On May 18 approximately 1,700 people gathered in Quebec City to protest the provincial government’s plan to legalize euthanasia. Plans for the Springtime March, coordinated by the Rassemblement québécois contre l’euthanasie (RQCE), were made after the government’s “Dying with Dignity” committee toured Quebec and sought the opinions of individuals and organizations on the issue. The Springtime March was the beginning of a resistance against changes in provincial law that would open the door to euthanasia and assisted-suicide.
Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, told The Interim, that though “the work of waking up the people in Quebec to the threat posed by euthanasia is really still beginning,” the march was a good place to start. He believed that, after seeing the outcry from the public, the Quebec government should not see killing as a solution to health problems, but rather focus on improving “the care of its citizens.”
Politicians’ minds may not be changed in the near future, however. Campagne Quebec Vie president Georges Buscemi noted that PQ Minister of Social Services Véronique Hivon said at the beginning of the year that a bill would be tabled before summer break, and that there is no indication the government has changed its mind. Schadenberg was aware of a promise made by the Quebec National Assembly to have a bill on the table by June 2013. He hoped, at the very least, that this plan is delayed.
Buscemi said the lives of vulnerable Canadians would not be the only things at risk if euthanasia became legal, arguing that it could cause a rift between the province and the rest of Canada. “(The) imminent ‘medical aid in dying’ bill is divisive and will only cause more fights between Quebec and the rest of Canada,” Buscemi told The Interim. He said it would be difficult to have one understanding of criminal law as applied to euthanasia and assisted suicide in one province and a different one for all the others.
Buscemi said he hoped that Quebec’s political leaders “change their minds and permanently shelve their plans to legalize euthanasia.”
The English media covering the March seemed to be predominantly focused on the pro-life and religious opposition to euthanasia. Alex Schadenberg said that secular speakers and groups, such as Amy Hasbrouck from Toujours-Vivant/Not Dead Yet and Hugh Scher from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, were ignored in order to attack euthanasia opposition and call it a religious issue. In contrast, Buscemi thought that the event received mostly secular coverage from French sources. The RQCE had “people on (their) team with a lot of experience with the media,” who ensured that the message reached the public. Among the outlets who covered the Springtime March were Radio-Canada, TVA, Journal de Québec, Le Soleil de Québec, and La Presse.