Viewers may recall a letter published last week from Elizabeth Angeconeb directed to local MP Terry Sheehan. It voiced her concerns over Bill C-7, an Act to amend the Criminal Code for Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) to persons whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable.
In Elizabeth’s letter to Mr. Sheehan, she asked some difficult questions. “If there were adequate supports in place for a disabled person, such as adequate income, better and accessible housing, access to chronic pain specialists in a timely fashion, and mental heath supports, would that person seek to end their life? What kind of message are the governments and health care practitioners sending to disabled people, when this kind of solution is offered and made accessible?”
In a prompt reply to Elizabeth’s letter, MP Terry Sheehan stated “As a Member of Parliament we devote most of our time to debating and voting on bills. I look forward to studying the bill further. It is because of engaged citizens like yourself that our riding, Sault Ste. Marie, has such a thriving democratic tradition. I am proud to be a part of that and to work for you representing your concerns in Ottawa.”
The following is Elizabeth’s response to Mr. Sheehan which she wanted to share with viewers after receiving his reply:
Miigwech for responding to my letter and for your assurance that my comments will be brought forward in any discussions on Bill C-7.
In 2015 the Liberal Party had indicated in its electoral platform that it would allow free votes and in 2016 a free vote was held on this very issue. The Liberal government has made exceptions to a free vote in certain instances (Source: Library of Parliament).
I note that you had voted Yes during the third reading in the House of Commons on this bill back on December 10 and the bill was passed. At that time, Liberal MPs were allowed a free vote on this.
Can you tell me where we are in this process? If third reading in the House of Commons resulted in the passing of this bill, what will happen if the Senate sends the bill back with amendments, as seems likely to happen. If there is another vote on this particular bill in the House of Commons will there be a free vote or not? Again, it is my understanding that a free vote will mean that the MPs are free to vote according to their conscience or ethics, or to the wishes of their constituents.
I hope to encourage others to learn about this Bill C-7 and its ramifications as well as the message that it sends if this proposed legislation becomes law. This truly is a life or death issue, and your vote will impact the lives of many people, as well as their families.”