They’re Finished Listening …

The “Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying” wound up its “Statutory Review of the Provisions of the Criminal Code Relating to Medical Assistance in Dying and their Application” last Friday. Now they will deliberate on … on what exactly?

They are not empowered to consider repealing the law that expanded the original law, such that people with disabilities, including (as of March 2023) mental illnesses may request and receive assistance with suicide without the assisting agent running afoul of the criminal law, as long as that person is a member of the privileged class of people with medical degrees, i.e. doctors and nurse practitioners.

Having re-named suicide assistance with the innocent-sounding moniker of “MAiD” (complete with tricky spelling — capital, capital, small, capital) — [which actually conjures up a vaguely silly image in my mind: “Knock, knock, MAiD Service … “]

As I was saying, having settled on MAiD as the euphemism for euthanasia, and having turned death into a “benefit” and a “medical treatment” and having proclaimed this treatment to be a “right” unlike suicide prevention or palliative care or a roof over one’s head or pain medication or psychotherapy or food in the fridge or a mobility device …

Having done all of this, the government’s representatives, having “listened” selectively to a great deal of testimony, most of it from professionals newly empowered to break the ancient rules about physicians “doing no harm” and “refraining from administering toxic substances”, those government representatives will now pass all of the evidence over to employees who have already written most of the final report months ago, but who have been quietly waiting for the small committee minority, who actually stood in skeptical opposition to the legislation, to finish their last dogged questions to the last witnesses who had refused to believe that there was no hope of actually changing the law or introducing meaningful safeguards, but rather poured their hearts and energies into presentations that were ultimately doomed to be nothing more than performances in a theatre of pretend fairness.

Let’s be real. The Committee is finished. It will deliberate virtually nothing. They know some people are upset and will never support their nefarious legislation on the grounds that it undermines their right to equality and causes many premature deaths.

They argue, and may truly believe that, no, it doesn’t undermine your right to equality — all of these professionals tell us that it doesn’t, so you’re just giving in to silly, baseless fear. And besides, you are in the minority. The majority of people will vote for us again, so we need not concern ourselves with your misplaced and exaggerated fears. Yes, our culture will change, as you predict, but you won’t be much more devalued or disempowered than you are now. And yes, we do recognize that you are devalued, and yes, we do pay lip service to your Charter Equality rights. In fact, we are giving you a new power — the power to end your life when you’ve had enough of our austerity measures, enough of our lip service to palliative care (which let’s be honest, is just what you do while you’re waiting for MAID), enough of our lip service to suicide prevention, enough of our endless discussion of Disability Benefits and other such mirages, enough of our loosey-goosey Disabilities Act(s) with their elastic deadlines and fuzzy goals. When you’ve had enough, you are free to exercise your autonomy and move on.

We at Living With Dignity Canada are pretty exhausted, let’s be honest. But now that we’ve done what we can to affect the legislative process, let us take their advice and move on to what comes next:

  • raising money and other resources for each other’s survival
  • educating the public (and each other) about what a right to living with dignity really means in practice
  • coming up with creative and vital art and theatre projects that will open eyes and minds
  • coming up with research projects, big and small, that will fill the gaping knowledge gaps that underlie the relentless push towards the expansion of medically assisted death.
  • offering support as and when we can to legal challenges to the expansion of assisted death, to the inadequacy of palliative care, mental health care, etc.
  • and many other ideas.

Go to Testimony to Government to find links to presentations made to the Committee from folks on our side of the argument.

Please don’t hesitate to leave your thoughts and comments.
And take a well-deserved break for self-care — you’ve earned it.

Your thoughts matter! Share them here.