OTTAWA – A network of anti-euthanasia groups in Quebec has condemned a National Assembly committee report supporting euthanasia as a "profound act of political betrayal."
"From the outset of the committee's consultation, Quebecers were guaranteed that their voices would be heard and that the direction they gave would be followed," said Dr. Andre Bourque, president of Living with Dignity (LWD).
"On the basis of that promise, Quebecers spoke forcefully against opening the door to euthanasia and assisted suicide."
After holding consultations across the province last year, the province's Select Committee on Dying with Dignity on March 22 recommended the legalization of euthanasia for people experiencing constant, unbearable physical or psychological suffering.
However, Bourque pointed out that an independent analysis revealed two-thirds of persons submitting briefs to the committee opposed any loosening of laws against euthanasia or assisted suicide. One-third supported euthanasia, while only two per cent supported assisted suicide.
"The committee has arrogantly and dangerously broken its word to the very people it promised to heed," he said.
The family physician and McGill Medical School assistant professor said the committee did not listen to the majority of interveners but instead to a special interest clique pushing for the decriminalization of both euthanasia and assisted suicide.
"Why waste nearly $1 million in taxpayers' money just to say what they knew they were going to say anyway?" he asked.
"Were the hearings just an expensive publicity stunt?"
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition also rejected the report. Its executive director Alex Schadenberg said the palliative care recommendations in the report are mere "'window-dressing' in the face of an immediate demand to legalize euthanasia."
Previous recommendations to improve palliative care have not been implemented, Schadenberg said, leaving many without end of life care. Current budget pressures mean these recommendations will not be implemented either.