Senator Enverga questions the Government Representative in the Senate during debate on Bill C-14

Senator Enverga: I have a question for Senator Harder, if I may, please.

Senator Harder: Of course.

The Hon. the Speaker: I’m sorry, Senator Enverga. Senator Harder, your time is about to expire. Are you asking for five more minutes to answer a question?

Senator Harder: I would be happy to, if the house will allow it.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted for five more minutes?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Enverga: Today, we heard about protecting minorities, the vulnerable and the disabled. We even talked about constitutional rights.

You are talking about the minister not wanting to put in this particular amendment. It says “condition including an illness, disease or disability that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to them in the circumstances of their condition.”

With all the suicides — we have all heard about the suicides in Woodstock or Attawapiskat. When the Aboriginal Peoples Committee was in Kuujjuaq, we heard about suicides there. Even in Igloolik, we heard about suicide. Is it possible that the minister is not including the wording of this amendment to specifically state that without safeguards it will be too late — that we will be sending the wrong message to our youth? We will be sending the wrong message to our youth when this is opened up — that anybody who has particular issues intolerable to them in their circumstances can be killed or can die.

Would this be some sort of a “lesson,” let’s say, that kids would say, “I’m not a part of this — I’m not an adult — but since this is now legal, I will be able to do this.” Do you think the minister is acting on the belief that if she ever put this particular amendment there that the kids — our youth — would think that this is good for adults, why can’t it be good for me? It’s just like smoking.

Senator Harder: I will answer for myself and obviously not for the minister. This bill is carefully crafted and balanced to have a public policy regime consistent with the Charter that is respectful of the court’s decision; that is balanced in respect of access, eligibility and safeguards; and that sets in place a broader public policy engagement on issues that are not specifically addressed in this bill that we need to have a broader conversation on.

It’s important on all sides that we have a respectful and moderate engagement on this matter, because medical assistance in dying is going to be with us as a country. It will evolve in our experience and our understanding, and we should be respectful in our language.