Monday, November 9, 2020

Parliamentary Committee Shuts Out Canada's Leading Group That Opposes Broadening Euthanasia

Media Release November 9, 2020

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has for more than 20 years been a leading voice on issues related end of life care, assisted suicide and euthanasia (now known as MAiD). The Coalition has intervened in numerous precedent setting cases, including Carter v. Canada before the Supreme Court of Canada which addressed the question of the decriminalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

While the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Coalition had a meaningful contribution to make to the Court on the questions before it, including the prospect of how such regimes have been implemented in other jurisdiction, the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Human Rights has refused to hear from the Coalition on Parliament’s recent efforts to expand euthanasia and assisted suicide through Bill 7.

Similarly, the Parliamentary Committee has expressly refused to hear from one of Canada’s leading human rights and constitutional law experts on the subject of end of life care, euthanasia and assisted suicide. Hugh Scher has served as counsel in Carter v. Canada and numerous other precedent setting cases before the Supreme Court of Canada and Courts of Appeal across the country on these very issues.

Despite his unique expertise on disability-related human rights and on issues related to end of life treatment, euthanasia and assisted suicide as a matter of human rights and constitutional law, the Parliamentary committee has expressly refused to invite or to hear from Mr. Scher as an expert.

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition states: 

During the first hearing, the Committee chose to fast-track the hearings and proposed changes to the law without hearing from leading opposing voices or from experts who may hold a different view.

The previous legisation was passed without defining key terms in the legislation which caused confusion, unprecedented expansion of the law and litigation. The same will occur if Bill C-7 is passed in its current form. But it appears that the Committee is not interested in hearing our voice.
Hugh Scher
Toronto Constitutional Lawyer Hugh Scher states:
It is contrary to the principles of a free and democratic society to hear only from those who agree with you and to deprive those who have expertise on the subject to come before Parliament and to make representations on issues that are critically important to the life and health of all Canadians.
It is also concerning that the government is proposing to expand Canada's euthanasia law, beyond the scope of the Truchon court decision, without first conducting a full review of Canada's law, as legislated by Bill C-14. The previous legislation mandated that a full review of the law begin by June 2020.

The actions taken by Parliament to exclude relevant and expert voices on the question before it under Bill 7 demonstrate how steadfast Parliament is to expand the euthanasia laws of Canada in a manner that puts the public at risk. They don’t wish to hear reasonable opposition or legitimate concerns about their chosen path.

If the government were truly open to a free debate about the question of euthanasia and assisted suicide in this country, they would welcome testimony and evidence from those who have the greatest expertise and experience on the subject, even where their views may differ from the prevailing views of most Parliamentarians.

Parliament’s efforts to shut out different voices reflects a broader antidemocratic trend that should be troubling to all Canadians.

For more information contact:

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director Euthanasia Prevention Coalition - 519-851-1434

Hugh Scher, Toronto Constitutional Lawyer - 416-816-6115

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