Within 14 months, Quebec doctors will almost certainly begin intentionally killing their patients across the province.
They will deliberately inject the dying, the depressed, and the distraught with lethal drugs as a form of legislatively approved medical treatment.
Neither the time frame nor the wording of the preceding sentences are figurative or alarmist. They express the primary recommendations of the Quebec legislature's Select Committee on Dying With Dignity. Without a massive public outcry against them, they will be adopted and implemented by June, 2013.
The malfeasance of the elected officials responsible is breathtaking. More shocking still is the response of the public, which can be accurately described as no response at all. Somnambulantly, it seems, Canada is about to become a country where the doctor slips the needle into grandma's arm, and the orderlies come and cart her corpse away. Such language may sound harsh. It should. It is the reality we all face. We cannot, must not, soften it with euphemism.
Those outside Quebec who think this technocratic horror will never come to their province or town better think again. The very process advocated by the select committee guarantees the spread of the Quebec medical homicide model. It calls for the provincial cabinet to ignore federal criminal law by invoking the province's constitutional powers over the administration of both justice and health care. A simple ministerial directive would re-define medicalized killing as medical care. Another would direct prosecutors to refrain from laying charges in qualifying cases of health care homicide.
Such directives would be a frontal assault on the federal government's sole prerogative over the Criminal Code. They would represent perhaps the most serious unraveling yet of our constitutional order. Prime Ministers past would never have accepted such provocation.
Yet the current majority occupants of the Canadian government have been no more responsive to the threat, even as an exercise in turf protection, than has the general public. Prime Minister Harper was quick to protest the Ontario Court of Appeal's recent decision striking down Canada's prostitution laws. There has been nary a peep from the PM nor his ministers on the Quebec select committee report. Sex got their attention. Death, nothing.
The silence all around this issue is as baffling as it is distressing. Is it merely because it has been classified as a "social conservative" agenda item and that, as colleague Rob Joustra observed in a blog post last week, automatically puts it beyond the political pale in Canada? If so, then it is not only individual patients in the nation's hospitals who risk being euthanized. It is Canada as a nation where the rule of law, arising from our universal acceptance of the sanctity of human life, prevails.
Many will argue, of course, that Canada died 43 years ago when abortion was legalized. It's a valid point. But abortion was able to proceed as a procedure only by the exploitation of invented ambiguity over the legal personhood of the unborn child. No such ersatz uncertainty will possibly exist as the euthanasia needles start going into arms in Quebec next year.
Those being killed will be indisputably physically alive at the moment death is administered, and still undeniably persons even to those who employ the conscience-soothing vocabulary of "quality of life." Killing them will be the unequivocal obliteration of our foundational understanding of what it means to be Canadian, that is to be human. Opposing "dying with dignity" has nothing to do with social conservatism, and everything to do with conserving our common humanity.
When the first patients die in Quebec next year, Canada dies with them. Curious, is it not, how no one seems to care that we have a little over a year to live.