June 7, 1993 (34th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Robert Lloyd Wenman

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Robert Wenman (Fraser Valley West):

Mr. Speaker, this is one of the more important issues that has come before the House of Commons. That the discussion has begun in this session of Parliament for the first time is important. If not in this Parliament certainly by the next Parliament it will lead to changes before the law. It is inevitable because the majority of people, the nature of medical technology and many other factors are driving us in a direction that calls for discussion, reason and

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resolution. Therefore I have no doubt the law will be changed.
All points of view are important in the ideas we put forward today. To me this is about freedom, self-determination and very much about fear. I appreciated the comments of the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell. I appreciated that he personalized them. This is an issue that needs to be personalized because it affects every one of us. As an issue which affects every one of us, we need to consider it in our own context.
I can appreciate the choices that the hon. member for Calgary and the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott- Russell may have made for themselves and their families. Those choices may have been that when they face terminal illness, they want to prolong life as long as medical science can do so, even if it is prolonging life through and into intense suffering.
That is their choice for them and their families. I do not agree with that choice for me or my family. I believe that God gave us medical science and technology to improve the quality of our life, to nurture, protect and prolong to the point where we say: "That is enough, let me go, let me withdraw from treatment and leave it between my God and myself to make that decision".
We seem to have moved somewhat since we started this debate on my Bill C-203. Everyone seems to recognize fully that there should be the right to withdraw from treatment in the law to the point that we are claiming that it exists. The court cases demonstrate that it does not necessarily exist and needs clarification. The courts have called upon Parliament to clarify the law. The first result of the Rodriguez hearing told us that this is a decision for the Parliament of Canada, not a decision for the medical profession or the courts.
Let us look at what we agree to under the law. We agree, I think almost unanimously, that anyone who becomes terminally ill, that means you and I, has the right to withdraw from treatment. But we do not have the right to withdraw from suffering. In other words, technically one can withdraw from treatment if one wants to suffer to the point of death.

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