Senator Jane Cordy—Third reading of Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying)Published on 15 June 2016 Hansard and Statements by Senator Jane Cordy
Hon. Jane Cordy:
Honourable senators, human life is precious and valuable, and it is a gift. When babies are born, it is a celebration. But, honourable senators, death is also part of the continuum of life. As Senator Carstairs used to say, “It’s not if we die; it’s when we die.”
Because of the Supreme Court decision in Carter, we as parliamentarians have been tasked with bringing forward and debating a bill to allow Canadians access to assisted dying. The Supreme Court, in February of 2015, gave the Government of Canada one year to pass legislation to complete this. As Senator Plett said earlier, this was a court directive to Parliament.
Like many of you, I have struggled with how I would vote on this legislation. Do I vote no because I don’t agree with parts of the bill? Do I abstain because I don’t agree with all aspects of the bill as amended? Do I vote in favour of the bill?
Honourable senators, I will be voting in favour of the bill. I will be voting in favour of the bill because I believe it is better to have a bill with national guidelines and national safeguards rather than no bill at all. I believe that if we vote against the bill, the floodgates will open, as they did when the abortion bill died in the Senate, which was before my time.
I believe that assisted dying in Canada with no national safeguards and with no national guidelines in place would not be in the best interest of Canadians.
Honourable senators, as others have said, this has been an exceptional debate in the Senate. I respect the opinions of all who spoke, all who asked questions and all who brought forward amendments, even if I voted against many of them. All senators spoke passionately, from the heart, but always respectfully, and I am proud to work with each of you.
Honourable senators, as a result of the Carter decision, our job is not to determine whether or not assisted dying should be available to Canadians. That decision has already been made by the Supreme Court. Our job is to determine the how, the when and the where. I believe that deciding not to have assisted dying in Canada is not an option for us as senators.
So while I disagree with some of the amendments, I do believe that it is in the best interests of Canadians to provide national safeguards and national guidelines around assisted dying in legislation. In other words, this bill puts controls in place.
Because of that, I will support this bill.