Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Canada's federal government asks Quebec court for 4 month extension to amend euthanasia law.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Canada's Justice Minister, the Hon. David Lametti and the Attorney General of Canada the Hon. Patty Hajdu have asked a Quebec Superior Court for a four month extension to amend Canada's euthanasia law.

A Quebec Superior Court decision, in September 2019, struck down the requirement in Canada's euthanasia law that a person's natural death must be reasonably foreseeable. The Quebec court decision gave the federal government six months to amend the euthanasia law in line with their decision. 
The federal government did not appeal the decision.

At that time, I reported that striking down the "terminal illness" requirement in the law opened the door to euthanasia for psychiatric conditions alone (Link).

In a press release from the Department of Justice, Ministers Lametti and Hajdu stated:

Hon Patty Hajdu
"Today, the Attorney General of Canada filed a motion to request a 4-month extension of the Superior Court of Québec's September 2019 Truchon ruling.

"Without this extension, the 'reasonable foreseeability of natural death' criterion from the federal law will no longer be applicable in the province of Quebec come March 12, but will remain in effect in other provinces and territories.

Hon David Lametti
"Following the successful completion of the Government's consultations on this important matter, we fully intend to introduce new medical assistance in dying legislation in the near future. An extension would give Parliament time to consider and enact proposed amendments. 
"We recognize that medical assistance in dying is a complex and deeply personal issue. The high level of engagement during the January 2020 online public consultations—which received nearly 300,000 responses—is a strong demonstration of the importance of this issue for Canadians. 
"We remain committed to responding to the Court's ruling as quickly as possible."The fact is that there is no rush to change Canada's euthanasia law. The Liberal government is talking about opening Canada's euthanasia law to people with mental illness and to people who are incompetent, but had made an advanced request to be killed.

The government announced, last year, that they would not amend the law until the five-year consultation on the law that was to begin in June 2020. 

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition holds that the federal government should not amend the law until after they have completed the five-year consultation on Canada's euthanasia law.

More articles on this topic:
  • Competing reports on euthanasia for mental illness (Link).
  • Why legalizing MAiD for mental illness is misguided (Link).
  • Quebec backtracks to permit euthanasia for mental illness (Link).
  • Quebec government begins consultation to extend euthanasia for Alzheimer's (Link).

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