Prime Minister Trudeau’s mistakes never end. He plans to amend the physician-assisted suicide legislation, called Medical Assistance In Dying (MAID), pretending that he is required to do so because of a court decision last September by a single judge on a Quebec lower court. That judge held that the law on assisted suicide was unconstitutional because it was based on the fact that the individual’s death must be “reasonably foreseeable” before it can be applied. She argued that the provision was unfair to patients who were “suffering” but were not terminally ill.
This decision of a provincial lower court is binding only in the province of Quebec, not nationally. Trudeau could have appealed this decision, but on the advice, presumably, of Minister of Justice, David Lametti, he did not do so. (Lametti did not vote for the current federal law when it was before Parliament in June 2016 because he thought it was too restrictive).
The Quebec court’s decision provided that the amendment to remove the expression “reasonably foreseeable” from the law must be implemented within six months, that is, by March 11, 2020. This was a nearly impossible feat because Parliament has sat only briefly since the federal election in October. A four month extension has now been requested.
Trudeau and Lametti are also using the Quebec decision as an opportunity to further expand the law to provide for its application to mature minors between 14 to 17 years of age to obtain medical aid in dying. Parents will have no authority to stop this in most provinces, since the decision as to their child’s capacity to understand the nature and the consequences of the procedure will be determined by the physician, who will be carrying out the fatal procedure. Other amendments include allowing death for persons with mental illness (such as those with depression or schizophrenia) and persons, such as those with dementia, to make advance directives for an assisted death before losing their capacity to consent. Yet, these issues have not been extensively debated or resolved by Canadians.
Under the pretense that the federal government was obliged to act on the Quebec decision, on January 13, 2020, the government announced a brief, two-week public online consultation, which was to end on January 27, 2020.
This consultation was misleading for several reasons. The problems included its brief duration; the questions assumed that the respondent was in favor of MAID and wanted it to be expanded and that any safeguards proposed were to be within an expanded MAID legislation; and the opportunities to comment on the questionnaire allowed only enough characters for a few short sentences.
A spokesperson for Justice Minister Lametti has stated, “What we’re doing with this consultation is trying to assess from Canadians their views on the medical-assistance-in-[dying] regime and some of the finer points, to try to see if there is shared consensus on other issues…for example, like advance requests [for MAID]”.
There is no consensus in Canada on amending the legislation; only a consensus among the Laurentian group (Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto), but not the general public.
Trudeau has learned nothing from the last election. He still only speaks, as is his customary practice, for the Laurentian group. He is using the Quebec lower court’s decision and the consultation process to camouflage the implementation of his own “progressive” perspective on assisted suicide.
Please write to your MPs (regardless of party) to object to any expansion of the assisted suicide law.