Liberal MP for Langley City-Cloverdale John Aldag (left) and Conservative MP for Langley Aldergrove Mark Warawa (right) have very different views on the recently released report on doctor-assisted death.

MPs split over doctor-assisted death

Cloverdale-Langley City MP John Aldag and Langley-Aldergrove MP Mark Warawa sat on special joint committee

The MPs who represent the Langleys have opposing views of a just-released report on doctor-assisted death in Canada.

Cloverdale-Langley City Liberal MP John Aldag and Langley-Aldergrove Conservative  MP Mark Warawa both served on the Special Joint Parliamentary Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying, which tabled its report, “Medical Assistance in Dying: A Patient-Centred Approach” in late February.

The report made 21 recommendations that include changing the law to allow medical assistance in dying “to individuals with terminal and non-terminal grievous and irremediable medical conditions that cause enduring suffering that is intolerable …”

Under the proposed changes, medical professionals would be exempted from the sections of the Criminal Code that say no one can give “consent to have death inflicted” on them and also make it illegal to counsel or to aid suicide.

The committee was created in response to the February 2015 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada which ruled that, in some cases, the Criminal Code ban against medical assistance in dying violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In a written statement, Liberal MP Aldag said the committee “must now move forward and ensure that the legislation to come respects the rights and views of Canadians and the (Supreme Court) decision.”

“I encourage everyone to read the full report and get engaged in the process of crafting a framework on medical aid in dying,” Aldag added.

Conservative MP Warawa belongs to a group of dissenting committee members who said the report would allow minors to qualify for physician-assisted death and fails to protect vulnerable persons, like those with mental illnesses.

Warawa said the Liberal-dominated committee ignored the results of a Jan. 30 public meeting in Langley Township that surveyed residents about the issue of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

“I hand-delivered the results of the survey to the Committee, which unfortunately was ignored,” Warawa said.

Among other things, Warawa said most of the people surveyed felt there should be “conscience protection for physicians and health institutions,” that “effective palliative care” should be offered to people requesting physician-assisted death, that only people with a terminal illness should qualify, and only after independent adjudication and a “proportionate waiting period.”

“The report ignores the need for stringent safeguards and palliative care,”  Warawa said.

“The recommendations … will put vulnerable Canadians, including seniors, at risk.”

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