Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 24, 2005
Liberals dance around assisted suicide vote
But justice minister's parliamentary secretary's email says his boss will not support Bill C-407
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
"The minister of justice
"Nonetheless we must take our little victories where ever they are found and continue to persevere," he wrote.
"The cultural forces that lead to euthanasia continue to exist in our society and people with disabilities, the frail elderly, and the chronically ill continue to be devalued to the point where we all need to be concerned."
The justice department's position paper recognizes the controversial nature of the bill and the fact that it "touches upon such profound issues as life and death, which for many involves religious beliefs."
The paper also recognizes the "far-reaching implications in the manner in which it alters the current state of the law and in the way it will impact on medical ethics and practice."
"While many Canadians may not disapprove of permitting those who suffer from severe physical pain with no prospect of relief to access assistance in dying, few would tolerate the idea of allowing those who suffer from severe mental pain with no prospect of relief to have the same access to assisted death," the paper says.
It points out that "mental pain" is not defined and therefore chronic depression might qualify.
"In order to guard against the potential to move towards what is often described as the 'slippery slope' in facilitating the unwanted death of elderly, physically or mentally vulnerable persons, a very stringent regime would have to be introduced, and Bill C-407 falls short of accomplishing this," the paper says.
In an Oct. 14 email brief Schadenberg wrote, "It seems clear from the memorandum that Mr. Cotler would be interested in a more comprehensively drafted bill legalizing assisted suicide - one that takes into consideration the issues he raises."
"We need to continue to convince members of Parliament that . . . the only effective safeguard to protect vulnerable Canadians is keeping euthanasia and assisted suicide a crime, while providing excellent hospice/palliative care and support for all Canadians," Schadenberg said.
A second hour of debate is scheduled for early December.
At least two hours of debate are needed before a vote that could send the bill to committee.
Conservative Party Justice Critic Vic Toews and NDP Justice Critic Joe Comartin have both indicated they will not support the bill.
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