Harper gov­ern­ment launches con­sul­ta­tion on as­sisted dy­ing

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.