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Final House of Commons vote on assisted death expected Tuesday

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould speaks at a news conference in Ottawa on Thursday, April 14, 2016.
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould speaks at a news conference in Ottawa on Thursday, April 14, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA – Members of Parliament are voting Monday on potential amendments to the Liberal government’s controversial assisted-death bill, kicking off a week likely to be dominated by the thorny issue of medical help in dying.

Tonight’s voting takes place before the backdrop of the rapidly approaching June 6 deadline, established by the Supreme Court after it struck down Criminal Code provisions on assisted suicide last year.

A final vote on third reading, which would send the legislation to the Senate, is expected Tuesday.

The Liberals insist their bill must be passed by June 6 to avoid a legal “vacuum,” although experts say medical regulators in every province have guidelines doctors must follow in order to help suffering patients.

The bill issue has even created divides among rank-and-file Liberals — former prime minister Paul Martin and former interim leader Bob Rae have stressed it’s more important to get the law right than to meet the deadline.

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Once the bill clears the Commons, it faces scrutiny in the Senate, where some senators have questioned its constitutionality, while others have proposed a number of amendments.

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