Thalidomide survivors accuse federal minister of saying their deaths would be good for the government

By Jonathon Van Maren

I actually missed this story from last month—and if it is true, it is pretty appalling. Apparently, a number of thalidomide survivors met with Kent Hehr, the federal minister for persons with disabilities, on October 19–and he took the opportunity to make some truly ugly remarks (which he either flatly denies or says were misconstrued.) Thalidomide, for those of you unfamiliar with this issue, was a drug once prescribed to pregnant women for morning sickness—until it was discovered to cause death or horrible deformities in children. In 2014, the Canadian House of Commons voted unanimously to support thalidomide survivors, and the minister was meeting with one group to discuss the issue.

It is during that meeting that the survivors claim things went badly. According to the CBC:

Sampson said one of the most repugnant statements in the 30-minute meeting came after the group explained to Hehr that they have shortened lifespans and have already lost five members since the House of Commons passed a unanimous motion to support survivors back in 2014.

“He said to us, ‘So you probably have about 10 years left then now. That’s good news for the Canadian government.’ We were shocked and appalled,” she said.

One of the members in that meeting was hospitalized in the ICU two weeks later, said Sampson, making his comments “especially repugnant.”

Sampson said her team wrote to the prime minister directly about the meeting and Hehr later called her to apologize.

Again, the minister denies making the remark about lifespans, but if true, it simply adds to a growing eugenic attitude—just recently for example, a Dutch man with Down Syndrome was told by a researcher exactly how much his life costs the state each year. Iceland has managed to nearly wipe out its entire Down Syndrome population, and other Western nations are rapidly following suit. The CBC reported last year that “medically assisted deaths” could save Canada up to $136.8 million in healthcare costs. And I could go on.

Disability rights activists have been highlighting this growing attitude for some time, and governments should be listening more closely. For some reason, the ferocity with which progressives pursue fictitious rights like the “right to die” evaporates when it comes time to ensure that those with disabilities are given the rights and protections our society owes them. Perhaps we should be asking why.


For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.


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