Early in the evening last Wednesday (Nov 18) Members of Parliament voted 230 to 0 - with 78 members absent, but more on that later - in favour of Motion 388. M-388 was presented by Harold Albrecht, MP (Kitchener-Conestoga) to seek clarification of the provision in s. 241 of the Criminal Code which makes it a crime to encourage or assist someone to commit suicide.
The motion reads:
That, in the opinion of the House, for greater certainty, the government should take steps to ensure that counselling a person to commit suicide or aiding or abetting a person to commit suicide is an offence under section 241 of the Criminal Code, regardless of the means used to counsel or aid or abet including via telecommunications, the Internet or a computer system.
Albrecht was motivated by the tragic death of Carleton University student Nadia Kajouji who sought help on the internet but instead encountered a predator from the U.S. who has allegedly been engaged in encouraging several people to take their lives instead of seeking help to deal with life's issues. The predator has not been charged with counselling Kajouji's suicide.
In a matter of days, the House of Commons will be voting on the same issue, different initiative. Francine Lalonde, MP (La Pointe-de-I'lle) has introduced for the third time a proposal to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, private members' bill C-384.
Lalonde was one of the 78 MPs absent from the House of Commons for the vote on M-388. Her absence, no doubt, contributed to the unanimous vote of those present as one could not logically expect that a proponent of assisted suicide would support a request to clarify and strengthen the law that makes assisting someone to take their life illegal in Canada.
The question is, what of the other 230? Will they vote with logical consistency and oppose Lalonde's bill? Several of those who voted for M-388 are members of Lalonde's party, including Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe. Will Duceppe and his seatmates vote with logical consistency?
The vote on C-384 will be worth watching to see if MPs make the logical connect or engage in an illogical disconnect.