Harper government launches consultation on assisted dying
The make-up of a new panel tasked with running consultations on doctor-assisted death is drawing the ire of some groups who are concerned about bias.
The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association said it hoped for a balance of views on the government's panel, but it is now concerned two of the three members were federal witnesses opposed to the issue when the case went to Canada's top court.
“We are deeply concerned that this panel composition is not impartial,” executive director Josh Paterson said in a statement on Friday. “While these individuals are well-respected people, there is an appearance of bias.”
Paterson said all governments must respect the Supreme Court's February ruling, which recognized the right of clearly consenting adults who endure intolerable physical or mental suffering who wish to end their lives with a doctor's help.
“Canadians overwhelmingly support the right to physicianassisted dying, and it is the law of the land,” he said.“Whatever advice this panel might provide, it is clear that Parliament must not enact a law that creates barriers for those who wish to access their constitutional right to physician-assisted dying.”
The high court also gave Parliament one year to deal with the issue of legislation following its finding that Canada's prohibition on physician-assisted suicide was a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Conservative MP Steven Fletcher said panel members will have to operate within the framework of the ruling regardless of their personal views.
“The fight around the Criminal Code provisions on physician-assisted death has been concluded, so they will have to work within (that),” he said in an interview.