Thursday, June 16, 2016

Bill C-14

The Senate has made seven (7) changes to Bill C-14. This means that Bill C-14 returns to the House of Commons for debate. Details on the amendments are outlined in this CBC article.

Two of the amendments are minor. 
  • One is a drafting error. 
  • Another is fixing the French translation of one of the other amendments.

Four of the amendments are helpful and demonstrate the Senate's value of "sober second thought."
  • The 3rd amendment requires that a report on issues arising from MAID [Medical Assistance In Dying - Bill C-14] be issued within two years. [Yes, it needs to be reviewed. A specific timeframe is very helpful.]
  • A 4th amendment requires that all patients considering physician-assisted dying get a full briefing on available palliative care options. [This is a no-brainer. And please more funding for palliative care.]
  • A 5th amendment would compel the health minister to draft regulations around death certificates and provide greater clarity on what information is collected by medical practitioners. [Let's not hide euthanasia as the Province of Quebec is trying to do with their legislation.]
  • A 6th amendment would restrict who can help a person in their assisted death, tightening the rules around what role a person who would materially benefit from the death could do. [This makes sense]
This final amendment is the one that causes the most concern.
  • This amendment proposes to drop the "reasonably foreseeable" condition and replace it with all Canadians with "a grievous and irremediable medical condition" causing "enduring suffering" would be able to access an assisted death — a much broader definition than initially intended.
This amendment opens the way to removing protection from the most vulnerable in our society. In the Netherlands earlier this spring, a woman in her 20's, who had been sexually abused, underwent euthanasia via lethal injection.

Pray and write to your MP. I believe that the first six amendments listed are good ones. It is this final one that will cause so much more pain.
A recent Macleans editorial put it well when it wrote:
"The Supreme Court has an extremely important role to play in Canada’s democracy. But its role is not to write laws, or put elected representatives on the clock."
It is parliament, our elected representatives, that are to write laws, not the courts. Legislators must be allowed to legislate. Yes, those laws may be challenged or tested in the courts. But to begin with the courts is to reduce the role of the legislature to that of being scribes for the courts.

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