Canada’s assisted dying law is now the law of the land after passing a final hurdle in the House of Commons late last week and receiving royal assent. But at least one MP from the party that drafted the legislation says it is flawed, and goes too far in restricting patients’ access to a “dignified, gracious death.”
Paraphrasing the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau, who famously opined that Ottawa has no place in the bedrooms of the nation, Rob Oliphant said he and others in the House of Commons feel the same principle applies to end-of-life.
“We don’t believe that the state has a place in the deathbeds of the nation,” he told the West Block’s Tom Clark.
“We believe that’s primarily a human being’s right to work with their physician in making sure that they have the opportunity to have the best medical care, including care that takes them to a dignified, gracious death.”
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that anyone suffering from a “grievous and irremediable” medical condition should be permitted to request a medically assisted death, even if the end of their life isn’t imminent.
But the new law restricts the service to only those people whose death is “reasonably foreseeable.” That means people who aren’t terminal, or those who suffer from mental illnesses, are excluded, something that Olpihant says is a step too far.
WATCH: Fundamental differences separate government, Senate on assisted dying amendment
“I’m not arguing that there shouldn’t be safeguards,” the Liberal MP explained.
“Absolutely, vulnerable people need to be protected. I don’t think you protect them in the eligibility criteria. You make sure that there are witnesses. You make sure that there is a cooling off period. You make sure that there are two physicians. You make sure that the person has capacity. We accept that.”
Conservative MP Gerard Deltell, meanwhile, said he voted in favour of the new law because even if it is flawed, it’s better than no law at all.
“At least now we have a framework, and for sure, it will be challenged in the court,” he told Clark. “So we’ll see in a year or two what will happen, and at the end of the day, the Supreme Court will be back with the bill saying ‘well this is right, this is wrong,’ and then we’ll have to act again.”
Watch the full panel discussion above.