Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Septembger 21, 2009
Euthanasia bill will be defeated
Opponents say few MPs back legalization of assisted suicide
CCN FILE PHOTO | DEBORAH GYAPONG
MP Rod Bruinooge, chair of the parliamentary pro-life caucus, says he expects that a private members' bill to legalize euthanasia will go down in defeat.
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - Opponents of assisted-suicide and euthanasia bill C-384 express confidence the bill will be defeated if it comes to a vote this fall.
That is if an election does not kill Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde's private member's bill first. Elections in 2006 and 2008 killed Lalonde's two previous attempts to legalize assisted suicide.
"In the sense that it might happen, I'm quite confident that the vote's actually going to go the right way," said Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge, who chairs the parliamentary pro-life caucus. "On this one, there's clear lack of support in our party."
Bruinooge predicted many Liberals would also vote against the bill, as well as some in the New Democratic Party. Most of the support for Lalonde's bill will come from within her own caucus, he said.
Private member's bills, especially those dealing with conscience issues, are free votes, though the justice minister and opposition justice critics may recommend a position.
A spokesman for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said the government has not taken a position on Bill C-384. Nor is it planning to remove assisted suicide and euthanasia from the Criminal Code.
NDP justice critic MP Joe Comartin said he is going to recommend his caucus vote against the bill.
Comartin said Canada needs to establish a cross-country network of good palliative and hospice care, including training in cutting-edge pain management techniques for frontline doctors. Otherwise, there is no real choice when someone is offered either intractable pain or assisted suicide.
When excellent palliative and hospice care is available, the issue of assisted suicide does not arise, he said.
However, Comartin doubts there will be unanimity in the NDP caucus.
A LOT OF CAUTION
Liberal MP John McKay said he did not expect the Liberal Party to support the bill. "I think there's a lot of caution to be exercised in this area."
Bill C-384 is scheduled for its first hour of debate in late September or early October. Its second hour of debate and a vote would not happen until later in the fall.
If the bill passes second reading, it must go to committee, then back to the House, then on to the Senate, pushing its passage well into the spring.
Canada's Catholic bishops, the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) and other groups mounted a campaign, urging Canadians to contact their MPs.
That campaign has been successful, according to EPC executive director Alex Schadenberg who has urged the defeat of Lalonde's bill on second reading. He predicts at least 155 MPs would vote against it.
"I'm cautious, obviously, because you never know before the final vote is taken."
Schadenberg differs from activists who hope an election will kill the bill. "I'm actually wanting to defeat this bill.
"We need to have members of Parliament send a strong message that this is not the way Canada should be going."
He urged caution because a segment of the intellectual elite, with access to the media, is pushing euthanasia. "We cannot let our guard down."