OTTAWA – The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) today released a detailed analysis of Bill 52, a provincial bill which would permit euthanasia in Quebec. In the paper, Quebec’s Bill 52: Euphemisms for Euthanasia, the EFC recommends that the elected members of Quebec’s Assemblée nationale act to stop the proposed legislation.
“The Government of Quebec is proposing to head down a treacherous path by trying to redefine generally and medically accepted definitions in an effort to legitimize a prohibited act, a physician or nurse ending the life of a patient,” explains EFC Vice-President and General Legal Counsel Don Hutchinson. “Bill 52 euphemistically uses the term ‘medical aid in dying’ but the description provided for the term aligns with the World Health Organization and Canadian Medical Association definitions of ‘euthanasia,’ which is a medically and legally prohibited act in Canada.”
“Canada’s Constitution is clear,” states EFC Legal Counsel Faye Sonier. “The federal government has jurisdiction over criminal matters, and the provinces have jurisdiction over health-care matters. The Criminal Code prohibits euthanasia, and this prohibition has been confirmed by our highest court on more than one occasion as a legitimate exercise of federal power. The Government of Quebec ignores that legal reality with Bill 52.
“In the Bill, the Quebec government simply replaces the word ‘euthanasia’' with a new term, ‘medical aid in dying’ – mandated for use in hospitals, nursing homes and other health-care facilities – in an attempt to reframe the issue as a health-care matter, and therefore move the act of euthanasia under provincial rather than the federal criminal jurisdiction,” continues Sonier.
“Federal politicians have repeatedly rejected similar attempts to legalize euthanasia,” says Hutchinson. “When MP Francine Lalonde of the Bloc Québécois attempted to pass federal legislation to remove criminal prohibitions against euthanasia in 2008, that Bill was defeated 228 to 59 in the House of Commons. Quebec’s new bill is simply an unconstitutional attempt to legalize a criminal action that could not be decriminalized through the proper democratic or legal channels.”
“We’re concerned about the impact on our laws, our medical system and ultimately on some of our country’s most vulnerable citizens,” says Hutchinson. In the small number of countries where these practices have been legalized, there are well documented reports of people being euthanized without their consent.
“The so-called safeguards are failing in every one of those jurisdictions,” says Hutchinson. “People report they are afraid to leave loved ones alone in the hospital. Is that really what we want for Canadians?”
“The EFC recommends the Government of Quebec withdraw the bill, or the members of the Assemblée nationale act to defeat the bill or stymie it by not bringing it to a vote.
“If the Government of Quebec proceeds with this initiative,” he says, “it may well be perceived as provoking a response from the federal government which, within its constitutional and Supreme Court of Canada affirmed authority over Canada’s criminal laws, has determined euthanasia is illegal.”
“Our paper explains some of the potential actions passing this bill might incite; and we expect neither the people of Quebec nor the Government of Canada have the desire to engage in the expensive constitutional battle that would likely result.”
Download a free copy of the EFC report at Quebec's Bill 52 - Euphemisms for Euthanasia.