Supreme Court of Canada, with its antenna always attuned to the latest progressive trends, dumped assisted suicide on Canadians in February, 2015 in Carter vs. Canada. To do this, the court ignored its own previous decision on the issue, and that six different Parliaments had previously rejected the notion of assisted suicide.
In drafting the troubling Bill C-14, the Liberal government, at least, had the sense to ignore the wild-eyed recommendations put forward by the Liberal dominated Parliamentary Committee, which had reviewed the issue. That Committee left no stone unturned to ensure that everyone including the mentally ill, minors, and those with dementia, even though not terminally ill, had an opportunity to consent to have themselves killed. These recommendations were ignored in the legislation, fortunately for these vulnerable individuals.
Bill C-14 did not tackle the crucial issue of conscience rights of physicians and religious institutions which object to assisted suicide. The Liberals conveniently left this sticky issue to the provinces to deal with, despite the fact the Supreme Court stated definitively, in the Carter case, that “Nothing in this declaration would compel physicians to provide assistance in dying.” No mention is made in Bill C-14, either, of the conscience rights of nurses and pharmacists, who are exempted as well under this legislation from criminal prosecution for prescribing or administering a lethal dose to a patient.
The legislation also lacks oversight in that there is no advance overview by an independent third party before the patient is put to death. The bill permits the doctor or nurse who approved the act to also report the act to the authorities. We know, from experience in the European jurisdictions that have assisted suicide, that this reporting system is a completely unreliable source of information and provides an excellent opportunity for cover-up.
Bill C-14 limits assisted suicide to those eligible under Canadian Health Services. This at least prevents a suicide invasion coming to Canada from the U.S. and abroad, and eliminates the problems of who pays the bill for the death service. It’s the Canadian taxpayer who foots the bill, just as though killing patients is normal health care, instead of being contrary to the standard of medical care determined over the centuries to “do no harm”.
It is alarming that Bill C-14 provides that a third party aiding a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner to provide medical assistance for suicide is exempt from liability. Does this mean that anyone, regardless of who they are, can actually perform the lethal act? How about the janitor?
It is noteworthy that, although Bill C-14 applies to those with an incurable illness whose death is “reasonably foreseeable”, whether physical or psychological, the illness must be intolerable and cannot be relieved under conditions that the patient considers acceptable. Palliative care relieves pain, loneliness and fear in nearly all cases. Without knowing the benefits of palliative care, how can the patient determine that the condition of the illness is intolerable? Bill C-14 should be amended so that palliative care is required to be administered during the fifteen days delay, according to the legislation, after the request for death has been made. This will enable the patient, whose life is of inestimable value, to give an informed consent on whether the health conditions are indeed not
A Lawyer’s Paradise
The vague wording used in Bill C-14 makes it a lawyer’s paradise. It creates no end of possibilities for litigation. The lawyers will prosper under this legislation, but no one else.
According to the unnatural timeline set by the Supreme Court, the legislation must be passed by June 6th. There are only 5 weeks left for Parliament to sit before that date. The Senate is in a turmoil caused by the removal of the Liberal Senators from the Liberal caucus leaving the Senate in a confused and unmanageable state. This legislation should be temporarily postponed by way of the application of the Notwithstanding Clause in the Charter. To do otherwise will force the government to invoke the undemocratic procedure of Closure to curtail debate on the most controversial legislation introduced this century. This crucial bill dealing with life and death cannot be rushed through. If ever the value of the Notwithstanding Clause was apparent, it is now.
To read bill C-14 click here