Taube

Private option for assisted suicide

Michael Taube, Special to QMI Agency

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Feb. 24, 2015. (CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters)

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Feb. 24, 2015. (CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters)

Earlier this week, Justin Trudeau called for the creation of a special committee to discuss, debate and ultimately create an assisted suicide law in Canada.

The Supreme Court has “provided a deadline,” said Trudeau, referring to the one year the federal government has to draft a law. “It is our joint responsibility to take it seriously, to act quickly, but thoughtfully, to live up to our shared responsibility as legislators.”

That’s quite the statement, coming from the mouth of the Prime Mini...

Hold it, hold it!

Trudeau, lest we forget, leads the Liberals - the third-largest party in the House of Commons. Hence, he has no political power to make such a request or demand.

If he ever becomes prime minister, he would then control the political agenda. He could set up all the special committees, royal commissions and (ahem) Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes meetings he wants and desires.

Until that time, it’s not his call.

Trudeau is right about one thing. Ottawa has to come up with a concrete political direction regarding euthanasia, or assisted suicide. Hence, it’s up to the federal government to decide whether they want to accept, modify, challenge or ignore the Supreme Court’s decision.

Many Canadians already have a clear position. An Ipsos-Reid poll conducted last October revealed that 84% of respondents supported assisted suicide. Dying with Dignity Canada, who commissioned the study, was surely pleased with this result.

Hence, Prime Minister Stephen Harper knows it’s not in his best interest to open up a new Pandora’s Box. No matter his personal view on assisted suicide (I actually don’t know what it is), the political winds are blowing in a certain direction.

Yes, the Tories will tussle with the opposition parties and push back a little bit. My sense is the federal government will ultimately be forced to capitulate, however.

This troubles me. I’m part of the 16% who don’t support assisted suicide. I never have, and I never will.

Although I’m not religious (I was born Jewish, but have been agnostic for more than 30 years), I have ethical and moral concerns with assisted suicide.

I don’t feel that people should “play God” with their lives, so to speak. I realize that some people exist with terrible pain, and I don’t wish this fate upon anyone. At the same time, I believe that nature must be allowed to run its course - and assisted suicide is an artificial and unnatural option in the choice between life or death.

Regardless, I wouldn’t prevent people from going to the Netherlands, where assisted suicide has been legal since 2002. I wouldn’t stop individuals from buying a pill, or a kit, to end their lives in the privacy of their own homes. I wouldn’t control someone from ending his or her life in a more violent manner - even if it’s a foolish and selfish option.

In fact, I wouldn’t intervene in a person’s decision at all.

I’ve already told my wife and family that I would abstain from any vote or discussion involving the issue of assisted suicide. An individual has to make that choice, and my personal beliefs shouldn’t trump or factor in this decision.

It would rather selfish if they did.

That being said, I’ve always felt there was a more acceptable route to consider.

I don’t believe the state should ever be involved in matters concerning the life and death of an individual. Since we live in a country with a public health care system, I would prefer that my tax dollars weren’t used in any way, shape or form to assist others in dying.

Hence, I would have less of an issue with assisted suicide if we established private clinics for this procedure. I would still be personally opposed, of course, but at least my money would not be directed toward something that I can’t support in principle.

I would suggest a sliding scale of costs in these facilities, to make it affordable for everyone to access. Utilize several assisted suicide options, from a pill to a machine. Maintain a psychiatrist or two on staff to deal with issues surrounding grief.

That’s what I believe the Tories should be examining as an option for assisted suicide. They won’t do it, because universal health care is regarded as the third rail in Canadian politics: touch it and you will die.

Which means Justin Trudeau will keep on touting his demand for a special committee to examine assisted suicide. Yabba dabba doo, indeed.

 

- Michael Taube is a Washington Times columnist and a former speechwriter for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.


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