Liberal MP claims 'assisted suicide' is not suicide

'I think it’s irresponsible and untrue honestly to claim that MAID has anything to do with suicide,' Liberal MP Annie Koutrakis told MPs. As a member of the special MAID committee, she also claimed no witness testimony referred to the procedure as suicide.

Liberal MP claims 'assisted suicide' is not suicide
The Canadian Press / Sean Kilpatrick
Remove Ads

The Trudeau Liberals have grown increasingly disillusioned by the critics of medical assistance in dying (MAID) — none more so than MP Annie Koutrakis, who claimed seeking assisted suicide is not in fact suicide. 

“I think it’s irresponsible and untrue honestly to claim that MAID has anything to do with suicide,” Koutrakis told MPs Tuesday in the Commons. “The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of all Canadians to have access to critical mental health resources and suicide prevention services,” she added.

Koutrakis, a member of the special MAID committee, also claimed no witness testimony referred to MAID as suicide.

Her comments follow a question by Conservative MP Garnett Genuis, asking how the Trudeau Liberals will prevent suicidal Canadians from accessing the procedure.

After MAID became legal in 2016, a Québec court expanded access after it ruled the "reasonably foreseeable" death clause unconstitutional.

In 2021, Ottawa permitted anyone with "a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability" who is in "an advanced state of irreversible decline" to access MAID — not including the mentally ill. 

But a recent Leger survey says most Canadians (77%) support the regulations as they are. Only 42% want the program to include people suffering only from mental illness — up from 31%, according to Angus Reid.

On February 2, 2022, Health Minister Mark Holland introduced Bill C-39, delaying the expansion of MAID to Canadians whose sole underlying condition is a mental disorder.

Initially, eligible persons could have accessed MAID last March 17, but the federal government extended the temporary exclusion period until March 17, 2024. That too has been delayed. It remains before the House of Commons as of writing.

On January 29, Conservative and NDP MPs on a special parliamentary committee called for a pause to the planned expansion of eligibility for such cases. 

Nearly half (47%) of Leger respondents endorsed pausing the policy in place of more comprehensive consultations. However, 37% disagreed with the delay.

“Two-thirds of Canadians (65%) believe that people suffering from an illness that can affect their cognitive ability should be able to make a request in advance for medical assistance in dying,” reads the committee survey. 

Health Minister Mark Holland ultimately adopted their recommendations, marking the second consecutive delay after a previous year-long review. 

“We agree with the conclusion that the committee has come to that the system is, at this time, not ready and more time is required,” he said. 

At the time, Conservative MP Michael Cooper argued that "Canada isn't ready," pointing to concerns raised by psychiatrists in determining the irreversibility of mental illness or the rationality behind a request for assisted death. "These Liberals have put ideology ahead of evidence-based decision making," he claimed.

A testy back and forth ensued February 15 between Cooper and Holland, who questioned his motives behind amending the policy.

“Minister, there are no legislative safeguards,” said Cooper Thursday at the health committee. “Well, you can say that,” replied Holland.

“You haven’t cited one. You haven’t cited any,” continued Cooper. “And you haven’t responded to 78% of Ontario psychiatrists who believe that whatever safeguards will be put in place will be insufficient,” he added.

“We’re talking about wrongful deaths when there has been an inappropriate application of MAID.”

According to the 2021 MAID annual report, the number of Canadians accessing the procedure has steadily increased between 2016 and 2021, totalling 31,664 patients, typically above 70 years of age.

Cooper then called Holland “reckless” for placating an “ideological” stance in expanding MAID further, prompting a heated response by the minister. “I reject that totally,” replied Holland.

Remove Ads
Remove Ads

Don't Get Censored

Big Tech is censoring us. Sign up so we can always stay in touch.

Remove Ads