Supreme Court beheaded by boneheaded politicians

How can you learn to become a hypocrite? It’s easy. Take a course in Politics 101, then get elected to parliament. This will make it easy to postpone matters that demand instant attention. There’s no better example of hypocrisy than parliament’s move to delay implementation of the Supreme Court’s decision on assisted death until after the election.

The Harper government has added insult to injury by stacking the consultation panel with those opposed to assisted death. It’s like putting the fox in charge of the hens, an inhumane despicable act for those crying out for help to end their suffering.

In February, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that assisted death should be an option for those grievously and irremediably ill, and who wished to end their suffering with the help of a physician. The justices gave the government a year to implement the law. It’s taken the government five months just to form the panel. And there’s no doubt opponents of assisted death will make the guidelines unwieldy and restrictive. The wisdom of the Supreme Court will end up being beheaded by boneheaded politicians.

Past surveys have shown that the majority of Canadians fear a lingering painful death devoid of dignity. This entire issue boils down to personal choice for those who wish it. So far no political party has grasped the fact that supporting assisted dying could help them win an election.

Dying with Dignity Canada (DWDC), says, “We receive calls from people who are desperately ill, know it’s a matter of time before they die, and ask if there’s a legal way to end their life peacefully.” These people are suffering from multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, paralysis from a stroke or motor vehicle accident and other terminal illnesses.

Studies from U.S states and other countries that allow assisted death show that relatively few with terminal illness eventually ask for it. Rather, it is comforting for them just to know it is available.

It’s regrettable that only 12% of callers in the DWDC study said they had the support of their family doctor. Or that when assisted death was mentioned, the doctor did not listen and changed the subject.

Today, the Criminal Code states that neither DWDC, nor this journalist, can advise people on how to end their lives. But it is heart-breaking when callers ask how they can obtain drugs for this purpose and none are available without a physician’s prescription. What doctor is going to give one and go to jail?

Other desperate people even ask how they can obtain the ‘exit bag’ that’s placed over their head and connected to a helium tank. It’s hard to imagine such a terminal scene for one’s last minutes with family members.

I’ve stressed for years that those wanting an assisted death should have the right to form their own committee. Mine would include my wife, children and my doctor who are aware of my wishes. I’d also be pleased to add a veterinarian who would treat me the same way he would ease the suffering of a beloved dog.

This political hypocrisy could end by drowning politicians with mail. Years ago I delivered 40,000 letters to Ottawa which helped to legalize heroin for terminal cancer patients. Believe me, politicians fear adverse mail.

If you agree with assisted death, send a one sentence letter (better than an e-mail, and postage free) to Stephen Harper, 24 Sussex Dr., Ottawa, demanding action on this legislation. Or send an e-mail to

This column was sent to Harper, Trudeau and Mulcair but all I’ve received were the usual sitting-on-the fence replies.

Those who oppose assisted death have every right to end their lives in whatever way they wish. But they do not have the right to impose their moral, religious or ethical views on others. The law is the law.

I’d appreciate your opinion.

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