Madam Speaker, first of all, as I have done in the past, I would like to thank everyone taking part in this debate, as they are clearly demonstrating great compassion for persons with disabilities, diseases, or grievous and irremediable medical conditions.
However, as I have already said, just because we are compassionate does not mean that we are helpful. We are not being helpful when we affect a person's autonomy and thus the principle of self-determination. That is the basis for the amendments we are moving.
By deleting paragraph 241.2(2)(d), after all the discussions we have had about the “reasonably foreseeable natural death” criterion, we are complying with the ruling in Carter. As soon as a person has a grievous and irremediable disease or disability that causes them enduring suffering that is intolerable and that cannot be relieved under conditions that they consider acceptable, which is the purpose of our second amendment, we cannot claim that we are not affecting their self-determination.
Earlier I heard my Conservative Party colleagues talking about harmonizing this bill with Quebec's legislation. What they failed to mention is that the Quebec law was not intended to cover something made necessary by the Carter decision, namely assisted suicide.
It is important to distinguish terminal illness from the end-of-life stage, which Quebec's legislation placed within a continuum of palliative care. A person may very well be receiving good palliative care, yet still request death. They are at the end-of-life stage, when the dying process has already begun and is irreversible.
The question in the Carter decision is the following: What do we do with people who are terminally ill but not yet at the end-of-life stage? That is the question we needed to answer. By insisting on keeping the “reasonably foreseeable natural death” criterion in its bill, the government is going against the Carter decision.
I am not the only one to say so. The Barreau du Québec said so. The lawyer who argued the case before the Supreme Court said so. They won. The Carter family's lawyer said so. Kay Carter would not have had access to medical assistance in dying under the “reasonably foreseeable natural death” criterion unless, as some have been forced to do recently, she had gone on a hunger strike. In that case, natural death is reasonably foreseeable. That is totally inhumane.
Her other option would have been to argue her case right up to the Supreme Court. That is the road the government is currently going down. It says it is going to leave those who are suffering from a grievous irremediable illness with the burden of going to the Supreme Court to win their case. It is perfectly clear that this bill, as worded, flies in the face of what the Supreme Court said in its decision.
According to the Supreme Court, section 7 of the charter includes three rights, the right to life, liberty, and security of the person, and these three rights are affected by the total prohibition and the “reasonably foreseeable natural death” criterion. The Supreme Court indicated that the right to life is being undermined because some individuals are being forced to take their own lives prematurely rather than wait until their suffering and their lives have become intolerable. This bill does not address that issue.
That is why this bill will be ruled out of order and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Many people are certain of that. Why then is the government insisting on making this compromise?
That is what legislators did with regard to abortion in the 1970s. What the Supreme Court said in 1988 in the Morgentaler case is exactly what is happening with this bill.
When a law sets out exceptional and exculpatory measures in an attempt to respect rights and fundamental values, those measures have to be real. People have to be able to access them. We cannot take away a person's ability to decide for themselves. No one can make that decision for them. No one here should compare one life to another. It is not about that. No one here should get to decide for a patient what his or her quality of life is.
However, this bill attempts to do so because, to a certain extent, it attempts to qualify a person's death based on a foreseeability criterion. Unless her age was a factor, Kay Carter was not facing a natural, reasonably foreseeable death. That is the danger with this bill. The danger is that someone will either have to go on a hunger strike, which is inhumane, or else we will have to take their age into account. However, spinal stenosis, for example, can be just as intolerable at 42, 62, or 52 years of age.
What does this bill do about all the people who have degenerative diseases and do not want to die? People are not living with a disease that makes them suicidal. They are living with the disease. What they do not want is for someone to decide what is right for them.
Throughout our lives, we have the right to self-determination, meaning that no one can undermine our integrity. In the case of an emergency at the hospital, patients have to give their free and informed consent before they receive any treatment.
Why, then, at the most intimate moment of a human being's life, that person's own death, would anyone presume to do such a thing? On what basis would it be done? On the basis of the common good? Would a neighbour agree to die in that person's stead?
Some would presume to tell a person what to do and take away the right to self-determination when that person is most fragile and vulnerable. That is what the Liberal Party is condoning because it lacks the political courage to do what the Carter ruling asked it to do. It lacks the political courage to make a decision.
We may soon end up with a judicial democracy, but it is not up to the Supreme Court to legislate. That is a job for legislators, and each one of my colleagues opposite is responsible for shaping laws in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
I repeat, according to the principle of fundamental justice, found in section 7 of the law, exculpatory measures must be real; they must be genuinely available.
Anyone who wants to vote against these two amendments needs to prove to me that the bill, as currently written, will fulfill the requirements I just discussed.