Assisted-death deadline looms in the Senate

Click to play video: 'The medically assisted death deadline'
The medically assisted death deadline
June 6 is the government’s deadline to pass a law on medically assisted dying. So what happens if they miss the deadline? Here is your West Block Primer – May 22, 2016

Fifteen days.

That’s how long the government of Canada now has to legislate medically-assisted dying before seeking medical help to end your life is no longer illegal in Canada.

READ MORE: What happens if there’s no new law for assisted death by June 6?

The House of Commons still hasn’t voted on the bill, a situation that has some senators very nervous. By the time they get their hands on it (probably on May 31), there won’t be enough time to examine it properly, amend it, and get it back to the House, according to Conservative Sen. Don Plett.

“It would be highly unacceptable for us to rush a bill that is certainly the most important piece of legislation that most of us will ever be involved in,” Plett told the West Block’s Tom Clark.

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He estimated that the Senate would have a little over 48 hours to do its work in order to meet the June 6 deadline set by the Supreme Court of Canada.

“To rush that through in two days would clearly not be what the chamber of sober second thought should be doing.”

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WATCH: Conservative Sen. Don Plett says it won’t be possible or responsible for the Senate to pass Bill C-14 before June 6.

Click to play video: 'Medically assisted death bill unlikely to pass before June 6: Sen. Plett'
Medically assisted death bill unlikely to pass before June 6: Sen. Plett


Senator Peter Harder, the government’s representative in the Senate, has been tasked with shepherding the bill through the Senate. He told Clark that he won’t intervene with any procedural tricks to move things along faster in the upper chamber.

“It would be inappropriate in my view to begin the process in the Senate with those kinds of approaches,” Harder said.

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“I’ve had very constructive conversations with the leadership of the Senate and we’re looking at how we can map out a deliberative and productive pacing to the Senate work.”

WATCH: Sen. Peter Harder says he’ll allow Senate processes to take their course on assisted dying bill

Click to play video: 'Peter Harder to allow Senate processes take their course on medically assisted death bill'
Peter Harder to allow Senate processes take their course on medically assisted death bill


Harder explained that the Senate is already considering a motion to extend its sitting hours to midnight to allow for more debate and a quicker resolution. There may be amendments to the bill before it heads back to the House for a final vote.

“Clarity in this area is highly desired by both the medical profession, the legal profession, and indeed the Canadians who wish to avail themselves of this right,” Harder said.


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