Dear Supporters of LifeCanada,
I am writing to ask you to please take action with us on a matter of grave importance.
As you may know, in February 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada handed down its decision in the Carter Case, giving Parliament and our federal government a deadline to draft and pass a law regulating what is now being referred to as MAID (Medical Aid in Dying).
The Prime Minister struck a Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying, which on February 25 released its report. It made twenty-one recommendations that went shockingly well beyond what would have been necessary to comply with the Supreme Court’s instructions.
The Liberal government has until June 6 of this year, which is only three months away, to pass a law on MAID. We can only hope that the law they propose and may ultimately pass will be much more constrained than what the parliamentary committee’s recommendations suggest.
If ever there was a time for those who believe in respect for human life in all its stages and conditions to take action that time is now.
Life Canada is developing a full response strategy, and details will be provided in the near future. As a start, I am asking you to write letters or emails to at least three officials: your local MP; our Justice Minister; and our Prime Minister. Please express your objections to the recommendations and ask that the law which is to be drafted acknowledges and includes the perspective of the millions of Canadians who see euthanasia and assisted suicide as a serious affront to the moral fabric of our society.
For your convenience, I am providing some internet links to a variety of perspectives about the dangers of the recommendations, and a sample letter which can be modified according to your own unique perspective. You may want to select the two or three issues that mean most you in the sample to inspire your own writing.
Please inform yourselves and get involved in this letter writing/email campaign which has potential to influence the law that will be drafted. We have a short period, of only weeks, in which to counteract the irresponsible and radical approach taken by the committee advising Parliament.
We may have lost the fight to prevent legalizing MAID but we have not lost the fight to guide the form that the law will take.
On behalf of the Euthanasia Committee
CONTACT INFORMATION AND LEARNING RESOURCES
Prime Minister, Justice Minister, and MP Contact Information:
Right Honourable Justin Trudeau Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould
Office of the Prime Minister House of Commons
80 Wellington Street Ottawa, ON
To find your local MP’s name and contact information:
An article from eminent law expert and ethicist Margaret Somerville:
LifeCanada's press release about the recommendations:
Alex Schadenberg’s (Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition) Comments and Analysis of the Recommendations:
An online copy of the committee’s report and recommendations:
Faye Sonier’s (Executive Director and General Legal Counsel for Canadian Physicians for Life) Analysis of the recommendations:
CBC news report and analysis of the recommendations:
Caution not compulsion urged by the Toronto Star:
Written as if to Right Honourable Prime Minister
but easily adapted to local MP and Minister of Justice
Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Dear Mr. Trudeau:
I understand that you and your government plans to introduce a law regarding Medical Aid in Dying (MAID). As your government continues to inform itself about how to frame the law, you will undoubtedly consider the report of the Special Joint Committee on Physician Assisted Dying. I’m sure that you are aware that the scope of those recommendations shocked many Canadians.
In light of all of this I am urging you to write a law that is as restrictive as possible. The very idea of helping people commit suicide is offensive to millions of Canadians and clearly at odds with provincial and territorial initiatives to prevent suicide. To many Canadians, the recent events bring a deep sense of sadness.
Please, I respectfully urge you, respect and include the perspective of millions of Canadians who see any legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide as unconscionable and ultimately harmful, not only to our own beliefs, but to the very well-being of our country.
In particular I urge you to consider these recommendations:
1. Please do not require physicians, who by conscience are opposed to euthanasia, to refer patients to a doctor who would perform the ‘procedure’. Patients would be free to seek a doctor willing to assist their suicide on their own.
2. Please make the process inclusive, by listening to the informed and highly educated opinions of those like ethicist Margaret Somerville who despite their belief that the notion of MAID is by nature wrong, have provided advice on how to minimize the harm. There is no shortage of noteworthy academic and social commentary experts who find grave fault with MAID and can offer constructive advice. Please allow yourself to hear these voices.
3. Please exclude anyone not of adult age.
4. Please have robust safeguards in place for those who suffer from any mental illness.
5. Please have robust checks and balances in place for those who will approve, carry out and report MAID requests.
6. Please include a before-the-fact reporting requirement intended to prevent instances of finding out too late that there was a problem with the request for or administration of the MAID.
7. Please have processes in place which prevent impulsive or rash decisions for those expressing a wish for MAID.
8. Please consider including some form of family member consultation when a loved one is requesting MAID. Imagine finding out after the fact that your father, mother, son or daughter had been assisted in ending their life by suicide and thinking that you might have been able to offer another path. Loss of a loved one is a deeply personal family matter.
9. Please consider writing an interim law which provides MAID only in the most extreme cases and use the notwithstanding clause to defend against anticipated resulting legal challenges in the short-term future, to allow time for more reflection and voices.
10. Please examine the potential intersection of elder abuse and MAID, particularly cases of economic pressure to request MAID. Many experts have suggested that those who suffer greatly will see themselves as a burden on our health care system and families, and feel pressure to request MAID.
11. Please establish a committee to explore ways to support the capacity of families and society to care for the elderly and those who suffer any physical or emotional anguish. The question, "why have we gotten here – to a place where ending life is seen as the solution to suffering?" would be worth exploring.
Above all, please do not dismiss the millions of
Canadians who see MAID as inherently wrong and damaging to the long-term health
of our society. The issues around it have not been systematically aired and
clarified, and Canadians are on the verge of having to deal with
Thank you for considering my requests.