Schmale announces referendum: Medical assistance in dying bill

By Lindsay Advocate

Local MP Jamie Schmale announced that he will hold a constituency referendum – his third – to give every eligible voter in his riding the opportunity to cast a vote on whether Schmale should vote in favour of, or against, Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (Medical Assistance in Dying), when it comes to its final vote in the House of Commons.

“I believe the people of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock deserve to have their opinions heard directly. As such, I am asking the people of our riding how I should vote on this bill through a constituency referendum,” said Schmale.

Medically-assisted suicide is already lawful in Canada, as long as the process is carried out in accordance with a series of conditions which were enacted by Parliament in 2016.

Some of these conditions have since been successfully challenged in court. The Quebec Superior Court ruled that some of the restrictions in the existing law are an unconstitutional violation of Section 7 of the Charter of Rights, and the law must be rewritten to expand the range of circumstances under which assisted suicide will be permitted.

Some of the provisions in Bill C-7 are a direct response to the court’s ruling, while other provisions are not court-mandated. The primary changes contained in Bill C-7 are as follows:

  • The existing requirement that a written request for medical assistance in dying (MAID) must be signed by two independent witnesses is relaxed—a single witness will henceforth be sufficient, and that person can be “a paid professional personal or health care worker.”
  • The 10-day minimum waiting period between the date of the signed written request for MAID and the date on which MAID takes place, is removed.
  • The “final consent” requirement, under which the person seeking MAID must expressly confirm their consent immediately before receiving MAID, can be waived in certain circumstances, which are enumerated in the bill.
  • An existing restriction, under which a person’s suicide may not be assisted unless their natural death is “reasonably foreseeable,” is lifted. Such assistance is now lawful, conditional upon a series of seven safeguards, which are enumerated in the bill, being met.

Each household in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock should receive a copy by mail of the constituency referendum publication over the next few weeks. Included are arguments for both sides of this issue, a link where constituents can go to get help with further research.

The ballots can be filled-out and returned to the office of Jamie Schmale by mail, postage-free or scanned to . One vote may be cast per registered voter in each household. If somebody does not receive a copy of the constituency referendum publication, or if more ballots are required for larger households, additional ballots will be made available upon request.

Only ballots received prior to the date of the vote at Third Reading will be counted. Schmale will respect the decision of his constituents, and will vote according to the majority of ballots he receives prior to the Third Reading vote on Bill C-7.

“I encourage my constituents to return their ballot as soon as possible after they receive it,” added Schmale. “I can only base my decision on ballots I have received before the final vote in the House of Commons, and that could come at any time.”

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