Trudeau government should rethink its flawed changes to assisted dying


Star Editorial Board

By Star Editorial Board

Fri., Feb. 26, 2021

Twelve months ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelmed our lives and pushed almost every other issue to the margins of public attention, we sounded a warning that Canada seemed to be sliding toward what amounts to a system of death on demand.

We worried that the right to medical assistance in dying, or MAID, was at risk of being stretched far beyond its original conception: to ease the pain of suffering people in the final stage of life, of allowing them a so-called “death with dignity.”

Today, that possibility is no longer a risk but a reality. The latest version of the federal government’s overhaul of the MAID system, encompassed in legislation called Bill C-7, is on its way to becoming law after a long series of delays and back-and-forths between the House of Commons and the Senate.

As it stands now, Bill C-7 would greatly expand the right to MAID in ways that many doctors, ethicists and even experts from the United Nations find deeply problematic. By eliminating the requirement that a patient’s death be “reasonably foreseeable,” they say the bill will undermine the rights of disabled people and make it more likely they will accept assisted suicide rather than be provided with proper treatment and supports.

The bill even opens the door to extending the right to assisted suicide to people whose only underlying medical condition, their sole reason for seeking death, is suffering due to a mental illness. The potential for abuse is both obvious and frightening.

All this is a far cry from what most people accepted as a valid, indeed compassionate, reason for legalizing assisted suicide back in 2016. And none of it has been as fully aired as it would be — and should be — if the pandemic wasn’t dominating almost every public moment.

Nor is any of this necessary. The federal government is bringing in these changes as a response to a Quebec Superior Court ruling in 2019, in which the judge decided that the law’s provision that death must be “reasonably foreseeable” is unconstitutional.

The government could have, indeed should have, appealed that flawed decision. Instead, it promised to bring the law into line with this one lower-court ruling, launched lengthy consultations on the whole issue of MAID, and eventually came up with a series of proposed changes laid out in Bill C-7. The Commons adopted them, then the Senate weighed in with amendments, and this week the government said it would accept some of those proposals.

One is that the right to MAID would be extended to people who are suffering solely from an underlying mental illness, though that wouldn’t take effect for two years. This is a complete about-face for the government, since its first version of C-7 explicitly excluded mental illness as grounds for demanding the right to an assisted death.

You don’t have to ponder this too long to see the potential for tragic outcomes. No doubt some people suffer in a “grievous” (the law’s language) way from mental illness, but surely those very conditions put an enormous question mark over their capacity to make final, irreversible decisions.

Advocates for the change say it’s discriminatory not to include mental illness, and argue that the law must respect the autonomy of the individual, the right of everyone to decide their own fate regardless of the type of medical condition they are suffering from.

That sounds lofty, but as many psychiatrists and advocates point out, how much true autonomy does a person have if society doesn’t offer them proper support to live their lives as fully as possible, if they are marginalized, unable to earn a living or access treatment, and feel they are a burden to others? Won’t they feel pressure to take advantage of an expanded MAID system just to escape all that? Is that really what we want — to set up a system where more and more people feel disposable, and in fact become disposable?

All that may apply to people with chronic conditions or disabilities as well, which is why hundreds of organizations advocating for them have come out against C-7. Added to that is a team of UN experts who concluded that the bill violates the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Canada has ratified. “Disability should never be a ground or justification to end someone’s life directly or indirectly,” they wrote. “Such legislative provisions would institutionalize and legally authorize ableism.”

The government’s proposed bill includes other questionable changes as well. For one, it would eliminate a 10-day waiting period between the request for MAID by a person whose death is foreseeable and its carrying-out, a pause designed to make sure there aren’t second thoughts. Only one witness, not two, would be required.

Medically assisted dying is no longer rare. Between 2016 and 2019, according to the most recent official figures, 13,946 Canadians exited life that way. If the trends continued last year and into the first weeks of 2021, the total would be over 20,000 by now, close to the number of people who have died of COVID-19 so far.

It’s important that we get this right. Better to put up with more delay than to rush through a flawed bill that hasn’t had the full public debate it deserves. The government should think again.

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2021/02/26/trudeau-government-should-rethink-its-flawed-changes-to-assisted-dying.html?fbclid=IwAR1KL1OwdNYkf-kYHv2iMLzuJBN2SIrfKbzuPcYizDXlVqWwjUIWnz8JKk0

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The Danger of Appeasing the Mullahs

by Majid Rafizadeh

  • Turkey and the European Union are on the same page when it comes to pursuing appeasement policies with the Iranian regime. How do the ruling mullahs of Iran repay the favor? Through assassinations and terror plots.
  • After the EU began pursuing ways of appeasing Iran, and after sanctions were lifted in 2015 due to the nuclear deal (which Iran never signed), Iran’s assassins and terror operatives ratcheted up their activities on the European soil.
  • Governments around the world need hold the Iranian regime accountable for its foreign adventurism and its reprehensible repression of dissent and peaceful protests at home. They must adopt a firm policy of expelling Iranian “diplomats” and intelligence agents like Assadi, who may be plotting further terrorist attacks. They also need to consider closing down Iranian embassies until Tehran halts its terror activities.
This month, the Turkish authorities detained an Iranian diplomat, Mohammad Reza Naderzadeh, 43, for his role in killing an Iranian dissident, Massoud Molavi Vardanjani, in November 2019. Reportedly, the Iranian diplomat was a staff member in the Iranian Consulate in Istanbul (pictured) and had forged travel documents for Ali Esfandiari, who orchestrated the assassination. (Photo by Ozan Kose/AFP via Getty Images)

Turkey and the European Union are on the same page when it comes to pursuing appeasement policies with the Iranian regime. How do the ruling mullahs of Iran repay the favor? Through assassinations and terror plots.

This month, the Turkish authorities detained an Iranian diplomat, Mohammad Reza Naderzadeh, 43, for his role in killing an Iranian dissident, Massoud Molavi Vardanjani, in November 2019. Reportedly, the Iranian diplomat was a staff member in the Iranian Consulate in Istanbul and had forged travel documents for Ali Esfandiari, who orchestrated the assassination of Molavi Vardanjani.

The Iranian regime, it seems, targeted Molavi Vardanjani because of his social media campaign to expose corruption in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, its elite Quds Force branch, and the theocrats’ military establishment. After serving as an intelligence officer for the Iranian government, he defected. “I will root out the corrupt mafia commanders…,” he wrote on social media. “Pray that they don’t kill me before I do this.”

It is not the first time that the Iranian regime has used Turkish soil to assassinate its opponents. In 2017, Saeed Karimian, a British television executive and founder of GEM TV, which runs 17 Persian-language TV channels, was shot dead in Istanbul. Before his murder, he was convicted in absentia in Iran’s revolutionary court for spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic. His killers, traveling on fake passports, were arrested in Serbia while travelling to Iran. An opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, stated that Karimian was assassinated by the IRGC on the direct orders of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

In Iran, orders to carry out assassination on a foreign soil likely come from top. As a senior US official, who requested anonymity, in the Trump administration previously told Reuters:

“Given Iran’s history of targeted assassinations of Iranian dissidents and the methods used in Turkey, the United States government believes that Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security was directly involved in Vardanjani’s killing.”

To appease Iran, Turkey has lax visa requirements for Iran which likely make Iran’s assassination attempts in Turkey easier: it allows Iranian agents to commute more easily between Ankara and Tehran. Iranian citizens are exempt from obtaining a visa for visits to Turkey for up to 90 days.

The policy is the same for the EU. After the EU began pursuing ways of appeasing Iran, and after sanctions were lifted in 2015 due to the nuclear deal (which Iran never signed), Iran’s assassins and terror operatives ratcheted up their activities on the European soil. An Iranian diplomat, Assadollah Assadi, was put on trial in a breathtaking case that saw him accused of direct involvement in a terrorist plot in France. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors pointed out that, in June 2018, Assadi delivered 500 grams of the powerful explosive triacetone triperoxide to his accomplices with the aim of bombing a significant Iranian opposition rally in Paris. Had the plot not been discovered at the last minute, the terrorist act could have left hundreds dead, including international dignitaries and many European parliamentarians.

Another individual linked to the Iranian regime, Mohammad Davoudzadeh Loloei, 40, was sentenced to prison in June 2020 in a European court — this time, in Denmark — for being an accessory to the attempted murder of one or more individuals who are opponents of Iran’s current regime. According to Denmark’s Roskilde District Court, Loloei had collected information on a dissident, so far unnamed, and given it to Iran’s intelligence service, who planned to murder the man. The information included photos of the target’s house, street and surroundings. “The court found that the information was collected and passed on to a person working for an Iranian intelligence service, for use by the intelligence service’s plans to kill the exile,” the court’s statement read.

Governments around the world need hold the Iranian regime accountable for its foreign adventurism and its reprehensible repression of dissent and peaceful protests at home. They must adopt a firm policy of expelling Iranian “diplomats” and intelligence agents like Assadi, who may be plotting further terrorist attacks. They also need to consider closing down Iranian embassies until Tehran halts its terror activities.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu

The Danger of Appeasing the Mullahs :: Gatestone Institute

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