In a rare piece of good news from Canada, Health Minister Mark Holland announced on January 29 a delay of the Trudeau government’s plan to expand eligibility for euthanasia to those suffering from mental illness. The Trudeau government had already delayed the expansion by a year previously; now, in response to a joint parliamentary committee’s report indicating unresolved issues with implementation, they are preparing to delay once again. The expansion was scheduled to take place on March 17. Holland stated that the country was not yet ready; a dissenting report by Conservative legislators described the expansion as “reckless and dangerous” and called on the government to abandon it entirely.
Over the past several years, Canada’s euthanasia regime has become international cautionary tale, with a nonstop string of horror stories making headlines around the world: poor people opting for euthanasia due to lack of housing; veterans being offered assisted suicide in lieu of treatment for PTSD; sick Canadians requesting lethal injections because they cannot get the healthcare they need. Euthanasia is being proactively offered in many Canadian hospitals. In 2022, 13,200 Canadians died by state-sanctioned and funded lethal injection—over 4% of recorded deaths. The planned expansion would have increased those numbers dramatically.
In recent months, the backlash to the Trudeau government’s planned expansion has grown. Conservative MP Ed Fast put forward Bill C-314 last year, which would have banned euthanasia for mental illness; it was voted down by the Liberals, although the New Democrats and eight Liberals broke rank. Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre has condemned the expansion, and Conservative MPs have gone on the road across the country, hosting town hall meetings in which they highlight the dangers posed to the mentally ill. I attended one such meeting last fall in Oxford County, Ontario—it was packed, and the MPs noted that there was still time to halt the expansion. With characteristic chutzpah, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has claimed that his government has been driven by “the desire to protect vulnerable people.”