di­ans share. Con­ser­va­tive MPs on the com­mit­tee wrote a Dis­sent­ing Re­port en­ti­tled, “More Safe­guards are needed for the Vul­ner­a­ble” (start­ing at page 51, avail­able at http://www.parl.gc.ca/Com­mit­tees/en/PDAM.)

Many of us be­lieve that the con­science rights of in­di­vid­u­als, or­ga­ni­za­tions and in­sti­tu­tions should be pro­tected. Con­ser­va­tives on the com­mit­tee felt strongly that the re­port does not re­flect this ba­sic ten­ant. We want pro­tec­tion for physicians who will refuse – be­cause of rea­sons of re­li­gion or con­science – to per­form a ‘lifeend­ing’ pro­ce­dure. They want the free­dom to refuse to ‘re­fer’ a pa­tient to a med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner who will con­duct such pro­ce­dures. The Lib­eral govern­ment should not force Cana­dian med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als to vi­o­late their Hip­po­cratic Oath if they feel they can­not do it.

The Lib­er­als do not agree, for ex­am­ple, that a per­son must suf­fer from a ter­mi­nal ill­ness in or­der to qual­ify for as­sisted sui­cide or eu­thana­sia. They even want to in­clude young peo­ple (un­der the age of ma­jor­ity) to have ac­cess to as­sisted dy­ing in fu­ture leg­is­la­tion.

We want laws that would re­quire ef­fec­tive pal­lia­tive care to be of­fered to com­pe­tent adults re­quest­ing physi­cian as­sisted sui­cide. Eu­thana­sia should not be used in place of pal­lia­tive care.

Many of us are con­cerned about the of­fi­cials (doc­tors, psy­chi­a­trists, lawyers, and/or judges) and the pro­cesses that will have the au­thor­ity to ap­prove as­sisted sui­cide or eu­thana­sia.

The rec­om­men­da­tions in the Com­mit­tee’s Re­port place vul­ner­a­ble Cana­di­ans, in­clud­ing se­niors, at risk in my view. The re­port ig­nores the need for strin­gent safe­guards.

Many are view­ing this Re­port as the most ex­treme set of rec­om­men­da­tions for leg­is­la­tion to gov­ern doc­tor as­sisted sui­cide in the world. What the Lib­er­als have planned goes be­yond the laws in all of the ju­ris­dic­tions that cur­rently have such leg­is­la­tion.

It is dis­ap­point­ing that the Lib­er­als are now fin­ished with this mat­ter hav­ing held only 16 meet­ings, heard from 61 wit­nesses and con­sid­ered about a 100 writ­ten sub­mis­sions. They will be launch­ing their draft Bill in the House of Com­mons soon. I hope ev­ery­one takes a mo­ment to con­tact the Prime Min­is­ter, the Lib­eral Jus­tice Min­is­ter and Health Min­is­ter to share their opin­ion. As al­ways, I in­vite ev­ery­one in our rid­ing to please send me a copy. If you have any ques­tions or con­cerns re­gard­ing this or pre­vi­ous col­umns you may write me at 4945-50th Street, Cam­rose, Al­berta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, toll-free 1-800665-4358, fax 780-608-4603 or e-mail Kevin.Soren­son.c1@parl.gc.ca.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.