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Senate votes not to send assisted dying bill back to MPs


Senator Serge Joyal

As debate over Senate amendments to physician-assisted suicide legislation played out in the House Thursday, MP Cathy McLeod said she intends to support the bill minus a key revision on who would qualify.

On Friday, after weeks of political wrangling, the upper Senate chamber voted in favor of a law which makes Canada one of the few nations where doctors can legally help sick people die.

“I would certainly hope we wouldn’t have to because that’s a long road, half a decade and much work and sweat and suffering on the part of Canadians who have been denied this right”.

Serge Joyal that would have seen the controversial government bill referred immediately to the Supreme Court of Canada for an opinion on its constitutionality.

For his part, Joyal launched into an emotional plea for Senators to stand up for minority rights by supporting his amendment, and pointed to Japanese internment during WWII, and the Immigration Act, which stripped “Jews from access to the country”.

Still, after a scuffle over whether the amendment was in order, it was debated and then defeated 42-28, with three abstentions.

But tunnel vision on this particular phrase overlooks Bill C-14’s far more unsafe and fundamental flaws, says executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Alex Schadenberg.

In a statement released by Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Dr. Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, announced the Bill.

“Better to have a bill than no bill at all”, said Liberal Senator Jim Munson, who called it just a start for Canada.

The amendment would also replace the bill’s restrictive eligibility criteria with the more permissive parameters spelled out a year ago in the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling, which struck down the ban on medical assistance in dying.

Canada has adopted a law permitting assisted suicide for terminally ill adults whose death is “reasonably foreseeable”. “However, I also acknowledge the reality of the Supreme Court’s ruling on assisted dying”.

Joyal, like other constitutional experts, believes the new assisted dying law, enacted Friday after the Senate bowed to the will of the elected government, does not comply with the charter of rights or with the Supreme Court’s Carter decision.

A headed debate emerged over whether to require patients to prove that their “natural death has become reasonably foreseeable”, as the law reads.

Batters said she believed that “it is only right the Senate defer to elected House of Commons”, but noted that “I can not in good conscience stand here in this place” and support a bill that “does not support the mentally ill”, and “does not require psychiatric assessment with those with underlying mental illness”. Find us on Facebook too!

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