Raymond John SKELLY

SKELLY, Raymond John, B.A.

Personal Data

New Democratic Party
North Island--Powell River (British Columbia)
Birth Date
July 1, 1941

Parliamentary Career

May 22, 1979 - December 14, 1979
  Comox--Powell River (British Columbia)
February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
  Comox--Powell River (British Columbia)
September 4, 1984 - October 1, 1988
  Comox--Powell River (British Columbia)
November 21, 1988 - September 8, 1993
  North Island--Powell River (British Columbia)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 5 of 354)

February 26, 1993

Mr. Raymond Skelly (North Island-Powell River):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak in support of the motion of my colleague from Port Moody-Coquitlam. It reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should consider the advisability of introducing legislation on the subject of euthanasia and, in particular, of ensuring that those assisting terminally-ill patients who wish to die not be subject to criminal liability.

With deference to the previous speaker from the government side, I wish to put on the record alternate points of view to the ones he expressed. He said the courts are against this. The courts are really neutral on the question of euthanasia. Their hands are tied by the legislation of this Parliament. They do not make judgments about the moral acceptability or unacceptability, as my colleague sees it, they simply read the law and interpret it the way it is written.

Private Members' Business

We are proposing with this legislation that the government put forward legislation that we can examine and debate and then go to the public and allow it to discuss this in a rational way with a model before it.

The speaker says the medical profession is against this. This is not correct. The medical profession approaches death as an enemy to be fought. The interesting dilemma I think is that the medical profession has continuously encroached in this area. They have in hospitals what they call nocodes, individuals who are designated by family members as having reached the situation in which they will not use heroic intervention and if the individual is not capable of sustaining themselves they are allowed to pass away in dignity.

The question of murder is interesting. I guess we are talking today about the Criminal Code providing a definition of culpable homicide in providing somebody an opportunity to die with dignity. What my colleague is getting at is that he would like to see that area of culpable homicide removed from the Criminal Code so that terminally-ill patients, suffering tremendously and wishing to end their lives, can be assisted in a reasonable and practical way to do so. That is an element of compassion. It is not a matter that the courts are against and that the medical profession is against.

If we decide that it is not murder then it is not murder. In fact it is compassion and dignity that is being requested here.

The most outrageous thing I have ever heard is the suggestion that euthanasia is an alternative to providing quality palliative care. This is an outrageous statement and it is absolutely not true.

I read in detail the presentation of the the head of the Elisabeth-Bruyere institution in town. I could be mistaken because it was presented a couple of months ago, but I read the testimony in detail. The individual has a perspective on euthanasia that is hostile and, at the same time, is tremendously concerned about providing palliative care.

The government on the other side of the House has created an interesting situation in health care where it

has limited the funds available to provinces. One of the things that has suffered is funding for palliative care. The individual when he appeared before that previous committee on euthanasia made a plea for increased sensitivity for palliative care. I make that plea now, my colleague makes that plea and every person in our party makes that plea. Let those funds go so that people do not have to die in pain and agony, so that they can make a choice of going to a palliative care unit where they get decent treatment and can end their last days in relative comfort and dignity.

That is the point the witness was making. The witness was personally opposed to euthanasia but was strongly speaking for palliative care. We strongly speak for that too. We need more resources in that area, but at the same time the door should not be closed on an individual who says: "I can no longer live in unbearable pain, with a lack of dignity and have no control over myself or my bodily functions. I wish to end my life and I wish to have medical assistance to do so".

It is interesting that we in the House can no longer use the murder argument no matter what our perspective is. This is not murder. These are individuals requesting assistance to terminate their lives. They are incapable of doing it safely and effectively. They ask for medical assistance and there is a willingness to provide that on the part of medical practitioners.

We wish to see more palliative care but we also wish to see options for those people who wish to have them. Of course the courts will carry out the law of this land. If this institution decides that it is not culpable homicide, the courts will read it that way too and people will not have to appear before the courts for assisting a terminally ill patient to die.

There certainly are standards. In the Netherlands it is an outrageous argument to make the statement that it passed this particular legislation because it was against providing palliative care. That is just unmitigated nonsense.

February 26, 1993

The Government of the Netherlands heard the message from its people. It passed into law a limited provision with plenty of safeguards so that there is no abuse to basically deal with the wishes of terminally ill patients. We have an obligation to do the same thing in this House.

If we let this motion go forward what will happen? We will not have euthanasia. We will move this debate one step further. I commend the hon. member for Fraser Valley West on the government side who put through the first private member's bill on this matter which produced a very positive debate on both sides. They were some of the best arguments I have heard for and against by witnesses who appeared before that committee.

It was an excellent presentation and argument on both sides. There is an obligation on the part of this House representing the people of Canada and those who are terminally ill, those suffering from AIDS or any of the other chronic afflictive illnesses that incapacitate people. We have a responsibility to bring forward and place before the people of Canada a proposal. Let it be limited but let it address the question.

Subtopic:   EUTHANASIA
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February 26, 1993

Mr. Raymond Skelly (North Island-Powell River):

Madam Speaker, the Gwa'Sala and Nakwaxda'xw Indian

bands at Smith Inlet and Blunden Harbour were forcibly amalgamated and moved to Port Hardy, B.C. in the 1960s.

This forcible amalgamation and relocation were exclusively for the convenience of the department of Indian affairs. Once the move was made the department of Indian affairs broke every promise it ever made to these people about housing, education, health and economic development. When they left it burned their traditional community so there could be no return.

The Gwa'Sala-Nakwaxda'xw sank into 30 years of hell, totally engulfed by social disintegration and social problems. One of the measures of these social problems was the fact that 300 children were apprehended by social services and taken out of that community. Some were adopted as far away as Europe, never to return again.

It is our hope that the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples would meet on the north end of Vancouver Island to hold sessions in the community to inquire into the impact of the policy of the department of Indian affairs concerning forcible amalgamation and forcible relocation of Indian people with no commitment to the promises made.

In the case of the Gwa'Sala-Nakwaxda'xw-

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February 26, 1993

Mr. Raymond Skelly (North Island-Powell River):

Mr. Speaker, I take pleasure in having an opportunity to put a few remarks on the record concerning this legislation on small business.

I want to take a different tack. Small business is a very broad term. We tend to think in terms of small manufacturing organizations, retail outlets or service opportunities. One area of small business involves the fishers who participate in the Pacific fishing industry off the coast of British Columbia. These individuals view themselves as small business entrepreneurs. They are generally individuals who own a fishing vessel, who go out in pursuit of economic activity and who generally participate in the ebb and flow with the prevailing nature of the resource, the economy and the management plans of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The impact of the combination of the chartered banks and the Government of Canada on fishers or that small business sector on the coast of British Columbia is interesting. I want to talk about what the government has done to fishers in the Pacific fishing industry.

First, just over 20 years ago along came a fellow named Jack Davis, a Liberal minister of fisheries, who decided the way to resolve the problem of overfishing on the west coast was to put in place a licence limitation program. I

guess we can say that was the first government impact without any response to consultation. In this small business area many people actually advocated against the activity. The government forged ahead and imposed on these small business people a regime that was extremely harmful, contrary to the recommendations made by people in the industry and wise observers. This was the wrong approach. There was no consultation.

This licence limitation program created an enormous increase in fishing capacity. People went out, especially some companies involved in the fishing industry, and pulled every wreck off the beach in British Columbia and threw a fishing licence on it. They understood clearly how Jack Davis and the Liberal government had instantly created a source of enormous wealth. They pulled those wrecks off the beach, put licences on them and created an enormous increase in capacity. Some individuals became very creative in further increasing the capacity when they pyramided those licences and turned-

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February 25, 1993

Mr. Raymond Skelly (North Island-Powell River):

wonder if the government is contemplating a statement in this House by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on the aboriginal fisheries strategy, which has become an extremely important issue on the coast of British Columbia. With the adjournments that are planned in the House it looks like there will be no opportunity to provide a debate on an extremely important issue to aboriginal people in British Columbia and to all those involved and dependent on that fishery.

I wonder if this has come up on the government agenda and whether it might be possible to have the minister make a statement on progress on the work on the aboriginal fisheries strategy.

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February 25, 1993

Mr. Skelly (North Island-Powell River):

Mr. Speaker, the member looks at the history of her party in this place definitely through rose coloured glasses.

There were omissions of the Liberal Party in power as it herded the employees of the Public Service back to work. I guess the caution to those who watch her speak in the House on behalf of the Liberal Party is certainly beware of the wolf in sheep's clothing. The workers have been roughly handled by that government before. Clearly the promise is that this will not be imposed and then it simply turns around and imposes it. The question of putting people back to work with imposed settlements and without an opportunity to bargain was in many cases the order of the day.

Of course in Ontario, the TTC workers requested a vote on the offer. I think her view of things is certainly somewhat distorted by the rose coloured glasses and the effort to sell to the Public Service a message which really does not reflect the principles of this party with its likely prediction for the future.

That is of course on the GST, the trade agreement and all the other things that those members are preaching these days.

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