Bill 52 is not dead
As of 19 February 2014, Bill 52, Quebec’s euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide bill has not been debated and passed. The MNAs in the Quebec National Assembly reconvened on 12 February 2014 with a full docket of items including a new provincial budget which took precedence over the euthanasia bill. After the budget was tabled the house began a two week recess, leaving the Bill 52 debate up in the air.
As the uncertainty of debating Bill 52 became apparent, the governing Parti Quebecois tried to rush passing the bill. Government house leader Stephane Bedard pointed out to the opposition parties that the bill could be passed if everyone sat through lunch and into the evening on 19 February. Arguments ensued as opposition parties refused to comply.
Philippe Couillard and the opposition Liberal Party called for a free conscience vote and ample time to debate the bill in the house. The bill is the first of its kind in Canada and thirty-five members of the provincial Liberal party insisted on the right to speak about it before voting.
After four years of work, Veronique Hivon, the cabinet minister responsible for introducing the bill, was disappointed at the latest development. She strongly believes that Bill 52 is a compassionate and dignified end-of-life choice.
Immediately after the Quebec National Assembly began their recess, many opponents of the bill declared it to be dead. That was premature. The bill is not dead; it is merely delayed.
Dr. Catherine Ferrier of Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia told Catholic Insight, “There are rumours that the parties are making a deal to continue the debate and vote on the bill before voting on the budget or calling an election.” A vote could come as early as 10 March 2014 or the next day.
Dr. Ferrier observed that there has been very little coverage of Bill 52. It was eclipsed by the provincial budget and Olympic coverage. As well, all the major provincial and federal media outlets have swallowed the official version “that this bill reflects the will of all Quebecers and all parties, and that the delay is very unfortunate.”
A source at the National Post told Catholic Insight that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative government will not challenge the legislation if it passes. They do not want to upset Quebec voters.
Meanwhile at their national convention, the opposition federal Liberal Party passed a resolution calling for the decriminalization of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. The issue remains divisive within the party but in the end, they voted overwhelmingly to adopt the resolution.
According to an article on the Canadian Healthcare Network website, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau was not present when the vote took place although he was seen outside the convention hall just a few minutes earlier cheering on the Canadian men’s hockey team. Thus far, Trudeau has refused to state whether he is in favour of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide and all of his statements have been deliberately vague.
Wendy Robbins, who coauthored the resolution, believes that 70-80% of Canadians want the choice to end their life with medical aid. “It’s a question largely of autonomy.”
An anesthesiologist who was a convention delegate called the resolution “horrifying.” He pointed out that provincial health plans would pay for doctors to kill their patients. He called for more and better palliative care instead of medically ending life.
Toronto MP Judy Sgro admitted that she was “very uncomfortable with [the resolution].”
Another Toronto MP, John McKay, was more forceful in his condemnation of the resolution. As quoted from the Canadian Healthcare Network website, he observed that “Canada has come to grips with its culture of death and it’s particularly exemplified here. … They’re very enthusiastic about end-of-life legislation. They’re very enthusiastic about end-of-life legislation for the beginning of life. … I don’t think there’s a lot of care given to particularly vulnerable people.”
What can we do?
It is imperative that those who oppose Bill 52 and the future of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide legislation in Canada continue to be heard. Bill 52 is not an issue specific to Quebec. Once legislation passes in that province the other provinces will follow. If the Trudeau-led Liberals form the next federal government, their resolution to decriminalize euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide may become reality, aided and abetted by Trudeau’s spineless doublespeak. Our tax dollars will then finance medical murder.
Voice your objection! Write to the Prime Minister’s office and to the Justice Minister Peter McKay. As well, write to Justin Trudeau and all federal Liberal MPs.
Our bishops and priests should lead us in speaking out against this attack on the sick, on the elderly, and on life itself. Fathers, preach on the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. Defend your flock from the evil that is the culture of death.
Finally, please show your support for Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia. They are on the front lines and they are fighting a war on behalf of the most vulnerable in Quebec, and by extension, in the rest of Canada. They can use our prayers and solidarity.
Liberal Party of Canada contact.
Hill Office House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1A 0A6
529 Jarry Street East
Montréal, Québec H2P 1V4