New Canadian government will not seek recommendations from federal panel on assisted dying

Editor’s note. This comes from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Prof. Harvey Max Chochiov

Prof. Harvey Max Chochiov

The Canadian Press reported on November 14 that the new federal Liberal government will not be seeking recommendations from the federal panel on assisted dying that was appointed by the previous Conservative government.

According to the Canadian Press:

A federal panel created in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on assisted death will no longer be asked to make recommendations to the government and will now simply report on its consultations on the issue.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Health Minister Jane Philpott said in a statement that along with the modified mandate, the date for the panel to make its report has been extended by a month to Dec. 15. The three-member panel is chaired by University of Manitoba psychiatry Prof. Harvey Max Chochinov.

Late last month, two pro-assisted suicide organizations called on the new government to disband the three-member panel. They are “also encouraging the incoming Liberal government to collaborate with a provincial-territorial advisory group also examining the issue,” the Canadian Press reported.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) is concerned that the Federal government is planning to follow the recommendations of the one-sided panel that was appointed by the Ontario Provincial government. That panel features Jocelyn Downie, Canada’s leading pro-euthanasia academic, and Maureen Taylor who describes herself as an advocate of assisted death.

Considering the investment in time and research by the Federal Panel on Physician-Assisted Dying panel and the many groups who presented to the panel on assisted dying and the potential for positive insight from the panel members based on their professional and personal experience, EPC finds this decision to be short-sighted and motivated by partisan politics.

The panel was appointed by the previous federal Health and Justice Ministers is composed of Dr. Chochinov, the Canada research chair in palliative care at the University of Manitoba who is the chair of the panel, Catherine Frazee, a former co-director of the Ryerson-RBC Institute for Disability Studies Research and Education and a former chair of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and Benoît Pelletier, a University of Ottawa law professor and former Quebec Liberal cabinet minister.

The new Liberal government is not forced to accept the recommendations of this panel, but it is wrong for them not to consider the recommendations of this excellent panel.