On April 21, Bill C-384 was overwhelmingly defeated when the House of Commons voted 228-59 against Francine Lalonde’s (BQ, La Pointe-de-l’Île) private member’s bill to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. After the vote, two Liberal MPs (Ujjal Dosanjh and Ken Dryden) sought but were denied permission to change their vote from in favour of C-384 to opposing it because they claimed they mistakeningly voted for the bill.

Lalonde’s campaign to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide began in 2005 when she first introduced a bill in the House of Commons, and C-384 was her third attempt to get Parliament to pass such a law. Her first two attempts failed when her private members bills were shut down by the 2006 and 2008 federal elections. In the current Parliament, Lalonde has repeatedly traded back dates with other private member’s bill, it appeared, to avoid a crushing defeat.

All but two Conservatives present in the House of Commons voted against the bill as did large numbers of Liberal and NDP MPs. The Bloc was unanimous in its support of C-384, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (right to die with dignity).

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, said that following the defeat of Lalonde’s bill, Canada should move to help vulnerable citizens. “Now that the bill has been defeated, this gives us the chance in Canada to continue to improve care for the vulnerable, to examine issues around elder abuse and how to prevent elder abuse in Canada,” he told LifeSiteNews.com. In an email dispatch to supporters, he identified immediate areas that need to be addressed including the improvement of palliative/hospice care throughout Canada and changing “attitudes and improv(ing) services for people with disabilities.”

Schadenberg urged opponents of euthanasia to remain vigilant. “There will be another bill in the next Parliament,” he predicted. “Our goal is to get ready for the next battle, which will be in a couple years after the next election.”

The Interim will have extensive coverage of the debate and vote in the June issue.