MONTREAL, November 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Quebec has refused an alleged federal request to suspend its “right-to-die” law, with the province’s justice and health ministers declaring the legislation will go into effect December 10 as planned, according to the Canadian Press.
Liberal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould reportedly asked her provincial counterpart, Stephanie Vallee, on Wednesday to hold off implementing the province’s Bill 52 as the federal government looks into drafting its own legislation.
But Vallee says that Quebec will move ahead with Bill 52: “We’re staying the course, obviously,” she stated.
That leaves anti-euthanasia advocates with “our great hope” that Quebec’s Superior Court will intervene and block the bill’s implementation, says executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of Canada, Alex Schadenberg.
Lisa D’Amico, who suffers from cerebral palsy, and Paul Saba of the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice, filed for an injunction November 24 to stop Bill 52.
They argued the Supreme Court’s February 2015 ruling striking down the law banning doctor-assisted suicide and euthanasia was based on a case pre-dating Quebec’s June 2014 law, and that the province’s courts needs to consider further submissions in light of the top court’s decision.
The Quebec court’s decision on the injunction is expected Monday, Schadenberg told LifeSiteNews.
EPCC also intervened in case, arguing that the Supreme Court ruled that legislating on euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide “is in the purview of the federal government,” Schadenberg told LifeSiteNews.
“And minimally speaking, it’s a shared area of jurisdiction” between the federal and provincial levels of government.
But Quebec has decided unilaterally that it has “sole jurisdiction” in this matter, he said, adding it’s not surprising the province has bucked the federal request.
“They think that euthanasia is healthcare,” he pointed out. “Therefore they think that they are following what is considered constitutional. So they would think that there is no reason why they would have to change.”
Meanwhile, according to the CBC, Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould and Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc have been clear that federal Liberals are going to legislate on physician-assisted suicide, with a view to the court-mandated February 6, 2016 deadline for its ruling to take effect.
LeBlanc told CBC Radio’s “The House” Saturday that the Liberals’ “immediate objective” is to strike a joint House and Senate committee to craft “quick and expedited” legislation.
Wilson-Raybould told CBC’s “The Current” Wednesday that the issue has “top priority” and that the Liberals have not ruled out asking the Supreme Court for an extension on the deadline.
“I’m committed to ensuring that we approach this issue in a comprehensive way that respects the personal beliefs and autonomy of families and individuals and also looks to ensure that we protect those who could be vulnerable,” she said.
Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott also told CBC News that “outstanding palliative care” is needed and that “one of the things we need to do well is make sure that we consult widely in this process.”
However, the Liberals also announced in November that they aren’t interested in any recommendations on possible legislative options from the three-person federal panel the Conservatives appointed to provide such recommendations.
The panel, headed by palliative care expert Dr. Harvey Chochinov, has since July been consulting Canadians and international experts on legislative options to regulate doctor-assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Now it will report only the results of these consultations to the federal health and justice ministers when its mandate is up December 15.
As for Quebec’s Bill 52, there already has been backlash from physicians and palliative care workers, including the province’s 29 hospices, which decided unanimously that they won’t be killing their patients, or providing them the means to kill themselves. Staff at the University of Montreal health center’s palliative unit also voted the same way.
“The majority of doctors in palliative care at all of Quebec’s hospitals don’t want to do assisted suicide. It is a problem for administrators,” Dr. Catherine Ferrier, head of Living with Dignity and The Physicians Alliance Against Euthanasia, told LifeSiteNews. “Do they move patients out of the palliative care units if they request assisted suicide?”
But Quebec Health minister Barrette responded by threatening reprisals, fuming that this was “administrative fundamentalism” and that “they will force people in later life housed within their walls to move to access medical help to die? It boggles the mind.”
Euthanasia proponents urged him to de-fund the hospices.
And shockingly, Quebec doctors who do euthanize their patients or provide them means with which to kill themselves, have been directed to falsify the death certificates, according to BC-based conscience rights activist Sean Murphy.
A provincial guide for physicians released in August tells doctors to list the underlying condition that “justified” the doctor killing the patient as the cause of death, and not include the phrase “medical aid in dying,” Murphy noted.
Moreover, there appears to be great confusion among physicians and health care workers as to the bill’s provisions, and Schadenberg has been warning that the bill is sure to be abused.
Those abuses would include, as in Belgium, cases where “where euthanasia occurs without request, where euthanasia deaths are often not reported, and where euthanasia occurs for people who are depressed or experiencing psychiatric issues.”