Canadians frustrated over Senate changes to assisted dying bill: Ambrose

‘Now we have an unelected Senate changing the laws of an elected House,’ said the interim Conservative leader


OTTAWA – Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose says changes proposed by the Senate to the Liberal government’s proposed new law on medically assisted dying are a sign of a bigger problem.

Senators voted 41-30 on Wednesday to amend Bill C-14, to allow suffering patients who are not near death to seek medical help to end their lives.

The change, if accepted, would delete a requirement that a person’s natural death be reasonably foreseeable, removing the central pillar underpinning the legislation.

The amendment replaces the eligibility criteria in the bill with the much more permissive criteria set out in last year’s landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling, which struck down the ban on assisted dying.

That sets the Senate on a potential collision course with the government.

But Ambrose says it also circumvents the will of the elected House of Commons, just as she said the Supreme Court did in setting parameters around doctor assisted death.

“We have the courts making laws in this country and now we have an unelected Senate changing the laws of an elected House,” Ambrose told a news conference Thursday.

“There’s even a larger debate here, which I think is upsetting a lot of my constituents and a lot of people across the country.”

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has signalled that the government is unlikely to accept such an amendment, saying a lot of work went into ensuring a balance between recognizing personal autonomy and protecting the vulnerable.

Ambrose agreed with Wilson-Raybould that the bill approved in the Commons and sent to the Senate strikes the right balance, although she actually voted against it.

The Senate is expected to continue debating the bill and voting on other amendments into next week.


Canadians frustrated over Senate changes to assisted dying bill: Ambrose

  1. Are Rona Ambrose and Jody Wilson-Raybould recent immigrants to Canada, or are they simply uneducated in the Canadian parliamentary system?

    The entire purpose of the Canadian bicameral parliamentary system is to provide checks and balance to a majority government in Commons, a review of legislation prior to passage.

    Yes, the Senate is entitled to, and is supposed to, review the act, pass it if, and only if, there are no perceived problems, or recommend amendments and return the act to Commons.

    This is elementary. What is really scary is that both the (temporary) leader of the official opposition, and the minister of JUSTICE, of all things, are proposing that the Constitution be bypassed and ignored in favour of a unicameral parliament, completely compliant to a majority party, which is completely compliant to its leader (the Prime Minister). That would be, by practical definition, a dictatorship of one person.

    • I believe this is why Canada doesn’t have an abortion law. It is something that is seen to be best left between a doctor and a patient. Same with the mental health acts that differ in each province and detail the laws regarding the commitment and treatment of the mentally ill. The federal government really should back off and be much more trusting of the medical community and the provinces in hammering out what is appropriate. They don’t want to mess up and end up arresting physicians because of some technicality. I am sure the physicians would get excellent legal advice about what would be required and would be completely compassionate when it came to deciding with their patients when the time was right, as long as it was their decision to participate in the program and by the sounds of it, Canadian physicians will not be forced and we have enough willing to participate. Further, hospital legal teams came up with advanced directives and these are very much the same.

  2. Just imagine, from a party leader(RA) who had ten years to help fix this when in government, tried to toss it to the courts to fix. Frustrated, because they are sitting in opposition, and have to wait another 8 years before they have any chance of regaining power, and it will take at least until then to get the smell of Harper government off of them. Get the bill passed, and tweak it later.

    • Not one leader in the senate is willing to let it pass as is. Not the leader of the former Libs. Not the leader of Justin’s independent Libs nor the leader of the Con senators. They want to write the amendment. They think the bill stinks and right now, none of the senators, certainly not Mike Duffy, etc. feel accountable to anyone in the HOC. Justin likely made no friends when he threw the Liberal senators out of the caucus with no notice. The con senators have no reason to be loyal to anyone and the ones Justin appointed are all known for being activists. This thing isn’t going pass easily. Justin should do the conference even if it has not happened in 70 years. This senate is going to give him a rough ride.

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