May 12, 2014

OTTAWA – Dr. Balfour Mount, considered the "father of palliative care in North America" has written an open letter to Quebec's new premier urging him not to re-introduce the euthanasia bill.

In a letter jointly-signed by Dr. Serge Daneault, the doctors congratulated Quebec Liberal Leader Dr. Philippe Couillard, a brain surgeon, for his April 7 victory.

They expressed "deep disappointment" on behalf of many fellow physicians and Quebec citizens at Couillard's announcement the day after he was elected that he intended to re-introduce euthanasia Bill 52, including its provisions on medical aid in dying, a euphemism for euthanasia.

The doctors wrote they were amazed at Couillard's flip-flop on this important issue, pointing out that in October 2013, the Liberal leader had expressed reservations about the euthanasia portion of the bill.

"It is impossible to legalize euthanasia without putting at risk many vulnerable patients, as experience clearly teaches in Belgium and other countries," they wrote.

Bill 52 goes further than the Belgian law; it defines this form of homicide as medical health care; and requires euthanasia be offered to all patients under a very permissive set of requirements, they said.

"As a physician, you are aware of imbalance in power between our patients and ourselves, and how patients can be manipulated to give consent even by well-intentioned health professionals," they said.


Bill 52 proponents were not honest with other National Assembly members or the Quebec people, Mount and Daneault wrote. "The so-called consensus on this issue is a fabrication based on misinformation and manipulation of the facts."

The Quebec population, which seems to be demanding a so-called "right to die with dignity," is "largely oblivious to the fact" this means an act of homicide, the doctors said.

Nor do Quebecers realize that quality palliative care and good management decisions at end-of-life are sufficient to allay any fears that might prompt them to make this request, they said.


"From a legal and policy perspective, it is clear that Quebec does not have jurisdiction to legalize euthanasia - an act prohibited by the Criminal Code of Canada – and that the provisions of the bill in this regard will be challenged in court," said Mount and Daneault.

This will cause a confrontation with the federal government and the bill would ultimately be declared illegal, he said.

The doctors asked for a meeting with Couillard as soon as possible.