OTTAWA – The Senate has sent the federal government’s controversial bill on assisted dying back to the House of Commons with a major amendment that guts the central premise of the proposed law: that only those who are near death should qualify for medical help to end their lives.
The bill, as amended over the past week of lengthy debate in the upper house, passed Wednesday by a vote of 64-12 with one abstention.
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Senators agreed to seven amendments, the most significant being deletion of the near-death proviso.
That amendment replaces the bill’s restrictive eligibility criteria with the more permissive parameters spelled out last year in the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling, which struck down the ban on medical assistance in dying.
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Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has signalled that the government will not accept the change.
And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is telling Liberal MPs he expects the appointed Senate to eventually back down on the issue and bow to the will of the elected Commons.