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Alex Schadenberg, left, and Winnipeg Archbishop Richard Gagnon. CCN file photos

Assisted-suicide bill re-introduced

  • October 6, 2020
OTTAWA - A bill to make it easier for Canadians to legally kill themselves with a doctor’s aid goes far beyond what a court decision prompting the legislation calls for, say euthanasia opponents.

The federal government on Oct. 5 reintroduced Bill C-7 — which had died on the order table when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued Parliament in August — to fall in line with a 2019 Quebec court ruling, the so-called Truchon decision where Quebec’s Superior Court found the “reasonable foreseeability of natural death” requirement to be unconstitutional because it was too restrictive.

A statement released by the federal government Oct. 5 says the changes will eliminate the requirement that a person’s death must be “reasonably forseeable.” It also introduces a two-track approach to procedural safeguards based on whether a person’s natural death is reasonably foreseeable, excludes eligibility for individuals suffering solely from mental illness, allows a waiver of final consent for eligible persons who may lose capacity to consent before MAID can be provided and expands data collection about MAiD in Canada.

For the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, allowing for the waiver of final consent means that some Canadians will be put to death even if they change their minds but are unable to communicate that decision. The coalition also says other safeguards originally built into the system are being stripped away.

“They are making changes that are not in that court decision,” EPC director Alex Schadenberg said.

Schadenberg is asking supporters to contact their Member of Parliament with their concerns and continue to fight against the bill. “We must stand strong against the expansion of euthanasia,” he said.

The Catholic Church has continually spoken out against euthanasia and any expansion of Canada’s MAiD system. The Church rejects the idea that polls showing Canadians support the MAiD system in general — an Angus Reid Institute study shows 80 per cent of Canadians believe it should be easier to make their own end-of-life decisions — should have any bearing because euthanasia is a straightforward issue of what is right and what is wrong.

“We unequivocally affirm and maintain the fundamental belief in the sacredness of all human life, a value that we share with many others in our country, including persons of different faiths and no faith at all,” Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ president Archbishop Richard Gagnon said in a letter to Trudeau when the federal government proposed the changes to MAiD.

“Despite the misleading euphemism, ‘Medical Assistance in Dying’ (MAiD) remains simply euthanasia and assisted suicide — that is, the direct taking of human life or the participation in his/ her suicide, which can never be justified,” said Gagnon, Archbishop of Winnipeg.

Gagnon said the Catholic Church calls “upon all Canadians to make their voices heard” and urges members of Parliament to acknowledge the giftedness of life as an inalienable right not to be taken away by others, the importance of compassion for the ill and the dying, as well as our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable among us.”

The federal government has until Dec. 18 to bring Canada’s laws in compliance with the Quebec court decision, a deadline that has already been pushed back twice because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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