Communique #13 – Legislation

March 03, 2021

National Chairperson of Legislation Betty Colaneri, March 3, 2021

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“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

My dear League sisters,

The Future is Now was this year’s theme for Black History Month, sponsored by the federal government. Upon reflecting on historical events and the theme, the above quote came to mind. While reading and watching the process unfolding with Bill C-7 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), this appropriate quote spoke to me of the undeniable truth. Canadians must act now for the future!

Bill C-7 proposes to expand eligibility for medical assistance in dying (MAiD) to any competent adult who has an illness, disease or disability, is in an advanced state of decline in capability, and is experiencing intolerable and irremediable suffering—regardless of whether the person’s natural death is reasonably foreseeable. The first track of this legislation is available to all Canadians equally approaching the end of life. The second track has now singled out the disability community and told them they can also choose to end their lives.

One day before the deadline of February 25th, the Quebec Superior Court has given the government its fourth extension to bring the law into compliance with the 2019 Truchon v. Attorney General of Canada court ruling. The ruling struck down a provision that allows assisted dying only for those whose natural deaths are “reasonably foreseeable”. “Bill C-7 is intended to bring the law into compliance with the ruling, expanding access to assisted dying to intolerably suffering individuals who are not approaching the end of their lives” (The Canadian Press, February 25, 2021). The official opposition refused to facilitate debate on a motion laying out the government’s response to amendments passed by the Senate. It is opposed to the original bill and objects vigorously to the amended version the government now proposes.

The government has rejected the Senate amendment that would have allowed advance requests for assisted dying, as well as an amendment intended to clarify what constitutes a mental illness. The Bloc Quebecois has stated it will support the government’s response to the Senate amendments, which will lead to the passing of the motion. However, it cannot be put to a vote until the official opposition agrees to finalize debate.

I ask that you encourage your diocesan counterparts to implore members to flood their members of parliament and senators with letters expressing their profound disapproval of Bill C-7 and amendments at ourcommons.ca and sencanada.ca, respectively. Help in writing letters and how to send them can be found at one.org.

A plethora of information can be accessed beginning with Bill C-7 in its entirety at parl.ca/legisinfo. Many articles are accessible from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops website cccb.ca; one to read in particular is “Submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.” Euthanasia Prevention Coalition also has a great deal of information and an online petition at epcc.ca. Other informative sources include, The Angus Reid Poll: taken from the November 10, 2020 report Broad Support for MAiD in Canada has Caveats and Concerns by Ray Pennings and Angus Reid, as well as the fifth episode of the podcast by Edmonton “Archbishop in Dialogue: Our Mission Against Assisted Suicide with Dr. Heidi Janz and Dr. Robert Hauptman” on February 19th.

Kindly encourage diocesan chairpersons to inform members of the informative, emergency lecture series by The deVeber Institute on “Bill C-7 and Palliative Care” located on its website, deveber.org. The CCCB has endorsed a letter written by the Vulnerable Persons Standard, which can be read at vps-npv.ca/stopc7. Please ask your diocesan counterparts to encourage parish councils to read the letter and take action.

The likelihood of Bill C-7 passing is high due to politicians’ and senators’ determination, but that does not mean that members should give up on their fight. The bill’s outcome will not change the beliefs and morals of how members look at the sanctity of life to its peaceful natural end. The League will continue to be the voice for the voiceless and advocate for proper resources to give hope to those who feel their situation is hopeless. There are problems of accessibility, costs, stigma, lack of resources and high palliative care that stand in the way of people receiving the help they need. That should be the focus of proper legislation, not Bill C-7!

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Let us put faith into action!

Betty Colaneri
National Legislation Chairperson