Talk radio listener attacks pro-lifer,

decries ‘millions wasted on unfit and unworthy lives’

“Dr. Johnston … you has [sic] a hidden agenda.” Delivered via fax machine, the letter responded to a recent morning radio interview given by Physicians for Life representative Dr. Will Johnston in Vancouver.

The writer’s agenda was not hidden. “I am strongly in favor of euthanasia. Millions of tax dollars are wasted every single day to keep life – unfit and unworthy – alive. Just look into any long-term care facility …. Prolonging unfit life is a result of religious – and hidden – agendas of ethnic groups that caused already too many atrocities in the world.”

I’m trying to figure out what our “hidden agenda” is.

According to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, the Canadian Alliance has a “hidden agenda that is not spoken too much about.” He, of course, would prefer to keep it that way. Talk of hidden agendas is very effective in avoiding the real agendas of government debt, scandals and health-care problems.

According to Henry Mortgentaler, Stockwell Day’s “hidden agenda” is to roll back Canadian women’s rights to reproductive freedom. Ominous. Dr. Morgentaler, meanwhile, has been promoting his agenda quite vigorously. He aims to reduce crime by exterminating would-be criminals – before they are born.

The euthanasia agenda is moving forward with the encouragement of other death promoters. In the wake of Holland’s recent move to legalise euthanasia I found myself sparring with Derek Humphry on Saskatchewan NewsTalk. Humphry is founder of the Hemlock Society and author of the how-to suicide manual Final Exit. Though he denied any evidence of the slippery slope or any possibility that legalized killing could affect the disabled, his writings indicate he thinks otherwise. In Final Exit, Humphry predicts, “Once we have statutes on the books permitting lawful physician aid-in-dying for the terminally ill” there will be greater “tolerance” of the suicide of the handicapped and other “exceptional cases.”

The remarkable disability rights group, Not Dead Yet, calls the Hemlockers “the 4 W’s: the White, Well-off, Worried, and Well.” Organizer Diane Coleman explains, “They don’t care how many of our people are encouraged – even pressured – to die, so long as they themselves can have the security of a clean, neat, sanitized suicide at the hands of a medical professional.”

In his latest book, Freedom to Die – People, Politics and the Right to Die Movement, Humphry says it will be the unspoken argument for assisted suicide – cost containment – that will ensure the eventual passage of laws legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia. “Economics, not the quest for broadened individual liberties … will drive assisted suicide to the plateau of acceptable practice.”

Many Canadians with a less obvious agenda believe euthanasia should be available in special cases only – with strict safeguards in place. But it is clear from the Dutch experience that safeguards do not work. The Netherlands has gone from euthanasia for terminal illness to chronic illness to psychological distress to no illness at all. A doctor in Holland was recently acquitted for killing an elderly man who was “tired of life” but had no physical or mental illness.

Palliative care physician, Dr. Margaret Cottle, questions, “Who will provide these so-called ‘safeguards’ – i.e., laws? The government seems the only viable possibility to most citizens. Ergo … the folks who brought us Canada Post and Revenue Canada would be administering and enforcing the regulations which may determine if we live or die. This thought should be sobering.”


University of Calgary Professor Tom Flanagan, writing recently in the National Post, says, “If you have a hidden agenda, you must at least be clever.” I guess that eliminates me for sure. And Dr. Johnston? He is clever, but his agenda is too full to be hidden.Janet Les is Administrator for Canadian Physicians for Life.