Canadian government agrees to permit euthanasia for mental illness alone

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Last week I reported that Canada’s Senate passed Bill C-7, the bill to expand Canada’s Medical Aid in Dying (euthanasia) law, with dangerous amendments that further expands the law. 

As bad as Bill C-7 was originally, the Senate passed five amendments to Bill C-7. The primary amendments were expanding euthanasia to people with mental illness alone (with an 18 month reprieve for the federal government to develop rules) and to incompetent people who had requested death in their advanced directive.

By amending Bill C-7, it meant the bill goes back to the House of Commons for debate on the amendments.

Joan Bryden, reporting for the Canadian Press, wrote that the government accepted the most dangerous Senate amendment, that being to expand euthanasia to people with mental illness alone.

Bryden wrote

The Trudeau government has agreed with the Senate that Canadians suffering solely from grievous and incurable mental illnesses should be entitled to medical assistance in dying — but not for another two years.

The two-year interlude is six months longer than what was proposed by senators.

Since this is a minority government [Trudeau’s Liberal Party does not have a majority of the seats], it is possible that members of parliament will reject this amendment.

The mental illness alone amendment felt like a “set-up” after Justice Minister, David Lametti, announced on November 24 that, once Bill C-7 passed, he wanted to expand euthanasia to people with mental illness alone.

With a minority government, parliament is able to reject the Senate amendments. 

Sign the petition: No to euthanasia for mental illness and incompetent people!

Bryden also reported, however, that the government rejected or modified other Senate amendments:

The government has rejected another Senate amendment that would have allowed people who fear being diagnosed with dementia or other competence-eroding conditions to make advance requests for an assisted death.

It has also rejected one other amendment and modified two others in a motion that is to be debated in the House of Commons.

If the House of Commons approves the government’s response, the bill will go back to the Senate, where senators will have to decide whether to accept the verdict of the elected chamber or dig in their heels.

The Senate had no right to 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 on Bill C-7. The Senate simply reacted to an emotionally compelling speech by Senator Pamela Wallin.

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