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Meet Senator

George Furey

The Hon. George  Furey, Q.C., B.A., B.A. (Ed.), M.Ed., LL.B. A distinguished educator and lawyer with deep roots in the community, Senator George Furey is one of the leading citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador. He was appointed to the Senate on August 11, 1999, by the Rt. Honourable Jean Chrétien.

Statements & Hansard

Assisted Suicide

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Statement made on 16 June 2009 by Senator Lucie Pépin (retired)

Hon. Lucie Pépin:

Honourable senators, like abortion, assisted suicide is an issue that angers and divides people. Very often, the emotion around assisted suicide dominates the discussion of this issue.

Last month, a woman in Trois-Rivières, a city in my senatorial division, allegedly committed suicide with her spouse's help. I pay tribute to her memory. The unclear circumstances around this death reopened the debate on assisted suicide, a debate that resurfaces occasionally but has not yet reached a conclusion.

Assisted suicide is certainly an extremely complicated issue, but we cannot keep on sweeping it under the carpet.

In recent years, a number of cases of assisted suicide have gone before the courts, and some have received more media attention than others. More than once, judges stated that such matters were more Parliament's responsibility than the courts'.

That was the opinion of the two judges of the British Columbia Court of Appeal who dismissed Sue Rodriguez's appeal in March 1993. In 2004, in the Marielle Houle case, the Superior Court judge stated that it was up to parliamentarians to legislate on this issue.

Most legislators are afraid of how the public will react, but the public is actually more open than we may think. In June 2007, according to an Ipsos-Reid poll, 76 per cent of respondents felt that terminally ill patients had the right to die.

The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association recently reminded us that Canadians take it for granted that specialized care will be available at the end of their lives. Yet only four in 10 Canadians receive the quality end-of-life care they need.

It is crucial that palliative care be improved and that informal caregivers receive better support, as the Special Senate Committee on Aging has suggested.

It is also crucial that we consider how to give people who so desire the opportunity to die under medical supervision.

I know that there is currently a private member's bill before the House of Commons that would amend the Criminal Code.

This bill sets out the conditions under which a person who is at the end of life or is suffering from a debilitating illness could be helped to die with dignity once he or she has expressed his or her free and informed consent to die.

This medical assistance would be provided under strict, safe conditions, to avoid prolonged suffering.

Such a law, modelled on the laws of Belgium and the Netherlands, would reduce suicide among people at the end of life, who would be reassured to know that they have this opportunity.

Every being has the right to die in peace and with dignity. However, we have to recognize that this is not always the case for everyone.

It is time to put the conditions in place so that Canadians who so desire can die without having to leave their loved ones to defend themselves in court or without having to die abroad, like Elizabeth MacDonald, a Canadian with multiple sclerosis who died in Switzerland with the help of the Dignitas organization.

Recent Statements from Liberal Senators

Business of the Senate

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Joan Fraser | Colleagues, I'm rising to speak on behalf of my leader, the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Cowan, who had to be in Halifax tonight on public business. I must tell you that when I called him to say we were going to be adjourning for the summer tonight, he was, I could tell, quite irritated, not because he wanted us all to go on working like galley slaves but because he had already written a speech that he wanted to give tomorrow morning.

Lighthouses as Irreplaceable Symbols of Maritime Heritage—Inquiry

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Jim Munson | Thank you, Your Honour, and my apologies to Senator Champagne.

Unequal Access to Justice—Inquiry

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Joan Fraser | Colleagues, I know that Senator Jaffer was preparing to close this debate but, before she did that, I just had to say how terribly important the subject she has raised is.

The Senate—Promoting and Defending Causes that Concern the Public Interest—Inquiry

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Jim Munson | Honourable senators, I am looking for a bit of love and empathy at this late hour because I do have a speech, but you have to understand that, in the interest of having dignified departures for our five senators this week, I gave up my time to make sure that we were able to celebrate the departures of Senator Buth, Senator Segal, Senator Callbeck, Senator Dallaire and Senator Champagne.

Study on Status of Canada's International Security and Defence Relations

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Grant Mitchell | So, you thought you weren't going to hear from me? Well, I fooled you! So there! I rise in support of this report by the Defence Committee recommending that Canada become involved in ballistic missile defence with NORAD. I congratulate Senator Lang and other members of the committee for what I think was great collaborative work, completely non-partisan, very extensive and detailed with intense research.
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