After much debate and shenanigans (read “Elbowgate”), the federal government’s bill on assisted dying finally passed in the House of Commons yesterday.
But don’t start cheering just yet. First of all, it’s clear Bill C-14 won’t pass the Senate—if it even does at all—prior to this Monday’s deadline (June 6) set by the Supreme Court of Canada.
More importantly, the bill proposed by the Liberal government falls well short of the criteria for allowing assisted dying the Supreme Court had set out in its landmark ruling last February.
By allowing assisted dying only for clearly-consenting adults “in an advance state of irreversible decline” from a serious and incurable disease, illness, or disability, and for whom natural death is “reasonably foreseeable,” many experts already are saying Bill C-14 would not withstand a constitutional challenge—which would put federal legislation back to square one.
It’s obvious assisted dying is a controversial topic. Former Fort Frances physician Dr. Nancy Naylor, for one, is opting to forego renewing her medical licence due to a policy that forces doctors unwilling to euthanize patients to refer them to a doctor who will.
Equally obviously is that federal politicians don’t really want to touch this issue with a proverbial 10-foot pole. The Supreme Court’s initial one-year deadline to come up with a new law, which later was extended by four months, won’t be met due to foot-dragging by the current government and the previous Conservative one.
And the law the Liberals finally did propose is watered down at best.
Addressing assisted dying has been a first-class flub. And if this is any indication of Liberal handling of a controversial matter, it doesn’t bode well for two other major issues coming down the pipe: electoral reform and the legalization of marijuana.