Trudeau defends assisted suicide bill as deadline nears

May 31, 2016

A bill legalizing medically-assisted suicide in Canada strikes the right balance between defending fundamental freedoms and protecting against abuses, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Saturday (May 28).

Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau attends his first official news conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa, Tuesday Oct.20, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The draft legislation, introduced by Trudeau’s Liberal government in April, would allow people with incurable illnesses or disabilities to end their lives with a medical professional’s help, but stopped short of extending the right to minors and the mentally ill.

“There are people who think we should have gone further with this bill, there are people who think we already went too far,” Trudeau told reporters at a Liberal convention in Winnipeg.

“Making this first step a responsible, prudent one that gets the balance right between protecting vulnerable Canadians and defending rights and freedoms is what we have focused on and I’m confident that we got that balance right.”

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The Supreme Court of Canada overturned a ban on medical-assisted suicide last year and gave the new government until June 6 to come up with a law, adding Canada to the handful of Western countries that allow the practice.

Trudeau said he expected Parliament to meet that deadline. He added, however, that failing to do so could lead to uneven access to assisted dying across Canada. If new legislation is not in place by June 6, last year’s Supreme Court ruling comes into effect, allowing assisted dying for those with a “grievous and irremediable” medical condition.


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