Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Québec Superior Court gives federal government four more months to extend euthanasia law.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

*Petition: Reject euthanasia Bill C-7 (Link).

On Febuary 17, Canada's Justice Minister, the Hon. David Lametti and the Attorney General of Canada the Hon. Patty Hajdu asked a Quebec Superior Court for a four month extension to amend Canada's euthanasia law.

Yesterday, a Québec Superior court granted the federal government four more months (July 11) to extend Canada's euthanasia law. In doing so Justice Baudouin also granted those who have asked to die, but whose death is not "reasonably foreseeable" an exemption for assisted death. The Canadian Press reported:
In her ruling Monday, Baudouin creates a provision for those who had been hoping to access medically assisted death as of March 11. The judge said people who meet the other criteria for the procedure but whose natural death is not “reasonably foreseeable” can apply to a court for an exemption to receive an assisted death before the July 11 deadline.
On February 24, Canada's federal government introduced Bill C-7, an act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying). Bill C-7 is the federal government's response to the Quebec Court decision that struck down the section of Canada's euthanasia law requiring that "natural death be reasonably foreseeable" before qualifying for death by euthanasia (lethal injection).

*Petition: Reject euthanasia Bill C-7 (Link).

Bill C-7 pretends to prevent euthanasia for "mental illness". Section (2.‍1) states: 
For the purposes of paragraph (2)‍(a), a mental illness is not considered to be an illness, disease or disability.
This paragraph does not prevent euthanasia for mental illness or psychological reasons since the law specifically allows it. To prevent euthanasia for "mental illness" they would have had to define "mental illness" and they would have had to amend the requirements of the current law.

Bill C-7 creates a two track law where a person who is not terminally ill has a 90 day waiting period while Bill C-7 waves the 10 day waiting period for people who are terminally ill. Therefore a person can request and then die by lethal injection on the same day.

The government is wrong to create a two tier euthanasia law. A future court decision will likely strike down the 90 day waiting period for people who are not terminally ill because this provision represents an inequality within the law.

Bill C-7 allows a person's healthcare provider or care provider to be one of the witnesses. This is a conflict of interest.

Finally, Bill C-7 allows doctors and nurse practitioners to lethally inject an incompetent person, (advanced request) so long as that person consented to death by lethal injection before becoming incompetent.

This amendment to the law contravenes the Carter decision which required that a person be capable of consenting to die.

Bill C-7 eliminates the 10 day waiting period, a terminally ill person can request euthanasia and die by euthanasia on the same day. Studies show that the "Will to Live" fluctuates over time.

In September 2019, Justice Baudouin, struck down the requirement in Canada's euthanasia law that a person's natural death 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 June 2020, the government will begin a consultation on 5 years of euthanasia in Canada. The government should not amend the law until after the 5-year consultation is completed.

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