Canadian government needs more time to respond to Supreme Court assisted suicide decision

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On February 6, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada's assisted suicide law giving Canada's parliament 12 months to fill the legislative void.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) responded to the Supreme Court decision by explaining how the decision wasirresponsible and dangerous to Canadians. We urged our supporters to lobby the Justice Minister and the government toGive us time by establishing a committee to examine the issues and by using the notwithstanding clause to gain the necessary time to bring forth a law to protect Canadians.

Currently EPC has distributed more than 160,000 Give us time! postcards on the issue.

Justice Minister Hon Peter MacKay, who is not running in the fall election, has acknowledged that the government "needs more time" to legislate on assisted suicide. The Canadian Press reported:

The federal government will need more time to deal with the Supreme Court's decision on doctor-assisted death, and asking for an extension would be a perfectly reasonable request, Justice Minister Peter MacKay said Tuesday. 
MacKay, who is not seeking re-election this October, said he suspects it is "very likely" the government — be it Conservative or otherwise — will need more time to address the decision, which came down in February. 
In finding that Canada's prohibition on physician-assisted suicide was a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the high court gave Parliament one year to deal with the issue in legislation. 
MacKay said there is "no guarantee" the court would be willing to grant an extension, but he said it would be a "reasonable request." He also insisted the next government would address the issue because of the legal void it creates. 
"To do otherwise, I think, would be dangerous and irresponsible,"

According to the Globe and Mail MacKay said that a legal void on assisted suicide is "dangerous and irresponsible." MacKay said:

It “leaves a lot of people vulnerable, particularly persons with disability, persons with advanced Alzheimer’s.”

Toronto Human Rights Lawyer, Hugh Scher, who also acts as legal counsel for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition toldadvocate daily that: 

“It’s completely understandable in light of the present election season that it would be very difficult – if not impossible – to craft an appropriate regime that responds to the Supreme Court’s directives relative to questions about euthanasia or assisted suicide,” 
The failure to provide sufficient time to craft an appropriate response to the court ruling would otherwise leave a legislative vacuum that would basically allow assisted suicide on demand without any modicum of safeguards or regulations that would protect vulnerable people from the risk of serious abuse or otherwise prevent the serious risks of harm that have been seen in some other jurisdictions.

MacKay also stated that the Canadian government will establish a committee to examine the assisted suicide very soon. Scher also stated to advocate daily that:

It seems to me the federal government is intent to take action on this item, which would be in-keeping with both the ruling of the court but also the concerns and interests of Canadians across the country, 
I think realistically, the notion that the government should be prepared to enact legislation by judicial decree in the context of the legislature breaking for an election is unreasonable

The Canadian Medical Association responded by stating.

Dr. Chris Simpson, the president of the Canadian Medical Association, said his organization would support extending the deadline in order to "get this right." 
Simpson said the CMA has started its own broad consultation process, which involves speaking to regulatory bodies and patient groups. 
"We will offer all the work that we have done to government when they are ready for us to enter into their consultation process," he said. 
"The generous interpretation, I think, of what we have heard from them so far is that they do intend to consult and we are still optimistic that will happen."

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is achieving its goals. We asked for a proper consultation on the issues be held and that the government use the notwithstanding clause to give Canada time to properly fill the legislative void caused by the Supreme Court of Canada who dangerously put the lives of Canadians at risk by legislating from the bench when striking down the assisted suicide laws.

Will the Canadian government protect people from assisted suicide?

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC)

The Canadian Press is reporting that the federal government may not introduce a bill to protect Canadians from assisted suicide.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) responded to the irresponsible and dangerous Supreme Court decision by urging the Federal government to use the notwithstanding clause and to call a Royal Commission to protect people with disabilitieselders who live with abuse, depressed and suicidal people and others. It is not safe to give doctors, the right in law, assisted the suicide of their patients.

Opposing the Supreme Court of Canada assisted suicide decision.

EPC asked its members to write letters to Justice Minister Hon. Peter MacKay and their Members of Parliament, or to sign the online petition or to send a Give us time! post-card calling for a Royal Commission on assisted suicide and the use of the Notwithstanding clause.

Writing a letter is most effective but EPC has already distributed 80,000 post-cards. Order the Give us time! post-cards - for free - at: 1-877-439-3348 or

Link to our campaign website at:

Link to the full article

EPC campaign to protect people from assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) responded to the Supreme Court of Canada assisted suicide decision with a letter writing and post-card campaign to political leaders asking them to protect use the Notwithstanding Clause to protect Canadians from assisted suicide.

EPC sent-out 80,000 post-cards asking the Government to use the Notwithstanding clause.

Give us time!

EPC is now promoting the Give us time! campaign in English and French.

The Give us time! campaign asks the Government of Canada to:

  1. Establish a Royal Commission on assisted suicide.
  2. Use the notwithstanding clause to give us time.

We are sending the postcards to the Hon Peter MacKay Justice Minister of Canada.

Give us time post-cards, in english or french, can be ordered from the EPC for free at: info@epcc.caor by calling toll free at: 1-877-439-3348.

Together we can make a difference.

Opposing the Supreme Court of Canada Assisted Suicide Decision

On February 6, the Supreme Court of Canada made an irresponsible and dangerous decision by decriminalizing assisted death. The EPC Board decided that the Federal government must invoke the notwithstanding clause to protect people with disabilitieselders who live with abuse, depressed and suicidal people and other people.

Please write a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Justice Minister Peter MacKay and your Member of Parliament or sign the online petition calling for the Protection of vulnerable Canadians from assisted suicide.

Letter writing is effective, but if you only want a message sent to the government then please  sign the online petition.

Your letter should state:
To the Hon... or (Member of Parliament):

Parliament must continue to protect people with disabilties, elders, people who live with depression or suicidal ideation, and other people from assisted suicide. 
This must be done through the use of the Notwithstanding clause. 
I am concerned ... (add a comment related to one of the eight talking points). 
Yours Sincerely (Name).

 Talking Points:

  1. People with disabilities oppose assisted suicide.
  2. Assisted suicide debate masks disability prejudice.
  3. Assisted suicide has devalued the lives of the elderly in Washington State.
  4. United Nations: Abuse of older women overlooked and under-reported.
  5. Depressed mother died by euthanasia in Belgium.
  6. Supreme court allows assisted suicide for depressed people.
  7. Suicide rate in Oregon continues to increase faster than the national average.
  8. Suicide prevention at odds with assisted suicide.

Letter writing campaign - Contact information:

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington St.
Ottawa ON K1A 0A2 (No stamp necessary)
Fax: 613-941-6900

The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6 (No stamp necessary)
Fax: 613-954-0811

Your Member of Parliament (Name) MP
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6 (No stamp necessary)
(Link to Members of Parliament

Rethink Euthanasia

This letter was published on December 13 in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

By Dr Linda Baker

In his column Where's the line in legalizing euthanasia? (Dec 9) Andrew Coyne makes a factual, dispassionate presentation on the situation in place in Quebec currently and is being considered federally. These are the same arguments against allowing euthanasia being raised by the Canadian Society of Palliative Physicians, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of Canada, and the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, among others.

Unfortunately, some of these organizations are mistakenly viewed as "Christian fundamentalists" with an agenda to impose their values on others. I hope Coyne's objective summary will speak sense to citizens and government before we misguidedly go down a path that we as a country will regret. Witness what is happening in Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Canadians need to realize that pain usually can be well controlled, and that physicians are seeking to improve palliative care. During the course of any illness, patients have the right to decline recommended treatment they feel is burdensome or futile.

Link to the full article