National Post

Trudeau hails Quebec’s approach to assisted dying

Dominant issue after meeting with premier

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• Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised Quebec’s approach to assisted dying on Friday as he and Premier Philippe Couillard -hailed a new era of co- operation be tween Ottawa and the province.

While the two leaders broached a slew of topics in a lengthy meeting, it was the thorny issue of dying in dignity that dominated a news conference that followed.

“I have always congratula­ted Q- uebecers and the National Assem bly for its responsibl­e and rigorous approach to such a delicate and sensitive topic for so many people,” Trudeau said.

“- In our submission to the Su p- reme Court for a six- month extension beyond Feb. 6, we are very open (- to the idea) that the ( court) consid er the fact that Quebec has already establishe­d the kind of framework it asked the federal government and the provinces to establish.

“Quebec has shown exactly what the Supreme Court wanted to see.”

The high court struck down the prohibitio­n on doctor- assisted dying last February and gave the federal government a year to come up with a new law recognizin­g the right of clearly consenting adults who are enduring intolerabl­e physical or mental suffering to seek medical help in ending their lives.

Trudeau’s Liberal government is seeking a six- month extension on the court’s deadline which, if granted, would give it until August to come up with a new law.

Q- uebec’s own l aw on medic ally assisted dying went into effect Thursday and will remain so at least until Dec. 18, when the Quebec Court of Appeal is to hear arguments on a lower- court ruling which suspended some key aspects of the law.

The body that oversees Crown prosecutor­s in Quebec announced Thursday it will not file charges against any medical personnel who help people die so long as evidence s- hows the patient was “not in a situ ation of vulnerabil­ity.”

T-rudeau was asked Friday wheth er he believes a Quebec doctor who now helps someone die is violating the Criminal Code.

“It’s certainly important we have a Criminal Code that applies across the country,” he replied.

“But we know very well that on many issues, be it the legal age for buying alcohol or sentences for young offenders, there are various s- olutions proposed by the prov inces that don’t violate the Criminal Code.”

Couillard also defended the law and said that if a doctor does not want to help someone die, he needs to refer the case to a colleague.

“The law was well prepared,” the premier said.

Their other topics of discussion included the economy, infrastruc­ture, f ederal transfers, climate change, financial aid to Bombardier Inc. and Quebec’s place in Canada.

Couillard said both men agreed a lot of work needs to be done on the environmen­t as Trudeau is expected t- o convene the premiers to a confer ence on the matter in 90 days.

“Over and above that, there are a lot of things we can do right now by choosing the right priorities now when we invest in infrastruc­tures, to have a significan­t impact on our (- greenhouse gas) emissions,” Couillard said.

“If we choose to invest wisely in public transit, electrific­ation of transport, biofuels, other types of initiative­s that will by themselves l-ower the emissions, it’s a very sig nificant gesture.”

As for Quebec’s place in Canada, Trudeau said it’s important but that he and Couillard have always agreed that their priorities lie elsewhere such as economic developmen­t and climate change.

“But as I’ve always said, I’m open to discussing various topics such as w- ays of getting Quebec and Que becers more involved in the future of Canada,” he said, adding there is no timetable for any talks aimed at g-etting Quebec to sign the Constitu tion.

Regardless, both men agreed the election of their respective Liberal g- overnments will result in a differ ent dynamic between the two jurisdicti­ons.

“We are really entering a new era of co-operation between Ottawa and Quebec,” Trudeau said.

Quebec has shown exactly what the Supreme Court wanted to see

 ?? Jacques oisinotB/T Canadian he res P ?? Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to reporters’ questions as Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard looks on Friday in Quebec City.
Jacques oisinotB/T Canadian he res P Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to reporters’ questions as Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard looks on Friday in Quebec City.

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