P.S. If the Chair of the committee Liberal MP Rob Oliphant (Don Valley West, Ont.) already caved-in to the Trudeau dictate (so called charter right) this speaks ill of transference and free votes and conscience ..
LeBlanc backs away from whipped vote on assisted dying bill, but Grit MPs are ‘comfortable,’ call it a
Charter of Rights issue
By RACHEL AIELLO |
Published: Monday, 02/22/2016 12:00 am EST
Published: Monday, 02/22/2016 12:00 am EST
Liberals late last week were backing away from whipping the vote on the government’s upcoming and controversial legislation on doctor-assisted suicide saying it’s too early to determine how the vote will go without seeing the bill, but Liberal MPs on the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying told The Hill Times earlier in the week that they were “comfortable” with the whipped vote.
Two weeks ago, Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc (Beauséjour, N.B.) declared the vote on the eventual right-to-die legislation will be a whipped vote for the Liberal caucus because it’s a Charter of Rights and Freedoms issue, but he told The Globe and Mail on Friday that the government will now decide whether MPs will be forced to vote for the legislation after the parliamentary committee releases its report and not until the bill is drafted.
“We decided to delay the decision about whether or not it’s a whipped vote. It’s premature to come to a final conclusion like that,” Mr. LeBlanc told The Globe and Mail. “We’re going to discuss the bill and the committee report in our caucus and we will make the decision as to how the bill be handled once the bill is introduced in the House.”
House Chair of the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying and Liberal MP Rob Oliphant (Don Valley West, Ont.) told The Hill Times that he was relieved the Liberals have backed off on the whipped vote, for now.
“When I watched the news on television or read the articles and it’s mostly about the whipping of a vote. … Having spent really hundreds of hours in the last month on making sure that we have a careful substantial report that is thorough and everything I want the discussion to be about our ideas,” Mr. Oliphant told The Hill Times. “My first reaction is good,” he said.
Liberals late last week were backing away from whipping the vote on the government’s upcoming and controversial legislation on doctor-assisted suicide saying it’s too early to determine how the vote will go without seeing the bill.
But Mr. Oliphant and other Liberal MPs The Hill Times spoke with earlier in the week say they are “comfortable” with the whipped vote, because as they were told at the start of the session, the Liberal caucus will have whipped votes on: Charter issues, platform issues, and confidence matters.
“Obviously it’s a Charter issue so I expect, and we’ve been told there are three things that will be whipped: Charter issues, platform issues, and confidence matters, and this is a Charter issue,” Mr. Oliphant said before the news broke on Friday, but later he expressed relief.
“So that takes this off the table for now and we can have that discussion later and we’ll be presenting a report in the House on Thursday,” said Mr. Oliphant. “My hope is that all MPs in the House and every party will see in the work that the committee has done and in the legislation that is presented, something they want to support.”
Mr. Oliphant wouldn’t comment on whether this was discussed in caucus, or speculate on why the Liberals backed off, but he said he wasn’t involved in any discussion about the whipped vote. He also said no one in the Liberal caucus has discussed with him the content of the report.
Mr. Oliphant told reporters last week that he is confident Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould (Vancouver Granville, B.C.) will “pay attention to our, our report and will do her best to find a way to make sure that the law is balanced.”
The Joint House and Senate Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying is due to report back to the House with legislative recommendations by the end of this week, it was given a Feb. 26 deadline when the committee was struck in early December, but according to Mr. Oliphant, the report is now almost finalized and will be ready by Thursday, Feb. 25.
The government will then have to draft legislation, consider the committees findings, and table the bill in the House with enough time to have it pass through the House and Senate Justice committees and debate processes by the time the House is scheduled to rise.
“It’s kind of a funny conversation to have at this point because we don’t even have the legislation in front of us. I don’t personally have a problem with it,” Liberal MP and committee member Julie Dabrusin (Toronto-Danforth, Ont.) told The Hill Times before The Globe and Mail broke the news on Friday.
“I’m comfortable with it in the sense that in Parliament, the decision we’re going to be making is on the structure of the legislation coming out of the Supreme Court of Canada decision, which is a Charter decision,” Ms. Dabrusin said.
Both the Conservatives and NDP caucuses have been told it will be a free vote. The news that this wouldn’t be the case for the government members had opposition MPs questioning whether the government already has the legislation drafted.
“It’s very disappointing to hear that Dominic LeBlanc would come out and say the vote is whipped before even seeing the contents of this report. It really raises the question in my mind whether this entire exercise is a sham and that the government has legislation in its back pocket that it’s ready to go forward with regardless of what this committee does,” Conservative MP and member of the committee Michael Cooper (St. Albert-Edmonton, Alta.) told The Hill Times.
“It raises the question of whether this was a genuine effort to reach a consensus or whether it was a forgone conclusion and nothing more than an exercise in public relations from the standpoint of the government and that would be very disappointing,” he said.
Liberal MP Sean Casey (Charlottetown, P.E.I.), parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, was in attendance at most meetings, according to Mr. Cooper.
NDP MP and member of the committee Murray Rankin (Victoria, B.C.) told the committee he’s looking forward to seeing what the Liberals bring forward in terms of legislation.
“I’ll be looking to see if that legislation reflects the views of the committee, one hopes that all the work we’ve done has a value,” he said.
The committee began its study of the February 2015 Supreme Court decision regarding right-to-die legislation on Jan. 18 and heard from 61 witnesses over 15 meetings, as of the end of last week.
It’s expected the committee will meet again on Tuesday to finalize the draft report that it began work on Feb. 5. According to MPs, the report will be in the spirit of the Carter ruling, but will also have to address age, advance directives, including dementia, and psychological suffering. It will be in broad policy language and a “federal framework that looks at the Criminal Code and other issues,” Mr. Oliphant told The Hill Times.
The committee members The Hill Times spoke will all emphasized that their biggest challenge is finding an appropriate balance between patients’ rights, vulnerable people, and the conscience rights of physicians.
The committee had been given a mandate to consult broadly, taking into consideration existing research, and to review laws in other countries. The committee was granted permission to travel both within and outside Canada, however, that did not end up happening. Witnesses came to Ottawa, in most cases, and others video-conferenced.
The Hill Times