Quebec to launch consultation on euthanasia

  • December 10, 2009
{mosimage}OTTAWA - The Quebec government’s plan to initiate a public debate on euthanasia and assisted suicide should be a catalyst to energize people to speak out against these “deadly practices,” said pro-life groups.

In a Dec. 3 announcement, provincial health minister Yves Bolduc said Quebec will hold public consultations on the question of euthanasia in the new year.

“The Charest government’s consultation should be a call to action for all citizens who oppose these deadly practices,” said Michele Boulva, director of  Catholic Organization of Life and Family (COLF). “Let’s hope that associations representing Canadians with disabilities and so many other Canadians living with life-threatening conditions will stand up and clearly indicate to the government that their members want to live.”

The Quebec government announced its intention to have a public debate on the controversial subject after three members of the Parti Quebecois filed a motion in the National Assembly. The province will begin the process by seeking the advice of about 20 experts and creating a discussion paper to guide the conversation.

By launching these consultations, Quebec could be taking taking the first step in trying to sidestep federal jurisdiction on a matter governed by the Criminal Code, said Alex Schadenberg, director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are crimes in Canada but health care is a provincial matter. Schadenberg raised the concern that Quebec might want to usher in euthanasia and assisted suicide under a health-care framework.

“It is within provincial jurisdiction to look at how we provide care for people, not how we can kill them,” he said.

“This is not a health matter, it is a matter of public safety,” said Boulva. “Taking someone else’s life is murder, no matter how you try to disguise it.”

Bolduc said the government is holding consultations because the issues are complex and opinion is divided.  

Earlier this fall, the Quebec College of Physicians issued a report favouring euthanasia in some circumstances. Its president told journalists death can be a treatment in some cases. Polls show support for euthanasia and assisted suicide is higher in Quebec than in any other province.

“If we take an honest look at the situation in countries where euthanasia and assisted suicide have been legalized, we will have to recognize that, no matter what the pro-euthanasia lobby says, a slippery slope does exist,” Boulva said. “In the Netherlands, physicians have gone from euthanasia to eugenics: they are now killing severely disabled newborns. And in many countries, patients are being euthanized without their consent.”

Boulva believes politicians are under considerable pressure from pro-euthanasia groups and medical associations.

Boulva pointed out 150 Quebec physicians have openly opposed the Collège’s intention of recommending euthanasia in certain circumstances.

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