A think-thank is calling for Liberal Justice Minister David Lametti to explain his recent comments stating that doctor-assisted suicide “provides a more humane way” for Canadians to end their lives.
Executive vice-president of Cardus Ray Pennings accused the minister of dehumanizing those who seek to end their lives.
“Minister Lametti’s remarks about suicide are dehumanizing both for those who seek death and for the medical professionals who are called upon to cause it,” said Pennings.
“While the minister acknowledges it is ‘difficult when you lose a loved one to suicide,’ he fails to recognize all suicides as tragedies or as evidence of our collective failure to meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in Canada.”
Lametti made the comments earlier this week on Toronto Star’s “It’s Political” podcast.
“Remember that suicide generally is available to people. This is a group within the population who, for physical reasons and possibly mental reasons, can’t make that choice themselves to do it themselves,” said Lametti.
“And ultimately, this provides a more humane way for them to make a decision they otherwise could have made if they were able in some other way.”
Pennings said that Lametti’s statement indicates that he believes suicide is a form of medical care and the state has a right to facilitating it.
“How does he see suicide fitting into the primary objective of health care policy, as set out in the Canada Health Act, ‘to protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada?’,” asked Pennings.
“This primary objective would appear to recognize the dignity of the person at any and all stages of life; doctor-assisted suicide does not meet this objective. Does the minister genuinely see suicide as medical care?”
Canada’s assisted suicide laws have garnered international condemnation. Recently, the Liberal government voted to expand access to assisted suicide to those who suffer from a mental illness.
In an October letter, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre blasted the policy saying that the role of the government is to promote the health of Canadians.
“It is important that legislation addressing medically assisted dying is clear and includes necessary safeguards. I do not support expanding physician assisted suicide to minors or people who are unable to truly consent,” writes Poilievre.
“Nor do I accept assisted suicide as a solution for mental illness. My government will always promote and prioritize the health of Canadians across the country. We need to promote policies that prioritize compassionate palliative care, rather than making medically assisted dying the only option.”