Now that assisted suicide and euthanasia is legal, what Canadians can expect

The arbitrary second deadline set by the Supreme Court of Canada for the coming into force of its arbitrary and senseless decision to invalidate Criminal Code protections against assisted suicide and euthanasia has arrived. Unless further extended, as of today Canadians wishing to commit suicide but too squeamish to do so themselves can take a shot at finding a doctor to kill them.

While the government will likely make the case for pushing through its proposed legislation, Bill C-14 a.k.a. the Medical Assistance in Dying Bill, it will have little practical effect. While presented as taking a conservative approach by only allowing individuals whose “death is reasonably foreseeable” to consent to being killed, Bill C-14 contemplates extending such consent to “mature minors” and those with mental illness within less than 180 days after it’s passed.

So what can Canadians expect to flow from this ill-considered decision to legalise consent to being killed? Unfortunately, a review of the literature in jurisdictions that legalised assisted suicide and euthanasia prior to Canada isn’t encouraging.

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Smart people distrust Statistics Canada privacy: 2016 census report

HRDC
Longitudinal Labour Force File
Statscan
Social Data Linkage Environment
.T1-Income Tax Returns and T4-S and T4-F forms
.Child Tax Benefits
.Immigration and Visitors files (1993 or earlier)
.Provincial and municipal welfare files
.National Training Program
.Canadian Job Strategy
.National Employment Services
.Employment Insurance Administrative
.Record of Employment
.Social Insurance Master file
.T1 Personal Master Files
.Canadian Child Tax Benefits files
.Longitudinal Immigration Database
.Indian Registry
.Vital Statistics – birth and death databases
.Sample portion of Census of Population (1991 onward)
.National Household Survey (2011 onward)
.National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth
.Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada
.Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics
.Youth in Transition Survey
.National Population Health Survey
.T1 Family File
.Clinical administrative databases (1992 onward)
.Canadian Cancer Registry
.Canadian Community Health Survey (all cycles)
.Canadian Health Measures Survey (all cycles)
(with qualifier, “files include but are not limited to”)
Source(s): Annual Report to Parliament 1999-2000, The Privacy Commissioner of Canada;
Approved record linkages – 2014 submissions, Statistics Canada.

 

As mentioned recently, Statistics Canada released its 2016 Census Program Content Test report on April 1st of this year, just one month before it began census letter mailings. As already discussed, the 2016 census was the first where Statscan neither asked respondents about their income nor for consent to obtain the information from their Canada Revenue Agency tax records. Instead, it proceeded to link Canadians’ census and CRA tax records without their consent.

One would suspect more than a few Canadians who took the time to read the brief, and conspicuously vague, note on their census form announcing the change may have had concerns. Statscan has claimed no such concerns were brought to its attention.  However, a careful reading of the referenced report casts doubt on that claim. And it was smart people who were most concerned with changes to the 2016 census, according to the same Statscan report.

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Bill C-14, an assisted suicide and euthanasia law by any other name

Canadian Members of Parliament are set to vote on Bill C-14, also known as the Medical Assistance in Dying Bill. The bill will repeal numerous legal protections against assisted suicide and euthanasia in the Criminal Code, in line with 2012 Supreme Court of Britisch Columbia and  2015  Supreme Court of Canada decisions that found such protections unconstitutional. Notably, both Parliament and the courts have reversed course on previous decisions that upheld the constitutionality of those same legal protections under nearly identical circumstances.

Bill C-14 has been promoted by the federal government as taking a conservative approach, only allowing assistance in cases where “death is reasonably foreseeable” and implementing “safeguards” against abuse. However, as written it clearly contemplates broadly legalising assisted suicide and euthanasia, even for “mature minors” and those with mental illness.

Conspicuously absent from the debate has been any discussion about the experience with similar legislation in the United States and European Union, where both legal and medical reviews have been decidedly critical, second-guessing the wisdom of even having such legislation. That’s likely because the rationale for such laws – the topic covered here – is questionable at best.

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The likely reason millions of Canadians have yet to complete 2016 census

The vast majority of Canadians were furious when, in the summer of 2010, the federal government of the day decided to exclude the long-form questionnaire from the 2011 census. They were enthusiastic to fill out their long-form census questionnaires. They had practically no security or privacy concerns.

At least that was the popular media narrative.

Only a few months later, Canadians handed the same government that made that seemingly fateful decision its first majority. Despite their supposed enthusiasm, one in three Canadian households opted not to complete the voluntary 2011 National Household Survey (68.6% unweighted response rate) – and that’s with Statscan spending tens of millions more on ‘follow-up’ and accepting forms with as few as 10 of 84 questions completed. As it turned out, security and privacy were the primary reasons prosecuted census refuseniks offered for their refusal to comply.

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A different approach to an Uber problem

It seems there’s no end to the Uber drama in Canada. Major urban centres across the country continue to debate how best to deal with the supposed ride-‘sharing’ service. Vancouver is leaning toward regulating the service, in a similar manner to taxis; Calgary’s already proceeded to do so. Montréal has banned the service until it can decide how to deal with it. Edmonton, Ottawa and now Toronto have passed bylaws to legalise the service, with conditions.

One possible approach that has received little consideration to date is co-optation. Given what appear to be the company’s future designs, that could prove a critical oversight.

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