• A member of the original wondercafe, Punkins has passed away. There's a thread in the In Memoriam section

MAID Concerns - How Will Our Politicians Respond?

revsdd

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A few weeks ago in the thread on the UCC statement on Assisted Dying I promised to write a letter to several MPs and Cabinet ministers outlining my personal concerns about the law in the light of a case we were discussing. I got around to doing that today and put it in the mail at around 5:30 this afternoon. I sent it to:

Mr. Jamie Schmale, MP (My Conservative Member of Parliament)
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, PC, MP, Prime Minister
The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, PC, MP, Minister of Justice
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, PC, MP, Minister of Health
The Honourable Andrew Scheer, PC, MP, Leader of the Opposition
The Honourable Rob Nicholson, PC, MP, Conservative Justice Critic
Ms Marilyn Gladu, MP, Conservative Health Critic
Mr. Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the NDP
Mr. Guy Caron, MP, Parliamentary Leader of the NDP
Mr. Murray Rankin, MP, NDP Justice Critic
Mr. Don Davies, MP, NDP Health Critic

I'm going to use this thread to keep you updated on responses I receive. Since the people I wrote to are hopefully going to be replying to me personally and privately, I'm not going to reproduce their responses verbatim. I'll let you know when I receive replies, from whom, and try to give a brief summary (but no details or quotes) of what their response is.

To start with, here, once again, is the letter I said I would write. We'll take it from there.

January 3, 2018

Dear

I am writing to express some concerns about the application of "An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying)", which was assented to on June 16, 2016. I am writing specifically in response to an incident this past summer (of which I recently became aware) involving a young woman in Newfoundland and Labrador named Candice Lewis, whose situation has been well reported in the media. I want to make clear that I am not writing on behalf of any institution or lobby group, but as a private citizen with personal concerns.

Although I support the general thrust of this law - which as I understand it was intended to provide terminally ill patients the choice of ending their lives with dignity and with as little pain and suffering as possible with the assistance of a physician - this particular case in St. Anthony raised troubling questions.

First is the suggestion that the doctor in question inappropriately raised the possibility of medically assisted death with the family of Ms. Lewis. Section 241.2 (4) of the Act requires that in the event that a person is unable to make this decision for themself, another adult can make the decision "... on the person’s behalf and under the person’s express direction." But Ms. Lewis apparently had given no "express direction." Therefore, the suggestion of the doctor should not even have been made because Ms. Lewis's family did not have the authority to give consent. While I realize that issues of consent, power of attorney and the appointment of substitute decision makers fall under provincial jurisdiction, to the extent that these issues were in relation to a law passed by the Parliament of Canada, and that the federal law in this case seems clear as to who can make such decisions on behalf of another person and under what circumstances that decision can be made, it seems that the federal government should have some concern about the way the federal law was applied in this case. I would urge the federal government to raise this case and the broader issue with the provinces in order to ensure that "medical assistance in dying" (MAID) is not made available inappropriately.

My second concern is that Ms. Lewis was seen as eligible for MAID in the first place. Ms. Lewis's condition was not terminal - and according to media reports she has, in fact, apparently begun to recover from the illness that took her to the hospital on that occasion. I am aware that to be eligible for MAID, Section 241 (2) (d) requires that a person's "natural death has become reasonably foreseeable ..." This standard, given Ms. Lewis's subsequent improvement, does not seem to have been met. Again, the fault for that may lie not with the law, but with the doctor and the doctor's understanding of the law and when MAID is appropriate, but I would encourage the government to at least consider amending the law to make as clear as possible that MAID can only be administered in the event of a clearly terminal illness, which would require more just the opinion of one doctor. I would strongly prefer that at least two doctors be required to agree that a patient's condition is terminal before the possibility of MAID can even be considered by those empowered to make the decision.

I am aware that some advocates for the disabled have expressed significant concerns about this law - and that some of those concerns seem to resonate with the case of Ms. Lewis. Some have expressed worry that, in an era of increasing government debt and the impact of budget cuts on health care, such concerns might lead to a feeling that - to be blunt - money could be saved by terminating the lives of severely disabled people who may not be terminally ill. Since I am writing this during the Christmas season, I cannot help but think of the words of Ebenezer Scrooge as I reflect upon this concern: "they had better die, and decrease the surplus population." I am certain that this is not the intent of any government - federal or provincial - and I consider the possibly far-fetched. But it is a concern some have expressed, and I believe this law needs to be worded and administered in such a way that these fears are mitigated. Certainly there is no doubt that disabled Canadians compose a vulnerable community in this country, whose rights need to be safeguarded. There are statistics that suggest that disabled people suffer extremely high rates of abuse and/or neglect - and these statistics feed into the fear that this law could be abused at the expense of the disabled community. In response to that concern, while I again affirm that I support the general thrust of the law, I would re-emphasize my specific requests: (1) that the federal government work with the provinces to ensure that proper consent from the appropriate people under the Act is required and given before MAID is administered, and (2) that MAID should only be administered in the event of a clearly terminal illness, which would require that at least two doctors be required to agree that a patient's condition is terminal before the possibility of MAID can even be considered by those empowered to make the decision.

Thank you for your attention,

The Reverend Dr. Steven Davis
 

Carolla

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Thanks Steven for this initiative - it will indeed be interesting to see what responses you receive.
 

BetteTheRed

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That is a really honest, and honorable, response, to the concerns raised here on WC2. I will also be interested in the gist of the responses you get; it would be nice to hope for some thoughtful ones, but I suspect facile will be more the norm.
 

Luce NDs

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I know I'm ordered not to speak to you Rev. Daviδ ... but I have always been critical of institutional order.

Very appropriate letter, by the way. But the matter of the professional healer in question and the words of law. An acquaintance who taught medicine, indicated I should have studied medicine, because in her words; I can read. Isn't that a profound statement ...

Reading and the rheology of mind involve some alternation of thought patterns ... something accepted by the physically rigid ... due to thoughts being nothing ... intelligence is eliminated in a flash! Yet the assimilation of warm words of alien nature (from out of here) does create a glow unseen by a large paradigm (ordinary people conditioned to seeing it darker?).

Thus word doe speak to some of us ... even if a lyric laying there on the medium with understanding ... a destructive power to ancient brutishness? Some thinking just Isis may be prerequisite to dealing with a river of rods carved with story-myths ... a river of St. IX to those that believe they're fixed? Does that sound like fixed polity?

Ain't Eire a beauty to learn from ... thus the legend of Tara ... worked in Atlanta ... divided the troops ... the purpose was lost in the winds ... someone was gathering bitz (chi*z) as future chad ... and you just know imposed naïveté is just fetching to some fishy to others ... thus we swing ... like Faux Called ... pendulous? Fati ecce ... sometimes homo ecce ... no sapiens ...

PS: I didn't study medicine formerly because my poor mentors said I was too stupid (suffering my father's naïveté) to learn anything ... I had lack of confidence (in which case some people say I should be a politician). I oppose that as I do find naivete offensive .. and am a latent processer of what people say explicitly or write down as implicit ... a lower power of scripting ... this may be found in the future of just transmit to the greater sole .. as transcendence ... few believe in flighty thoughts ... and below ground level processing ... two divined spirits ... one uppidy the other as pure soul ... bottom line to the great accounting ... ales*sor power!

Some say Adam's whetting ... what Ur? Tis only an icon of the unseen stranger ... many cannot envision balanced thoughts ... thus ballads ...

There is a kind 've threshold to cross ... believe Ide ... tis primal energy ... won't gow aye ... under the rules of conservation of things not observed ... strange aye?
 
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revsdd

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I know I'm ordered not to speak to you Rev. Daviδ

Just noticed your post. To be clear, that is not what you have been "ordered." With those words you once again choose to play the victim and ignore the truth.

What I have asked is that if you're going to reply to me or quote me (thus suggesting a desire for interaction with me) you do so in a way that I can understand without having to spend time that I either do not have (or, frankly, do not want to give) to deciphering your writing. I have told you that I believe you're very intelligent, very well-read and have a lot to contribute. I have told you that I would enjoy interacting with you. But I will not take the time that would be required to decipher your code, or whatever it is.

That's a simple, straightfoward, polite and clear-cut request. You choose to disrespect me by not honouring it. Please don't play the victim. (And, unless you're going to write clearly as I have asked you to) please don't respond to this.
 

Luce NDs

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Are you beginning to appear victimised and disconcerted with strangers?
 

revsdd

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Are you beginning to appear victimised and disconcerted with strangers?
You see - I can understand that, and so I will respond and we can interact.

How I appear is not for me to say. It is for others to say. I can only speak to my feelings. I do not feel either "victimized" or "disconcerted with strangers," although I'm not entirely certain what that means. I do take note of the fact that you generally refuse to honour my request to you, which is a sign of disrespect. Victimization would, in my vocabulary at least, be far more extreme than simply pointing out disrespect.
 

revsdd

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So, 23 days after mailing the letter I received my first reply today - and I was surprised. It was from the office of the Prime Minister. Not Justin himself, mind you - someone identified as the "Executive Correspondence Officer." Doesn't even have the Great One's machined signature. Oh well. At least it was a response. Nothing too substantive. Just acknowledging the letter and an assurance that "your comments have been duly noted and appreciated" and that a copy of my letter will be forwarded to the Minister of Justice (which I've already done, of course.) So, from a policy perspective - non-committal and not even really addressing the issue.

From a representative democracy perspective - as I said I was surprised that the first response came from Trudeau's office. Yes he has a lot of staff handling correspondence (enough to have an "Executive Correspondence Officer") but I assume that the PMO also gets a huge volume of mail. So, kudos to the PMO for the fastest reply. I was disappointed that the first response did not come from my local MP. As a Conservative backbencher he doesn't have the same staff as the PMO, but I'm sure doesn't have the same volume of correspondence either, and I would have expected a relatively prompt response from him (at least an acknowledgement of receiving my letter) to what I think is a thoughtful letter from one of his own constituents.

I'll keep you all up to date.
 

Luce NDs

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So, 23 days after mailing the letter I received my first reply today - and I was surprised. It was from the office of the Prime Minister. Not Justin himself, mind you - someone identified as the "Executive Correspondence Officer." Doesn't even have the Great One's machined signature. Oh well. At least it was a response. Nothing too substantive. Just acknowledging the letter and an assurance that "your comments have been duly noted and appreciated" and that a copy of my letter will be forwarded to the Minister of Justice (which I've already done, of course.) So, from a policy perspective - non-committal and not even really addressing the issue.

From a representative democracy perspective - as I said I was surprised that the first response came from Trudeau's office. Yes he has a lot of staff handling correspondence (enough to have an "Executive Correspondence Officer") but I assume that the PMO also gets a huge volume of mail. So, kudos to the PMO for the fastest reply. I was disappointed that the first response did not come from my local MP. As a Conservative backbencher he doesn't have the same staff as the PMO, but I'm sure doesn't have the same volume of correspondence either, and I would have expected a relatively prompt response from him (at least an acknowledgement of receiving my letter) to what I think is a thoughtful letter from one of his own constituents.

I'll keep you all up to date.
Usual power ... non-commitment ... due to unknowing soul?

Tis a dark sol ... to the core!
 
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Sounds like one of those "we got your letter" form letters. Like the one I got when I addressed an accessibility concern to BC Ferries. Although, that one came in the form of a pretty post-card.

Nevertheless, thanks for sending off your letter, Steven.
 

Luce NDs

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Sounds like one of those "we got your letter" form letters. Like the one I got when I addressed an accessibility concern to BC Ferries. Although, that one came in the form of a pretty post-card.

Nevertheless, thanks for sending off your letter, Steven.
Dead let Ur be office ... Bo rocks ...
 

revsdd

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So, 36 days after mailing the letter I received a reply from Jamie Schmale, my own Member of Parliament, and a Conservative backbencher. To his credit it is a fairly detailed letter which makes extensive references to the Carter decision, agrees with me "wholeheartedly" that compliance with the provisions and restrictions of the law must be "carefully monitored," and states that the two points I raise specifically are "inherent in the Act and must be enforced." He then promises to forward my concerns to the Minister of Health and the Minister of Justice - again, which I've already done. They're gonna get tired of my name.

Overall, though, it was a thoughtful response, even if it took longer than I thought it would from my own MP.
 

revsdd

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And today (40 days after mailing the letter) arrived a reply from the office of The Honourable Andrew Scheer, Leader of the Opposition. The letter is not signed by Mr. Scheer (or a machine.) It is literally signed "CU" - identified as "Correspondence Unit; Office of the Leader of the Opposition." Rather impersonal, not having somebody's name attached. At least the PMO had a name on their letter even if it wasn't Justin's.

Anyway, "CU" reminds me that the Conservative caucus was allowed a free vote on C-17, and that Mr. Scheer personally voted against the legislation. "CU" also assures me that the Conservatives will continue to advocate for improvements to the legislation to protect the rights of the vulnerable and the conscience rights of medical practicioners.

"CU" has forwarded my letter to Rob Nicholson, the CPC Justice Critic. I already wrote him, of course.
 

revsdd

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47 days after the letter. Today a reply came from the Department of Health. Not from the Minister of Health, to whom I addressed the letter, but from the Department of Health - with no actual name or signature on the letter, but from the "Strategic Policy Branch of Health Canada." For reasons known only to them, they've addressed this letter to "Reverend Mitchell." (Who? What?) The "Strategic Policy Branch of Health Canada" does not pay good attention to their correspondence.

They basically tell me what the Act says, but under the principle of not being able to discuss "specifics or individual cases" they don't really address my concerns that in this specific case some basic provisions of the Act were not followed.

The SPB of HC also tells me that Health Canada is accepting "public comment on the proposed regulations for monitoring medical assistance in dying." I did not know they were doing that (was it publicized - did anybody else know) and in any event in a letter dated February 12 and received today they tell me that the proposed regulations are available online UNTIL FEBRUARY 13.

Thanks a lot.

They also suggest that I contact the Minister of Justice - which I've already done. They also note that the Minister of Justice is also the "Attourney-General of Canada." I didn't know we had an "Attourney-General."

A very disappointing response.
 
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Carolla

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That is disappointing indeed, Rev Mitchell. The cynic in me says they forgot to update the form letter from its last use, explaining your name change. Did you google Rev Mitchell? Might be interesting.

They do like to hide behind the 'can't make comment on any specific cases' rationale.

I saw this recently on The Prayer Bench's website - a small group study group guide on life after death, euthanasia, MAID. Looks interesting. Small Group or Individual Study: Life, Death & After - The Prayer Bench
 

Luce NDs

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The "Strategic Policy Branch of Health Canada" does not pay good attention to their correspondence

Recall this is authoritative bo rock crazy ... in humble justice they don't wish to touch this dead thingy ... real life is like that ... M-itch in Hebrew a thousand itches ... so scratch that ...

Some say that life is sane ... you really have to dig to accommodate that observation ... few note Ide ...

Tous Dei with eM itches ...
 
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