Speech by Senator Tobias C. Enverga on Bill C-14, medical assistance in dying

Criminal Code

Speaker's Ruling

June 17, 2016


The Honourable Senator Tobias C. Enverga Jr. :

Honourable senators, from the very start of our debate on assisted dying I have stated that I am intrinsically and profoundly against any form of killing, legally or illegally.

My general views represent the views shared by most of the people in my community with me. However, I also acknowledge the reality of the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling on assisted dying. We did not win every battle. However, we were able to put in a key amendment like palliative care for which I have advocated passionately.

Honourable senators, as I mentioned in my second reading statement, my belief is that if we show our patients compassion and love, and offer the right treatment option or palliative care, chances are we will not see anyone asking for death. I have even relayed my views to the Minister of Health. I stated that with a new law allowing physician-assisted death, palliative care is immensely essential and extremely critical as an option for those thinking about ending their lives. She agreed with me on this.

I want to remind my friends, who share similar views, and my colleagues in this chamber that our battle has just begun on a different battleground. We should share our views with the provincial governments, who have the jurisdiction over health care. We should ensure that palliative care is given the due consideration and funding it deserves.

Honourable senators, we heard the House of Commons' and the Senate's passionate pleas to give rights to minorities, to those people in the Far North or in remote areas to give them every facility and every availability for physician-assisted dying so that they can die. I would plead with them to have the same passion to represent their own respective provinces and territories, and to ensure the same equal opportunity to everyone, from the cities to the Far North to the most remote areas to be able to receive the best palliative care possible when they need it, so that they can live and not seek death for lack of other options.

Honourable senators, I would have wanted to see conscience protection for health care practitioners and a judicial review process put in this bill, but now I can only hope that conscience protection and judicial review will be put in place in the province's health care policies and assisted-death guidelines where they belong.

On this dark day, I will end with a quote from Pope Benedict, who said:

The true answer cannot be putting someone to death, however "kindly," but to bear witness to the love that helps us to face pain and agony in a human way.

And from a great humanitarian, the current Pope, Pope Francis, who said:

The belief that . . . euthanasia is "an act of dignity," . . . are all part of conventional wisdom that offers a false sense of compassion . . . .

. . . the Gospel provides a true image of compassion in the figure of the Good Samaritan, who sees a man suffering, has mercy on him, goes close and offers concrete help.

With today's rapid scientific and technological advancements the possibility of physical healing has drastically increased . . . . However, the ability to truly care for the person has almost gone in the opposite direction. . . .

No human life exists that is more sacred than the other, just like there is no human life qualitatively more significant than another solely in virtue of resources, rights, economic opportunities and higher social status.

Honourable senators, I dread having to make a decision between a greater or lesser evil. But if we as legislators are to select one, please do decide on the lesser evil before us. I maintain, by allowing for this to take place, we are giving up on our vulnerable, no matter how many well-intended yet non-committal statements we make about working towards better palliative care in our great country.

Let us remember what I have mentioned before: What a waste of human life if we kill today and we find the cure tomorrow.

God bless us all and thank you.