Peter Stockland: Outrage drowns in the Kool-Aid

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  • November 1, 2020

It’s been clear to me for nearing a decade that the vast majority of my fellow journalistic worker bees have drunk the Kool-Aid on MAiD.

State-administered death by medical lethal injection seems to have been deemed a media “good thing” shortly after 2010. The ensuing years until the Supreme Court’s 2015 Carter decision featured almost story-a-day coverage of “courageous” Canadians who took the needle rather than endure what was invariably described as horrifying, unbearable, unconscionable suffering (often all in the same sentence).

With the passage of 2016’s federal legislation legalizing so-called medical assistance in dying, the “good death” stories tended to, ah, die out. They have been replaced by short shrift reports that in 2019, 5,631 people had opted for MAiD, a 26-per-cent increase over 2018, and that this year MAiD had more than doubled its body count to 13,946. The heroic has become ho-hum.

Someone, somewhere might wonder how a stack of medically terminated Canadian bodies approaching 14,000 corpses high can be reduced to boiler plate terminology filched from a Statistics Canada quarterly update (“steady year over year growth,” indeed!).

Such a someone clearly hasn’t been paying attention to the inattention MAiD now merits. Outside of outlets like The Catholic Register, the indomitable Alex Schadenberg’s Euthanasia Prevention Coalition website or related refusenik sources, MAiD is last decade’s news even when a massive expansion of the original legislation is making its way through Parliament; even when serious, experienced, intelligent voices are decrying Bill C-7 as legalizing “nothing less than murder.”

As Canadian Catholic News’ Brian Dryden reported Oct. 22, those were the words 57 faith leaders from across Canada used to describe changes in the proposed bill, particularly changes to the language around “foreseeable death” and the dropping of a waiting period between the request for MAiD and the injection of toxic chemicals into a patient’s arm.

The unsparing language is part of an open letter drafted and signed by Archbishop Richard Gagnon, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as more than 35 Protestant leaders, six rabbis, the president of the Canadian Council of Imams, an Anglican archbishop, a representative of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada, the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Primate of the Armenian Prelacy as well as Mormon and Mennonite senior figures.

It was grounded in their collective “moral vision” of human dignity and equality by “sitting at the bedsides of the sick and dying.”

And the interest? Not entirely crickets. But not exactly a buzzing hive swarming to report and comment, either. Was it the faith dimension that spooked journalists away? Yeah, well, no. Because wholly secular letters were separately released almost simultaneously by more than 750 physicians, 140-plus lawyers and law students, and one of Canada’s largest disabilities rights groups. They made out about as poorly on the media let’s-just-ignore-this scale.

How, some might yet wonder, is it possible to ignore almost 1,000 doctors diagnosing the proposed legislation’s gaping holes as making it possible for patients to be “diagnosed, assessed and euthanized all in one day”?

How, some might ask, can anyone ignore lawyers who warn the legislation will “fundamentally redefine (MAiD)” so that it no longer just hastens death but “terminates an otherwise viable life.”

How, the curious might query, can the Council of Canadians with Disabilities be met with a deaf ear when it denounces Bill C-7 as mired in “systemic discrimination” against the country’s ill, elderly and vulnerable?

These all sound like essential questions to ask about a piece of literal life-and-death legislation passing through Canada’s Parliament, don’t they? Alas, they were long ago drowned out by the sound of Kool-Aid being poured down journalistic throats. Glug. Glug. Glug.

(Stockland is publisher of Convivium.ca and a senior fellow with Cardus.)

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