MP Liepert Votes in Favor of C-14 on Medical Assistance in Dying

ron-liepert-c14-medical-assistance-dying.jpgAs you may be aware, Bill C-14, regarding Medical Assistance in Dying, was recently passed in the House of Commons.  As your MP, I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how I voted, and the reasons why.

I have long felt that my vote on this piece of legislation should reflect the views of the majority of my constituents.  This is why beginning in February of this year, I undertook an extensive consultation of my constituents to obtain their views.  The consultation consisted of the following methods:

  • 18,326 asks for feedback via telephone to households in the constituency (every constituent who had a landline listed in the phone book was called).
  • 12,847 asks for feedback via social media – which were geographically targeted to those living in the constituency.
  • 5,400 asks for feedback via email.
  • 48,852 asks for feedback via mail – as part of the recent mailing I did to the entire constituency called The Hill Report and;
  • A large number in person or informal discussions

Constituents were asked to complete a survey and responded in large numbers.  There was a near 50-50 balance of male and female respondents, and I received good representation from all age brackets.  The views of our constituency were clear – 77% support Medical Assistance In Dying on principle – as long as the right set of rules and regulations are put in place.

As you may be aware, the initial proposal from the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying struck in the Parliament of Canada recommended an extensive and far reaching set of reforms which included provisions around giving consent before diagnosis, access for mature minors, and the inclusion of non-terminal illnesses.  I also asked constituents in the survey whether they supported including those items in the law, or if they recommended a more restricted approach.  58% said that they wanted a more restrictive approach.

The legislation as proposed is consistent with that desire for a more restrictive approach.  The law at this time does not allow for consent before diagnosis, and restricts eligibility to adults with terminal illnesses.

A number of amendments were proposed to the legislation which I have also considered.  I have opted to also support amendments which would enshrine conscience rights of medical professionals into the bill (therefore giving them the right to not offer this type of assistance if it violates their conscience), and to also add protections for those that also have mental illnesses – thereby ensuring they are not coerced or pressured into requesting this type of assistance.   Unfortunately these amendments were blocked by government MPs.

There are many of you who have already told me you feel that this does not go far enough—that advanced consent or non-terminal illnesses (in particular) should be considered.  Those matters will all be studied, and at a later time the law may be amended again to include them.  We expect the law to experience significant opposition in the senate, and it will likely be amended and returned to the House of Commons for reconsideration.

There has been much discussion surrounding the constitutionality of the legislation and specifically whether it violates the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada or not.  While I am not qualified to make such a judgment on the legislation’s constitutionality, I feel strongly that the majority of my constituents view this legislation as a step in the right direction (but certainly not the final step).

It is clear to me that the majority of constituents are in favor of the bill as presented on this issue, and that the bill, while not perfect, reflects most of their concerns.  I feel I must vote in a manner that honours the majority position of my constituents and therefore I have voted in favor of C-14.