OTTAWA – The Liberal Party's approval of a pro-euthanasia resolution at its Montreal policy convention Feb. 23 reveal the Quebec government's arguments have gained national traction.
Delegates at the Liberal biennial convention in Montreal Feb. 20-23 approved the decriminalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia.
The resolution says "the choice to take one's life when terminally ill is extremely personal," and adults "should reserve the right to decide when their life ends and when their suffering ends."
The Liberal resolution praised the Quebec government's arguments used in its euthanasia Bill 52 that "medically-assisted death constitutes an important part of end-of-life care."
It urged that "medically-assisted death be decriminalized" after a consultation process that would examine "criteria for access" and appropriate oversight.
Pro-life Liberal MP John McKay, who has consistently voted his conscience on life and family issues, said, "We're moving right-to-life issues from covenant to cost-benefit analysis.
"It's a whole different way of thinking and that's what moving away from biblically-based thinking gets you."
"We are kind of well down that slippery slope and I don't know if you can do anything other than what Pope Francis has done which is to say our mission is for mercy and so let's live that," the evangelical Christian MP said.
However, McKay said he doubted the resolution would become part of the Liberal Party platform.
McGill University bio-ethicist Margaret Somerville warned the "right" described in the resolution is broader than assisted suicide and "would extend to euthanasia."
"How we die is not just a personal decision," said Somerville.
"It also affects everyone else, including our families, institutions, especially medicine and the law, and the most important shared values which we all buy into to create the glue that allows us to bond as Canadian society."
Somerville also noted the radical difference between assisted suicide and suicide, which society tries to prevent. There is no "right" to suicide, she said.
Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) director Michele Boulva called the resolution "worrisome." She also noted the Canadian Medical Association is consulting its members and the general public on this issue.
"All this shows how the culture of death has made deep inroads in Canadian society," Boulva said. "It also shows how effective the pro-euthanasia lobby has been in sowing confusion."
"Many people who say they are in favour of euthanasia are, in fact, against over-aggressive treatment and they are afraid of suffering," Boulva said.
"They ignore that it is already lawful to refuse over-burdensome treatments or ask that they be discontinued when they are are disproportionate with the expected results."