February 17, 1993

NDP

Ian Gardiner Waddell

New Democratic Party

Mr. Waddell:

I will just read part of the book at page 313 to show what it talks about. It says:

The right-to-life movement argues: If euthanasia is permitted in limited ways today, however tightly controlled by law, what is to stop groups and/or governments in the future from taking things a step further and introducing compulsory death for, say, the burdensome, the poor, the handicapped, the sick, and the elderly? Also, they argue, the availability of euthanasia as a lawfully and socially acceptable release will inevitably make it a duty for those old people who have "served their purpose" to die. The right to die becomes an obligation to die. Lastly, euthanasia laws could be manipulated by unscrupulous individuals to eliminate the sick/elderly who are a burden, especially if they have money to bequeath.

Then it continues:

Countering this, right-to-die advocates claim that the rule of the law has no purpose if society cannot, by and large, enforce it. Those who misuse euthanasia laws will merit punishment as for any other crime. Where is the sense, they argue, in telling a person dying of throat cancer that euthanasia cannot be made available because Nazi Germany murdered thousands of people in the 1940s using a method labelled "euthanasia"? The lessons of history are there to be learned, and the Nazi experience has taught society how not to let government slip into the hands of an irresponsible minority.

I am not going to go into all of this tonight because I do not have the time. I anticipate that the debate will discuss the pros and the cons. However, I am trying to set the tone of the debate. The status quo is unacceptable. I suspect that physician and other-assisted suicide is going on in the country right now. This question should not be dealt with by the courts on a case-to-case basis. Just think of the poor patients. Not only are they terminally ill but they must find the energy to raise the money, instruct the lawyers, face the questions and so on. That is a pretty awful situation.

This is essentially a non-partisan issue in terms of the tone of the debate, although partisan in that people have many different viewpoints. I hope that all members of the House will be free to vote following their own beliefs and understandings of the issue. In other words, I hope there is a free vote on the issue.

The World Health Organization uses a holistic definition of health which includes its spiritual, emotional, family, environmental and physical aspects.

Canadians want to be active participants in their own health care so the issue of quality of life has come to the

Private Members' Business

forefront of Canadian consciousness. The flip side is the quality of our death, which makes us face the issue of euthanasia. These are hard issues to face.

Surely someone who wants to end their life with dignity and cannot do so because of the nature of their illness, as in the Rodriguez case, should have the right to make that choice. Of course there must be controls to make sure that the choice is not taken advantage of. Legislation, if written, must be carefully crafted to prevent abuse but the principle stands.

This motion says that if there is a clear reasoned choice then in law that should be respected and those who assist the person in carrying out that choice should be protected. This is a very important debate in the House. Yes, there are other issues such as unemployment and all kinds of other issues. Yes, as a Parliament we have to pursue them.

David Suzuki, from Vancouver, said that politicians in the future will be measured in terms of their ability to deal with the more complex questions and the public wants us to do that. That is why it should ultimately be done here and not ultimately in the courts.

I also feel on reading the material on this matter and hearing other debate that the public is concerned about this issue because it is well aware that medical technology has changed. In their own lives people are well aware of some family member, some relative, some neighbour, or some friend who has been terminally ill, has suffered for a long time and has been kept alive by the new technology. Perhaps dignity was not there in their death. They are afraid. We are all afraid of death. We are all afraid that we might have to face the same situation. That is why it is important to clarify the matter.

My motion states, and I repeat it:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should

consider the advisability of introducing legislation on the subject of

euthanasia -

I worded that very carefully, "should consider the advisability"-

- and, in particular, of ensuring that those assisting terminally-ill

patients who wish to die not be subject to criminal liability.

That directs the government. That is not the status quo, and that is probably what the vote will be on in the House if the vote comes to the House. Members will

February 17, 1993

Private Members' Business

have to search their own consciences to decide on that matter.

This is a debate that's time has come. We must deal with this issue as a country. I am very pleased because I anticipate that we are going to deal with it in a fair minded, high-level debate in this House of Commons.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   EUTHANASIA
Sub-subtopic:   TERMINALLY ILL PATIENTS
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PC

Robert Lloyd Wenman

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Robert Wenman (Fraser Valley West):

Mr. Speaker, who will choose for you? Who will choose for me?

When I was conceived it was a choice by my father and mother, or perhaps an accident, but it certainly was not my choice. When I was a child I was cared for by my parents. I was protected by my parents. I was protected by the state. I was given the support of teachers, doctors, pastors and a full range of community services because I grew up in this great and wonderful country. My community nurtured me so well and added to my family values. My country has protected me ever since.

As a man I began to make my own choices and then learned to live by the consequence of those choices. Surely the ultimate freedom in a free and democratic society is when an educated rational man or woman has become self-actualized in creating, making and living with the results of their own free choice. Is that not what we are trying to create by law here? The capacity to make free and rational choices and the stage that we can make these free and rational choices and then we become mature. When we are mature should we not have the right of free choice to make our own decisions in what might well be our own end times?

Why should our right to free choice as rational men and women be stolen from us just because we have become terminally ill? That does not mean we lose our capacity to think, to feel, to suffer. I resent that this right is not my right before the laws of Canada. Why should the doctors of Canada, the medical profession and medical technology make the decision for me?

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Subtopic:   EUTHANASIA
Sub-subtopic:   TERMINALLY ILL PATIENTS
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?

An hon. member:

They do not. They refuse to.

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Subtopic:   EUTHANASIA
Sub-subtopic:   TERMINALLY ILL PATIENTS
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PC

Robert Lloyd Wenman

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Wenman:

But they do. Well you should have joined us through the whole of those committee hearings.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   EUTHANASIA
Sub-subtopic:   TERMINALLY ILL PATIENTS
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?

An hon. member:

I was there. It is a legal fact. I was there.

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Subtopic:   EUTHANASIA
Sub-subtopic:   TERMINALLY ILL PATIENTS
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PC

Robert Lloyd Wenman

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Wenman:

Why should the state, if not the medical profession or the government, decide for me? That is even more threatening. I want to protect myself through law from the medical profession. I want to protect myself through law from well-meaning state and government laws.

Most of us in this room and everyone listening will become terminally ill because as technology improves the occurrence of terminal illnesses as opposed to sudden illnesses becomes more and more probable.

For those who do not understand I will try again. Terminal illness is when you are diagnosed with a disease there is no cure for. There are more and more curable diseases. More often now, more and more people are dying of terminal illnesses.

I want to preserve my right that should I become terminally ill I might at one point in the suffering process of my death say that enough is enough. Let me go. Leave the final decision between me and my God. Make me comfortable and let me go.

I must shout right now in this House because of the great fear I have of lying powerless and helpless in an extended terminal care bed somewhere and not being able to shout. Instead the decision would be made for me by well-meaning doctors, by the state, or even a wellmeaning family.

That is why I brought in Bill C-203.1 wanted that right of protection from the state against the state and against the medical profession and against the technology so that I could make a decision between myself and my God.

Even at some point in the life and death process it seems science and technology and the state are fighting against death but prolonging suffering. I do not think that was the intention of God when He gave us medical science. He gave it to save our lives, yes, and He gave it to give our lives comfort and He gave it to give us comfort as we pass from death to life again.

We, the political representatives in this House of Commons, or at least too many of us, are filled and paralyzed with fear, fear for our own, our family's and our friends' deaths, fear of change, fearful even of discussion. Those of us who are here tonight will discuss death, but I can tell you that this is one of those great unmentionables. The only time we talk about death is when we have to face it. We face it in the hospital corridors and in the quiet whisperings in the funeral

February 17, 1993

parlours. It has to be faced now while we are in good health and while we have the capacity to act with compassion.

It is time to put fear aside. It is time for courage. This is not an easy decision for Parliament to make. It is not an easy decision for us to frame. I know it is hard. I know my bill may not be quite the right answer or quite the right motion, but let us make a decision about whether we have the right to withdraw surely and truly from treatment if we are terminally ill? Does a doctor have the right to be protected if, in fact, he gives us maximum comfort from pain and suffering? This is common practice in Canada today. We must either charge the doctors or change the law, but let us not live in this grey, middle area or we will be, as some of the others say, on that slippery slope.

This is the inevitable life and death question for all of us and all those we love and care for. Since I first raised this in the House of Commons I have had members of Parliament from all sides come and tell me: "I want to get up and speak on this but I will cry because I went through it with my parents" or "I went through it with a friend and I saw them suffer more than they needed to suffer when they were begging to be let go." It does not occur too often, but if it occurs one time it is too many and I know it occurs many times in many people's lives.

This motion may not be quite right but I urge a free vote. If this is the method to get the discussion going, let us at least get the discussion going in this Parliament. Let us resolve to act in this Parliament and, if not in this Parliament, to ready ourselves to do what the majority of Canadians want, which is to die in peace.

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Subtopic:   EUTHANASIA
Sub-subtopic:   TERMINALLY ILL PATIENTS
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LIB

Don Boudria (Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition; Liberal Party Deputy House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Don Boudria (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell):

Mr. Speaker, I must say that I never thought, until not long ago, that we would be having this debate tonight in this Parliament. I think I can say that I have some knowledge of the issue, having lost my father and my mother-in-law, my wife's mother, in the past 18 months, both from a cancer. I had to suffer the loss of beloved family members who both died from very serious dis-

Private Members' Business

eases. They were not the first, but they were recent cases.

What we are discussing today is not whether a doctor has to provide treatment against the will of a patient. That is not so. That is not what we are debating tonight. It is not even in the motion. What we are not debating either is whether or not a patient has the right to refuse medical treatment. Clearly a patient has that right and is protected by the Criminal Code of Canada. A patient has that right, Mr. Speaker.

What we are, however, debating is whether we will give the right to any human being to kill another human being. That is the debate that we are having right now.

We can say: Yes, but it is not just any ordinary human being, it is a human being who is going to die anyway. Perhaps that is so. It is a human being in the case of what is happening in Holland now whose life is not worth living. I am not exaggerating the point when I read this headline entitled, "Euthanasia for newborns who face 'poor quality of life' gaining acceptability". That is what we are dealing with and that is what we are debating tonight.

Why are we debating this? We are debating this because of an unfortunate person who is very ill in British Columbia and who I believe has been used by others in a propaganda campaign on this issue. That is sad for all of us as a society, and it is particularly sad for that woman. Of course I am referring to Mrs. Sue Rodriguez.

Last week it came to our attention that the so-called protector of Mrs. Rodriguez who came here to testify on her behalf admitted to newspapers that he had forged the signature of Mrs. Rodriguez on certain documents. Yet that person is the one who asks us to trust him or others like him with the life of an individual when he was not even trustworthy enough not to forge the signature of someone else. That is why we are here, because of that. It is sad, but let us bear it in mind when we are having the discussion.

I see an hon. member who is a medical doctor. He will no doubt have other concerns as well, such as the trust between the patient and the medical practitioner. What does it do to the medical practitioner when we have a situation such as the one that exists in Holland where people will decide whether or not to enter a hospital

February 17, 1993

Private Members' Business

based on their chances of escaping euthanasia if they go there. What does that do to the trust that exists between the medical profession and the patient? I do not think it does it much good. I do not think the doctors who sit in this Chamber, or elsewhere, would think it does much good either.

In Holland there are some 10,000 cases of active euthanasia per year. In Holland there is a virtual absence of hospices and palliative care, and the two are linked. In Great Britain where there is a good level of palliative care, and there is never enough of course, there is a virtual absence of euthanasia. In other words, euthanasia has been the quick fix for the lack of care provided for the dying. That is what this is all about.

We had before the committee that studied Bill C-203 Dr. John Scott who directs what I believe to be the largest palliative care hospital in Canada, le Centre Elizabeth-Bruyere, here in Ottawa, who talked to us about that issue.

Dr. Scott told us what he thought of euthanasia. He is not in favour of it. He has assisted people in the last stages of their lives more than any one of us has or probably ever will. He said: "Unrelieved suffering in Canada urgently needs to be addressed by palliative care strategy which includes widespread education, research and bedside services. The fear and the pain of dying can and must be relieved in Canada".

Dr. John Scott totally rejected euthanasia, mercy killing, assisted suicide, or anything like that as a solution.

At the same time, we should all pray for Mrs. Rodriguez. We should think of others who are suffering from this disease. I am thinking of Judge Sam Filer, an Ontario court judge, who is also suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease.

From a report that I have, in 1989 Judge Filer suffered a respiratory failure. The medical profession asked his wife: "What do we do with him? Do we revive him?" His wife allegedly said: "I will take care of his quality of life, thank you very much. You take care of saving his life". They revived him. Today, even with the difficulties that the judge has in communicating, he says that he is glad to be living. Do you know what he also says? He says that

eight or ten years ago when he became sick, had someone asked him at that time: "Would you want to live like this 10 years from now?" he would have said: "No".

Who will change Mrs. Rodriguez' mind if she could sign a document like that and if there were no criminal law to protect her? Who would save her? Is it John Hofsess? I hardly think so.

Mr. Speaker, it is true that this is a difficult issue. It is for me as it is for all members of this House, and I do not take it lightly. I must also say that it is much easier not to talk about it than to talk about it. It is difficult for all of us, even for those who claim that they have the courage to talk about it. However, we must voice our opinions. Whether we are afraid of the issue or not, we must do everything to protect the human life.

I would like to conclude with a quote from a Law Reform Commission report concerning the need for legislation protecting the dignity of human life. The quote reads as follows: "The repression of unlawful actions is neither the only mission of the law, nor even its main mission. The law is the expression, in the fullest meaning of the word, of the type of society to which we belong".

That is quite true. That is the purpose of law, to state where we stand as a society.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   EUTHANASIA
Sub-subtopic:   TERMINALLY ILL PATIENTS
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NDP

Ian Gardiner Waddell

New Democratic Party

Mr. Waddell:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I did not want to interrupt my friend during his very interesting speech.

I know he did not want to make allegations to the contrary, but with respect to using Mrs. Rodriguez, I know he will note that my motion has been on the Order Paper since May 15, 1991.

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Subtopic:   EUTHANASIA
Sub-subtopic:   TERMINALLY ILL PATIENTS
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PC

Ross Belsher (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ross Belsher (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency):

Mr. Speaker, tonight this House is considering the motion put forward by the hon. member for Port Moody-Coquitlam.

The last half of that motion reads:

-of ensuring that those assisting terminally ill patients who wish to

die not be subject to criminal liability.

February 17, 1993

This is an extremely sensitive issue that does not easily fit into political positions based on ideology. Supporters for and against this motion can be found in all parties and across the social and political spectrum in our Canadian society.

There is much discussion in Canadian politics and society about individual rights and freedoms. The public and politicians are bombarded with messages which remind us of this. However, within the past, current and I suspect future political discourse, there has rarely been acceptance of an absolute supremacy of individual rights.

Notwithstanding the distinction between passive euthanasia which involved the cessation of treatment and active euthanasia which involves positive, contributing actions leading to death, the people supporting the acceptance of euthanasia and mercy killing would like our society to set aside the principle that intentionally taking the life of another is wrong. They want us to set that principle aside.

I would like to quote from a thoughtful article in The Ottawa Citizen of January 18 written by Susan Zimmerman, a lawyer who has been involved with the McGill University Centre for Medicine, Ethics and the Law. She wrote:

If euthanasia is an acceptable option for the terminally ill, should it also be offered to the chronically ill, the severely disabled and the elderly? Should the physicians routinely offer death as an alternative to treatment? Should they be the ones to decide when to raise death as an option?

Acceptance of euthanasia in any form means that death becomes an option where currently it is not. How will we measure the insidious shift this will entail in social attitudes toward the weak, the infirm, the elderly and the dependent?

This article suggested that an acceptance of euthanasia might lead to a change in what society considers a life worth living and what is an impairment which would justify actively ending a life.

Another article in The Ottawa Citizen today suggests that in the Netherlands-the Netherlands has been quoted here this evening already-these decisions are not just being considered for the terminally or chronically ill, but also for newborns. When a child is bom with a severe physical or mental disability, parents and doctors consult and make a hypothetical determination about

Private Members' Business

that child's quality of life. Based on that decision they can proceed through a number of steps to put the child to death.

I realize that a single story in a newspaper cannot give the full story, but the idea in itself is extremely disturbing and something to be feared.

The issues which physicians and medical ethics experts deal with when discussing euthanasia are admittedly complex and often lacking in clear definitions. There is active and passive, voluntary and involuntary euthanasia, as well as doctor-assisted euthanasia. Even more confusing is determining acceptable and unacceptable levels of suffering and whether these assessments can be made on behalf of those people who are unable to indicate their situation to caregivers and to loved ones.

Reviews of the law covering euthanasia have been carried out in the recent past. In 1983 the then Law Reform Commission of Canada recommended against decriminalizing voluntary euthanasia. The commission recommended that the offence of counselling, aiding or abetting suicide should not be removed from the Criminal Code or revised.

In the past years there have been a number of developments in relation to terminally ill persons, chronically ill persons and persons who are unconscious and in what physicians call a persistent vegetative state. Public consensus is continuing to develop regarding issues relating to cessation of treatment but no consensus has developed on issues involving euthanasia and aiding suicide.

The Quebec case of Nancy B. involved an incurably, but not terminally, ill woman who had failed to respond to treatment and who wished to have the hospital disconnect the respirator which was keeping her alive. The court found that under the civil law of Quebec the patient had the right to refuse treatment and that this did not conflict with the provisions of the Criminal Code.

Although surveys in the United States and Canada have found people sympathetic to the situation in which some incurably or terminally ill persons find themselves, when referendums were held in the United States that specifically allowed voters to decide whether they wished to decriminalize euthanasia and aided suicide, the voters were unwilling to take this step. They may have remained unpersuaded of the need for such action and

February 17, 1993

Private Members' Business

they may have also been concerned about the effect it could have.

Neither has the case been made for decriminalization. Court decisions have made it increasingly clear that generally approved medical practices such as administering palliative care for pain relief even when it may also have the effect of hastening the death of terminally ill patients is not murder. Removing a respirator at the request of a patient is seen by most as an accepted practice. Withdrawing drugs and food from patients in a persistent vegetative state at the request of a patient's family has been recognized as an extension of the patient's own right to refuse treatment. In all these situations, treatment has not been successful and all that remains is to make the patient as comfortable as possible or to grant the request of the patient or his or her family to cease any further attempt to treat. Most people involved in the medical profession suggest more importance should be placed on palliative care for the relief of pain instead of forcing people to look at the issue as a choice between a quick painless death and a slow painful death. Palliative care to relieve pain is intended to relieve symptoms, not to sedate patients and hasten death.

There is a need in Canada and that need is to consider how best to promote a palliative care strategy which includes widespread education, research and bedside services to relieve Canadians of the fear of pain and dying.

The danger is that where physicians decide to practice euthanasia or aid in suicide, their patients might not be aware of the option of appropriate and effective palliative care. Similarly, there is little incentive for the health care systems to promote and support palliative care. Where doctors are known to assist suicide or provide euthanasia services, in this sense there is a danger that euthanasia may then be regarded as a cheap substitute for palliative care.

In conclusion, with this motion before us we have a challenge facing us as parliamentarians and citizens. It is an ethical question which forces us to look at ourselves, and I for one, as the representative for Fraser Valley East, cannot bring myself to support the motion or the sentiment surrounding it. I do not want to set aside the

principle that intentionally taking the life of another is no longer wrong. Therefore, if I have the opportunity of voting on this, I will be voting against this motion.

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Subtopic:   EUTHANASIA
Sub-subtopic:   TERMINALLY ILL PATIENTS
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LIB

Thomas (Tom) William Wappel

Liberal

Mr. Tom Wappel (Scarborough West):

Mr. Speaker, this is a very emotional subject, one that is going to bring out deep beliefs and deeply held feelings. I think we can discuss this matter on the level of the legalities involved.

I want to spend a few minutes looking at the wording of the motion and talk about some definitions. The motion says: "That in the opinion of this House, the government should consider the advisability of introducing legislation on the subject of euthanasia". That is the first part of the motion. What does euthanasia mean? How can we consider the advisability of bringing forward legislation on a subject unless we know precisely what we are talking about? Let us have a look at some of these definitions.

In a recent article in a newspaper, the author tried to put forward some definitions. The definition for active euthanasia was put forward. Note the adjective. There is not just euthanasia, but it would appear that there are different types of euthanasia. "Active euthanasia-the deliberate termination of the life of a human being who is ill, usually by injection or overdose of medication by a physician or surgeon at the patient's request". Let us look at that definition for a moment.

The deliberate termination of the life of a human being. That is a sanitized way of saying the deliberate execution of a human being, the deliberate killing of a human being. Let us make no mistake about it, that is exactly what it is. The termination of a life is its execution or its killing, usually by injection or overdose of medication, but not necessarily.

Then the author assumes that it will be by a physician or a surgeon as if execution or killing is somehow justified because it is performed by a physician or surgeon. Yet, if we look at this motion we will see that the words physician and surgeon do not even appear.

In the second portion of the motion it says: "and, in particular, of ensuring that those assisting terminally ill patients who wish to die not be subject to criminal liability". It does not even mention that physicians and surgeons assisting terminally ill patients not be subject to criminal liability. Just "those". It could be anybody. It could be a nurse assisting a doctor. It could be a brother.

February 17, 1993

It could be an aunt or an uncle. It could be anyone under the terms of the very wording of this motion.

Is that what we want to do? Do we want to have just anyone terminate, execute, kill an ill person? The third part of the definition states: "at the patient's request".

We talk about Holland and the experience that the Dutch have had. Recently there were headlines in the newspapers trumpeting the great news for humanity that the Dutch Parliament approves law sanctioning euthanasia.

Here are the guidelines to protect us from ourselves apparently: The request for euthanasia must be made entirely of the patient's own free will and not under pressure from others. The patient must be spoken to alone to ensure the decision is voluntary. These are patients who are dying, who in many cases are in agony. Are they going to be thinking straight? Are they going to have the ability to determine this on their own? Of course not.

The patient must be well informed about his or her situation and must have been able to consider the alternatives. Oh yes, because of course in the throes of a terminal illness they are going to be sitting there rationally listening and adding up the ledgers a and b and the debits and the credits columns to make a rational decision.

The patient should have a lasting longing for death. Requests made on impulse or based on a temporary depression cannot be considered. What is a temporary depression? What is a lasting longing for death? Who is going to decide? There is no answer in the Dutch legislation.

The patient must experience his or her suffering as perpetual, unbearable and hopeless. Virtually any doctor will tell you that there is virtually no disease known to man where the pain cannot be controlled. If there is a disease where the pain cannot be controlled, I say doctors should be looking for ways to control the pain, not to execute the patient.

Another guideline: The physician must consult at least one colleague on the patient's request. In other words, if the patient has the wherewithal to say: "Hey, by the way

Private Members' Business

do you mind checking with a colleague", then the doctor has to check with a colleague.

A well documented written report must be done stating the history of the patient's illness and meeting the carefulness requirements. Note the code words, the carefulness requirements. This is in the Dutch legislation. This is the dramatic jurisdiction that we should be considering as our model.

What happened in Holland? In 1990, 1,030 Dutch patients' lives were terminated. They were killed without their consent under these guidelines. Of 22,500 deaths due to withdrawal of life support, 63 per cent of them, 14,175 living patients, were denied medical treatment without their consent and 12 per cent of them, 1,701, were mentally competent but were not consulted. They were killed without consultation. They were executed without consultation.

The common law provides very clearly that absolutely no one has to accept treatment. If treatment is forced on you against your consent that is an assault against your person and the doctor can be charged criminally or face a civil suit. No one has to accept treatment. The argument that my friend, the member for Fraser Valley West, put forward that we are inflicting life on people is specious to say the least.

We do not have to get into religion. Of course if we mention religion there are those who will say, "You are imposing your religious views on others".

All we have to do is look at the medical facts and we have to listen to some doctors. This is what Dr. Gordon Dickey, President of the Ontario College of Family Physicians says: "Doctors are in the business of caring for patients. Euthanasia as I understand it is killing people and killing people is morally wrong and not something that physicians should be involved in".

The member for Fraser Valley West however did mention the word "God", something that we do not often mention in our society today. He mentioned his God and I know his God because He is the Christian God. I remind him and people listening of precisely what his God has already said in one of His 10 very simple rules: "Thou shalt not kill".

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   EUTHANASIA
Sub-subtopic:   TERMINALLY ILL PATIENTS
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PC

Godfrey Stanley (Stan) Wilbee

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stan Wilbee (Delta):

Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the opportunity of at least starting a little speech here tonight to talk on this very fascinating subject.

February 17, 1993

Private Members' Business

I think the fact that many members stayed at this hour of the night to listen to the debate indicates the interest that there is in it.

We recognize also that there is a Gallup poll that has been done which shows that 75 per cent of all Canadians favour euthanasia but when you look at that poll more closely you will find that euthanasia is not very well defined.

When we were holding hearings on the bill, from the member for Fraser Valley West we discovered that there are many different aspects of euthanasia and many different definitions. I think when we look at this bill that a motion should be made for the government to initiate legislation to discuss euthanasia.

Immediately we would have to ask what the need is. What are the manifest needs for such legislation in this House at this particular time? I have not had any great numbers of letters or phone calls or anything from my constituents. We have not seen any great outcry from the newspaper and the popular press.

What we do have is a couple of very significant court cases that have occurred in the past and are occurring at the present time, particularly Sue Rodriguez. I appreciate the clarification of the sponsor of this motion that the motion was put in prior to the time that Sue Rodriguez went to court.

What concerns me when I watch the television proceedings of the Rodriguez case in Vancouver is that I see a very ill woman who we all must sympathize with. All around her I see lawyers, politicians and various activists who all have some particular benefit to be gained or have some agenda that they want to see served. The real question on my mind is whether this woman is being manipulated. She has expressed a desire to end her life when the time comes. I have a real concern for this woman in that area.

I think there is some evidence for that in the headlines of The Vancouver Sun on February 2. The head of the Right to Die Society admitted that he had forged Sue's initials on a letter. In it he said that the Saanich woman said the letter does not represent her viewpoint and was sent without her knowledge. The fellow that did that is the executive director of the Right to Die Society that is backing Rodriguez court challenge to have the law prohibiting assisted suicide struck down. He admitted: "My actions were both inappropriate and unethical. I think we need to look at that with care.

The member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell mentioned a judge in his area. I have a constituent, a Mr. Roy Slater, from Ladner, the founder of the ALS society who was told 12 years ago that he only had a year or two to live. Yet in that time he has founded the ALS Society. As head of the retired civil servants, he has been active in Indian missions and he has been active in his church.

About one year and a half ago, I went to the Willow Chest Centre at Vancouver General Hospital for what I thought was my last visit with him. Just about six months ago we went to a dinner in his honour put on by the ALS Society. One and a half years ago, he could have been terminated but he chose not to and he is continuing on.

I will continue this speech at the next hour.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   EUTHANASIA
Sub-subtopic:   TERMINALLY ILL PATIENTS
Permalink
PC

Steve Eugene Paproski (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

The hon. member will have six minutes remaining in his speech.

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired. Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the order is dropped to the bottom of the list from the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

It being nine o'clock p.m., this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   EUTHANASIA
Sub-subtopic:   TERMINALLY ILL PATIENTS
Permalink

The House adjourned at 9 p.m.


February 17, 1993