Some thoughts on a drive through traffic hell to rail against euthanasia.

By Charles Lewis

Many of you know I have been doing speeches against euthanasia since retiring from the National Post in January 2014. Most also know that I have a very painful spinal issue that limits my activities.

So it was with some trepidation that I agreed, many months ago, to speak at a dinner in Cambridge Ontario. I figured by the time it rolled around I would be feeling much better.

I was so wrong.

But a promise is a promise so on a recent Thursday I headed out to Cambridge west down the dreaded 401. What should have taken 70 minutes with no traffic or two hours with some traffic turned into three-and-a-half hours of misery. Then to add to the fun I got lost. Urbanites like myself do not do well with regional roads.

In the directions I was given I was told turn left at the bottom of a hill at a Canadian Tire gas bar. Guess what? There are a many Canadian Tire gas bars and many hills. So at some point, in pain and with a throbbing headache from said pain, I ended up in Guelph. I don't own a cell phone but I figured I'd be able to use a phone at a gas station or find a pay phone. Guess what? No one likes to let you use his or her phones for fear you'll call your Oma in Berlin or you favourite Aunt in Hong Kong. And, as I discovered, there are no pay phones.

Finally some good soul took pity on me and lent me his cell phone. The connection was so bad that I couldn't hear what was being said so I finally broke down babbling and yelling that I would never make it. It wasn't one of my proudest moments but every once in a while I cut myself a break.

Someone standing by where I was yelling heard me mention the conference centre. He gave me simple directions and miracle of miracle I did find the right Canadian Tire at the bottom of the right hill.

By the time I arrived at the conference centre I was in massive pain and sweating. As I got out of the car, hobbled, I thought that there was no way I can pull this off. Though I did.

Link to the full article

Dr Brad Burke: Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau

April 4, 2016

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

To the Honourable Prime Minister Trudeau,

I am writing to you out of deep concern for the legislation that will soon be drafted regarding physician assisted suicide. I am so concerned, that I produced videos on the websites, DearGodLetter.ca and CherDieuLettre.ca, in the hope that more Canadians would be informed about the potential ramifications of such legislation.

As a medical doctor, there are many arguments I could provide detailing why physician assisted suicide is wrong for Canada. But the one argument that many have overlooked is the very real likelihood that physician assisted suicide in Canada would actually lead tomore pain and suffering in Canada—not less.

Let me explain:

As a pain specialist I have evaluated hundreds of car accident victims over the past several years.  Interestingly, the patient suffering chronic pain from injuries sustained in the crash is almost always the victim—rarely the individual(s) responsible for the crash. Many falsely believe these patients are just trying to scam the system. While this might be the case in rare circumstances, almost always these victims have legitimate chronic pain.

Research has demonstrated that when the mind is clouded by negative emotions, such as anger, hate, bitterness, or depression, the body is unable to properly “turn off” pain signals arising from lower in the body. Car accident victims are often angry at the individual(s) who hit them, and frequently develop low mood and/or anxiety. All these negative emotions play a role in the development of chronic pain by way of something pain specialists call, “Central sensitization.” Peripheral sensitization and maladaptive central nervous system (i.e. brain) neuronal plasticity are also factors in the genesis of chronic pain. 

How does this relate to physician assisted suicide? 

If the recommendations provided by the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying become law, there will be many teenagers, parents, and grandparents killed against the will of their family members (especially those suffering from depression). Prime Minister Trudeau, it won’t be long and your children will be teenagers. You wouldn’t want someone to kill your teenagers against your will.  Why then would you want to kill other teenagers against the will of their parents?

A family can eventually learn to forgive a member who rashly commits suicide on their own. However, it will be extremely hard—if not impossible—for Canadian families to forgive the doctors and politicians responsible for their loved one’s death. The same rage that the Goldman’s displayed against O. J. Simpson will be the same anger directed at you and many others by Canadian families. These angry family members will be at significantly greater risk of developing depression and anxiety, with a high likelihood of developing chronic pain from even minor injuries—and sometimes no injury at all. For every one person you kill against the will of the family, you run a very high risk of triggering a lifetime of mental and/or physical illness/pain in at least one family member—and possibly the entire family.

Furthermore, there are over 5,000 physicians across Canada in the Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience, committed to protecting conscience rights for health practitioners and facilities. Many will refuse to kill their patients, and refuse to refer patients to be killed. For every doctor’s license you consequently take away, you will erase on average at least 2,000 patient encounters per doctor per year. Then there’s the doctors who will just quietly leave the country, and those who will refuse to move to Canada because of the hostile environment where doctors are forced to work against their consciences. Then add to this the number of healthcare professionals who will drop out of palliative care and Geriatrics for fear of losing their licenses. Do the math and the number of Canadians affected are staggering.

Will all this not result in even more pain and suffering for Canadians in the end?

Yes, there will always be individuals who want to kill themselves at the first diagnosis of a chronic disease. And there will always be arguments saying that not everyone has equal access to quality palliative care across Canada where adequate pain control is very often achieved. But what kind of country would rather kill its citizens than provide the necessary care and compassion they deserve?

Will the Liberal Party be popular with Canadians 1 year, 2 years, or 3 years from now? 

Will the Liberal Party be popular with the Person who created the teenagers, parents, and grandparents that you will kill? 

Thank you very much for your kind attention to this letter.

Sincerely,

Brad Burke, MD, FRCPC
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Cc The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice
Cc The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Postcard Campaign

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) has launched a postcard campaign to Members of Parliament under the theme: I support Caring Not Killing.

The postcard campaign urges members of parliament to reject euthanasia and assisted suicide for people with dementia and minors, people with psychiatric conditions and to protect the conscience rights of medical professionals.

EPC is distributing three different bilingual postcards to be sent to Prime Minister Trudeau, or Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould or your Member of Parliament (MP).

Link to the list of members of parliament.

Order the postcards by contacting EPC at: 1-877-439-3348 or email: info@epcc.ca and tell us how many postcards you want and where we need to send them. EPC is distributing the postcards for free, but we ask you to consider making a donation to the cost of the campaign.

On the one side of the card, write your name, address, Postal Code and Signature. On the other side of the card and write the name of the political leader or your member of parliament.

It is free to mail the postcards to federal politicians.

Link to the full article

Liberal Members of Parliament may be ordered to vote for euthanasia bill

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

The Liberal Party has ordered Liberal Members of Parliament to support their upcoming euthanasia bill, even though many of them may object to the language of the bill.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC), which was not given the opportunity to present to the parliamentary committee, recognizes that the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the assisted suicide law, but the design andlanguage of the future law will determine who qualifies for and how likely it is that the law will be misused.

In all jurisdictions where euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal, the system requires two doctors to  approve the death, and then the doctor who assists the death, must send in a report, after the person has died without before-the-death third-party oversight. An after-the-death reporting system allows doctors to self police and self report leading to misuse of the law, under-reporting, and falsified reports.

One of the issues that is being debated is whether euthanasia should be permitted for psychiatric reasons. Canada's euthanasia lobby is pushing for euthanasia for people who cannot consent. Ambiguous definitions could enable a person who requires treatment for depression to die an assisted death.

Last week the Globe and Mail reported that Liberal House Leader Dominic LeBlanc confirmed that the Liberal vote will be whipped to support the euthanasia bill. The Liberals have a majority government in the House of Commons. LeBlanc justified this decision by defining assisted dying as a "Charter of Rights" issue.

Link to the full article

Provincial-Territorial Group seeks death on demand for all (even for children)

This article was published by the Physicians Alliance Against Euthanasia on December 16, 2015

We read with dismay the final report of the Provincial-Territorial Advisory Group that was published on November 30. The 43 recommendations in the report clearly have no other goal than the unfettered promotion of euthanasia and assisted suicide throughout Canada. The report’s authors abandon all caution, make no attempt to prevent harm, and demolish all the safeguards, however minimal, that the Supreme Court of Canada included in the Carter decision, interpreting them all with the undisguised intention of mandating death on demand for everyone.

First, the report errs in its interpretation of the Carter decision by arguing that the definition of "adult" should include children because it “relates to a patient’s ability to give consent rather than a particular age cut-off [to] allow access to patients who are competent, regardless of age.”

Next, it recommends extending to nurses and physician assistants the power to cause death, and recommends obliging persons and institutions who refuse to participate to find someone willing to carry out the act in their place. According to the authors, the State should even finance all procedures for euthanasia and assisted suicide, and life insurance payments should be guaranteed for the relatives of the deceased, opening the doors wide to financial abuse and to pressure on those who are sick or elderly, and afraid of becoming a burden on those around them.

Among the long list of measures proposed to facilitate the path toward suicide or euthanasia for some, and forced compliance for others, we find one that is sufficient to remove any credibility that might remain. In their passion to expand the reach of the law, the authors propose that “Where there is limited physician supply, provinces and territories should enable virtual physician assessments and visits using telemedicine services (or other video-based consultations).” Such a recommendation shows contempt for both the crucial importance of human relations in medicine and the value of people who are living through vulnerable moments, in addition to threatening the lives of those whose symptoms are not well controlled for lack of access to medical treatment.

Link to the full article

A five-year-old girl and family plead with the Prime Minister of Canada: say 'no' to euthanasia

Media Release - Montreal - December 16, 2015. (Link to the Canada News wire release)

As Canada moves in the direction of legalizing euthanasia, and some provinces are discussing extending euthanasia to children, Sylvain, Sherley and five-year-old Jolyanne's message to the Prime Minister of Canada is simple. For the sake of families, please do not support euthanasia. Sylvain and Sherley believe euthanasia is dangerous. They are convinced that those who cannot fight will be persuaded to give up too quickly and, in some cases, euthanize their loved ones. As Sylvain says in this heart-touching video, if he had listened to the doctors' advice when everything looked so grim, he would now be alone without the two women he loves most in his life—his wife Sherley and his precious daughter Jolyanne.

Sylvain and Sherley are a Canadian couple living near Montreal who were faced with many of these pressures. They were discouraged from continuing the pregnancy of their future daughter, Jolyanne, at 27 weeks of pregnancy because they were told she would be a Down's baby (erroneous diagnosis) with a malformed esophagus (esophageal atresia). Despite the many medical challenges, Jolyanne thrives today and is the joy of Sylvain's and Sherley's life.

Only two years after Jolyanne was born, Sherley was in a coma and on life support because of pneumonia. Sylvain was told his wife's chances of survival were extremely poor. He was also told that if Sherley survived, she would have no quality of life. The doctors pressured him to disconnect his wife from life support. Despite the pressures, he fought back to save his wife's life.

Quebec passed a law on June 5, 2014 to permit euthanasia. In 2013, prior to the law being passed, the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Commission recommended extending euthanasia to children. A recently released report from an Ontario advisory group is also recommending children be free to "choose" euthanasia.

In this controversy, physicians and patients have been speaking out against euthanasia for many reasons: 

  • Euthanasia is not medical care,
  • Euthanasia contradicts a physician's code of conduct, which does not permit a doctor to intentionally end a person's life even if that person requests it,
  • A person with a serious medical condition is often depressed and has clouded judgment,
  • There are financial and social pressures,
  • There are diagnostic errors,
  • There are errors in predicting outcomes of a medical condition,
  • Euthanasia criteria always expands. It begins with adults, then extends to children. At first only terminal illnesses are allowed, but later chronic ailments are accepted. Initially those suffering physically are selected, but the door opens wide to include the depressed.
  • Palliative care relieves pain and suffering without prematurely ending a person's life but is, unfortunately, not available to the majority of Canadians. Thus, there is no free choice.

Prime Minister Trudeau, you do have a choice. Euthanasia is currently being challenged in the courts of Quebec. It is still illegal in Canada. On behalf of five-year-old Jolyanne and her family and many others, please save Canadian lives by saying 'no' to euthanasia.

Source Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice.

For further information:
Dr Paul Saba, (514) 886-3447, pauljsaba@gmail.com

A disabled man's plea to Canada's new Prime Minister about Assisted Suicide

Mark Pickup

Mark Pickup

This letter was written by Mark Pickup and published on his blog on October 31, 2015

The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
OTTAWA, Ontario K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister:

Supreme Court ruling for assisted suicide

I am writing to plead with you to invoke the notwithstanding clause ofthe Canadian Charter of Rights and freedoms and override the monstrous Supreme Court decision to strike down the nation’s law against assisted suicide. It will be consistent with your previous support for a National Suicide Prevention Strategy that received unanimous support of Parliament in October of 2012. The high court’s odious decision threatens to set back advances in disability inclusion forty years that I and others have fought hard to gain.

I have been incurably ill with aggressive multiple sclerosis (MS) for more than thirty years. Its degenerative nature gradually stripped me of physical function from being healthy and athletic to living in an electric wheelchair. If assisted suicide had been available during the mid-1980s I might have opted for it at a low point. I’m so glad I did not seek out a Jack Kevorkian. I never would have known my grandchildren. You see, Prime Minister, quality of life changes. What gave my life quality in 1984 is not what gives my life quality in 2015. Physical function is not so important to me anymore; it is love that brings quality to my life now: To love and be loved. 

You did the right thing in 2012 by supporting a national suicide prevention strategy. Do the right thing again and invoke the notwithstanding clause, even though it will be unpopular. A national suicide prevention strategy must be for all Canadians, not just the healthy. Support increased emphasis on palliative medicine in medical schools and nursing programs across the country.

Thank you for reading and considering my letter. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

I am, Sir,
Yours very truly,
Mark Davis Pickup