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MP Viersen: Support Dignity of Life – Liberals Must Halt Expansion of Euthanasia

MP Viersen: Support Dignity of Life – Liberals Must Halt Expansion of Euthanasia

December 08, 2022


Ottawa, ON — This week, Peace River – Westlock MP Arnold Viersen issued the following column in advance of the Liberal expansion of assisted suicide to some of the most vulnerable Canadians:

Canada’s rapid expansion of euthanasia has raised alarms around the world. The UK’s Daily Mail warned America, be very afraid: astonishingly, Canada is now euthanizing 10,000 of its citizens a year. In a recent New York Times article What Euthanasia Has Done to Canada?, columnist Ross Douthat highlights: ‘the Canadian system shows exactly the corrosive features that critics of assisted suicide anticipated, from health care workers allegedly suggesting euthanasia to their patients to sick people seeking a quietus for reasons linked to financial stress.’

As a newly-elected MP in 2016, one of my first speeches in the House of Commons was on the Liberals’ euthanasia plans in Bill C-14. At that time, I warned that opening this door was dangerous as it ‘leaves segments of society vulnerable, provides no protection for professionals or institutions, and undermines the credibility of our healthcare system and the important work healthcare providers do to help people live.’

I warned that Canada was creating two classes of citizens where suicide prevention is available and offered to some, and to others assisted suicide is the only option.

As an MP that also represents 14 First Nations communities in Northern Alberta, I also expressed concerns that were being raised by Indigenous doctors. Dr. Alika Lafontaine, then the President of the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada warned Parliament: “What we are pleading for in indigenous communities is not medically assisted dying. That already exists in more ways than can be counted. What we are pleading for is medically assisted life.”

That is why I have consistently urged Parliament to champion the value and dignity of life and improve our county’s focus and provision of palliative care as well as suicide prevention.

Sadly, today we see vulnerable Canadians all too often being told that their lives aren’t worth living. They are being offered death when all they want is the right to live with dignity or a lift out of poverty. Consider that in just five short years, the use of euthanasia has increased from 1000 a year to over 10,000 a year. This is absolutely unconscionable in a country that claims to value human life.

Despite the ‘safeguards’ promised by the Liberals, we now know veterans – who have served our country and are only asking for help to live with dignity – are being offered death from their own government. At least five veterans have bravely stepped forward to share their story. How many veterans will we never hear from because they were pressured into choosing death? Just this past week, a former Paralympian and member of the Canadian Forces testified in Parliament that after pleading for five years for help to install a wheelchair ramp at her house, the Veterans Affairs Canada offered her assisted suicide.

We now regularly hear stories of Canadians who are considering assisted suicide because they face the unbearable weight of growing poverty – only exacerbated by the rapid increase of costs of living.

In three short months, Canada will once again loosen the safeguards and allow euthanasia for mental health conditions. How does one rationalize offering euthanasia alongside suicide prevention to those struggling with mental health conditions? Canadian journalist Andrew Lawton wrote a sobering column about his own experience with depression and mental health challenges entitled: If Canada’s incoming assisted dying rules were there a decade ago, I’d be dead.

Tragically it won’t end here. The Quebec College of Physicians is calling for euthanasia to be extended to children aged 0-1 and 14-17. Recently, my friend Mike Schouten testified at the Parliamentary Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying after losing his 18 year old son to cancer earlier this summer. Mike urged Canada not to extend euthanasia to children saying: ‘That would send the message that there’s going to come a time when life’s not worth living, and if you don’t think it’s worth living, we don’t either and we’re going to help you end it.’

Human life, at all stages, is inherently valuable. Your life is worth living. You are loved. As a society, we must ensure that every person who might be in a vulnerable situation, knows they are loved and cherished. This means ensuring people have the supports they need – be it mental or physical supports or the means to live with dignity.

As a Member of Parliament, I remain committed to fighting for human dignity and the right to live. I will stand against every attempt to expand euthanasia to children and those struggling with mental health and depression.

Arnold Viersen, MP

Peace River – Westlock