CCD's Response to "Taking Mercy" (Global 16x9; March 16, 2012)

To: Jennifer Tryon (


From: Rhonda Wiebe, Co-chair CCD Ending of Life Ethics Committee and
Dean Richert, Co-chair CCD Ending of Life Ethics Committee, in consultation with
Dr. Heidi Janz (John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre, University of Alberta) and
Krista Flint (Inclusive Humanity)

Re: CCD’s Response to “Taking Mercy” (Global 16x9; March 16, 2012)

Date: March 26, 2012

Your media blog “Taking Mercy” (March 16, 2012) has left many Canadians in a state of shock. The entire program was filled with misinformation, fear, and stigma. Those of us who live with disabilities could easily have shared hospital rooms, support services, classrooms or neighbourhoods with Tracy Latimer and other children like her who have been murdered by their parents. When we hear ourselves categorized as suffering and having lives that are only worthy of death, we are reminded how segments of our society – represented by the panelists you had on your blog – don’t think we belong. Your guests, including “parent” Robert Latimer and “ethicist” Arthur Schafer only feed into the existential nightmare many Canadians with disabilities face because they perpetuate the idea that it is better to be dead than disabled. Some of us may not be able to speak or walk or hear or see, but that doesn’t mean we don’t belong. Even if we experience pain or need help going to the bathroom, we are still Canadians, we are protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and no one has the right to kill us.

Your blog refused to acknowledge that we are so much more than the sum of our disabilities. Murdering us is not a compassionate or reasonable choice. Some of us with disabilities who are now adults vividly recollect the nightmare we had as children when another child like us, Tracy Latimer, was killed by her father. That nightmare was only intensified when we watched so many Canadians express sympathy for the killer rather than the victim.

We don’t understand how you could frame the justification for murdering persons with disabilities using a term like “mercy.” Our existence should not be dependent on someone else’s subjective measurement of our worthiness. When you reduce the powerful and purposeful lives of persons with disabilities by using trite comments likening our existence to that of pets, plants, mere burdens or simplified stereotypes, you portray us as subhuman and suffering.

Where were the voices of citizens living with significant disabilities? Where were the voices of family members and advocates who see accommodation and inclusion as appropriate responses to supporting persons with disabilities? Your blog shut us out. In what other instance where issues of marginalized groups are discussed, be they First Nations persons, women, newcomers or whomever, do you go forward with a panel discussion that doesn’t include anyone from that group? 

We are challenging Global, in the name of journalistic balance, to stage a follow-up episode featuring persons with disabilities who want to live and who see a danger in opening up the debate on euthanasia. Only good can come from providing an opportunity for a broader, fairer public discourse.