Burnaby MPs voice support for assisted death bill

As the clock ticks down on the timeline the federal government has to pass new assisted-death laws, it appears the proposed legislation is getting support from local MPs across the aisle.
Burnaby North-Seymour Liberal MP Terry Beech said he will support Bill C-14, his government’s assisted-death legislation, while Burnaby South NDP MP Kennedy Stewart said he’s also leaning toward supporting the bill.
“It’s obviously a very sensitive issue,” Beech told the NOW, noting he’s heard from constituents who feel the bill doesn’t go far enough, and some who say it goes too far.
Last week, the federal government introduced legislation that would provide for medically assisted death.
The bill would change the Criminal Code so physicians, nurse practitioners – and those who help them – can provide assistance to die to eligible patients without the risk of being charged with assisted suicide or homicide. The government said the bill will have safeguards to make sure those who receive medical assistance in dying are eligible, can give informed consent, and voluntarily request it. The Minister of Health would also be able to make regulations to establish a process for monitoring and reporting on the use of medical assistance in dying.
The government was forced to come up with the legislation after the Supreme Court of Canada struck down laws prohibiting doctor-assisted death. The court gave the government until June 6 to pass the legislation.
Beech suggested the bill respects the court’s decision, but at same time protects the country’s most vulnerable.
“We have to be careful. Because this is a very important issue, it was incumbent on us to find a balance,” he said.
Stewart said he’s leaning toward supporting the bill as it stands, but wants to see what the final legislation will look like after it goes to committee.
However, he said he also wants to hear from constituents in the meantime, adding he’s trying to reflect the wishes of Burnaby.
So far, Stewart said the opinions have been split, with some in support and some opposed.    
He said issues like whether doctors should be forced to provide services, or be able to opt out, or if the legislation should apply to sick kids are all aspects he expects will be discussed during the committee process.
“It is the heaviest decision I’ve had to make since Parliament resumed last year,” he said. “I know all of us are wrestling with this here. You really don’t get a decision much more important than this.”
The vote on the bill will be a free vote in the House of Commons, allowing MPs to vote how they choose rather than following party lines.

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