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Results: 1 - 8 of 8
View Kevin Sorenson Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, this will be the last time I ever present a petition in the House. I want to thank you for your services as Chair.
I rise today to present a number of petitions on behalf of my colleague, my seatmate and my friend, the member for Langley—Aldergrove.
In the first, the petitioners call upon Parliament to enshrine in the Criminal Code the protection of conscience for physicians and health care institutions from coercion or intimidation to provide or refer for assisted suicide or euthanasia.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2017-04-13 12:32 [p.10519]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present petitions signed by Canadians from Westlock in my riding.
These petitioners are concerned that assisted suicide creates new opportunities and occasions of abuse against seniors, disabled people, and other socially vulnerable people. As such, these petitioners are calling on the House of Commons to adopt the strongest possible legislation against the legalization of euthanasia and/or assisted suicide, and to establish a robust national strategy on palliative care.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2016-10-31 15:22 [p.6344]
Mr. Speaker, I am presenting today two petitions: one from northern Alberta, Grimshaw, Alberta; and one from people from across Ontario. I am pleased to present these petitions.
The petitioners are concerned about the accessibility and impact of violent and degrading sexually explicit material online and the impact on public health, especially the well-being of women and girls. As such, these petitioners are calling on the House of Commons to adopt Motion No. 47.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, the government's euthanasia legislation was supposed to restrict the practice to a narrow set of cases, not simply to legalize death on demand. However, a physician's recent harrowing accounts of abuses of the euthanasia bill, just published in The Huffington Post, show very clearly that the safeguards in the law are not working.
In one of the cases recounted, a Vancouver physician declared a depressed person eligible for euthanasia even before examining that person, because the patient “could easily get bed sores and then die of infection”. A person's death was, prior to examination, declared reasonably foreseeable because the person could theoretically die from an as-yet uncontracted bedsore infection. That is the reality of legal euthanasia right now in Canada: people who meet no credible criteria are doctor shopping and then finding someone who will sign off.
To mitigate these egregious cases we are already seeing, something as simple as better definitions would go a long way. In light of these emerging case reports, I call on the government to fix this alarming problem as soon as possible.
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2016-05-31 10:12 [p.3795]
Mr. Speaker, the other petition I present in the House today is a lengthy petition from members all across the province of Alberta, my home province.
The petitioners are coming forward with the Family Action Coalition with regard to Bill C-14. They are asking for stringent safeguards to be put in place on behalf of the vulnerable. They are asking for conscience protection for medical practitioners, and they are also calling on the government to consult widely with regard to Bill C-14.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, it has been quite the day on the procedural front, but I appreciate the opportunity to get back to a subject that is too important to be waylaid by these sorts of things. I mentioned four substantive amendments that I proposed. These are amendments that I think all members should be able to take a serious look at, and hopefully many on the government side will even agree with them.
I will say very clearly the purpose of these amendments. These amendments would not restrict access to something which the Supreme Court has deemed that we must give access to. Indeed, these amendments would provide greater shape and substance to the value of autonomy, which is supposed to be the basis of this legislation. They would give meaning and effect to that. I will mention that three out of four of these amendments would not even change the eligibility criteria.
What do I mean when I say that they would give added substance to autonomy? For an individual to have autonomy and effectively express that autonomy, the individual needs to have information about the choices he or she is making. How can people make autonomous choices if they do not have information about which they are supposed to be making the choice? That needs to include information about the impacts of a choice, as well as the alternatives that are available. Autonomy also requires some opportunity or space for meaningful deliberation based on that information.
What I am asking for in three out of the four amendments would not even require a change to the eligibility criteria. It is simply protection of the value of autonomy, assurance that individuals get the information they need, assurance that people who do not consent do not get pushed into this, and assurance that people who do not meet the criteria will not have their lives taken. The court asked us to develop a system of safeguards that would ensure that people who are vulnerable are not put at risk, that people who do not consent do not lose their lives in a medical environment, that people still feel safe in a medical environment, that they do not have to worry about going to a hospital and losing their lives without consenting to it.
We need these safeguards in place, and these amendments would do the job that the court asked us to do. They would provide the safeguards and protect the autonomy of individuals involved. I hope that members will take a serious look at all four of these amendments.
The first one, Motion No. 3 on the Order Paper, says that prior to making the request, someone must have consulted a medical practitioner specifically regarding palliative care options and be informed of a full range of options. Now, this can be part of the pre-existing consultation with a physician. There is no need for this to require additional time. This consultation, as I mentioned in committee, could happen with someone over the phone. There is not even a need for a requirement for an in-person consultation.
I see this amendment as the minimum of the minimum, but it would require that people get information about palliative care options before they take part in euthanasia or assisted suicide, and that people who express interest in euthanasia or assisted suicide at least first have someone say, “There is an alternative. This is what the alternative looks like. This is what is available in your area. Now you can choose between that robust, well-explained alternative of palliative care or the option of physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia.”
I do not see why members would have any objection to this amendment. It would not add any hoops to jump through. It is simply an assurance that patients would receive information about their alternatives. Indeed, it cuts to the core of what autonomy is supposed to be about: people having the information to make meaningful, understood choices between different alternatives.
It is interesting to hear members talk about their personal experiences on this issue. People talk about pain having been totally unmanageable in a particular case. In fact, the pain may have actually been manageable, but the person did not get good information and did not have access to the palliative care or pain management they needed. It is always unfortunate when I hear that said, because this speaks to people not getting the information they need about palliative care and pain management.
Let us do the minimum with that amendment. Let us make sure that people get information about palliative care options. I do not think that is too much to ask, and it would show the goodwill of the House to look at an amendment like that in a serious way.
My second amendment, Motion No. 7 on the Order Paper, would add a requirement of imminent natural death. This is the only one of my four amendments that would inform the eligibility criteria, but it is an important change. The phrase “reasonably foreseeable” is, of course, very ambiguous language. The use of the word “terminal” provides some greater degree of clarity.
This is very much constitutional. We have the right as Parliament to define the contours of an exception to the Criminal Code. As the justice minister herself has said, identifying the purpose of the law can alter the charter interpretation, and courts have said they would show deference. There is a need to proceed conservatively at the outset on an issue like this, and there is always the opportunity to study going further.
Most Canadians, when they think about this issue, are thinking in terms of terminal. This is consistent with the Quebec experience. There were seven years of study and a great deal of deliberation in the Quebec context. The conclusion, after much debate there, was that “terminal” was the best way to go. We would be unwise in a few months to rush to a very different conclusion than Quebec made after years and years of deliberation, or at least to go in a further direction than it did, because it had much more time to think about it.
Describing this legislation in a clearly terminal context provides greater protection from the concerns that the member for Winnipeg Centre and others have raised about this leading to some degree of suicide contagion. If we clearly define the legislation as applying to a limited population in a limited situation, we would have to worry relatively less so about how this may lead to some degree of suicide contagion in the rest of society.
I hope members will take a good look at that amendment as well.
The third amendment I am proposing is on the Order Paper as No. 12. It is a requirement for self-administration in cases where an individual is able to self-administer. This means that assisted suicide would be the default, as opposed to euthanasia, in the event that an individual is able.
This does not limit anyone's access to euthanasia or assisted suicide. Everyone who had access before the amendment would have access after it. However it ensures contemporaneous consent. It means that an individual who is seeking this service is consenting at the moment that they do it, and that there is no better way of doing it. This, again, adds substance to the idea of autonomy. It makes for good individual rationality in terms of the individual making the decision and doing it to themselves right at that moment.
This is a good safeguard in terms of ensuring contemporaneous consent, but it also has other benefits. It has the potential to help address the access issue. Doctors, in some cases, may be more comfortable assisting than they would be in actually providing. That is a safeguard that provides some additional benefits as well. There are no negative access implications. There is no harm in that provision.
The final amendment that I proposed is around advance review. The bottom line is that the so-called safeguards in the legislation are no good unless someone is checking. We have a requirement for two doctors and two witnesses, but a person could shop around. These four people could be anyone. They could be the same four people approving it for different Canadians across the country.
Therefore, I have put forward a proposal for a relatively minimal advance review process. It would be up to the provinces to designate that process. They could simply say that a lawyer has to sign off that the legal criteria were met, or they could have a judge do it. There are provisions for the provinces to have a choice within that context. However, there has to be an advance review. There has to be someone checking. If no one is checking, what good are the safeguards? What is the point of having any requirement at all if we do not have someone with the legal competency to understand what those safeguards are and to compare those safeguards to a situation? This is a complex legal situation. It requires some kind of competent legal authority.
The four amendments are modest amendments. They are surgical. They protect the value of autonomy. I hope all members, including members of the government, will take a serious look at them and give their support to them.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his work on this. I want to address a few of the points the member made.
It is a strange definition of lack of action to say that the repeated express will of the House on the issue of euthanasia somehow constitutes a lack of action. Of course we had proposals that came forward before the court decision, and those were rejected by an overwhelming majority of this House, which included the majority of Liberal and, I believe, New Democrat members at the time, as well.
With respect to the issue of a legal vacuum, I would like to see better legislation come forward which clarifies the situation. I would support this bill if it were amended in a number of key ways. However, the existing legislation does not in any way address the task that the court asked us to do, which is to actually describe and define what the situation would look like in terms of euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.
The government has replaced some ambiguity in the court decision with greater ambiguity in the legislation. Legislation is only worth proposing if it improves on the absence of legislation.
In terms of investment in palliative care, I agree with the hon. member that there is more work to do. I would not accept his characterization of the previous government as doing nothing on that issue, but I would certainly agree that more investment is needed.
The problem with this legislation is it moves in the opposite direction. Allowing euthanasia and assisted suicide without conscience protection has the effect of pulling doctors who would otherwise want to be involved in palliative care out of palliative care if they do not want to participate in euthanasia. At the very least, conscience protection should be added. That would preserve the existing system of palliative care that we have, and then we could build on that by working to do more.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her remarks.
The member for Parkdale—High Park, I believe it was, is quite correct to say that this legislation would create one of the most permissive euthanasia regimes in the world. That is certainly what I understood him to say, and I think that would be quite correct.
We are limited to some extent, obviously, by the legal environment we are in. However, my concern is that this does not contain the safeguards we need to ensure that there are precautions in place so that someone who took someone's life without consent would be effectively prosecuted.
I want to ask the member if she would support my proposal to remove the reasonable, but mistaken, provision within this bill. I think that would be a substantial improvement.
The bill right now says that people could avoid prosecution if they have a reasonable, but mistaken, belief that someone consented. This would allow people to take the life of a person who did not consent and, yet, escape prosecution if they could at least show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that they had a reasonable, but mistaken, belief.
Would the member support removing that very concerning section, in order to ensure that vulnerable people are protected?
Results: 1 - 8 of 8

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