News / Ottawa

Euthanasia discussion event will be one-sided, opponent says

The head of a group opposed to euthanasia says an upcoming panel discussion on "medically assisted death" in Ottawa won't reflect the views of people opposed to the idea.

Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Alex Schadenberg said he was invited to the panel discussion, but will be out of the county and the organizers did not find someone to fill his anti-decriminalization position.

Two Eastern Ontario professors and a Quebec politician will be speaking in Ottawa about legalizing euthanasia in a panel dubbed “Medically Assisted Death Coming to Canada: How, Why, When??”

“It’s a one-sided event,” Schadenberg said. “I would say this is not really a panel of information it’s a pro-euthanasia event promoting the legalization.”

The panel discussion hosted by Dying with Dignity and the Centre for Inquiry, will be held Sept. 7, at Ben Franklin Place. It comes after British Columbia Supreme Court found Lou Gehrig's disease sufferer Gloria Taylor has the fundamental Charter right to medically assisted suicide.

One of the speakers is a constitutional expert-- Prof. Errol Mendes, of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law.

Maryse Gaudreault, currently the incumbent candidate for Hull in the Quebec provincial election, chaired the select committee of the Quebec National Assembly on the Dying With Dignity. The report, released this spring, recommends that doctors be allowed to help terminally ill patients end their lives, in exceptional circumstances.

Prof. Udo Schuklenk, an ethicist who chaired the Queen’s University Expert Panel of the Royal Society of Canada on End of Life Decision Making report released November, 2011.

Schuklenk argues that the evidence from countries that have legalized euthanasia is that the law is not abused and the fears that old or disabled people could be killed under the guise of assisted suicide are unfounded.

“We’ve learned from the jurisdictions that there is no serious risk,” he said. “Fundamentally, you need to ensure the people who make these choices are competent, they understand what the consequences are they are not being pressured--and I don’t mean the fundamental pressure that they do not consider their lives worth living any long, because that pressure we can’t take away from them because it has to do with their illness and their suffering.”

More on