The right to die debate restarted

Steven Fletcher on what he would do if he knew it wouldn’t get better

In the wake of Dr. Donald Low’s posthumous plea, Conservative MP Steven Fletcher explained his views.

Speaking on Power and Politics with Evan Solomon, Fletcher, who is a quadriplegic, said: “At the end of the day, I want to be in power to make the best decisions for myself. I’m a disabled Canadian, I don’t want someone telling me what I can or cannot do. Actually, it doesn’t even matter if I’m disabled. If was an able-bodied Canadian, I wouldn’t want people to tell me what I can or cannot do.”

“Life can be very tough. And when you can’t breathe, can’t speak and you can’t move, fully conscious — I’ve gone through that, for months. I knew I was going to get better, but if it was going to go the other way — yeah, I would ask for that,” he said, referring to assisted suicide.

Mr. Fletcher previously set out his stance in an op-ed four years ago.

In sum, what I believe is this: I support the right of an individual to choose to die with dignity. However, for that choice to be genuinely free, and for society to have confidence in that choice, we must know that we are giving the severely injured and ill the support needed to prevent them from losing hope– through the health-care system, social workers, therapy, spiritual counselling, proper insurance coverage (including automobile, and workers compensation) and the like.

Former Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde put the issue before the House with a private member’s bill in 2010. That bill was defeated by a vote of 230-57. There are only nine MPs still in the House who voted in favour of Lalonde’s bill at second reading.

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