Medical aid in dying – From one totalitarian party to another

At a meeting held on May 15 at the Good Shepherd Church in Brossard, with about 75 persons present, Dr. Barrette made a few surprising declarations in a speech full of half-truths and errors about the content of Bill 52 which aims, among other things, to decriminalize euthanasia under the euphemism of «medical aid in dying».

The Minister of Health stated that, earlier in the day, he had made a two hour presentation to the Liberal caucus, especially to brief the newly-elected MNAs, and that the caucus was not unanimous about it. Last night, however, he asserted forcefully that Bill 52 would nevertheless be reintroduced in the state it was in before the dissolution of the National Assembly, as Dr. Couillard had promised during the electoral campaign.

Upon being questioned, Dr. Barrette admitted that this requires a unanimous decision of all members of the National Assembly and that there would be unanimity on this step, even though half of the Liberal MNAs have voted against Bill 52 in second reading. Through a nice sophism, he interpreted the promise of his leader to hold a free vote as applying only to the third reading after reintroduction of the Bill but not to the decision to reintroduce Bill 52 in the state it was in when the election was called.

He even announced that there would be no amendment as compared to the prior version, except for three minor modifications in the English version because of errors in translation, and even that none of the amendments proposed by the Liberals when they were in opposition, and which were defeated by the PQ majority, would be reintroduced. How much opinions change when you come into power, especially as a majority government!

This stunning about-face of the Liberal party, which now intends to withdraw from all its MNAs the full right to vote according to their conscience at all steps of the adoption process of a fundamental law dealing with the life and safety of thousands of Quebec citizens, and thereby abnegating the moral responsibility of those who participate in it, is a serious case of abuse of power at the highest level. We are probably witnessing a case of Minister Barrette bullying his colleagues, a situation which should sound the alarm about installing a culture of collusion/bullying in the new government. In the name of democracy and the credibility of our institutions, each elected member who believes that this bill contains dangerous elements for the most vulnerable members of our society, not only has the right, but also the duty, to oppose it at all steps of its adoption, even this causes a return to square one.

What will all the Liberal Ministers and MNAs who voted against Bill 52 when they were in opposition do now?

What will the Vice-Prime Minister Lise Thériault do, she who voted against it because of her faith? What will Minister Lucie Charlebois do, she to whom Dr. Couillard had publicly given the mandate to facilitate a quick adoption of Bill 52, before entrusting the task to Dr. Barrette? And what about Ministers Christine St-Pierre, Kathleen Weil, Pierre Paradis, Robert Poëti, Sam Hamad, Pierre Arcand, Laurent Lessard, the whip Stéphanie Billette, the President of the caucus, Nicole Ménard, and the re-elected MNAs Marguerite Blais, Filomena Rotiroti, Jean D’Amour, Norbert Morin, Guy Ouellette, Gerry Sklavounos, who all voted against Bill 52 in second reading? Will they accept being reduced to silence? Will they clear their conscience by not objecting to the re-introduction of Bill 52 while voting against it in third reading knowing full well that this risks leading to a rapid adoption of Bill 52?

What will the PQ MNAs do, now that they are in the opposition? Those of the CAQ?

Will there be one, a single one, to stand up with courage and state that there is no unanimity in favour of re-introducing this deadly Bill?

Me Michel Racicot

(Retired) lawyer

Ste-Thérèse, Québec