An Open Letter to Members of Parliament RE: C384

June 19, 2009


An Open Letter to Members of Parliament



The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), a national human rights organization of persons with disabilities working for an inclusive and accessible Canada, is alarmed by Bill C-384. I urge you to vote against Bill C-384. CCD opposes assisted suicide and euthanasia because of the adverse impact it would have on persons with disabilities. CCD submits that people with disabilities would bear the negative social consequences of any legislation that allows the killing of people perceived to be suffering.

Bill C-384 would alter the fundamental Canadian norm which prohibits killing. This is too important a value to be changed by an ill-conceived Private Member’s Bill. If Bill C-384 were passed, this prohibition against killing would be altered, making it permissible to kill in certain circumstances:

- a request maker at least 18 years of age
- two written requests freely made seeking to die
- the request maker appears to be lucid
- the request maker is experiencing physical or mental pain without prospect of relief or terminal illness.

In the public mind, these circumstances are characterized as suffering. Longstanding social practices and beliefs have misled many people without disabilities to conflate disability with suffering. Unlike nondisabled people, people with disabilities do not consider themselves to be suffering. They are as satisfied with their quality of life as nondisabled people are with theirs. Nevertheless, this does not dissuade misguided people from seeking to end the lives of people with disabilities. A number of different people and organizations in the disability community, such as Dr. Dick Sobsey (University of Alberta), CCD and Not Dead Yet, have been working to increase awareness about this phenomenon and we encourage you to review the materials on their web sites.

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities is certain that such negative cultural perceptions regarding disability will result in nondisabled people, influenced by erroneous concepts of compassion, to conclude that the circumstances of disability are “without relief” and they will act to secure death as provided for in Bill C-384. Subtle, and not so subtle pressures, can be placed upon vulnerable persons with a disability to motivate them to seek a death sanctioned by Bill C-384.

Canada would have a new social norm—one where people without disabilities would “help” people with disabilities by killing them. As a legislator, you are mandated by the Equality Rights Section (Section 15) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to ensure that Canadian legislation does not have an adverse impact upon persons with disabilities. VOTE AGAINST BILL C-384 TO PRESERVE THE EQUALITY, LIFE AND SECURITY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES IN CANADA.


Marie White