By Patrick B. Craine

OTTAWA, Ontario, November 6, 2009 ( – The House of Commons vote on Bill C-384, which seeks to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, has been pushed back tentatively to December 2nd.

The private members bill, proposed by Member of Parliament Francine Lalonde (BQ-La Pointe-de-l'Île), received its first of two hours of debate on October 2nd.  The second hour was originally scheduled for November 16th, with a vote to follow shortly after.

Lalonde moved the date of the second debate to November 19th a few days ago by trading with another Bloc MP.  She's now traded again, delaying the debate until December 1st at 5:30 p.m., with a vote the next day.

“I think she's trying to create support for her bill,” said Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.  “And I think the only way she can create it is by giving her some time, but she doesn't have time.”

“The reality is that the support for Euthanasia and Assisted suicide is wide but thin,” he wrote in an e-mail yesterday, in reference to polls that have shown widespread support for legalization.  “There is very little public pressure to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide outside of the academic or 'elite' circles. This has become a pet issue of the wealthy and the so-called academic class.”

He pointed to the recent Environics poll, which indicated that 61% of Canadians support the legalization of euthanasia, but also that, of that number, only 25% 'strongly' supported it.  72% of those who were 'somewhat supportive' expressed concern that people would be euthanized without their consent.  Further, 69% of respondents wanted the government to prioritize palliative care, and only 18% wanted them to focus on legalization.

While Schadenberg told that the bill will be defeated “without a question,” he insisted in his e-mail yesterday that opponents of the bill must “maintain the pressure on members of parliament.”

With the change in date, disability rights advocate Steven Passmore has moved his protest to December 1st from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m.  The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is urging people to join Passmore on Parliament Hill at that time.

See related coverage:

Canadian Parliament Debates Euthanasia Bill 

New Poll Reveals that Canadians are Conflicted About Legal Euthanasia 

Confusion about Euthanasia Must be Dispelled Says Prominent Anti-Euthanasia Activist 

Anti-Euthanasia Group Questions Survey Suggesting Quebec MDs are Favorable to Euthanasia 

'Is the Quebec College of Physicians Deliberately Confusing Canadians on Euthanasia?' Asks Anti-Euthanasia Leader