Although it’s only autumn, Angelina Ireland hopes and prays October 22 will be a very good Friday for the Delta Hospice Society.
The date is the cut-off for new members to join the Society and help turn the tide against pro-euthanasia and assisted suicide activists seeking to seize control of the suburban Vancouver DHS board and its $4 million in assets.
Ireland wants to ensure the board has the numbers to protect those assets and put dollars toward developing a network of private hospices across Canada and the U.S. where Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) will not be allowed.
The DHS board president and her colleagues also want a resolution passed amending the Hospice Society’s constitution to prevent MAiD ever being permitted in a private DHS facility. The resolution and the re-election of the current board will take place at a virtual annual general meeting later this year. Its date will be set once membership closes next Friday.
“The important date right now is October 22,” Ireland told Convivium in an interview. “Anybody who wants to become a member has to do so by (next Friday). By joining, people will have the opportunity to re-elect a pro-life board of directors and vote ‘no’ to euthanasia becoming part of the society.”
Ireland said DHS has already won a substantial victory just by maintaining the right to open the membership to all who want to join and by having the AGM held virtually so its accessible across North America. It took a heated, three-hour meeting on Oct. 1 for the current DHS board to prevail over its pro-MAiD rivals. Ironically, it was able to do so by turning the tables using legal decisions that actually went against the Society in 2020.
Rulings from two from B.C. courts, in cases initiated by MAiD supporters, denied the Society the power to limit its membership. The Supreme Court of Canada then refused to hear an appeal of those decisions.
The recent meeting, Ireland said, paradoxically focused on pro-MAiD activists themselves seeking to limit membership at the upcoming AGM given that DHS had taken the rulings as read and used them to mobilize about 7,000 new members throughout Canada and the U.S.
“All of a sudden, this was just a local issue. When they took us to court so that we couldn’t turn away their euthanasia activist members, it wasn’t a local issue. When they organized a national membership drive advertised across Canada, it wasn’t a local issue. But when that (membership drive) wasn’t as successful as they anticipated, now it became just a local issue,” Ireland said.
She estimates the DHS board has attracted about 4,000 members more than its MAiD opponents but neither she nor her colleagues are taking anything for granted: “We know our opponents are very smart and very motivated. They’re on a membership drive now, too. They want to overthrow the board to take over the Society. We have to rely on a grassroots effort from people who understand this is a showdown between a pro-life board of directors and people who want to elect a pro-death board.”
Ireland insists, though, that the real objective goes far beyond the bitter infighting of the last few years that have seen the DHS board forced out of the 10-bed Irene Thomas Hospice and forced to give up its palliative care support centre, both of which were built through millions of dollars in fundraising. The goal, she says, is to sink down roots for a private-sector, non-faith-based palliative care network that offers “sanctuary” against State-mandated provision of MAiD.
“We’ve already built a hospice and we intend to build another hospice. But we also want to help other communities build hospices that are euthanasia-free and free from government control and intervention. They (the local health authority) stole 10 of our hospice beds because we refused to kill our patients. We want to help to create 10,000 hospice beds (throughout Canada and the U.S.) where euthanasia will not be performed.”
Ireland believes that vision will appeal across North America to MAiD opponents, especially when the minimal level of support is a $10 membership fee and a commitment to go online and vote at the virtual AGM. The scars of experience she and the other DHS members have endured in fighting to keep their vision of palliative care MAiD-free surely can’t have been suffered in vain, she says.
“We are now a national organization with a place in the public square to fight for authentic palliative care against the machine: governments and their legislation, these activists, the media. But we need people to become members by October 22 and come to that AGM to vote ‘no’ with a national voice against euthanasia.”
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