Liberals shun leading anti-euthanasia group at hearing on Ontario’s ‘joke’ of a bill
TORONTO, April 3, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The largest international anti-euthanasia group is crying foul after a Liberal-dominated committee studying an Ontario bill refused its request to give an oral presentation.
“The question is why didn’t they want to hear me?” Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, told LifeSiteNews.
“Don’t you think it’s funny that the group that is the leading group that is opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide has not been given the privilege even of presenting to the committee?” he said. “Don’t you think it’s a little weird, maybe?”
The committee on finance and economic affairs wrapped up two days of public hearings Thursday on Bill 84, which will regulate euthanasia and assisted suicide in the province.
It begins clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 84 on April 11, at which point it will consider any amendments to the bill submitted by MPPs.
Schadenberg said he wanted to impress upon the committee that Bill 84 is “a joke of a bill because it gives doctors complete control.”
“I was going to make my point clear, this law does not provide any oversight and no protection for people who are vulnerable, who might be seeking death,” he said. “But the question is, why are they seeking death?”
The EPC did submit a written brief slamming the bill for relying on a self-reporting system and not providing third-party intervention or oversight.
Schadenberg contends that at the very least the bill should provide third-party oversight.
That means “there’s somebody separate from the act of killing who has to oversee the decision before the decision is made, who sends in a report,” Schadenberg said. “At least then you have some separation of the killer from the decision-maker.”
There would also be “some hope that what’s being submitted is accurate, that there was some oversight that you weren’t just killed because the doctor thought it was a good idea.”
Added Schadenberg: “Because right now, honestly, some doctors are going to enjoy killing. I don’t like saying that, but it’s true.”
He warned there will soon be euthanasia clinics operating in the province, if they aren’t already.
“Those doctors are going to approve the death, do the act, and they’re going to make money on the body bag while they’re at it.”
Pushing for an amendment to Bill 84 for more oversight presents a “funny situation,” Schadenberg said, because while EPC is clear on how bad the legislation is, “it’s a whole other thing for me to suggest some way to improve the bill, knowing that the bill still allows killing of people.”
However, he believes it’s “morally neutral” at this point “to suggest that at least allow third party intervention” as an attempt to minimize abuse.
Committee members NDP France Gelinas and Conservative Jeff Yurek both told LifeSiteNews they wanted to extend public hearings another day, but the Liberals wouldn’t go for it, even though that meant excluding more than half the groups who wanted to speak to the bill.
There are six Liberals on the nine-member committee, which is chaired by Liberal MPP Peter Milczyn (Etobicoke-Lakeshore).
LifeSiteNews contacted Liberal MPP Yvan Baker, committee liaison with the Liberal caucus, to ask why the time public hearings were not extended and why the EPC didn’t make the cut.
Kyle Richardson, press secretary for Government House Leader Yasir Naqvi, emailed back on Baker’s behalf.
He said the “government members” recognized “the high level of interest in those wishing to speak to the bill” and so “moved a motion adding additional time for presenters.”
But NDP Gelinas said the Liberals added just one more hour.
Gelinas (Nicklebelt), who’s on the committee as NDP health critic, said 51 groups had to vie for 25 slots on the final day of hearings, and each party could submit a prioritized list of eight with some alternates.
She told LifeSiteNews she recommended at the outset that the committee schedule another day of hearings if the time was “oversubscribed.”
Yurek (Elgin-Middlesex-London), on the committee as Conservative health critic, also wanted an additional day of hearings.
But the Liberals not only refused to agree to that, but they forced closure on second reading debate on the bill, he told LifeSiteNews.
Meanwhile, a number of groups asked the committee to amend Bill 84 to include explicit protection for the conscience rights of health care workers.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario currently compels doctors who object to euthanasia to refer patients requesting to be killed to a willing and accessible colleague, known as an “effective” referral.
CPSO president Dr. David Rouselle told the committee Thursday that the regulatory body would not change this policy.
Yurek says he will submit a conscience rights protection amendment to the bill and is working with the Coalition of Health Care and Conscience on the wording.
Cardinal Thomas Collins spoke to the committee March 23 on behalf of the Coalition, and London Bishop Peter Fabbro spoke on behalf of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario.
The Catholic Civil Rights League, Faith and Freedom Association, Canadian Physicians for Life, Concerned Ontario Doctors, Ontario Medical Association, and Christian Legal Fellowship were among those asking the committee on March 30 that Bill 84 protect conscience rights.
Yurek urged people to contact committee members, especially Liberal members, as well as Naqvi, Health Minister Eric Hoskins and Premier Kathleen Wynne “telling they would like support on the conscience rights amendment when it comes before committee.”
Conservatives “are putting more than one amendment into the bill,” added Yurek. “So I would request any groups looking for additional amendments to contact my office as soon as possible to discuss the issue. … Call me.”