Tamaki MP faces backlash over online comment
Prime Minister Bill English texted his backbench MP Simon O’connor to tell him he was wrong to link Jacinda Ardern’s stance on euthanasia to her youth suicide policy.
The National backbencher is facing outrage for suggesting Ardern is encouraging suicide by supporting euthanasia.
O’connor posted the comments on World Suicide Prevention Day, hours after Jacinda Ardern made a teary-eyed speech at Parliament, where 606 pairs of shoes representing a person who died by suicide in the last year were delivered.
‘‘It’s strange that Jacinda is so concerned about youth suicide but is happy to encourage the suicide of the elderly, disabled, and sick. Perhaps she just values one group more than the others? Just saying,’’ O’connor wrote on his Facebook on Sunday night.
But his leader says O’connor was wrong to do so.
‘‘We don’t link euthanasia and suicide,’’ English said, adding that he had texted O’connor saying this.
‘‘In both cases what’s important here is compassion for people who are vulnerable.’’
Ardern told Stuff she respects O’connor’s right to his opinion on euthanasia, but he shouldn’t conflate it with suicide.
‘‘I absolutely respect Simon’s right to hold the view he has on euthanasia, but to imply that it is the same issue as our terrible suicide rates in New Zealand is just wrong.’’
O’connor is the member for Ta¯ maki and chaired Parliament’s health committee when it published a divisive report on the issue of assisted dying earlier this year, stating no changes to current New Zealand law.
Ardern had indicated support for David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill which would give terminally ill people with six months to live or those with a ‘‘grievous and irremediable’’ condition the ability to ask a doctor to
‘‘We don't link euthanasia and suicide’’
help end their lives.
‘‘Sorry Simon, but you’re confused,’’ Seymour wrote on Facebook.
Labour candidate Sam Mcdonald wrote: ‘‘Mate I respect you, but you’ve crossed the line by demeaning Jacinda’s sincere response to suicide.’’
O’connor responded: ‘‘I am not demeaning her sincerity, I am questioning it. You cannot be opposed to suicide for some in society, while happily advocating suicide for others.’’
Tamaki MP Simon O’connor’s Facebook comments have sparked outrage.