Editor’s note. The following letter was composed by disability rights activist Steven Passmore.
Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
November 17, 2015
Dear Prime Minister
When I was a child my family placed me in a “home” for kids like me – I had disabilities because of cerebral palsy. Over the course of my six years stay I felt totally abandoned by my family. One question would often fill my thoughts, “does anyone really care?” In the wake of the  Supreme Court of Canada decision in Carter, decriminalizing euthanasia and physician assisted suicide, I feel that same abandonment and again the question circles my mind after all these years – “does anyone really care?”
I have been abandoned by several key sectors of society–among these are, the Canadian Supreme Court, the Canadian Government, Canadian Law, the Canadian Medical Association, the Church in Canada and the Canadian Media.
You may ask why a sense of abandonment and this would be my answer. These sectors were the pillars of society on which, I knew as a Canadian living with disabilities, I could depend upon to look after me, uphold my rights, to life, to support, care and protection.
Now with the Supreme Court decision in Carter, I have lost my confidence in these institutions to protect me. I was told recently, “Steven you should not go to the doctor alone – make sure you have someone to go with you.” So what am I left to do – who will hold my hand? The sense of abandonment, my sense of grief and disappointment is so palpable it is like a yoke on my shoulders. Where do I go now, to whom do I speak?
I want to live even though some people may not find my life worth living. I am grateful to all of the key sectors that I mentioned for the life I have had so far. But when the law allows physicians to kill patients and those with consciences are forced to kill or pressured out of medicine; when people who want to kill themselves are exulted in the media to the point where we change the law and the voice of those of us who wish to live is disregarded and silenced – what am I to think?
Over the last 25 years, I have spoken about three key issues facing people with disabilities, equality, value and acceptance. I have tried to communicate to all Canadians that these three things must be protected under Canadian law to keep us all safe.
People like me have always known that we were just tolerated, not really accepted, had no value and no equality in the eyes of many Canadians. Society built us ramps to buildings but not to Canadian hearts.
The Supreme Court judgement, added to the betrayal and neutrality of key sectors of society that has reinforced the concept of out of sight, out of mind, and now out of the way!
That is why I feel so deeply abandoned because the Carter decision proves I have no equality no value or acceptance. If my choice to live can be circumvented–in my best interests of course–where is my autonomy? Who gave anyone the right to take away my autonomy? Choices are made for me every day. Where I may live, how much money I receive and now finally, with these changes, when I will die.
They will provide various reasons, such as economics, dependency, pain and suffering or quality of life and then they will decide. Society will decide for me, based on what it thinks not what I think. After all Canadian society knows what is best for me – who would want to live like Steven anyway. I shout but no one wants to hear. The Carter ruling establishes two types of Canadians, those upon whom we confer equality, value and acceptance and those, like me, to whom they will be withheld.
There is great talk about being more inclusive, a kinder and gentler Canada – is that just rhetoric – or does that really include the elderly, disabled the marginalized? Or have we become so cold that we will no longer provide the essentials of human life, the supports needed like health care and financial aid to those who require such assistance. I feel as though I need to apologize for being born with a disability, as though somehow it is my fault.
Someone recently said that because the government is our provider the key sectors of society do not want to look after us anymore. Why give him healthcare? Why provide for or assist him we certainly do not want to extend his future? Is this because I am different, because I need a hand, a lift up?
What we are about to do, allowing physicians to kill patients or helping them to commit suicide, is so dangerous, so horrific, so detrimental to Canadian values.
It is said that how a nation treats its most vulnerable is the measure of that nation. Please speak up for my right to live. Our future as Canadians must include the vulnerable and marginalized.
As a man living with disabilities I have no voice, and unless I want to kill myself I am closed out of Canadian media. Please ensure that all Canadians have a future – protect us from those doctors who will kill us, protect us from the media which asks you who would want to live like them? Defend us from the law which has been turned upside down and from government which threatens refusal to protect our lives.
Whatever happened to Canada the good? I am on a ledge right now will Canada pull me back or push me off?
Forever committed to making a stronger and more inclusive Canada and an advocate for the marginalized.
Editor’s note. This appeared at alexschadenberg.blogspot.com.