Montreal, May 22, 2014 – In order to have Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care,adopted prior to the end of the new session on June 13,the Quebec Government has broken Mr. Philippe Couillard’s promise to hold a free vote on the Bill and announced that the Bill will be reintroduced in the exact state it was in when the election was called.
To do so, the unanimous consent of all members of the National Assembly, from all political parties, is required. Nonetheless, last Thursday night, the Minister of Health, Gaétan Barrette, announced that a free vote would be held only with respect to the third reading vote and not on the motion reintroducing Bill 52. Dr. Barrette further announced that the Bill would be reintroduced without any amendment, including even those amendments that had been proposed by the Liberal Party when it was in opposition and defeated by the PQ majority.
The citizen movement Living with Dignity (LWD) and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia which, together represent over 625 physicians and 17,000 citizens, denounced this development stating that « All MNAs, including those who previously voted against Bill 52, will therefore be silenced and forced to participate in a parody of democracy, similar to what the Bill imposes on the general directors of hospitals who will be forced to participate in euthanasias. It is vital that, in a true democracy, each MNA be granted the right to vote in accordance with his or her conscience, at all steps of the legislative process ».
If Bill 52 is adopted, the Alliance and LWD will institute a legal challenge attacking the constitutionality of those provisions in the statute that, under the pretence of «medical aid in dying», are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia. Indeed, these provisions violate our Charters of rights and encroach on federal jurisdiction over criminal law, as euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under our Criminal Code.
This attitude from the new Quebec Government can only irritate the Federal Government, at a time when the economic situation of Quebec calls for a greater level of cooperation between the two levels of government.
In view of the seriousness and urgency of the situation, the Alliance and LWD remind the government of the proposal made earlier before a legislative Committee to suspend the entry into force of the legislation and submit it directly to the Court of Appeal of Quebec for an opinion as to its validity. They further point out that the Federal Government also has the power to refer the matter directly to the Supreme Court of Canada.
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