By Patrick B. Craine

OTTAWA, Ontario, April 21, 2010 ( – The Canadian Parliament overwhelmingly defeated today the private members bill seeking to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The House of Commons rejected Bill C-384, proposed by Member of Parliament Francine Lalonde (La Pointe-de-l’Île, BQ), by a vote of 228 to 59, with two additional members noting immediately afterwards that they mistakenly voted for the bill when they had intended to vote against it.

In a point of order after the vote, Conservative Member and Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Stephen Fletcher, wished it to be recorded that he abstained from the vote. Fletcher urged that all possible support be given to patients in need, but also stressed that he believed “the individual is ultimately responsible” for his fate. Fletcher is a quadriplegic MP confined to a special motorized wheel chair.

Lalonde’s campaign to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide began in 2005 when she first introduced her bill into the House of Commons. Her first two attempts failed when her private members bills were shut down by the 2006 and 2008 federal elections.

This round, her third attempt, began when she introduced Bill C-384 into the House of Commons on May 13th, 2009. The bill received first reading with an hour of debate in October, but Lalonde has delayed a vote by trading back second reading three times. It was also delayed by the government’s decision to prorogue Parliament late last year, which meant the bill had to undergo first reading again. The first hour of debate was March 16th and the second hour took place yesterday.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, told LifeSiteNews that the defeat of Lalonde’s bill means that Canada should now move on to finding better ways of offering true health care to Canada’s vulnerable patients.

“Now that the bill’s defeated, this gives us the chance in Canada to continue to improve care for the vulnerable, to examine issues around elder abuse and how to prevent elder abuse in Canada, to look at issues around suicide prevention, and … to ask Canadians to make sure that people with disabilities are offered true dignity and equality in Canada,” he said. “This is the way Canada needs to be going, not to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

He did stress, however, that “there’s always a need for vigilance on the euthanasia issue.” “There will be another bill in the next Parliament,” he predicted. “That’s just what’s going on. Our goal is to get ready for the next battle, which will be in a couple years after the next election.”

See related coverage:

Canadian Parliament Debates Euthanasia – Vote Today