Catholic Women’s League members passed motions calling on the government to invoke the notwithstanding clause to delay the implementation of physician-assisted suicide and to reinstate the mandatory long-form census at their annual convention Aug. 17-19, 2015. Photo/Pixabay

CWL calls for notwithstanding clause

By 
  • August 24, 2015

The Catholic Women’s League of Canada has called on the federal government to invoke the notwithstanding clause to block implementation of physician-assisted suicide.

The call came in the form of a resolution passed at the CWL’s annual convention in Vancouver Aug. 17-19.

It was a response to a Feb. 6 decision of the Supreme Court that struck down Canadian laws that prohibited assisted suicide and gave the government 12 months to enact legislation to permit doctors to assist the death of patients in certain circumstances.

“Legalized physician-assisted suicide has broad implications for all Canadian citizens, especially for the vulnerable in society facing end-of-life decisions and the medical professionals who are called to care for them, and thus requires more time than allowed for by the Supreme Court ruling so that consultation and  dialogue can occur,” read the CWL resolution.

 The resolution urged the government to invoke Section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms — which gives the government authority to delay implementation of judicial rulings in matters of public policy — and retain the current prohibition on assisted suicide. Invoking the notwithstanding clause would set aside the Supreme Court decision for up to five years before Parliament would either have to introduce legislation or extend the ban for another five years.

The notwithstanding clause has been used provincially but never at the federal level.  

Earlier at the conference, Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, of Vancouver spoke about the need for society to recognize the dignity of every person. He said  “the attacks on the human person can be seen everywhere: ranging from human trafficking and ubiquitous pornography to unjust socio-economic systems, to the deliberate killing of innocents due to terrorism and assaults on the unborn.”

He urged CWL members to become increasingly involved in “end-of-life issues, education, theology, culture, business and politics.”

In addition to its motion on the notwithstanding clause, the CWL passed four other resolutions:

  • With less than 20 per cent of Canada’s children and youth with mental health issues receiving “appropriate” treatment and care, the CWL urged all levels of government to provide increased early intervention and access to mental health programs.
  • In response to studies that show non-biodegradable microbeads in personal health-care products contribute to pollution, the CWL urged government to ban microbeads in these products.
  • Similarly, the CWL called for a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides, which pose a risk to bees, birds and other animals.
  • Finally, the CWL called for the federal government to reinstate the mandatory long-form census, which was replaced in 2010 with a voluntary census.

(With files from the B.C. Catholic.)

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