Canadian Euthanasia Bill C-7 faces push-back, including one Liberal MP who says he is voting against the bill

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Bill C-7, the bill that expands Canada’s euthanasia law, is facing challenges from people with disabilities, physicians, and other groups. Now, at least one Liberal MP, Marcus Powlowski, has decided to vote against Bill C-7, saying that the legislation allows people living with temporary despair to die by euthanasia. 

CBC News reported on December 9 that Powlowski has voted against Bill C-7 at the report stage, and, unless changes are made to Bill C-7, that he will vote against Bill C-7 at Third reading.

Powlowski told Kathleen Harris from CBC News:

“I don’t like voting against my party, but as someone with a medical background and somebody who has dealt with this issue over the years a lot, I think morally it’s incumbent upon me to stand up when it comes to issues of health and life and death.”

Powlowski, a physician who has practised medicine in Canada, Africa, and the South Pacific, has two law degrees and a master’s degree in health policy and who has helped develop health law and policy for the World Health Organization and several governments, said that

he worries the resulting legislation may not address people who are “transient” in their wish to terminate their lives, such as someone who has a permanent disability or who now needs chronic care. Those feelings of anguish can fade over time as they adjust to a changed reality. 

“My biggest concern, as someone who has spent my whole life trying to avoid accidentally killing people, is that we don’t end up using MAiD [Medical Assistance in Dying] for people who don’t really want to die,” 

“I think, with a bit of time, people may come around to the fact that there are reasons they want to live.”

Rachel Emmanuel reporting for ipolitics states that criticism of Bill C-7 is increasing as parliament approaches the Christmas break. 

Emmanuel reports that the Conservative MP’s have been holding up Bill C-7:

Conservative members have been delaying the government’s schedule to pass C-7, by using debate to raise concerns they have with the legislation, including proposing amendments to expand and keep the waiting period for patients accessing MAiD which were previously rejected in the House.

Emmanuel added that physician groups are wanting conscience protections added to the bill.

Ewan Goligher, assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Interdepartmental Division of Critical Care Medicine, said he’d like C-7 to be amended so doctors who believe the life-ending procedure is unethical can follow their conscience, and not refer patients to another physician willing to administer MAiD. 

“If euthanasia is unethical then we definitely ought not to refer,”

Emmanuel reported that Dr. Catherine Ferrier, president of Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, said it should be made clear in the law that MAiD is not a medical treatment on the same level of real treatments.

Emmanuel further reported that disability rights leaders have demanded that the government put a halt on Bill C-7 until they first consider its effects on people with disabilities.

Krista Carr, executive vice-president of Inclusion Canada, called Bill C-7 a “worst nightmare,” saying it devalues the lives of the disabled. With passage of this legislation, having a disability could become a justification for state-facilitated suicide, she said in her testimony last month.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.