Canada’s Euthanasia Slippery Slope May Soon Bring Avalanche of New Reasons to Kill People

The national government, supported by the courts, is seeking to expand the state-sanctioned ‘right to die’

The building housing the Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council stands near Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario.
The building housing the Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council stands near Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario. (photo: Shutterstock)

In Canada, a nightmare has emerged. After seven years of legalized euthanasia — the killing of the sick and vulnerable — I believe we have passed the point of no return. What was thought at first by the vast majority to be a reasonable law, a law that its promoters swore would have no slippery slope, has turned into a tragic mistake … a mistake that most likely cannot be rectified given recent court decisions.

Euthanasia was made legal in June 2016. The federal government doesn’t call it “euthanasia” but rather uses the more comforting term “medical aid in dying,” or MAID. It has progressed from those in intractable pain and near death to those who are seriously ill but not facing death. Now the government has taken the extreme step of extending the “right to die” to those whose sole issue is mental illness.

The killing of the mentally ill was supposed to have happened in March of this year but has been pushed back to March 2024. Part of the problem was that the experts couldn’t come up with a definition of mental illness that would qualify for state-sanctioned death. These experts are still trying to figure it out.

This sanctioning of death for those with psychological problems has some Canadians worried we’ve gone too far. I read a column the other day by a former colleague at the National Post newspaper in Toronto. The writer, too, was worried that euthanasia had finally crossed the Rubicon.

The columnist is not opposed to MAID but thinks that there should be a limit, and that expanding this form of medical killing needs to be stopped.

In other words, MAID is good but needs to go back to its original form.

This view jibes with a February Angus Reid Institute poll that found only 31% of Canadians approved of the expansion of MAID to the mentally ill.

However, the current Liberal government seems to have no interest in these poll numbers. Euthanasia and abortion are now core beliefs of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s party. It would be fair to classify these views as “pro-death.”

Besides, euthanasia has not been an issue in the two most recent federal elections. It’s a non-issue for both the media and the voters.

For those hoping to stop the expansion, or to get rid of euthanasia altogether, there’s a serious problem.

The need for euthanasia in Canada has gone past a medical diagnosis to a kind of civic right. When the Supreme Court opened the doors to legalization by knocking down the law that had made assisted suicide illegal, it wrote: 

These provisions were also found to be an infringement of the rights of competent adults who seek to make personal decisions about their health care as a result of a grievous and irremediable medical condition that causes them enduring and intolerable suffering.

In 2019 a Quebec court said the original law’s proviso that death be reasonably foreseeable was too restrictive and interfered with a patient’s constitutional rights. The federal government could have challenged the ruling but instead used it as an excuse to push for expansion.

The original framers of the euthanasia law assumed that they could control the whirlwind. Those of us who warned that there was a very slippery slope ahead were written off as cranks and fearmongers.

But now that euthanasia is considered a right, I believe there is no going back. Courts are loath to take away rights, especially those considered “progressive.”

What makes this even more frightening — and frightened we should be — is a recent poll that found 30% of Canadians would be fine with euthanasia for those living in poverty or homeless.

Using killing to solve social problems is a legacy of Nazi Germany, where whole classes of people were deemed unworthy of life because they could not long contribute to the health of society.

This is not to say that this would happen in Canada. But given that many people who live on the streets develop serious mental problems, it’s not that far-fetched.

God help us.