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The Quebec parliament building.

Editorial: Law slipping away

  • March 5, 2020

In the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that imposed assisted suicide on Canada, the chief justices conceded the need for a “carefully designed system imposing stringent limits” on who would be eligible for a state-sanctioned death.

In other words, they intended to crack open a window, not raise the floodgates.

Parliament more or less heeded that advice with legislation in 2016 that, while legalizing euthanasia in some circumstances, disappointed the pro-euthanasia lobby. The government opted to move cautiously and promised to re-evaluate doctor-induced dying in five years time.

But so much for waiting, caution and stringent limits.

Three years and eight months later, Ottawa has embraced a flood-gates strategy by introducing legislation that will make it substantially faster and easier for people in a doctor’s care to receive a premature death by lethal injection.

Tabled Feb. 24, Bill C-7 removes the requirement that death be reasonably foreseeable, reduces the number of signatures required on consent forms from one to two, eliminates the 10-day waiting period between consent and death day, and allows people who are not dying to enrol for euthanasia down the road in case they become incapable of providing informed consent, sort of like signing a donor card.

The government claims it is responding to a 2019 Quebec court ruling that has compelled Parliament to amend the law. But that’s a smokescreen. Ottawa could have appealed that ruling or declined to apply it outside of Quebec. Instead it is blackening all of Canada with Quebec’s moral failing as it furthers an obvious agenda.

These changes are alarming but hardly surprising. Only a naive person believed the 2016 law would be the last word on state-sanctioned assisted suicide. Back then, opponents of medical deaths were mocked as alarmists for making “slippery slope” predictions. But they were right, of course, and the slipping is far from done.

Next, the government will consider extending assisted suicide to people with mental disabilities and to consenting teenagers. Parliament will address (rubber stamp?) those changes later this year as it moves the law further and further away from its original intent of being an irregular option for people facing imminent death and suffering intolerable pain.

The prevailing attitude is reflected by an injustice inflicted on a British Columbia hospice. The facility will lose its government funding because management rejects assisted suicide. It is not enough that medical deaths be allowed by law; governments are insisting, quite absurdly, that if people can request a lethal injection for whatever reason, the injection must be allowed and institutions must provide it.

Any sense of moderation, tolerance or compromise regarding assisted suicide is quickly vanishing. More than 13,000 people have already died this way. But that is a mere trickle compared to what awaits after Ottawa is done raising the floodgates.

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