Archbishop Richard Gagnon, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Bishops ‘deeply troubled’ as Bill C-7 marches on

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  • November 18, 2020

OTTAWA -- The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has questioned why the federal government is not putting more effort into improving care for Canadians rather than making it easier for Canadians to legally commit suicide.

The CCCB said it is “deeply troubled and perplexed that the federal government chose not to appeal the Quebec Superior Court ‘Truchon v. Attorney General of Canada’ ruling which requires the eligibility criteria for euthanasia and assisted suicide to be expanded by removing the ‘reasonable foreseeability of natural death’ criterion,’ ” the bishops said in a Nov. 9 statement filed with the standing committee on justice and human rights, which was reviewing Bill C-7, the government’s enhanced legislation surrounding assisted dying. Bill C-7 was introduced in the House of Commons in early October and has passed second reading in the House of Commons.

“The decision by the Government of Canada not to appeal the ruling of the Quebec Superior Court prompted Bill C-7. This postponed the ‘parliamentary review of … provisions (for MAiD) and of the state of palliative care in Canada to commence at the start of the fifth year following the day on which (the Act) receives Royal Assent,’ as had been determined in the original 2016 Act to amend the Criminal Code. This review has yet to occur, which the government had agreed would take place before introducing new amendments,” the CCCB pointed out.

The bishops stressed the need for more and better palliative care.

“When sufficient emotional, psychological and spiritual support is lacking, individuals are not truly free to choose appropriate medical care or options and thus are led to having no other alternative than the tragic failure presented by euthanasia and assisted suicide,” they said.

Along with eliminating the need for a person’s death being reasonability foreseeable, Bill C-7 would also eliminate or ease safeguards such as lowering the number of witnesses needed when a person consents to MAiD.

It would eliminate a 10-day waiting period to perform an assisted suicide after consent is given and opens the door to allowing for advanced directives even if the person is mentally incapable of consenting.

Others speaking out include a group of physicians who started the MAiD2MAD campaign that has attracted more than 1,000 medical supporters online.

“Medical Assistance in Dying will become Medically Administered Death, a reckless piece of legislation without adequate safeguards for the vulnerable,” Physicians Together with Vulnerable Canadians said in a release.

“As medical doctors, we feel compelled to voice our dismay at how individuals who have little lived experience of the realities involved in the everyday practice of medicine suddenly and fundamentally changed the nature of medicine by decriminalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide.

“Unfortunately, our patients are the ones who suffer the most from the consequences of this ill-devised scheme.”

Committee hearings into Bill C-7 wrapped up Nov. 12. The government has indicated it would like the bill passed in December.

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