May 9, 2016
Honorable Members of the House of Commons of Canada,
Together with many of our fellow citizens we are distressed by the prospect of legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide. From time immemorial, the act of taking the life of another person has been considered a wrong punishable by law. Now, early in the twenty-first century, some would have us believe that this is a good. Killing remains a grave evil - even if it is disguised as “medical aid in dying”.
We are all gratefully aware that in our own time great strides have been made and continue to be made in medical care and pain control. The principles that have inspired the research which led to these advancements and on which Western medicine rests will be undermined if our governments assign medical practitioners the “right” to euthanize or assist in the suicide of their patients. In a universal health care system, which in large part serves a rapidly aging population and is dependent on a shrinking tax base, there is a real danger that the normalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide will soon translate into an obligation to die.
Politicians must ask themselves if they are willing to sacrifice the right of the many to security of person and freedom of conscience for the newly claimed right of a few to euthanasia or assisted suicide. It is imperative that the Charter-guaranteed rights of the countless medical practitioners and institutions whose consciences and values forbid their cooperation with “medical assistance in dying” be acknowledged and protected by legislation. We encourage you to work to that end, and for increased access to palliative care.
Some have claimed that for a Member of the House of Commons or the Senate to oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide on religious or ethical grounds would mean imposing personal views on the Canadian electorate. However, the view that access to euthanasia and assisted suicide is tolerable or even desirable itself is not “neutral” and, in fact, reflects a particular ideological perspective. To advance and provide access to euthanasia and assisted suicide is to promote a particular world view, a specific philosophy of life. Moreover, it reverses not only a law but the underlying principles and values which innumerable generations have held that protecting and saving life is essential for the common good.
Canada stands at a crossroad. How you vote in the matter of Bill C-14 will help to propel this nation in one direction or another: along the road of life and the common good, or on the slippery slope of eliminating human life. The decision you must make will be one of the most important in your life. May the Spirit of wisdom and strength enlighten you in this serious and decisive moment, and guide you in protecting the dignity and sacredness of human life.
+Most Rev. Richard W. Smith
Archbishop of Edmonton
President of the Board
2500 Don Reid Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1H 2J2