Here is an article from Life Canada
By Peter Ryan
Until now it’s been a crime for a Canadian doctor to intentionally end the life of his or her patient. Last Thursday that appeared to change. The Quebec National Assembly adopted Bill 52, allowing a doctor in that province to give a suffering patient a lethal injection under some circumstances when the patient requests.
The behaviour approved – officially dubbed “medical aid in dying” – is a euphemism for euthanasia. Quebec has shifted the ground on a contentious issue. Or has it? It depends largely on how Ottawa reacts.
The Quebec government, which sponsored Bill 52, does not acknowledge the practice of euthanasia is even at issue. Why? To openly admit doctors are allowed to kill patients would directly flout the Criminal Code of Canada. It would defy federal constitutional authority over the Code.
To keep the feds at bay, Quebec has erected a legal fiction. Let us suppose, they say in effect, that “medical aid in dying” is not about killing but end of life care, on a continuum with palliative care measures for the dying. It’s all simply good health care, and that is provincial jurisdiction. No need for Ottawa to intervene at all!
All that is a stratagem. Will the Harper government play along, fearing to alienate Quebec? Will politics dictate policy? Or will Quebec’s ruse be called? It remains to be seen.
If Canada’s Attorney-General, Peter MacKay, takes Quebec to court, he would seem to have a good case. Allowing doctors to give patients a lethal injection, he might argue, is homicide. Bill 52 qualifies the Criminal Code’s meaning and usurps federal power.
Furthermore, he might contend, the Code’s blanket prohibition against doctors killing patients is necessary to protect the most vulnerable in society. When the Supreme Court upheld the assisted suicide ban in the Sue Rodriguez case, they cited the need to protect the vulnerable. The courts might reject Bill 52 for the same reason.
Perhaps the ground won’t shift after all.
If it does shift, either because Quebec’s fiction goes unchallenged, or because the courts endorse “medical aid in dying,” one thing seems likely. It won’t stop shifting. I mean this in two significant ways.
First, if Quebec succeeds in redefining health care to include euthanasia, other provinces will likely follow suit. If Quebec patients can ask for euthanasia, desperate patients elsewhere will as well. It would be surprising if the practice did not go coast to coast.
Secondly, and worryingly, the circumstances under which euthanasia is practiced will tend to steadily expand. Véronique Hivon, Bill 52’s co-sponsor, maintains that medical aid in dying cases will be “exceptional.” But this too seems a convenient fiction. Belgium, which Quebec used as its legal model, has demonstrated how easily sands can shift.