Despite urgency of euthanasia, CPC front-runners do not address issue

The Conservative leadership candidates have not focused closely on the issue of so-called Medical Aid in Dying, or MAiD (euthanasia), even though the government is debating the expansion of euthanasia through Bill C-7. The two supposed front-runners, Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole have not addressed the issue. Derek Sloan vowed to “Extend the official review of Euthanasia/MAID legislation to ensure the strongest safeguards for the most vulnerable.” Leslyn Lewis said: “I will stop the expansion of new categories for Medically Assisted Death.”

One of the problems with euthanasia is that people debate the issue based on theory rather than reality and since everyone wants freedom, choice, and autonomy, the arguments against euthanasia tend to be weak. But the reality is that legalizing MAiD gave doctors and nurse practitioners, literally the right to kill their patients.

Even if the Conservative leaders are afraid of addressing the issue, the concerns with Bill C-7 are easier to address. Bill C-7 is the federal government’s response to the Quebec Truchon court decision that came down in September 2019. What does Bill C-7 do?

  1. Bill C-7 removes the requirement in the law that a person’s natural death be reasonably foreseeable to qualify for assisted death, meaning, people who are not terminally ill can die by euthanasia. The Quebec court Truchon decision only required this amendment to the law, but Bill C-7 goes further.
  2. Bill C-7 permits a doctor or nurse practitioner to lethally inject a person who is incapable of consenting, if that person was previously approved for assisted death. This contravenes the Supreme Court of Canada Carter decision which stated that only competent people could die by euthanasia.
  3. Bill C-7 waives the ten-day waiting period if a person’s natural death is deemed to be reasonably foreseeable. Thus a person could request euthanasia on a “bad day” and die the same day. Studies prove that the “will to live” fluctuates.
  4. Bill C-7 creates a two track law. A person whose natural death is deemed to be reasonably foreseeable has no waiting period while a person whose natural death is not deemed to be reasonably foreseeable would have a 90 day waiting period before being killed by lethal injection. The two-track nature of the law creates an inequality which will likely be struck down by a future court case.
  5. Bill C-7 falsely claims to prevent euthanasia for people with mental illness. The euthanasia law permits MAiD for people who are physically or psychologically suffering that is intolerable to the person and that cannot be relieved in a way that the person considers acceptable. However mental illness is considered a form of psychological suffering and psychological suffering is not defined in the law.

It is not very hard to simply oppose Bill C-7, that if passed will give Canada the most extreme euthanasia law in the world.

Alex Schadenberg is the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.