Are Liberals poised to further open up assisted dying laws in Canada?

By Natalie Sonnen, Executive Director, LifeCanada

It appears that a recent cabinet shuffle of the Federal Liberals has resulted in the appointment of a new Minister of Justice, David Lamettii, a proponent of assisted death.

According to this National Post article,

Newly appointed Justice Minister David Lametti says he’s interested in hearing proposals aimed at ensuring grievously ill Canadians aren’t forced to end their lives prematurely rather than risk losing the mental capacity required to receive medical assistance to die. Lametti, (…) won’t promise to change Canada’s two-and-a-half-year-old law on assisted dying. But he’s open to hearing what Dying with Dignity Canada suggests so other Canadians won’t suffer the same fate as Audrey Parker.”

Let me give some background here. Audrey Parker was a Nova Scotian woman who said she was being forced into an early death because of Canada’s restrictions around Medical Aid in Dying [MAID].

The law, she maintained, ensured that she would have to be mentally competent in order to receive an assisted death. This is one of the promised ‘safe-guards’ that Canadians were assured would be in place so that no abuses took place in the implementation of “MAID.”.

Audrey Parker, who was suffering with stage 4 breast cancer, believed that the law’s condition that patients must be mentally competent and able to consent immediately before receiving MAID was “unfair and extreme.”

She said in a recent interview, “I think once I’ve signed the papers and have agreed, it should stand. But I still have to worry that if I lose my marbles, that they won’t do it. And then I’m going to die poorly.”

As it turns out, Audrey Parker was working with the euthanasia lobby group Dying with Dignity, to promote the extension of euthanasia to people who are incompetent, but who have made a previous request for death. Dying with Dignity has long been calling for ever more unrestricted access to euthanasia and assisted suicide, such that children, the mentally ill, and those whose death is not “reasonably foreseeable” would qualify.

In protest of the current law, Audrey did choose a euthanasia death prematurely, and left a long public obituary after the appointment that ended her life on November 8th, 2018.

The choice of the new justice minister is concerning, especially in light of the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) who recently published their reports on the expansion of euthanasia in Canada to include minors, people with mental illness only, and those deemed incompetent but who previously requested euthanasia. The report was cautious in all areas, but was met with stern criticism from Dying with Dignity and other euthanasia proponents.

The previous Justice Minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, had said that no changes to the law were predicted.

According to several reports, the new Minister of Justice, David Lamettii, may be more inclined to listen to lobby groups like Dying with Dignity, and take an even more extreme and open-ended approach to euthanasia, removing the last vestiges of what were once considered “safe-guards.” After-all, he voted against the bill that legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide, Bill C-14, in 2016 because he believed that it was too restrictive.

Those who advocate for life have long predicted that the liberalizing of euthanasia laws would result in false ‘rights’ being afforded to some people, those who supposedly qualify for medicalized death, while restricting others from participating in such ‘rights’. As predicted, the restricted class now has an advocate who might well listen to them in a gesture of false compassion.

Given this new appointment, many in the pro-life movement suspect that the Liberals will view euthanasia as a wedge issue and move to expand the law before the next election in November.