Nation to Nation
Liberal MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette says he does not believe the government has to follow the Supreme Court’s decision on medically assisted dying.
Ouellette, an opponent to his government’s legislation, talked about the issues on APTN’s Nation to Nation.
“Well, they’ve made a change. But at the same time it doesn’t mean that we have to always accept what the Supreme Court tells us.”
Ouellette has been vocally opposed to Bill C-14 Medical Assistance in Dying despite his party having introduced it.
He said he’s worried that the Supreme Court isn’t attuned to the issues impacting all Canadians.
“The Supreme Court lives in its own bubble, its own world, and then there’s the rest of us in society,” said Ouellette.
“I respect the Supreme Court, but then at the same time as someone who comes from communities that are affected by this, as someone who thought about suicide at a very young age, this is important to me,” said Ouellette.
He doesn’t believe the Supreme Court is capable of accounting for these sorts of issues, as he said they’re part of the “one per cent” and “come from a specific tradition and perspective”
“The criminal justice system, with lady justice, is supposed to be blind. Well, she’s blind. She’s blind to the suffering of her fellow Canadians,” said Ouellette.
Ouellette is concerned that an available option of medically assisted death would have a domino effect in Indigenous communities already suffering from suicide epidemics.
He points to the series of suicides in Attawapiskat as evidence of this phenomenon.
“My fear is if a young person you know, they can set off that chain reaction, what would happen if an elder who everyone in the community respected decided to avail themselves of this option,” said Ouellette.
NDP MP Charlie Angus, whose riding includes Attawapiskat, does not share Ouellette’s concern.
“No, we don’t get to ignore the Supreme Court. And no, we don’t get to tell the Supreme Court we don’t like it. We have to deal with it,” he said. “I find it also very unfortunate that he invokes the names of young people who’ve died in some of the communities that I represent. These children didn’t die because of what’s happening in Parliament,” said Angus.
Conservative MP Cathy McLeod echoed Angus.
“In terms of him feeling that it would conflate with what is happening in Attawapiskat, I don’t see how it can do that,” said McLeod. “They’re trying to craft legislation that is very careful, that’s very protective and that really puts language around what is eligible in terms of very, very strict medical criteria,” she said.
Still, Ouellette holds firm in his position.
“I think they’ve made a terrible ruling,” said Ouellette.
“We pretend we know everything, we can pretend we can try and plan out the future, but we have to be very considerate when we are making laws because the impact can be very profound on certain groups,” he said.