Debates of the Senate  
1st Session, 42st Parliament, Volume 150, Issue 48
  Monday, June 13, 2016
Speech on Senator Jaffer's Subamendment to Bill C-14

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Dyck, on debate on the subamendment?

Senator Dyck: Yes.

This has been an interesting discussion this evening. I think I've got everything straight.

Senator Jaffer, you've come up with, as Senator Fraser said, a very creative method of satisfying the requests of people that we don't move too hastily but, at the same time, put within the bill the suggestions that we have at this point in time. It seems to me that, after hearing that, I'm leaning towards, yes, I support your subamendment.

As has been said by other senators, we all want to find the balance between giving people choice and protecting those who are vulnerable. It seems to me that your subamendment does do that.

We want to allow people in those conditions, such as dementia or Alzheimer's, to be able to make the choice to end their life with assistance before they reach the stage of intolerable suffering and before they reach the stage where they're no longer capable of giving informed consent. So it seems to me to be proper.

I would just say, on a technical matter, it was brought up that perhaps the amendment that Senator Cowan proposed hadn't been completely carefully thought out, and there was a question posed by Senator Stewart Olsen about the word "capable."

That amendment to the bill is actually retaining the same words that were in the original bill. It's really just inserting in the phrase "dealing with advance requests." If you go to the original version of the bill, on page 5, you will see that, at line 33, it says "they are at least 18 years of age and capable of making decisions . . . ." That word "capable" is actually in the original bill.

If you flip over to the next page, under subsection (e) it says "they give informed consent . . . . "

The words "capable" and "informed consent" are in the original bill. The word "capable," in Senator Cowan's amendment, is from the original bill. The "consent" would still stay in his amendment because that part has not been changed. So it's "capable" and "giving consent." It has been thought out carefully.

Of course, when you're asked a question on the spur of the moment about every single word, sometimes you can't get to that answer immediately, but I had the time to look through and noticed that that was the case.

Senator Cowan's amendments have been carefully thought out. The only question I had was one that I wasn't able to ask on clause (B)(ii)(A) in the case of advance requests, talking about ". . . a grievous medical condition that is reasonably likely to cause enduring suffering . . . ."

The only thing I noticed there was that the phrase to do with "intolerable suffering" was not included, but it is mentioned earlier on. That was my only question with regard to that.

In the medical diagnosis, it does clearly say earlier on, in clause 3 (a)(i)(A)(a) that the medical condition is such ". . . that the person believes would, for them, constitute intolerable suffering . . . ." So it is covered in the earlier clause of the amendments.

Therefore, I am supporting both amendments.