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Letter: Letter writer misinformed about MAiD

Ms. Waddell has made statements about MAiD and my position that are not supported by the facts

Letter writer misinformed about MAiD

I am writing in response to the letter that was published by the Citizen online (Stop expansion of MAiD in Canada) on Jan. 27 by Ruth Waddell.

Unfortunately, Ms. Waddell has made statements about Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) and my position on the subject that are not supported by the facts, and they need to be corrected for the record.

It should be clearly stated that there is no legislation, at the time of this writing, before Parliament that will expand MAiD. The most recent legislation to expand MAiD was passed in 2021, in the previous 43rd Parliament, in the form of Bill C-7. I ultimately voted against that bill because it provided for allowing access to MAiD for people whose sole underlying medical condition was a mental disorder. I felt, at the time, that not enough necessary research or consultation had taken place before making such a significant expansion.

In fact, the Liberal government announced last month in December that it would seek to delay the expansion to allow MAiD for mental disorders as a sole underlying medical condition (MD-SUMC). I whole-heartedly support this delay, and I look forward to seeing the government’s legislation tabled in the very near future.

What Ms. Waddell incorrectly attributes to upcoming legislation is, in fact, the subject of a committee study. I am the vice-chair of the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying, which is composed of members from both the Senate and the House of Commons. Our committee was formed as a requirement of Bill C-7, and it was tasked with study in five key areas: the state of palliative care in Canada, protection for persons with disabilities, advanced requests for MAiD, MAiD for mature minors, and MAiD for MD-SUMC. Our report will be tabled, with recommendations, in February.

Our committee heard from nearly 150 witnesses, and we received more than 350 briefs and other correspondence. These witnesses included healthcare practitioners, academics, lawyers, as well as advocacy and religious organizations. The committee also heard from individuals directly affected by MAiD. Throughout the study, we wrestled with the question of how to protect vulnerable individuals while respecting autonomy and individual choice. I expect our committee report will truly reflect the diversity of views on this difficult subject, and it will provide a framework for the road ahead, including necessary protections in law for our most vulnerable.

Rather than the “legalized killing of inconvenient Canadian citizens,” as Ms. Waddell states, I think your readers will understand and recognize that MAiD is a deeply personal matter with a whole spectrum and variety of conflicting views on the subject.

Alistair MacGregor

MP for Cowichan/Malahat/Langford