Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 18, 2005
Quebec husband faces possible murder charge
Wife repeatedly asked to die - relatives
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
A Fleurimont, Que., man faces a possible murder charge following the death of his severely disabled wife, but his lawyer and her relatives say the husband was motivated by compassion because his wife had repeatedly asked to die.
Whether or not she asked to die, assisting suicide is still a crime in Canada, though Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde has tabled a private member's bill that, if passed, would make it legal.
Andre Bergeron, 44, had initially been charged with attempted murder July 8, in what news reports described as a failed assisted suicide.
His wife, Marielle Houle, 44 suffered from Friedrich's Ataxia a rare, progressive nervous system disorder that had already killed a sister and a brother.
She died a few days later on July 10.
Bergeron, an orderly, had quit his job 12 years ago to look after his wife full time.
According to Canadian Press , Houle's sister, Celine Houle, told all news TV channel LCN she did not want Bergeron to go to prison.
"He doesn't deserve that," she said. "He did everything for her. He fed her, he washed her, he'd take her to the hairdresser so she could feel like other people."
Houle said her wheelchair bound, blind sister had repeatedly asked to die. A neighbour also reported that the pair's 19 year old son had told her the same thing.
Various reports say Houle was strangled or suffocated, though she lived for several days after her husband called an ambulance July 7.
Authorities were awaiting autopsy results and a psychological assessment before deciding on further criminal charges
Ottawa resident Prentice Claremont, 32, who was diagnosed with Freidrich's Ataxia 14 years ago, told CP July 11 he believed the will of the person should be a "priority," but he did not want to see any change to the law that relied on subjective assessments of quality of life.
"I wouldn't want anyone to judge my quality of life based on their standards," he told CP.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition opposes any changes to the criminal code for so-called mercy killing or assisted suicide.
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