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Canadian Legalisation developments

In Canada the discussion on legalizing euthanasia has developped. Both Federal Parliament and the National Assembly of French province Quebec haven been discussing the issue. In the folowing a summary of what is going on is given, including some links to usefull articles.

Since a number of years Quebec MP Francine Lalonde has been trying to have a bill tabled in the (federal) Canadian Parliament on the right to die in dignity. She finally succeeded last year (2009), introducing a Private members bill in May and having the Parliament agree to hold the first reading of this bill C-384 on the 2nd of October.The bill met strong opposition among MP’s. After the designated time (the discussion was not yet done!) the house decided to give the bill a second hour of debate in November, but it was postponed for a number of times (first to Dec 1, and lastly to Feb 2, 2010). Lalonde of course realizes that her bill lacks support among many Members of Parliament and thus could easily be defeated at second reading, but still hopes for the Canadian Parliament to take the opportunity for a national debate on this issue.

In the mean time the Royal Society of Canada (RSC), having a long record of issuing reports on sensitive national issues, announced a project called “End-of-Life-decision Making” at its own initiative and commissioned a so called Expert Panel (see terms of reference)to analyze in depth the state of current knowledge with respect to end-of-life-decision making in Canada and worldwide and what this means for the (normative) positions in the ongoing public debate on this issue. Interesting is the fact that the panel, headed by professor Udo Schuklenk, includes – next to three other Canadians – two foreign experts: professor Johannes J.M. van Delden from the Netherlands and professor Sheila McLean from Scotland. The panel’s report is expected to be released in the spring of 2011.

The Quebec Government (Quebec being home-base of Francine Lalonde and capital of French Canada) could not wait longer and agreed to open the public debate on the “right to die”. That was the result of a debate in the Quebec National Assembly, following a motion filed by three members of the Parti Quebecois (PQ) asking Premier Jean Charest to establish a non-partisan ad hoc commission, mandated to seek public and expert opinion on the issue (see proceedings, page 941 and further). It was decided that the standing Committee on Health and Social Services would hold this inquiry in two phases. The first one started in February (hearing experts, considering law and eventual supervisory conditions surrounding the right to euthanasia). Mid-August the Committee, accompanied by an ad hoc committee of members of the National Assembly will tour the province to hear from the public. It will also simultaneously hold an on-line consultation.

As a result of these Quebec-developments two other activities were developed.
The Quebec College of Physicians declared they back a “right to die”
an Angus Reid Poll showed a massive support (3 out of 4) for legalized euthanasia.