Monday January 4, 2010

Canadian P.M. Prorogues Parliament – Vote on Euthanasia Delayed Again

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

OTTAWA, January 4, 2010 ( – The federal Conservative government has suspended Parliament until after the Winter Olympics, the Prime Minister’s Office announced last Wednesday.

According to the CBC, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, said the government sought the suspension to consult with Canadians, stakeholders and businesses as it moves into the “next phase” of its economic action plan amid signs of economic recovery.

“This is quite routine but it is also important to give Canadians an overview of where we will be taking the country over the next little while,” Soudas told CBC News from Ottawa. He said a speech from the throne will be delivered March 3, followed by presentation of the budget the next day.

The new session of Parliament had been scheduled to resume January 25 after the Christmas break, so the prorogation will add about a month to the period of time before the government resumes its work.

Though the prorogation quashes all bills before the current Parliament, private members bills, such as Bill C-384, the bill that was introduced by the Bloc MP Francine Lalonde to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, are not affected in this way by prorogation of parliament. Instead the bill is only delayed by the process.

However, Alex Schadenberg, the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, said that Lalonde’s tactic of delaying the vote on her bill by trading back the second hour of debate on the proposed legislation might now result in Bill C-384 never being voted on in the current session of Parliament.

Prorogation of parliament “means that Bill C-384 will receive its second hour of debate on March 12 or 15, at the earliest, and be voted on March 17 or 24, depending on whether or not they take a March break (a break was scheduled on the previous parliamentary calendar between March 15 – 19),” Schadenberg explained.

“Lalonde has traded-backwards in the order of precedence 3 times to delay the second hour of debate and vote on her bill, probably because she knew it was going to be defeated.”

“Since the Conservative government appears to be setting up an election for May or June, Lalonde may find a way to trade-back again in the order of precedence and prevent C-384 from ever being voted on” by this government, Schadenberg observed.

“We are convinced that Lalonde is trying to delay the debate and the vote on C-384 because she knows that the bill will be defeated. By delaying the vote she is gaining time to create a national debate on euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada,” Schadenberg concluded.

For more information about Bill C-384 go here.

See related LSN reports:

Stall Tactics: Vote on Canadian Euthanasia Bill Delayed…Again