Monday, December 1, 2008

Resources to Implement Alternate Policy - Euthanasia in the Law

Due to the shift in attitudes towards euthanasia in Canada, the issue has developed to the point where policies are starting to be considered. Some call this the ‘emerging policy’ phase, in the natural course of a social issue. To this extent, it becomes very important to identify resources and possible allies that can encourage this ‘emerging policy’, because shifting the current entrenched policy will likely require a great deal of time and pressure.

Due to the rather controversial and innately moral aspects of the issue and based on the current trends in parliament regarding such issues, it is likely that any changes made to policy (the Canadian Criminal Code) will likely be put to a free vote by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. This pattern of free votes over extremely controversial issues has been the precedent under Stephen Harper (ex. gay marriage) and even under former Prime Minister Jean Chretian (who actually had a free vote over euthanasia).

This being said a large public campaign would likely be necessary in order to raise public awareness and get the public to make their opinions known to their representatives in the House of Commons. Potentially potent allies in this would be organizations like the Right to DIe Society of Canada and the Dying with Dignity Society, who have approximately ten thousand members within their ranks. They have previously run such campaigns regarding the right to die and are likely in a good position to launch another one. They likely also can provide appropriate content for such a campaign.

Additionally, one would also need the support of a member of parliament to actually introduce an amendment to the Canadian Criminal Code. In our case, Francine Lalonde, a current MP from Quebec and a member of the Bloc Quebecois, has promised to reintroduce legislation to decriminalize euthanasia. She would be an ideal candidate for our efforts to introduce our alternate policy to mainstream Canada. She was previously responsible for Bill C - 407, a bill upon which our alternate policy was based.

Mobilizing public opinion would be difficult and the political procedure surrounding the introduction of a bill would be arduous, but with the aid of these two groups of individuals and an MP in parliament it will be made possible.

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