As I went through the mail last week, I noticed a piece of literature sent by Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MP Guy Lauzon. The flyer is in regards to physician-assisted dying, a matter which re-emerged in April with the tabling of the federal government’s legislation Bill C-14. While I suppose I should be appreciative that our Member of Parliament is asking for his constituents’ opinions on this very important issue, I was severely disappointed with what I read. Here’s why:
– Mr. Lauzon doesn’t provide any information about the actual legislation introduced last month, but instead cherry-picks the aspects of a parliamentary committee’s report that were not even adopted in the bill. Despite what he implies, there is nothing in Bill C-14 that would allow for children or individual with mental illness to be eligible for application, nor is it ever explicitly stated that doctors and institutions will be forced to provide the procedure (the actual text of the bill and any related information can be easily found on the Department of Justice website).
I understand that given the constraints imposed by the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision the time to debate this complex issue is limited. However, that does not excuse the fact that this mailer could have easily been delayed a few days to include the actual content of the bill. In not doing this, the very constituents whose opinions are sought on this very difficult and multifaceted issue are being misled.
– Even if this matter were so simple it could be boiled down to a single Yes/No response (it is not), a false choice is given in the response section at the bottom of the page. The options provided by Mr. Lauzon are “Yes, I support physician assisted dying” and “No, I do not support physician assisted dying and believe the government should focus more on palliative care”. There is absolutely no reason why someone cannot simultaneously support assisted dying and believe that we should enhance end-of-life care. This is not a zero-sum game, and to suggest otherwise is insulting to the significant portion of our riding’s population who hold this belief.
– Most egregious of all is Mr. Lauzon’s mailer’s title, “Defending Life – Defending The Vulnerable”. This suggests that the only vulnerable people impacted by this bill are the already-refuted children, mentally ill, and conscientious objectors. Of course, this ignore the vulnerable individuals who are legitimately affected: Canadian adults who are suffering with debilitating and incurable physical illnesses, and until now had no option but to continue living in agony.
Given the contentiousness of physician-assisted dying, I am certain members on either side of the aisle will be wrangling with both their personal views and the views of their constituents. However, I’m not naive enough to think that Mr. Lauzon will change his mind based on the responses he receives in the mail (for the record, on the flip side of the flyer he quotes two anti-euthanasia activists).
Though I may disagree with Mr. Lauzon on this vital issue, I ultimately must respect his right to object to this legislation on moral grounds. I only wish that he respected the people of Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry enough to engage with them in an honest conversation.
Editor’s note: As a matter of disclosure, Mr. Moher worked on Liberal Bernadette Clement’s campaign in the 2014 federal election. He is also on the local Liberal executive.
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