Friday, October 30, 2015

Do we need a delay on the implementation of assisted dying in Canada?

There's movement on the assisted dying frontiers. Yesterday representatives of religious organisations held a press conference declaring that they are opposed to assisted dying and that we ought to strive to improve palliative care. As far as I can see they are not insisting any longer - democracy be damned - that assisted dying must not come to Canada, no matter what. The reason for this, presumably, has also to do with the fact that their own followers are in favor of the decriminalization of assisted dying. Other than that, they stated the obvious, it's a good idea to improve the state of palliative care in the country. It's not an either-or type situation, of course. We can have assisted dying and improved palliative care!

We also had a federal election that turfed out Stephen Harper and his merry band of evangelical government ministers. After the Supreme Court judgement declaring the bits of our criminal code that criminalize assisted dying unconstitutional - government was given 12 months to change relevant legislation - Mr Harper did nothing to implement the ruling. Eventually, in the dying days of his government, and seeing the writing on the wall for a return to power, he quickly installed fellow anti-choice activists as a federal panel to advise his government on the implementation of the Supreme Court ruling. His political calculus with regard to this panel might well be paying off. Its chairperson was yesterday on the CBC's Power and Politics and announced that he thinks his panel is still appointed to report to government, alas, the government that appointed him doesn't actually exist any longer by the time it plans to release its recommendations. Because it's also so very partisan in terms of its membership, it's unclear why anyone would want to take its views as anything other than the utterances of people who supported the Harper government's efforts during the Supreme Court hearings. They worked tirelessly to prevent Canadians from exercising their constitutional rights. Well, that's true for two of the three panelists.

Comes Justin Trudeau, our Prime Minister elect. He will ask the Supreme Court to give him another 6 months to implement the ruling. Initially I thought that that was not unreasonable, but then I wondered. The delay is supposedly needed for his government to decide on how to regulate the matter. The question is whether that is actually needed. The Supreme Court declared parts of the criminal code invalid. Health care is a provincial matter. The provinces and territories have established a task force aimed at advising them on how to implement the Supreme Court judgment. Quebec's legislation is already in place. Once the other provinces have put their legislation and regulations in place, there does not seem any need for federal regulations.

So, why wait?

2 comments:

  1. Good points well made Udo. I have been struggling to understand what people want the feds to do here. Reinstate provisions in the criminal code? Draft specific legislation regarding the provision of assisted dying? It would have been wise last February for a joint federal-provincial task force to have been struck to come up with harmonized approaches, but that was never going to happen. We are late in the day and as far as I can recall opposition parties did little in parliament in the last year to press the case (I may be mistaken here). SCC may take this into consideration when deliberating about an extension.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good points well made Udo. I have been struggling to understand what people want the feds to do here. Reinstate provisions in the criminal code? Draft specific legislation regarding the provision of assisted dying? It would have been wise last February for a joint federal-provincial task force to have been struck to come up with harmonized approaches, but that was never going to happen. We are late in the day and as far as I can recall opposition parties did little in parliament in the last year to press the case (I may be mistaken here). SCC may take this into consideration when deliberating about an extension.

    ReplyDelete

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.