Canada’s Justice Minister asks Quebec Court for a fourth extension to consider euthanasia expansion

 By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Canadian Press reported Friday 

The Trudeau government is seeking a fourth extension to the court-imposed deadline for expanding access to medical assistance in dying.

Justice Minister David Lametti is asking the court to give the government one more month — until March 26 — to pass Bill C-7.

Last week I reported that Canada’s Senate passed Bill C-7, the bill to expand Canada’s euthanasia law, with five dangerous amendments that would further expand the law.

The primary amendments were expanding euthanasia to people with mental illness (with an 18 month reprieve for the federal government to develop rules) and to incompetent people who had requested death in their advanced directive.

Background

In September 2019, in the  Truchon decision, Québec Superior Court Justice Christine Baudouin struck down the requirement in Canada’s euthanasia law that a person’s natural death be “reasonably foreseeable.” She then gave the federal government until March 11, 2020, to amend the law. The government decided not to appeal the decision. At that time, Canada was in the middle of a federal election.

Justice Minister David Lametti
Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg

CC BY 2.0

On February 17, 2020,  Canada’s Justice Minister David Lametti asked the Quebec Superior Court for a four month extension to incorporate the court decision into the law. The Quebec court agreed, giving the federal government until July 11, 2020.

A week later, on February 24, the federal government introduced Bill C-7. 

Due to the COVID-19 crisis,  Bill C-7 was re-introduced on October 5, 2020.  Justice Minister Lametti , once again, requested an extension from the Quebec Superior Court, and it was granted until December 18, 2020. 

In early December, parliament passed Bill C-7, without amendments and sent it to the Senate, However, due to time restriction, the Justice Minister asked the Quebec Superior Court for a third extension that was granted. The federal government then had until February 262021, to pass Bill C-7.

As noted above, on February 1, the Senate passed Bill C-7, with amendments,  and then sent the bill back to the House of Commons for debate. Justice Minister  Lametti has now asked the Quebec Superior Court for a fourth extension to stay the Truchon decision until March 26.

What is exasperating is that the court-imposed deadline should not be a primary concern. Even if the Quebec Superior Court does not extend the stay to allow additional time, all it means is that the decision comes into effect without the actual law changing. 

Normally this would be a concern but since Bill C-7 goes far beyond Truchon, it is not an important deadline.

As I have pointed out, all this has happened before the government first completing its required parliamentary review of the law, a review that was legislated within the original euthanasia law passed in 2016. 

Thus the Senate had no right to even consider expanding euthanasia to people who request death in their advanced directive since the issue was not even studied by the House of Commons or Senate hearings. The Senate simply reacted to an emotionally compelling speech by Senator Wallin.

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