In March 2008, Nadia Kajouji killed herself after being encouraged and counseled by William Melchert-Dinkel, a licensed practical nurse in Minnesota.
In response to a plea by Kajouji's mother, Albrecht introduced M388 to clarify the assisted suicide law and to address the crime of online suicide counseling, which has led to Nadia and other young people committing suicide after being urged by predators via the Internet.
In his speech at the House of Commons, Albrecht presented several key points.
He then spoke about the concerns related to depression and the vulnerable person. He stated, "Each of us in this chamber has gone through periods of discouragement and perhaps depression, or at least we have family members and friends who struggle with depression and mental health issues. For some people these downtimes might be a fleeting emotion that lasts only for a few hours or days. For others, it may drag on for weeks, months or even years. In these times of feeling overwhelmed, discouraged or depressed, many have had the thought of ending it all in order to avoid the ongoing pain."
Albrecht then quoted Nadia's mother who stated, "One thing that has now been brought to light is that this predator is not alone. There are many more just like him out there. And when things go wrong in our lives, or in the lives of the people we love, they'll be out there hunting, hunting for the opportune moment."
Albrecht quoted Nadia's mother further by stating, "Stories like this make it necessary to clarify our laws. In our Internet age, we need to make it clear that the use of technology where one might presume to hide behind the anonymity of the Internet is not a defense against prosecution for very serious criminal offenses."
Albrecht concluded his speech by saying, "My concern is for vulnerable Canadians. The changes called for in M388 are needed in order to provide greater protection to those who are at a very vulnerable point in their lives. Predators must be stopped before they repeat their crime. Their destructive deeds will not be tolerated and predators who choose to ignore the deterrent message need to know that they will face severe consequences."
Albrecht responded by stating that Melchert-Dinkel has not been charged by Canadian authorities and that it is important to give a clear message as a deterrent to those who counsel suicide over the Internet.
Ménard then continued by stating that suicide is the second leading cause of death in Quebec. He then stated, "We believe that it is important to ensure that counselling or aiding and abetting suicide is an offence, no matter the means used - including telecommunications, the Internet or a computer system."
Alex's Note: This comment is especially interesting considering the fact that the Bloc Québecois supports Bill C-384 that would essentially eliminate the protections in Section 241 of the Criminal Code.
Albrecht responded that M388 is only concerned with suicide predators who are taking advantage of vulnerable people, especially youth.
Alan Tonks (Lib) spoke in favour of M388 and expressed his concerns related to the rate of suicide and attempted suicide among youth in Canada.
Chris Warkentin (CPC) spoke in favour of M388, but emphasized the importance of maintaining a broad interpretation of Section 241 of the Criminal Code.
Motion 388 is tentatively scheduled to receive its second hour of debate on November 5, 2009. To circulate a petition in support of Motion 388, contact Harold Albrechts office at: AlbreH@parl.gc.ca