Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
October 12, 2009
Few MPs show up for euthanasia bill debate
Block MP Lalonde heard opposition from MPs, CMA
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - As the House of Commons debated euthanasia and assisted suicide Oct. 2, Steve Passmore, a man disabled from birth, held a lonely vigil in front of the Peace Tower.
Passmore, who lives in Hamilton, said he feared Bill C-384 would "open Pandora's box."
Passmore, a representative of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, warned passage of Bill C-384 would mark "the end of the weak in society."
Instead of building facilities and improving care, "we'll just offer them a needle," he said.
Inside the House, a sea of empty green chairs on the floor and a virtually empty gallery, greeted Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde's opening speech on the first hour of debate on her bill. Only about 20 MPs were present, scattered along the margins.
"My conviction has grown stronger, and that is why I am introducing an amended bill on the right to die with dignity, Bill C-384," said Lalonde.
She explained her bill would amend the Criminal Code so that "a medical practitioner does not commit homicide just by helping a person to die with dignity."
Of the seven MPs who responded to Lalonde, only one Bloc MP Serge Cardin spoke in favour of her bill.
Conservative MP David Anderson, who is Natural Resources parliamentary secretary, led the response.
"There were so many failures of logic, and so much misinformation and misguided information there that I hardly know where to start," he said.
"We need to understand that allowing people to die is a far cry from causing their death," he said. Countries that have given the "choice" have "developed death tourism," he said.
Liberal MP John McKay used the analogy of capital punishment, pointing out that many people who were later found to be falsely convicted would have died. He warned mistakes would be inevitable as a result of Bill C-384.
Liberal MP Marlene Jennings told the House the Liberal justice critic would not be supporting Bill C-384.
She read a letter sent to all MPs from the president of the Canadian Medical Association opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The letter also stood behind suicide prevention programs.
NDP MP Joe Comartin opposed the bill, saying it would be a "tragedy" if Canada adopted assisted suicide without providing good palliative care and hospice care.
"At this time, approximately 20 per cent of our population is covered by meaningful palliative care, hospice and a home care system," he said.
Lalonde's bill comes up for a second hour of debate in early November. After that debate, it will go to a second reading vote.
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