Bill C-7 expands medical assisted in dying to include those whose death is not reasonably foreseeable

C/O Bill Oxford

cw: mental illness, death, ableism

The Canadian government has passed Bill C-7, which changed the medical assistance in dying law. The bill was introduced in October 2020 after a September 2019 decision made by the Superior Court of Quebec.

The law previously required that the individual seeking MAID must be faced with a “reasonably foreseeable” natural death in order to be eligible. The law included the following: someone who has a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability, who is in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability, who is experiencing enduring and intolerable suffering that cannot be relieved under conditions acceptable to them and whose natural death has become reasonably foreseeable.

The 2019 ruling found the requirement of a reasonably foreseeable natural death to be unconstitutional.

As such, Bill C-7 proposed amendments to the criminal code. This would expand MAID eligibility to persons whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable. Individuals with mental illness will also be eligible for this within two years. The Senate passed Bill C-7 on March 17, 2021. The royal assent was given a week ahead of its court-imposed final deadline of March 26.

Vote result on on @SenMarcGold's motion related to the House of Commons response to the Senate's amendments to Bill #C7:

Yeas: 60 ✔️
Nays: 25 ❌
Abstentions: 5#SenCA #cdnpoli

— Senate of Canada (@SenateCA) March 17, 2021

The bill will create two different sets of safeguards for those whose death is reasonably foreseeable and for those whose death is not reasonably foreseeable. Furthermore, Canadians will have a minimum 90-day assessment period for their MAID request in which they will be made aware of alternatives, such as counselling.

Bill C-7 has raised a lot of concerns from disability advocates. More than 300 disability groups in Canada opposed the change, as they believe it would create situations where people with disabilities are offered MAID instead of stronger support and community services.

We are horrified by the direction parliament is taking Canada’s euthanasia legislation. The idealization of doctor-assisted death as a peaceful, easy solution to the existential problem of life’s challenges is cruel. @TheSpec#BillC7@djnontario#HamOnt

— Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI) (@HCCI1) March 11, 2021

Sarah Jama, co-founder of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario and a McMaster University alumna, expressed her concerns.

"How are we going to make sure that marginalized communities like the Indigenous, racialized people and those with disabilities, don't feel pressured to access MAID because they feel like a burden on the state?” asked Jama in a CBC MAID town hall.

These concerns were also echoed by the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Gerard Quinn.

“We’re concerned that it massively expands the range of [MAID eligible] people with disabilities, who potentially will be given access [to MAID],” said Quinn in a CBC interview. “We’re concerned that there might be issues there . . . undermining their autonomy and their capacity to make the right decisions. I don’t mean the lack of legal capacity. What I mean is subtle pressure being brought to bear by, for example, lack of services or lack of community living options."

MSU Maccess coordinator Calvin Prowse echoed concerns around the bill.

“Things like the lack of social services, the erosion of the social safety net, lack of healthcare... a lack of pharmacare so people can actually pay their medications…in many ways, [for] disabled people, their inclusion in society is being prevented . . . We're trying to give folks with disabilities access to dying, but as a society, we are not actually helping people meet their needs and allow them to actually live,” said Prowse.

"Of course it’s not promoting death. Death is inevitable, you don’t need to promote it. No, this is to reduce suffering and pain.” Former prof Ronald Bayne on why we need medical assistance in dying. At 98, Dr. Bayne chose #MAID and died on Friday.

— McMaster University (@McMasterU) March 1, 2021

cw MAiD, death, genocide

It is upsetting to see @McMasterU romanticize MAiD like this. Changes to Bill c7 perpetuate the idea that disabled lives are not worth living. During a pandemic in which disabled lives are constantly devalued, c7 reads more like coercion than choice. 1/4

— MSU Maccess (@MSU_Maccess) March 2, 2021

Prowse also pointed to the timing of the bill being discussed during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people with disabilities have already had to advocate to be prioritized for vaccines and more folks are developing disabilities and chronic illnesses. Some advocates worry that their voice is not being heard.

“I think that we see a lot of people with disabilities and a lot of disabled organizations coming forward and sharing their criticisms and concerns about this bill . . . There’s so many, but I think often that is lost or, truthfully, ignored when we have conversations about MAID. Those perspectives are often not considered,” emphasized Prowse.

The government has committed to launching a joint parliamentary committee to review additional unresolved details around the bill, such as whether mature minors should have access to the procedure and what the inclusion of individuals with mental illness will entail. This committee will be launched within 30 days of the royal assent.

Some people say politics is a tough business, but the truth is, it’s not rocket science.

Federal Liberal leadership hopeful and former astronaut Marc Garneau visited McMaster on Feb. 26 to meet with students.

Garneau became Canada’s first man in space in October 1984 when he worked as a payload specialist on the shuttle Challenger. He entered politics in the mid-2000s and currently serves as MP for the Westmount-Ville Marie riding in Montreal.

Garneau is widely considered to be in second to frontrunner Justin Trudeau in the race for leadership.

The down-to-earth mechanical engineer was greeted by a dozen students in The Phoenix and discussed issues ranging from education to oil sands. While his policies vary from those of his competitors, Garneau’s message was much the same as other candidates.

“As a party we have made some mistakes in the past few years, and we’re rebuilding,” he explained. “We have a huge amount of work to do.”

The Liberal Party has faced a major drop in support over the past decade. The number of seats held by Liberals in the House of Commons has been on the decline since 2000. Of the 308 seats, only 35 are currently held by Liberals.

Garneau is keen to see that change. His platform is based around a focus on the knowledge-based economy, a sector he feels has been neglected.

“My professional life has really been focused on the high tech sector,” he said. “I understand how innovation happens. We have the ingredients in this country – the people with good ideas. But we’re not helping them develop those ideas into commercial successes.”

He went on to say that the traditional Liberal focus has been on natural resources, rather than the knowledge economy. But he doesn’t want to discount the role of the West, in particular the oil sands, in Canada.

“I understand that they have become the economic centre of gravity of this country,” Garneau explained. He underlined the importance of “getting Westerners on board” with the party’s direction in order to be successful, citing his three-year term on the board of an oil company as relevant experience.

His platform has also resonated well with students for its policy on student loans. Garneau has proposed that students be able to defer repayment on the federal portion of their loans until they are employed and earning $40,000 a year.

“I think the best indicator [of this policy’s popularity] – and I’m not being facetious here – is that three days later, Justin [Trudeau] adopted the same policy,” he said with a laugh. “I think it’s a smart thing to do … it’s a good investment.”

Canadian media have been keen to hail Trudeau, son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, as the new hope for the Liberal Party.

But in the midst of Trudeau’s rise to stardom, Garneau claims to be more grounded. He has publicly accused Trudeau of being focused too much on vision and not enough on specific policies or strategies to accomplish his goals.

“The leadership of the Liberal Party is too important a position to be handed to an untested candidate who is hiding behind a carefully crafted public relations campaign,” he said at a Feb. 25 press conference. He challenged the Papineau MP to a one-on-one debate, which Trudeau declined.

The two candidates will join their six competitors, including former Toronto MP Martha Hall Findlay and Vancouver MP Joyce Murray, in Halifax on March 3 for a debate. The convention to choose the leader will take place on April 14.

By Ryan Sparrow

Across Canada, tens of thousands of first nations people and their allies have protested against Bill C-45, claiming it would be an unprecedented oppression of indigenous peoples by the government.

Ahmad Al-Amad, a third-year philosophy student, has gone to several of the demonstrations after hearing about the effects that C-45 will have on the environment and the impacts on treaty rights.

Ahmad says students should take interest in the protests "because it is not only respecting indigenous people and the land that at the very least deserve recognition of their nations and the genocide by the Canadian state but because of the destruction of our ecosystems.”

The Idle No More protests sprung out of opposition to the Omnibus C-45 bill “Jobs and Growth Act,” which focuses mostly on Tar Sands development.

“We are facing an apocalyptic future for the next generation. This is a cry for the environment which Harper is disregarding and neglecting,” said Al-Amad.

The Omnibus Bill C-45 made sweeping legislative changes to Canada, most notably changes to treaty rights and scrapping environmental protections on Canada’s water ways.

Rick Gunderman, a second-year history student who attended the demonstrations says that the Bill enacts a “freedom to pollute.”

While the bill is very broad in its scope, its primary focus is the expansion of the Tar Sands and the violation of treaty rights in order to build oil pipe lines.

“The Treaties are the last line of defense to protect water and lands from destruction,” stated Oren Lyons, a Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan for the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs in a press release.

The attention to the Idle No More movement grew with the subsequent hunger strike by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence.

Last year Spence brought to light the impoverished conditions that many Aboriginal communities face after declaring a state of emergency due to the housing crisis at the Attawapiskat reserve.

According to an Idle No More press release, Attawapiskat has wealthy mining companies on its land that do not share any of the wealth and resources with the community.

Over the past month, there has been a wave of protests in Hamilton as part of the Idle No More movement, starting with a protest in front of City Hall.

This was followed by a flash mob inside Limeridge Mall on Dec. 24 that had more than 300 indigenous peoples and supporters attend. Inside Limeridge there were speeches followed by a pow wow and drum circles. Demonstrators held numerous creative signs.

The mall demonstration was not unique to Hamilton. On Jan. 13, West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton was packed with well over 2,600 demonstrators.

Hamilton protestors also gathered on Jan. 5, with more than 350 people rallying at King and Dundurn. Protestors proceeded to march on Highway 403 around the Dundurn Plaza. The demonstrations lasted about two hours.

Several McMaster students also participated in an “unwelcoming” of Prime Minister Stephen Harper when he visited the Ford plants in Oakville by a spontaneous demonstration organized with very little notice.

Idle No More also gained momentum at the Jan. 11 Art Crawl, which started with a smudging ceremony at the Green Smoothie Bar with drumming and singing inside. This was followed later with a march to the abandoned lot where a DJ played music, flags were flown and leaflets were passed out to people attending Art Crawl.

Organizers have set up an Idle No More teach-in at McMaster on Jan. 18 in the MUSC atrium.

Spencer Nestico-Semianiw

McMaster’s Muslims for Peace and Justice held a teach-in on Nov. 8 about how the Canadian government has neglected the rights of its Muslim citizens.

The overall focus of the evening was on the “extraordinary rendition” policy and the use of torture on Canadian citizens accused of involvement in terrorism. Extraordinary rendition is the policy of transferring people from one country to another without the approval of any legal authority.

The event featured Abdullah Almalki and Ahmed El maati, two Canadian citizens who, in the early 2000s, were wrongly connected with terrorist activity by the RCMP after the 9/11 attacks.

During the discussion, Almalki and his legal representative Phil Tunley spoke about the various struggles that Almalki had to face during and immediately after his arrest. Tunley first discussed the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other various legal documents in the context of how they related to the rights of Mr. Almalki under his circumstances.

Upon Almalki’s arrival to Syria in 2002, he was detained and arrested by Syrian officials based on information sent directly from the Canadian government. Following the incident, Almalki remained in a Syrian jail for nearly two years.

When Almalki was brought up to speak, he presented a detailed account of his mistreatment at the hands of the Syrians, perpetuated by the Canadian government.

Almalki emphasized his abuse at the hands of the Canadian government by presenting a quote from the RCMP and the Canadian Security and Intelligence service (CSIS), which stated that, “it was not the responsibility of intelligence or law enforcement officials to be concerned about the human rights of a Canadian detainee.”

Almalki explained how, at one point, he was abruptly slapped in the face by one of his interrogators. He explained, “the physical pain has by now gone away, but the humiliation I felt at that moment is still with me.”

During the question-and-answer period, students actively voiced their opinions on the issue. Many deeply sympathized with the hardships that Almalki was forced to endure and others stated how inspired they were to engage in their community through social activism.

The focus was particularly on the role that the Canadian government had to play in this issue. In need of sufficient grounds to jail Almalki in Canada, the government believed that torture in Syria would be an appropriate way to extract the necessary information. As a result, the ensuing discussion also focused on how it is the responsibility of Canadian citizens to recognize these injustices and mobilize against them.

One of the notable attendees to the teach-in was Ken Stone, the treasurer of the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War and also a McMaster alumnus. “If we want to stop these abuses like torture, the killing of prisoners and rapes of women, we really need to put pressure on our Canadian government not to get involved in these wars,” said Stone.

By the end of the night, it was clear the speakers had hit a nerve in those who had attended as they displayed gratitude for the speakers.

The cheering tittered through the crowd, cutting off the introductory speaker, and throngs of people pushed to the aisle to just to get a glance at the man entering the room. He’s the other famous Canadian Justin.  And he’s the newest candidate running for leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Justin Trudeau’s visit to Hamilton on Oct. 10 was one in a series of meet and greets the leadership candidate has been doing since he officially announced his candidacy on Oct. 2.

Approximately 600 people came out for the event. It was held at the Sheraton Hotel and was organized my recent McMaster graduate Elyse Banham, a former member of the McMaster Young Liberal Association.

The meet and greet appeared to be comprised mainly of baby boomers, and the majority of the youth in attendance appeared to be affiliated with the Young Liberal Association.  Well known Hamilton Liberal MPs, Beth Phinney and Judy Marsales, also attended.

The event was intended to be a rally for current Liberal party supporters, but also aimed to familiarize Hamiltonians with Trudeau’s campaign platforms.

Trudeau was introduced by former Liberal MPP Marie Bountrogianni (Hamilton Mountain). Bountrogianni described Trudeau as “a breath of fresh air to the political scene in Canada.”

She also commented on how his youth and experience better readied him to understand the crisis in youth “mal-employment,” given that one out of five 25-29-year-olds make less than half the median income in Canada.

Although youthful energy and passion have been championed as core values of the Trudeau campaign from the beginning, his speech, while charismatically delivered, fell short of addressing youth concerns.

Instead, it focused on the general agenda Trudeau has been presenting so far during his Canadian city tour. He discussed the implications of partisanship, criticizing both the Conservative party and the NDP for polarizing regions against each other, and for promoting ideologies which “micro-categorize” electoral issues.

Trudeau emphasized his determination to not engage in regionalism, pitting one region’s interest above others. This issue proved to be a lynch pin for Pierre-Elliot Trudeau, who has often been accused of polarizing Alberta and the West from the rest of Canada.

The content of the speech appeared to mimic the previous speeches delivered in early stops in Burlington and Mississauga. Despite the similarity of the speech to the many others Trudeau has delivered in the past few weeks, the trademark Trudeau charisma shone through, as evidenced by the shouts, cheers and applause which erupted and overpowered his speech at times.

Trudeau took time to personally appeal to Hamiltonians and addressed issues unique to Hamilton.

“Hamilton is a city with a tremendous heart. It’s been through some tough times and some great times. It’s transformed itself from a manufacturing hub to being a research and knowledge economy hub.”

Matthew Ing, a fifth-year Arts and Science student and member of the McMaster Young Liberals volunteered at the event. He explained that meet and greet was purposely not a fundraiser.

“A fundraiser brings certain groups of people...those who can afford to attend. To have as many people there and overcome regional divides, [the campaign] aimed to reach out to all Hamiltonians and make it an accessible event.”

In addition to being the MP for the Papineau riding in Montreal, Trudeau is the Liberal party’s critic for youth, post-secondary education, and amateur sport. Ing explained that Trudeau has actively sought out youth input and consultation in his campaign.

“The current government has no policy for tackling the [high] youth unemployment can rest assured that youth will be at the forefront of any issue Justin addresses.”

Trudeau concluded his speech by lamenting the recent decline of the Liberal party, which won only 35 seats in the last federal election and lost its title of Official Opposition Party.

The campaign has focused on branding Trudeau as the product of a new post-partisan generation of politicians. He has strongly distanced himself from the superior and entitled attitudes that he implied have been historically present in the Liberal party.

Instead, he advocated for a new party, which viewed Canadian interests as a whole, and aimed to speak for and listen to all Canadians.

“Hard work and heart, of the type that has always characterized Hamilton, for example, is the only thing that is going to get the Liberal Party to move forward once again, it’s the only thing that is going to get Canada to move forward once again.”

Justin Trudeau held a Q&A session at McMaster on Oct. 12

Kacper Niburksi

Assistant News Editor

While disco fever may have died with the 80’s, it seems that Trudeau-mania is still very much alive.

Justin Trudeau, son of the late prime minster Pierre Trudeau, MP of Papineau, Quebec since 2008 and current Liberal critic for youth, post-secondary education, and amateur sport, came to McMaster on Oct. 12 to participate in an open-mic question and answer session sponsored by the Young Liberal Association of McMaster.

“This is an extension of something I was trying to do, which is getting out talking to people who are more or less engaged in politics,” said Trudeau to a group of roughly 300 McMaster students and faculty.

While many of the attendees may indeed have been “engaged in politics,” Trudeau was quick to highlight the voter apathy that characterized much of the political system.

“Politics is more polarized than it’s ever been. It’s source of cynicism more than it’s ever been. It’s more about strategic divisions than it’s ever been.”

Despite such a pessimistic political portrayal, realistic as it may have been, Trudeau’s presence seemed almost a contradictory reflection of the current political system and a hint of what the future could hold.

Arguably following in his father’s footprints, Justin Trudeau began his stretch in politics throughout the 2000s after four years of working as a high-school teacher in British Columbia. Beginning his political career with open support for outgoing prime minster Jean Chrétien at a 2003 Liberal leadership convention, Trudeau is currently the Member of Parliament for the Montreal electoral division of Papineau. At 39, Trudeau is still young for a politician, but many believe he is scrutinized through the lens of legacy: to one day take office as prime minster.

Trudeau did not comment on this directly. Instead, he stressed that there is dire need to change the current mechanisms of politics, calling this, “the need to change space and time.”

“In the past, civilizations either adapted or perished. We don’t have that luxury. We are not a cluster of local civilizations. We are global. Everyone is connected.”

He added, “If our system collapses, it collapses everywhere. We cannot let the issues of poverty and economic instability to hit full force before we shift our behaviours.”

Such issues, most of which captured the dialogue surrounding politics, are only as important as people make them. Trudeau acknowledged this. He admitted that while politics is meant to stress the importance of social issues, there has been a systematic dissatisfaction at all level of governance.

“Partisan politics turns people off of politics,” he noted, “but it’s never been more important to connect people with politics because the stakes have never been higher. We have to rethink very basic assumptions of where we are in this world and what we want to do.”

Only through commonalities between individuals, rather than division between them, can this be achieved.

This, however, is not a task necessary for the leaders of tomorrow. Instead, Trudeau stressed it was an absolutely necessity for the present.

“I hate when people say to the young, ‘You will be leaders of tomorrow,’ because it’s conditional,” he said. “If you do homework, get good grades, meet the right people, then yeah, you’ll be leaders of tomorrow. If. We don’t need that. We need to give you the tools to be a good leader.”

One of these tools implicitly stated was questioning the status quo and those who represent it. In this light, an open question period followed Trudeau’s brief speech.

Students, faculty and members of various organizations queried on variety of topics from teenage pregnancy to less than optimal funding for research in Canada.

While each response was different, whether it addressed access to post-secondary education or mitigating political differences to ensure the nation’s best interests, Trudeau seemed to centralize on the common theme of choice, and ultimately, passion for that choice.

“I don’t care if you get involved in active politics or not,” he said. “I care whether you get passionate about something in your community or not. Politics are not for everyone … but if more individuals find what they are passionate about, change will come.”

He stressed, “As soon as individuals realize the power to shape the world – when they choose this to do, not to do, to support, not to support – then the ability to change the world goes from a nice idea to being flat out inevitable.”

And maybe, just maybe, changing the world, or at least the political system, begins with inspirational words like those.

Justin Trudeau will be visiting two other Universities throughout the week, delivering similar non-partisan talks to students, after which he will return to his Papineau riding.

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