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Results: 1 - 15 of 175
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2015-06-18 10:28 [p.15259]
Mr. Speaker, the last petition is very timely given that the Supreme Court of Canada has given one year's notice to deal with the issue of end-of-life decisions.
The petitioners call upon the House of Commons to respect the will of Canadians and enact legislation with clear guidelines to physicians to allow competent, fully informed and terminally ill patients the option of physician-assisted death.
View Joy Smith Profile
CPC (MB)
View Joy Smith Profile
2015-05-11 15:09 [p.13721]
Mr. Speaker, today I would like to present to the House hundreds of signatures against physician-assisted suicide. It is noted that in the state of Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, patients desiring treatment under the government's health plan have been offered assisted suicide instead. People across our country are very concerned about assisted suicide and the path it may lead down for very vulnerable populations.
View Steven Fletcher Profile
CPC (MB)
Mr. Speaker, most baby boomers will not die on the golf course. Nobody lives forever. Some people listening probably believe Elvis is still alive or that they will have a second chance as a zombie. A lot of young people these days fantasize about becoming immortal vampires. Personally, I would not want that hickey. A rare few will live long and prosperous lives and die in their nineties while having sex with their bride of 65 years.
Some people may end up in a situation like Sue Rodriguez, a victim of ALS. She asked Canadians, “If I cannot give consent to my own death, whose body is this? Who owns my life?” On February 6, 2015, the Supreme Court yelled back to Sue, “It's your life, Sue. You decide your fate”, and with that, physician-assisted death became legal in Canada.
Let us talk about it.
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2015-02-25 14:28 [p.11666]
Mr. Speaker, the Supreme Court handed down its decision two weeks ago now. Despite a full day of discussion yesterday, we still do not know this government's plan. In fact, there is even more confusion.
Can the government give us a clear indication of what it intends to do about the important issue of physician-assisted death?
View Robert Goguen Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Speaker, dying with dignity is a non-partisan issue. It is also an extremely emotionally charged issue. Canadians have diverse viewpoints on this, and our plan is to engage all Canadians in a consultation process that will take into consideration the diverse viewpoints of all Canadians in order to reach a conclusion that is acceptable to everyone.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2015-02-24 10:08 [p.11564]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is very relevant to the debate that is about to begin. It is from residents of Victoria and Saanich—Gulf Islands. The petitioners are calling on the House to respect the will of Canadians by enacting legislation to provide clear guidelines to physicians to deal with the issue of physician-assisted death.
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2015-02-24 10:13 [p.11564]
moved:
That (a) the House recognize that (i) the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the prohibition on physician-assisted dying violates Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which states that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice”, (ii) the Supreme Court has suspended the implementation of its ruling for 12 months, (iii) the expected federal election and summer recess limit the remaining sitting days in 2015, (iv) Canadians expect Parliamentarians to take a leadership role on this issue and engage with it in an informed and respectful way, (v) a non-partisan, deliberate and effective discussion took place on this issue in the Quebec National Assembly, (vi) Parliament has a responsibility to respond to the Supreme Court ruling; and (b) a special committee be appointed to consider the ruling of the Supreme Court; that the committee consult with experts and with Canadians, and make recommendations for a legislative framework that will respect the Constitution, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the priorities of Canadians; that the committee consist of 12 members which shall include seven members from the government party, four members from the Official Opposition and one member from the Liberal Party, provided that the Chair is from the government party; that in addition to the Chair, there be one Vice-Chair from each of the recognized opposition parties; that the committee have all of the powers of a standing committee as provided in the Standing Orders, as well as the power to travel, accompanied by the necessary staff, inside and outside of Canada, subject to the usual authorization from the House; that the members to serve on the said committee be appointed by the Whip of each party depositing with the Clerk of the House a list of his or her party’s members of the committee no later than March 11, 2015; that the quorum of the committee be seven members for any proceedings, provided that at least a member of the opposition and of the government party be present; that membership substitutions be permitted to be made from time to time, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2); and that the committee report no later than July 31, 2015, provided that, if the committee has ready its report at any time the House stands adjourned, when that report is deposited with the Clerk of the House, it shall be deemed to have been duly presented to the House.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with the hon. member for Charlottetown.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a landmark judgment, striking down the ban on physician-assisted death. Its decision was not only unanimous; it was unambiguous. For adults who are mentally competent but suffering grievous and irremediable medical conditions, the court ruled that the current prohibition in the Criminal Code infringes the right to life, liberty, and security of the person in a manner that is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
The court has ruled, and now it is up to us, as legislators, to act.
Death, and all the ways it affects our lives, is not an easy topic to discuss. In recent weeks, I have had several sensitive conversations with individuals who applaud the court's decision and with individuals who condemn it. Our responsibility is to create new legislation, even though the process may be difficult and may make some people uncomfortable. We are here to speak for our constituents. We must have the debate, despite how difficult it might be. We must make difficult decisions, and Canadians are aware of this.
The Supreme Court—perhaps taking into account the contentious nature of this process—judiciously set a deadline and gave us one year to draft legislation on physician-assisted death. Given this is such a deeply personal and controversial issue, one year is hardly enough. We are not talking here about an insignificant amendment to a minor law. When Quebec decided to begin drafting its own legislation on physician-assisted death, there were four and a half years between creating a new multi-party committee and passing the legislation. During those four and a half years, one full year was spent on holding hearings and public consultations, as well as proposing and debating amendments.
It took four and a half years in the Quebec National Assembly, including one full year of consultations and debate. The Supreme Court has given us 12 months, which is reasonable, but with the summer recess and the fall election, that gives barely more than 12 sitting weeks for us parliamentarians. That gives us enough time to do this, but no time to waste.
Today, we are putting forward a motion that calls on the House of Commons to take immediate action. We are asking that:
...a special committee be appointed to consider the ruling of the Supreme Court; that the committee consult with experts and with Canadians, and make recommendations for a legislative framework that will respect the Constitution, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the priorities of Canadians;
As the hon. member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia has noted, the Supreme Court's decision has given us a clear path to move forward quickly but thoughtfully. There is no advantage to delaying debate. Indeed, given the timeline offered by the Supreme Court, if the House has any intention of addressing this issue before the next election, those consultations must begin immediately.
When I asked the Prime Minister about this last week, he said in the House of Commons that physician-assisted death is a sensitive topic for many Canadians, and there are strong opinions on both sides. That is fair. I have a strong opinion. It is based on my personal experience, when I sat by my father in his final moments of life. I know that we must respect personal freedoms and choice while ensuring as a society that the most vulnerable among us are protected.
I believe that the Supreme Court made the right decision and that our laws must be consistent with its ruling because that is the right thing to do. That is my opinion, anyway. We have to hear what others have to say about this.
Last week, the Prime Minister himself indicated that he agreed. He said that we will “hold broad consultations on all aspects of this difficult issue”. Today, we can begin to keep that promise.
Quebec's experience shows us, reassuringly, that respectful and responsible deliberation is possible. It reminds us that when political parties set aside their differences in service of the public good, co-operation can follow. Consensus can be found, even on an issue as complex and sensitive as end-of-life care.
If we do nothing, if we do not get this important national debate under way soon, Canada will find itself without any laws governing physician-assisted death. That kind of legislative vacuum serves no one: not people who are suffering, not their anxious family members, and not the compassionate physicians who offer them care.
In the legal challenges leading up to the Supreme Court decision, one thing was constant: no one wanted to break the law. What they were asking for, and what the Supreme Court has now compelled us to provide, is a law that spells out the limitations on physician assistance to Canadians who wish to die with dignity.
The Supreme Court ruling applies to competent adults whose enduring suffering is intolerable and who clearly consent to physician-assisted death. Even within the scope of these provisions, Canadians have diverging opinions, as the Prime Minister remarked. Canadians have firmly held values. Whether those values are based on religious convictions, personal experience or professional experience, these voices deserve to be heard. In order for us to have a respectful and responsible discussion on this important issue, we need to have enough time to hear from Canadians and listen to people who are concerned by this legislative measure, their families and medical and legal experts. Part of this ruling calls for an honest look at the quality of care already being provided. Do Canadians who are suffering feel adequately supported by their community? Do they have equitable access to quality palliative care?
We need to have a national conversation on dying with dignity. That conversation needs to include how we care with empathy and respect for those who are suffering at the end of their lives.
The court provided a deadline. It is our job to take it seriously, to act quickly but thoughtfully, and to live up to our shared responsibilities as legislators. I ask every member to reflect on that responsibility today and to support this motion, this process. The court has spoken; Canada and Canadians await our response.
View Françoise Boivin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Françoise Boivin Profile
2015-02-24 10:21 [p.11566]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the leader of the third party for his speech on an extremely important issue that obviously affects all Canadians.
Since the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice said as much yesterday, we know that the government does not plan to support this motion. Does the leader of the third party still believe that it is possible to study this matter in a non-partisan way?
Furthermore, given that health, and thus end-of-life care, is a provincial jurisdiction, what are his views on the division of powers under the Constitution and the role of the federal government with respect to the Criminal Code? The Supreme Court decision in Carter deals strictly with the Criminal Code.
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2015-02-24 10:22 [p.11566]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her two questions.
First of all, I believe that we will be able to have a non-partisan, informed and respectful debate. We know that the Quebec National Assembly, which is highly partisan, was able to have an extremely compassionate and informed debate. I believe that is possible in this place. I encourage all members of Parliament to support this motion.
Regarding respect for areas of jurisdiction, that is an extremely important issue that will have to be studied. I am personally very encouraged by the legislative framework put forward by Quebec, but the other nine provinces still have not proposed anything. I feel that a federal government must try to protect and respect the rights of all Canadians. However, I know that the provinces and the federal government are on the same page in this case. We all want the same thing: to protect Canadians and their rights.
View Bob Dechert Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bob Dechert Profile
2015-02-24 10:24 [p.11566]
Mr. Speaker, if the hon. Liberal leader has done the research and knows the answer, could he tell the House when the last time was that a special committee of the House ever actually designed legislation before? Typically the purpose of committees is to review legislation or to do studies and make recommendations to government.
As I understand it, the Liberal motion suggests that this committee would actually design the legislative response to the Supreme Court decision. I am wondering if he can tell us the history of that in this place.
Second, could he tell us why he chose a special committee rather than the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2015-02-24 10:24 [p.11566]
Mr. Speaker, the motion we have before us is asking for a committee to make consultations and hear from experts on an issue that the Supreme Court has given to Canadians and given to us legislators to deal with, so Canadians expect their legislators to dig into this. I think a special committee in which the Conservatives will have the majority would give an opportunity to actually engage responsibly in a way that will inform the government when it chooses to bring forward legislation. This is what people expect of us.
There have been many studies on this issue. There were studies in 1995 and in 2010. As well, there was one in the year 2000 that the Senate put forward. Various people have put them forward on such issues. We can draw upon that expertise.
However, it is time that Canadians saw their legislators leaning in and dealing with this important issue so that when the government sits down and puts forward a piece of legislation, it would be informed by the views of Canadians and experts.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2015-02-24 10:26 [p.11566]
Mr. Speaker, I certainly will be voting in favour of the motion. In answer to the previous question, I recall very clearly when the environment committee, in the wake of the Earth Summit, held hearings and put together recommendations for the government on the ways in which a government could go forward based upon advice from experts. I think this is a very sensible approach and a good way forward.
By the way, let me put on the record that the Green Party membership, in a very difficult discussion and debate, came forward with a proposal that is completely consistent with what the Supreme Court has ruled. Our party, through a member-driven process, decided to support measures for physician-assisted death.
I do want to ask the member for Papineau, the leader of the Liberal Party, if the Liberals would consider an amendment to this motion so that members of Parliament in my situation, in a party with fewer than 12 members of Parliament, could have a seat on such a committee.
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2015-02-24 10:27 [p.11566]
Mr. Speaker, we of course are open to all amendments to this process because we want to bring forward a multi-partisan discussion in a responsible way. We are open to any reasonable amendments that would improve the process of discussion. We look forward to hearing any such proposals and amendments and welcome them so that we can have a proper discussion.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-02-24 10:27 [p.11566]
Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to the Liberal motion to create a cross-partisan committee to examine physician-assisted death following the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision in Carter v. Canada.
Physician-assisted death is an emotionally charged issue and a very personal one. Of that there is no doubt. Too often issues that touch the deeply held values of Canadians are used as wedges to divide us politically. However, Canadians deserve a response from this House that addresses the substance of the Supreme Court's legal decision.
It must be made clear from the outset that this is not a debate about what is right or wrong for a person confronted with an end-of-life situation. Such decisions are often tied to a person's religious or moral convictions. However, for Parliament this must be a question of the proper role of government according to our Constitution, which is the fundamental law of Canada.
Our country is a democracy, but it is a constitutional democracy. The power of our legislature is subject to the legal limits that protect minorities and individuals from the tyranny of the majority. These limits are enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the proper function of the judiciary is to interpret those limits.
On the question of how far the government can go to limit the rights of Canadians with respect to physician-assisted death, the Supreme Court of Canada has now given us clear and unanimous guidance. The criminal prohibition of physician-assisted death unjustifiably infringed the rights of Canadians to life, liberty, and security of the person. The decision was the result of the Supreme Court's rational interpretation of the law according to the evidence and best arguments. The unanimity of that decision adds special force to the Supreme Court's conclusions.
Those conclusions are not merely opinions; rather, they are the product of objective legal analysis and carefully weighed developments in our constitutional jurisprudence. The famous metaphor for our Constitution is that of a living tree. Anyone who thinks that this is an example of judicial activism should read Carter v. Canada. He or she will find that this new development in our constitutional law has firm roots indeed.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court makes it clear that we as legislators cannot stand in the way of a dignified choice for competent adults who are suffering from a prolonged, intolerable, and irremediable medical condition.
This decision was a powerful one. The Supreme Court ruled that the prohibition of physician-assisted dying violated each aspect of section 7 of the charter with respect to life, liberty, and security of the person. Specifically, the effect of the ban was to deny Canadians the right to life by forcing some people to commit suicide early out of fear of incapacity, to deny Canadians the right to liberty by depriving people of control over their bodily integrity and medical care, and to deny Canadians security of the person by leaving people to endure intolerable suffering.
The court found that these violations were unjustified. Constitutionally, the prohibitions went disproportionately beyond their purpose by affecting people who were not vulnerable to coercion in times of weakness. For that reason, the court held that the prohibition on physician-assisted death is of no force or effect to the extent that two conditions are met: first, that the person is a competent adult who clearly consents to dying; second, that the person has a grievous and irremediable medical condition that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances.
When I was in Charlottetown this past weekend, I had the chance to hear from many of the constituents I represent here in this House. They were pleased with the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada. They, like many Canadians, have been at the bedsides of people who were terminally ill and in great pain at the end of their lives. They, like many Canadians, had a painful story of loved ones who were not given the dignity they deserved at the end of their lives. Many held back tears at the memories of being bedside when their loved ones were suffering. These conversations are why it is so important for the government to allow for a thorough debate on physician-assisted death.
The Canadian Medical Association supports the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court of Canada. The CMA, however, requests legislative protection for physicians who, for reasons of moral or religious conviction, cannot assist in death. The CMA has requested a determination on how consent would be determined, what safeguards would be put in place, and how patients would apply for assistance.
Doctors want to help their patients in all stages of life and death. Doctors deserve direction from this House. We should not pass the buck.
We have heard concerns that the Supreme Court ruling would unintentionally create a slippery slope, leading to the victimization of vulnerable populations. It is this slippery slope that has prompted the Council of Canadians with Disabilities to ask for legislative safeguards to protect vulnerable populations and to avoid potential distraction from current end-of-life strategies and palliative care.
I also want to be clear that I do not believe that palliative care and other end-of-life strategies will be less important because of this ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada. Canadians will have all options for end-of-life care. However, going forward, we have to recognize that physician-assisted death would be one of those options. Our constitution requires it.
We would be doing ourselves and this House a huge disservice by not listening intently to the concerns raised by the Canadian Medical Association and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. The perspectives of organizations like theirs, and so many others, are why the Liberal Party believes in striking a committee to hear from witnesses, identify concerns and solutions, and present a carefully considered report to the House. How will we adequately address the issues if we do not seek to understand them?
The Supreme Court of Canada has given us a clear directive to develop a permissive regime that respects the rights of Canadians under the charter and that also protects the rights of vulnerable populations and the freedom of conscience of our physicians. Why then would the government want to delay examining the best ways to protect Canadians while upholding their constitutional rights?
I know that some of our colleagues across the floor have not always held the same reverence for the charter and the judges charged with its interpretation. This is not surprising, given how often the government's legislation and executive actions have been ruled unconstitutional by the courts. The losing streak does not need to be recited here. I encourage the government to take this opportunity to rethink its approach to our country's Constitution.
The Supreme Court of Canada has given us until February 5, 2016 to develop a framework before physician-assisted dying becomes legal in Canada. It is our duty as elected representatives to give this issue the respect, the time, and the thought it deserves. Looking to the work of the Quebec National Assembly and Bill 52 may prove useful, and its approach is something a parliamentary committee should consider. We must get this right.
Again, this is not an issue of personal morality or religion, nor should it be. It is an issue of constitutional rights in a free society and the limited power of the legislature. The Liberal Party is calling upon this House to remove political wedges from this issue and to support our motion.
The Supreme Court of Canada has called upon this House to set the direction for physician-assisted death. Sick and dying individuals have called upon this House to provide them with all options and to respect their rights and freedoms under the charter. Physicians have called upon this House for direction that respects individuals' freedom of conscience.
Canadians are calling on us to put aside our partisan allegiances and to work together on this historic ruling. My question is, then, are my colleagues in this House ready to put aside our political divisions, even temporarily, to respect the judicial branch of our government and talk about this serious issue?
View Mike Wallace Profile
CPC (ON)
View Mike Wallace Profile
2015-02-24 10:37 [p.11568]
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is a valuable member of the justice committee, which I chair, and always has input.
I have just two questions for my colleague.
Today's motion from the Liberal Party is a procedural motion. It is about procedures moving forward. The leader indicated that it is not about reviewing legislation. It is more about setting up a committee to do a procedural thing.
The leader of the Liberal Party talked about expert witnesses. Does the member who just spoke have a definition of what experts are? This deals with all Canadians. How are they expecting to define who is an expert on this and who is not?
The standing committees now have 10 members. On a percentage basis, the Liberals have one seat. Committees have moved from what used to be the standing committee size of 12, which means that there was even less presence for the Liberal Party, in a sense, than they have now. Why did they choose 12 members over 10, which is the normal process for a standing committee of the House of Commons?
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