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Results: 16 - 30 of 47
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2016-06-16 11:12 [p.4606]
Mr. Speaker, I have voted on this subject a couple of times in the House. It came up through private members' bills. I think a member of the Bloc Québécois, in the 39th Parliament, proposed a bill to remove the restrictions around assisted suicide. It was not as comprehensive as the bill before us. I think it just deleted a clause. This obviously is a more robust response to the issue.
I do take the hon. member's points. Once the House came back after the election, there was a great number of opportunities for members to weigh in on what direction it should take. There was the special committee before the legislation was drafted, obviously debated in the House, the standing committee, and now over to the Senate.
However, none of that matters when we are dealing with the original principle that the Supreme Court hoisted back on to us. Several times in the last decade or so the elected representatives have voted against legalizing assisted suicide. The Supreme Court, in my lifetime, has upheld the rules and laws against assisted suicide and now has reversed itself. This is my beef with the whole question.
It was quite clear, through the will of the elected by Canadians, that Canadians were comfortable with assisted suicide being illegal, that the sanctity of life being upheld all the way through to natural death was an important principle, and that Canadians were afraid of where this might lead to. However, the court, having reversed its decision, has now placed it back on the lap of Parliament, so there are limited options for parliamentarians to take.
The bill is not perfect. I voted against it at second and third reading. I would have liked to have seen more protections for conscience rights for medical practitioners. I wish we had talked more about that. It is not in the amendments that we are dealing with today, so I cannot speak to that. However, it would have been easier for me to support the bill if those types of protections for medical practitioners to reflect their conscience were in it.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2016-06-16 11:15 [p.4607]
Mr. Speaker, I am not familiar with the steps the Government of Alberta took to survey people in Alberta. If it was not a referendum, then I do not know how accurate a reflection of the people it could be. I would not look to the current Government of Alberta to inform basically any of my decisions, especially about something as serious as this.
Let us be honest. We are talking about very complex legal principles. We are talking about medical terminology that touches on many different aspects of different kinds of care.
The will of Canadians was reflected through the House, which is a pretty fundamental principle. Political parties and MPs come here to represent their constituents. We did vote on this several times in my life here as a parliamentarian, and every time we rejected the call to legalize assisted suicide, and rightly so.
I have had people in my family reach the end of their lives and go through very tough medical conditions. However, upholding the principle of the sanctity of life is our job, and it is the medical industry's job to protect life, to extend life. That is a fundamental principle, and if we lose that anchor, I worry a lot of unintended consequences will come down the pike in the foreseeable future.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present petitions circulated by the Canada Family Action Coalition that feature the signatures of several hundred Saskatchewan residents who are calling upon the government to allow for sufficient time to broadly consult, more aggressively than it has been doing, on the issues of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.
They also ask that the House of Commons and the members therein be stringent and serve to minimize the occurrence of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in Canada, enact laws that would protect the vulnerable members of our society, and that they do so today.
View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise in my place today and add the voices of my constituents to the debate on Bill C-14, an act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other acts, regarding medical assistance in dying.
I want to begin by telling this House that, in the almost nine years that I have been a member of this place, I have not been asked about or received as much correspondence as I have on the matter of physician-assisted suicide. It is clear that Canadians and members of this House have varied and deeply held beliefs and convictions on this issue, which have been informed by our life experiences. We members also have a responsibility to balance our personal beliefs with those of our constituents and the incredible wealth of knowledge they share with us. The widespread reaction to this short debate in Parliament confirms my belief and, I believe, the belief of my colleagues that physician-assisted suicide represents the defining issue of this Parliament.
Bill C-14 would have the most lasting impact on Canadians and the social fabric of our society because each one of us could at some point see someone we know struggle with such a decision. My constituents' opinions on this issue have been genuine, considered, and informative, with a clear majority opposing physician-assisted suicide. I am pleased to inform them that I share their views. I believe in the inviolable dignity of all human life, and that it is to be protected by law from conception to natural death. Therefore, I have opposed and will continue to oppose any attempt to legalize euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.
I have grave concerns with the process surrounding the introduction and passage of this bill. I am cognizant that Bill C-14 is now at third reading and that many members are still grappling with how they will vote later today. I hope all members will be able to vote freely, as Conservative members will be able to do.
This legislation was first introduced in this place on April 14, less than two months ago. Passing a bill in a month and a half is a challenge under any circumstances, but passing a bill of this magnitude and in this amount of time is reckless and demonstrates a complete disregard for the significance of this issue to all Canadians. As my colleague from Lethbridge noted in her earlier remarks, the Supreme Court of Canada has sent Parliament into an unending abyss of grey, and each day parliamentarians are being tested on the future limits of this legislation as one what-if leads to another. I do not believe that all the impacts of this bill can be assessed in such a tight timeline, as this truly is a new moral space for Canadians to contemplate.
Like many of us here, I am concerned that minors may eventually be able to obtain medical assistance in dying. I am concerned for the well-being of those struggling through mental illness because, quite frankly, we as a country are only now beginning to recognize and understand its reach and impacts on so many. As well, I am concerned with the notion that doctors who for legitimate reasons of faith or conscience oppose medical assistance in dying would be forced to participate in this process contrary to their personal ethics.
While the government has presented us with a bill that is much narrower in scope than the recommendations made by the special committee, stakeholders on both sides of this issue have raised many what-is-next questions. These have not been answered, and I am therefore disappointed that consultations and debate on Bill C-14 are ending prematurely.
Many of my constituents have suggested that the government should consider using section 33 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the notwithstanding clause, to prevent physician-assisted suicide rather than rushing a bill through Parliament that appears to fully satisfy no one. I want the government and my constituents to know that I would support using the notwithstanding clause to prevent the Supreme Court's decision in Carter v. Canada from having any effect. While I am not a constitutional expert, I assume that section 33 was included in the charter because the prime minister and the premiers of the day wanted to affirm that a democratically elected federal Parliament and provincial legislatures, and not the judicial branch, would have the responsibility to pass laws on matters of public policy.
By refusing to invoke the notwithstanding clause, the government is prematurely ending our deliberations on this bill, and consequently removing many voices from the discussion.
Parliament should be passing laws that the courts then interpret within the charter. Courts should not be telling Parliament what laws it needs to pass and by when they must be passed.
I do not believe that former premier of Saskatchewan Allan Blakeney would have signed the charter without the presence of the notwithstanding clause, as it protected the rights of Saskatchewan's legislature to override a court decision with which it might not agree.
Then prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau agreed when he said:
...it is a way that the legislatures, federal and provincial, have of ensuring that the last word is held by the elected representatives of the people rather than by the courts.
Former prime minister Jean Chrétien, who was at the time Canada's justice minister, made a similar comment:
The purpose of an override clause is to provide the flexibility that is required to ensure that legislatures rather than judges have the final say on important matters of public policy.
If physician-assisted suicide is not an issue for the Parliament of Canada to invoke section 33, what is?
Liberal members have continuously used the June 6 deadline as justification to pass the bill quickly, yet I would posit that the notwithstanding clause exists precisely so that Parliament, and not the courts, can set the timeline on important matters of public policy. At the very least, the government could have used this clause to give itself more time to consult Canadians and draft legislation that conforms to the court's decision and protects life.
Quebec's National Assembly took six years to develop its legislation on physician-assisted suicide, yet the Supreme Court only gave the federal government a total of 16 months to put in place new legislation. Unfortunately, it is clear that using the notwithstanding clause is not an approach that the current government would even consider.
I will use my remaining time to address the issue of conscience rights for medical professionals.
I believe that opening the door to physician-assisted suicide is a slippery slope for our society. However, I believe that it is even more reckless if we fail to protect conscience rights in this legislation.
Without adequate protection for the conscience rights of medical professionals, Parliament, and more specifically the current governing party, is inserting the thinnest edge of the wedge when it comes to legislative disregard for conscience rights. If the current Parliament fails to respect these rights, we are setting a most dangerous precedent.
Precedents matter. Members might not be in the House or even alive to see the effects that the precedents set by passing Bill C-14 may have, which is why the protection of conscience rights today is so important.
I would have expected that most in this place would support conscience rights for medical professionals. I took at face value that the government included a mention of conscience rights in the preamble of the bill as an indication of its support for the principle, but the results of last night's vote demonstrated that this was not the case.
No one is a permanent or an eternal member of this place. Just like legislators in past parliaments, the only lasting effect we can have on the future is to be clear in our intentions through the laws we pass today. Therefore, it behooves us as members of the 42nd Parliament to be very specific in what is allowed and what is being protected with this piece of legislation.
In conclusion, our only legacy as a Parliament is what we pass into law. We have a responsibility to get this legislation right and ensure that all the issues that have been raised are addressed.
View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, the federal Parliament, a provincial legislature, or a territorial legislature may declare that one of its laws or part of a law applies temporarily, notwithstanding countermanding sections of the charter, thereby nullifying any judicial review by overriding the charter protections for a limited period of time.
The clause was a compromise that was reached during the debate over the new Constitution in the early 1980s. Among the provinces' major complaints with the charter was its effect of shifting power from elected officials to the judiciary, giving the courts the final word. As I said in my comments, premiers across this country, especially those in Alberta and Saskatchewan, believed it needed to be part of the charter to strongly object to a court overriding the laws they had put in place.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2016-05-31 15:52 [p.3846]
Mr. Speaker, regarding protection for institutions, you represented the Saskatoon West riding for many years, and in that riding we have a Catholic-based hospital called St. Paul's Hospital. Could the member tell me how the hospital is going to deal with this, in a Catholic-based hospital, when we have no protection for institutions like this in the country?
View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, we have what we understand to be a faith-based facility providing health care in the city of Saskatoon. It is the St. Paul's Hospital. It has provided care to Saskatchewanians for many decades. Originally it was the Grey Nuns who provided the care, and now that facility is an affiliate of the health region in Saskatoon.
I would suggest that a faith-based facility would employ a number of medical professionals who would want to have their conscience rights protected, and the faith they express through the care they provide should also be protected. There would be deep concern if conscience rights for individuals as well as faith-based facilities would not be protected in this legislation.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2016-05-20 12:09 [p.3654]
Madam Speaker, I rise on the same point of order. I understand you will not want this to become a debate about what has happened in the past, but perhaps members opposite do not understand what the reasonable proposal from my NDP counterpart contains.
The June 6 deadline would not be affected in any way. Right now, at the conclusion of today's debate, the vote will be held on Monday evening, which means that third reading cannot start until Tuesday. What my colleague has proposed would not affect that in any way, except that it would allow members of the House to also debate it on Monday. The vote would be held at the exact same time. Third reading debate would happen on the day that it would have happened, even under this situation. It would not affect the June 6 deadline at all. All it would do would be to allow members to participate in the debate, something that the government House leader just yesterday indicated that he wanted to help facilitate.
We are not allowed to move the same motion without some kind of intermission or some kind of interceding between, but I wonder if the House would indulge and we could try that again now that members may understand exactly what my colleague was proposing.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2016-05-16 15:06 [p.3376]
Mr. Speaker, in his answer, the government House leader tried to reference the thinly veiled attempt to bring in closure last week through Standing Order 56.1. Therefore, I have a motion that I was wondering if I could get unanimous consent on. It is that, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practice of the House, on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, and on Wednesday, May 18, 2016, the House continue to sit beyond the ordinary hour of daily adjournment until midnight for the purposes of considering Bill C-14, an act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other acts, and at midnight or when no member rises to speak, the House shall adjourn until the next sitting day.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by approximately 50 Saskatchewan residents calling upon the government to rescind the proposed legislation on physician-assisted suicide.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2016-05-13 10:22 [p.3308]
Mr. Speaker, I am speaking today to compel the House to ensure the protection of the freedom of conscience of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist, or any other health care professional who objects to taking part, directly or indirectly, in the provision of medical assistance in dying.
I would like to introduce everyone to Os Guinness, an author, a social critic, and a member of RZIM speaking team. The great-great-great-grandson of Arthur Guinness, the Dublin brewer, he was born in China in World War II, where his parents were medical missionaries. A witness to the climax of the Chinese revolution in 1949, he was expelled with many other foreigners in 1951 and returned to Europe, where he was educated in England. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of London and his doctorate in philosophy in the social sciences at Oriel College in Oxford. I say that to give him the credibility he deserves.
He has said, “Freedom of conscience has always been understood as the first right”. In a world ravaged by conflict, there is real threat to human dignity. Dr. Guinness proposes that the way forward is through engaging in the civil public square, where freedom of conscience and religion are promoted for all people, where we can disagree respectfully, where the right to free expression by all human beings is recognized.
In Canada, everyone has freedom of conscience and religion under section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. No one has the right to demand all services from all providers in all circumstances.
The Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience represents more than 100 health care facilities, with almost 18,000 care beds and 60,000 staff, and more than 5,000 physicians across our country. They represent several like-minded organizations committed to protecting conscience rights for health practitioners and institutions.
Members of this coalition include the Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians' Societies, the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, Canadian Physicians for Life, and the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada. I echo their concern that Bill C-14 does not protect the conscience rights of health care workers or facilities that morally object to performing or referring for what is being referred to as medically assisted death.
No other foreign jurisdiction in the world that has legalized euthanasia or assisted suicide forces health care workers, hospitals, nursing homes, or hospices to act against their conscience or mission or values. Coalition member and executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada Larry Worthen says, “These conscience rights must be preserved”, and I agree.
A recent Nanos Research poll found that 75% of Canadians agree that doctors should be able to opt out of offering assisted dying, compared to 21% who disagree. The Canadian Medical Association indicates that approximately 70% of Canadian physicians do not want to participate in any way in assisted death and euthanasia, and 30%, approximately 24,000 Canadian physicians, would participate.
In no way should a physician, nurse, pharmacist, or any other health care professional be intimidated or coerced into taking part directly or indirectly in assisted suicide or euthanasia. In the same way, neither should they face dismissal or discrimination in hiring for exercising their freedom of conscience and religion under section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Like the Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience, I support the right people have to accept, refuse, and/or discontinue the use of life-sustaining treatment and allow death to occur. I, too, also hold strong moral convictions that it is never justified for a physician to help to take a patient's life under any circumstances. Our health care workers journey with those who are sick and suffering every day and they will continue to do so in a caring and compassionate way. They help patients at the end of life. What they object to is ending their lives.
As I indicated in my first speech in the House of Commons on Bill C-14, we need to and can significantly reduce the number of people who see death as the only possible option to end their suffering by improving medical, palliative care, and social services. As a small but mighty example, I learned at the World Red Cross Day celebration here on the Hill that my local Red Cross received ongoing funding to continue a seniors visitation program for the lonely and elderly through the new horizons for seniors program. When they are not called out to deal with a disaster, these amazing volunteers invest in the quality of life of our elderly.
“Our worth as a society is measured by the support we give to the vulnerable,” says Worthen. “We need increased access to palliative care, chronic disease and mental health services to help individuals who are suffering across the country.”
I truly believe that we have made a very grave error in putting Bill C-14 ahead of a significant palliative care initiative.
I am proud to stand here today, on behalf of my own physician in my hometown of Esterhazy. She is an amazing doctor who takes deep personal interest in her patients. She has invested in continued and specialized training to care for the elderly. I am so grateful that she is my father's physician, who has Alzheimer's. Under no circumstances should she, or any other doctor, be required to assist an individual in taking their own life.
I am standing here today, as a member of Parliament in the Government of Canada, to advocate on behalf of the rights of health care providers. As legislators, our first responsibility is to advocate for the vulnerable and for conscience protection. This is foundational in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Without this protection, we lose our freedoms and our democracy. We have a responsibility to respect the conscience rights of our physicians and health care professionals who choose not to participate in assisted suicide and euthanasia.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2016-05-13 10:30 [p.3309]
Mr. Speaker, I understand that the Supreme Court has made a decision and that it feels it has made the decision that it should. I also understand that it has said to us that we have a responsibility to respond to its decision and bring in legislation.
I said in my first speech on this topic that I believe, in spite of the fact that all of the judges agreed, they have made the wrong decision, and that we, as legislators, have the ultimate responsibility in Canada, for the people of Canada, for the laws that are made here and those laws have to reflect, more than anything, the rights of the vulnerable and the protection of people's consciences.
That is why I am standing here today to say this is something that I do not believe is covered effectively, even with what has been put forward and agreed to in the committee. Doctors across our country are concerned and we need to be far more specific. We have a responsibility across our nation to give this directive to our provinces. Ths party across the floor, which is now in government, has stressed over and over again that it wants to work with the provinces to give them frameworks and to encourage them in all other areas of responsibility in our country. This is one in which we should not let Canadians down.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2016-05-13 10:32 [p.3309]
Mr. Speaker, the truth of matter is that the Conservative individuals who are on that committee put forward a number of other amendments, which, clearly, did not see the light of day at the committee.
I feel that we are in a situation where there is this forced timeline that I do not believe needs to be as forced as it is, and apparently, there are others on the member's side of the floor who are now prepared to say they are willing to vote against what has been presented for other reasons. That, too, in itself, shows just how divided the House is and how divided Canadians are on this issue. That is why we continue to press for concerns with respect to protection of conscience.
In Ontario, already, it has been made clear that doctors there will be required to provide this service, all doctors, to all people.
That is not right in my country. Freedom of conscience should be a first priority of our charter, and it is our responsibility in the House to uphold that.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2016-05-13 10:34 [p.3309]
Mr. Speaker, it gravely disturbs me to even think in that direction, having done a great deal of work in palliative care and in hospitals myself, and having my dad in the circumstances that he is in. I truly believe that we can take the time to bring in a palliative care program across this country that mirrors a number of them that are very effective in ensuring that our elderly are taken care of in their last days.
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Speaker, I am splitting my time with the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
I am a little confused as are some people here with the back and forth. Conservatives take Bill C-14 very seriously and we want to debate it. I was surprised a little earlier when it seemed the Liberals wanted us to go all night, through the night. I assume that means they would like to speak during the day and then leave the opposition to speak at night when supposedly no one is listening. I think a reasonable compromise was suggested a couple of minutes ago, which is that we extend the hours to midnight, during which time we would have serious debate on this issue.
That is why we are here today. It is interesting that the notion of freedom of conscience seems to be coming up more and more in our society. In the last couple of weeks, I have crossed paths with it in discussions separate from discussions around Bill C-14.
Yesterday, at the Subcommittee on International Human Rights, someone spoke about working with persecuted minorities and the question came up about what role freedom of conscience plays.
Last week, there was a forum in town about making the world safer for diversity. Dr. Os Guinness talked about how freedom of conscience has always been properly understood as the very first right. We can talk about life, liberty, and happiness, but without freedom of conscience, none of those other things actually exist in reality.
Everybody has beliefs that are important to them. I guess it is a common misconception we have that others have beliefs and I am the one who is unbiased. Each of us brings valid perceptions to these discussions and in our culture, until recently, it seemed that we were generally of the opinion that no one has the right to force anyone to work against their own beliefs.
It seems as we focus more and more on rights and less and less on responsibilities, we find ourselves pressured and I think we have to admit that we often find ourselves pressuring others on their values of conscience and the core values that people hold. It is beginning to affect every area of our culture. With the Carter decision, this has come to the forefront, because it is no longer just perceived discrimination that it is impacting, but it comes right down to the court's decision that having the right to kill oneself is a charter right.
I will take a bit of time to look at the Carter decision. It was a reversal of a previous decision, the Rodriguez decision. The court ruled that we now have, as Canadian citizens, a charter right to kill ourselves and we have the right to have others help us. There are very few guidelines that the court put on that decision. It talked about how the condition had to be irremediable and a grievous condition, basically beyond the person's decision to suffer through it. I could go into the criteria for that, which perhaps I will do a little later.
While the court decided one decision, it created a whole host of other complications. One of them, of course, is the call to reconcile physicians' and patients' rights. The question we are dealing with today is what role others have to play or do they play in that decision to prematurely end life.
Bill C-14 does not solve that. I was glad to hear the minister acknowledge that earlier. Conscience issues are becoming the biggest issues around Bill C-14. In this case, I would argue that the government has failed Canadians.
There is a legitimate question to be asked and I am surprised that it has not even been discussed—it is not discussed in other countries either—as to why medical personnel are expected to be involved at all. However, they are, and even though they are, most of them do not want to participate. The medical personnel whom I have talked to are not accepting of or enthusiastic about this. I have spoken with a number of doctors who say that if they are forced to participate in this, they are willing to leave the country, that they are not going to participate. For those of us who live in rural areas and have a very small supply of medical care, it is a frightening thing to hear one's doctor say he or she is prepared to leave if this is forced on him or her.
I want to talk about the protection of conscience in Bill C-14. The preamble states:
Whereas everyone has freedom of conscience and religion under section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
Whereas nothing in this Act affects the guarantee of freedom of conscience and religion;...
That is the preamble, which has no legal impact. There is no content within Bill C-14 that provides this balance.
The Senate committee heard some great testimony. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms said:
...the Court discussed and reiterated the conscience and religious rights of medical practitioners, stating that, “nothing in the declaration of invalidity which we propose to issue would compel physicians to provide assistance in dying.”
However, then it went on to say, “the Charter rights of patients and physicians will need to be reconciled. Thus, it is apparent that the Court intended Parliament’s legislative response to address the issue of medical practitioners’ conscience rights. Bill C-14 fails to do so.”
It is interesting to me that Bill C-14 actually provides protection for participants, but it does not provide protection for those who do not want to participate. There is an exemption for medical assistance in dying where it says that no medical practitioner commits homicide if they provide a person with medical assistance. It says that no person is a party to homicide if they do anything for the purpose of aiding in that. Then it says that for greater certainty, if the person has any reasonable, even mistaken, belief about any fact that is an element of the exemption, they have no legal responsibility for that.
I just point out that protection for participants has been included for those people who choose to participate, even if they are mistaken in what they have done. I can find no similar parallel protection for those who conscientiously object.
Some have said to pass it on to the provinces. We just heard that a minute ago from my colleague from the NDP. I would argue this is not a provincial issue. If it is, there will be a dozen different scenarios in this country and then the courts will get even more involved than they have been. It is a Criminal Code issue. Why would we give legislative protection in a bill to those who want to participate and then argue that Parliament has no right to legislate protection for those who do not want to take part?
The executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society said at the Senate committee:
...what our members cannot do is perform or participate in what is referred to as medical assistance in dying. To be clear, by participation, I also mean playing a role in causing death by arranging for the procedure to be carried out by someone else through referral.
He went on to say that the current preamble respects the personal conviction of health care providers, but it does not have any legal weight, and that no foreign jurisdiction in the world has legalized assisted suicide and euthanasia and then forced their health care workers in hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices to act against their conscience, their mission, or their values. He said that to force providers to act in this way in Canada would actually be to violate section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
It is necessary that the federal government legislate protection of conscience rights for health care professionals in order to respect the charter and to protect our existing health care system. Federal legislation would send a clear signal to provinces, organizations, and the courts that the right of conscience must be protected.
I argue that because medical personnel and supervisory groups cannot and will not agree, Parliament should set those guidelines, and they should be set in the Criminal Code.
A minister said a little earlier today that the protection is in the charter, not in the Criminal Code, but I think that is exactly the concern that Canadians have. The charter interpretation has gone 180° on the issue of assisted suicide, and there is nothing keeping that from happening as well on section 2 of the charter.
We need conscience rights. What are they? They are the right not to participate, the right not to be forced to refer. They are a fundamental freedom guaranteed by section 2 of the charter.
We need to protect the health care system. As I mentioned earlier, I have been told by physicians that they are prepared to leave if they are going to be forced into this, and they are not prepared to go against their own conscience. The Ontario college is making a big mistake in thinking that it can force doctors to do this against their conscience. I am not sure why it thinks it needs to control others who are just trying to do the right thing.
There were other suggestions that we heard a little earlier. For example, what is wrong with allowing patients to transfer their medical care to a doctor of choice? How about a directory of doctors so people can identify doctors who provide such services? We live in an electronic age, that should not be difficult. It would give Canadians confidence they could find medical personnel who would not be acting contrary to their care.
We need to protect the charter right of health care professionals. We need to make it a criminal offence to intimidate or coerce the health care professional to take part directly or indirectly in assisted suicide or euthanasia and to make it a criminal offence to dismiss anyone from employment for taking that position.
As I wrap up, I just want to come back to the point that no person should be put in a position where his or her private rights, which are guaranteed by the charter, are removed by force. Nothing is more fundamental than being able to live out that which we believe, especially if that belief is aimed at supporting and preserving life.
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