Euthanasia, assisted suicide threats remain after election
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition remains concerned that a bill to legalize euthanasia and/or assisted suicide is still capable of passing through the newly elected Parliament, even though the Conservative Party won a minority.
The election of a Conservative minority may not have changed the configuration of support for euthanasia or assisted suicide enough to create a climate where a bill to legalize those acts would be defeated in Parliament.
Many Conservatives have indicated they would not support a bill to legalize euthanasia or assisted suicide, but not all Conservatives oppose those acts.
Party leader Stephen Harper stated in the second French-language leaders’ debate that he opposes assisted suicide and has no intention of raising the issue in Parliament. He would, however, allow a free vote on the issue if it were raised in Parliament. “I can simply say it isn’t the intention of our government to propose this type of change to the law,” Harper said. “I think it’s important to resist the idea of giving the power to kill. I understand the reasons some might want to propose this. If there is a proposal like this in the House of Commons – a moral question – I would always allow my members a free vote.”
Liberal Party members are divided. There is a small group of Liberal MPs that staunchly opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide, but the question remains as to whether its numbers are large enough to ensure a private member’s bill to legalize those acts would be defeated.
The NDP’s platform calls for the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide, although there may be a couple of NDP members of Parliament who would such measures.
Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe stated in a letter to Alex Schadenberg, the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition: “In our view, however, everyone has the right to make decisions about the health care they want to receive, and to expect that their decisions about their own body will be carried out. People should be able to choose freely to die if it is clear to them that they no longer have any quality of life and that their suffering has become intolerable. For some people, prolonging life involves a loss of independence and control, which in turns means a loss of dignity that they cannot accept. We have a moral obligation to respect the preferences of such people, in such circumstances, as to when and how they wish to die.”
Notably, Francine Lalonde, the Bloc MP who last June introduced bill C-407 as a private member’s bill to legalize euthanasia, was re-elected. She is likely to introduce similar legislation again and with the uncertainty inherent in a minority government, groups such as the EPC are calling upon supporters to urge their members of Parliament to oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The EPC is committed to caring solutions to end-of-life issues, such as improvements to palliative care. The EPC opposes any attempt to weaken current protections that exist in law for people with disabilities and other vulnerable Canadians.
Schadenberg is urging the government to move forward by ensuring every Canadian receives the necessary supports to enable living with dignity and thus mitigate any demands for medical killing.