Peter Stockland: What has become of our nation?

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  • March 27, 2021

If my prayer request for one miracle were answered, every Catholic church in Canada would toll a funeral bell two years from now when the first mentally ill Canadian is killed by MAiD.

Indeed, I would hope every Christian church in the country would chime in, and houses of worship of all faiths signal in ways proper to them their sorrow and outrage at the act.

The tolling and other multi-faith mourning signs would, first and foremost, mark the lost life of the victim, of course. But they would also sound the death of the country we know.

Since March 17, when Bill C-7 received Royal Proclamation and became law, the Canada I was born into has been left dangling precipitously above the void. Even this late, it need not fall.

In a sliver of sanity’s light breaking through the dark madness of debate around the legislation, the Liberal government has at least delayed for 24 months letting doctors inject lethal levels of poison into the veins of those whose minds are too debilitated to see clearly what’s happening to them. We take the tiniest of graces where and when we get them, yes?

The purpose of the delay is to develop “protocols” around non-culpable homicide being administered to the mentally ill. The very need for such fail-safes and guidelines should be enough to awaken any clear-thinking Canadian to the ghastliness of the whole undertaking. That might offer up enough time to create a political backlash that kills the bill, not mentally ill patients. 

Faint hope it might sound. Yet it’s worth noting the Liberals needed support from the Bloc Quebecois to get C-7 through the House of Commons and back to the Senate for final approval. No Conservative or New Democrat voted to approve the killing of mentally ill Canadians. Regardless of partisan preference, we can all say thank God for that.

More, disability rights groups denounced the passage of the legislation in language that signalled they have just begun to fight, though it must be said they’ve been stalwart in opposition to C-7 as it was rushed through Parliament.

“We are extremely concerned that people with disabilities experiencing a temporary crisis will accept MAiD and die needlessly. In the case of mental illness, MAiD is a permanent lethal solution for a temporary situation,” said Jewelles Smith of the Council of Canadians With Disabilities.

Those warning sentiments have been expressed in various ways across the country by hundreds of doctors, lawyers, clergy and activists. Even the Toronto Star roused itself to issue an editorial that scolded Parliament for the path it has headed Canada down, saying medical assistance in dying was never meant as a generic therapeutic lethal weapon.

Alas, nothing could halt the horror show of C-7 once it rolled through the Commons and the Senate. Both chambers radically expanded the bill beyond what was required to meet the conditions of the Truchon case, a Quebec lower court ruling that forced rewriting of 2016’s medically assisted homicide legislation. The Senate, our bastion of sober second thought, actually one-upped the Commons by adding the permission to kill the mentally ill.

Those watching the process closely perceived a form of mania taking hold of both legislative bodies so that the unimaginable quickly became the unquestionable. Now with two years for heads to clear and reality to reassert itself, there’s opportunity to press essential questions home.  Some such queries will rightly be about the  mentally ill individuals. Equally important is questioning what kind of country Canada will become.

How in the name of Heaven did we get here is a good place to start. Another is what on Earth happened to us as a country of compassion for our most vulnerable. A third: Which country in history will we most resemble on the black day when the first deadly needle ends a mentally ill life?

Pray that by some miracle, people of faith can make that last question ring a bell among our compatriots — before the bell tolls for us.

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

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