Cloverdale-Langley City Conservative MP Tamara Jansen clashed with Liberal Justice Minister and Attourney General David Lametti during debate over a move on Thursday, March 11, by the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois to force an end to the debate over Senate amendments to Bill C-7, which would make medical assistance in dying available to Canadians who suffer from mental illness.
Jansen read into the record an email from C-7 critic Trudo Lemmons, a professor in the University of Toronto faculty of law, who warned expanding the right to medical assistance in dying to include people with mental illness would provide a “fast track” to suicide for people who otherwise “would have years or decades or life left, if we as a society provided needed support.”
Lametti responded by saying the Liberals have acted to provide improved resources for people with mental illness and that the issue was one of autonomy.
“We don’t have a right to tell other people that they have to live and suffer simply because we are uncomfortable with something,” Lametti commented.
The motion for closure of the debate passed by a vote of 180-149, with most Liberal and Bloc Quebecois MPs voting yes, while the Conservatives, NDP and two of three Green MPs were against.
Jansen later called the changes something that will alter “the moral fabric of our nation and put countless Canadian lives at risk.”
“After just a few hours of debate, and no committee study on the changes from the Senate, the Liberals and Bloc teamed up to force an abrupt end to debate using a closure motion on an incredibly complicated and sensitive issue which is a matter of life and death,” Jansen commented.
Jansen called the proposed changes “reckless” and warned they will put the lives of vulnerable people in danger.
“When people are struggling with mental health challenges, they need to be offered help and treated with care, not encouraged to end their lives,” Jansen said.
Not all of the amendments approved last month by the senators were adopted, such as allowing advance requests for assisted death for people concerned about developing dementia, and to impose an 18-month time limit on the bill’s originally proposed blanket ban on assisted dying for people suffering solely from mental illnesses.
The government rejected the advance request amendment and proposed a two-year time limit on the mental illness exclusion.
Bill C-7 now goes back to the Senate, which must decide whether to accept the Liberal-Bloc amendments.
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