The Supreme Court of Canada has granted the government another four months to come up with a law on euthanasia and assisted-suicide, after Parliament failed to pass a new law within the original one year window it was given. During the Court’s hearing, Justice Russell Brown asked the justice department lawyers why, if the new Trudeau government needed more time to craft a law, did it not ask Parliament to invoke the notwithstanding clause of the constitution that sets aside a court decision for five years, and take its time to properly debate the issue. Lawyer Robert Frater said it was a possibility, but probably unnecessary.
Our preference would be for Parliament to use the five-year set-aside to pass a constitutional amendment upholding the sanctity of human life from the moment of fertilization to natural death, or if that were too ambitious, by banning euthanasia and assisted-suicide, thereby mooting the Court’s finding that prohibiting the procedures violate the Charter rights of the sick and disabled. Alas, this is not likely the route the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau will take, seeing that the Prime Minister has vowed to pass a law on “assisted-dying”, which he has suggested should be modeled on the permissive one passed by Quebec’s National Assembly in 2014 and which began taking effect in December 2015. As we report in these pages this month, the first casualty of Quebec’s euthanasia regime has already fallen at the hands of one of that province’s doctors. Euthanasia is here already. The only way to reverse it is a constitutional amendment.
Seeing that the government is insistent on proceeding with this issue, we reiterate our call from the November Interim, for pro-life MPs to be bold and not compromise. The instinct for pro-lifers and others opposed to euthanasia such, as those in the disability community, is to help craft a law that protects vulnerable individuals, from being prematurely killed through so-called safeguards. We sympathize with the desire to mitigate a bad law. On a practical level, we acknowledge as the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition’s Alex Schadenberg has often observed, pointing to numerous studies from Europe and the United States, that safeguards do not actually work and are slowly eroded, entrapping whole new classes of candidates for euthanasia. But our opposition to compromising with whatever euthanasia law the government creates, is deeper than the pragmatic: we do not want our representatives in Ottawa to have blood on their hands and cooperate with the installation of this murderous evil into the world of Canadian medicine. Medical killing is not medicine, but it just killing.
We would never countenance a law that permitted murder of innocents on the street at certain times or particular locations. This sort of bad law illustrates how fatuous compromise can be. Yet this is what compromise with euthanasia is: an absurd justification to kill some people, while applauding ourselves that we have (for the moment) protected others from being murdered by the hands of doctors. This cannot be considered victory.
There are at least 41 pro-life MPs in Parliament according to the 2015 Campaign Life Coalition election analysis, and there are certainly others who are skeptical of the wisdom of permitting physicians to deliberately end the life of their patients. We call on these MPs to make a bold stand, to demonstrate their principles have meaning, and vote against euthanasia and assisted-suicide. It might be the only time the MPs have a chance to stand up for life in this Parliament, and their courageous refusal to cave may be chastised by political opponents and pundits, but will be remembered by posterity as heroic. There are no regulations or restrictions that can make euthanasia and assisted-suicide licit. There are no safeguards that can be enacted to effectively protect the vulnerable.
As we said in our November editorial, “there is no need to be ‘pragmatic’ and compromise with the evil of euthanasia by offering amendments to make it slightly less problematic. In all likelihood, a euthanasia law would pass with 200 or more votes in Parliament as currently constituted, so standing on principle in defense of human life sends a strong signal to their parliamentary colleagues and to history that there is, indeed, opposition to the barbaric practice of medicalized murder.” For those who embrace political pragmatism over principle, we remind them that that the government’s bill will almost certainly pass anyway. We urge our pro-life allies in Parliament to recognize what might be their only possible chance to stand up for life in the 42nd Parliament and vote against any law permitting euthanasia and assisted-suicide. We encourage you, readers, to pass this plea onto your elected representatives.