Montreal

Justin Trudeau, Philippe Couillard hail era of co-operation after meeting in Quebec City

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard hailed a new era of co-operation between Ottawa and the province on Friday after a lengthy meeting that touched on a wide variety of topics.

Prime Minister praises Quebec's approach on controversial topic of medically-assisted deaths

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, right, sits down with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, for a work meeting at his Quebec City office on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard hailed a new era of co-operation between Ottawa and the province on Friday after a lengthy meeting that touched on a wide variety of topics.

They emerged to say they had discussed dying in dignity, the economy, infrastructure, federal transfers, climate change, financial aid to Bombardier Inc. and Quebec's place in Canada.

It was the ongoing debate surrounding assisted dying that dominated a subsequent news conference, with Trudeau praising Quebec's approach on the controversial topic.

"I have always congratulated Quebecers and the National Assembly for its responsible and rigorous approach to such a delicate and sensitive topic for so many people," Trudeau said.

"In our submission to the Supreme Court for a six-month extension beyond Feb. 6, we are very open (to the idea) that the Supreme Court of Canada consider the fact that Quebec has already established the kind of framework the court asked the federal government and the provinces to establish."

The Supreme Court struck down the prohibition on doctor-assisted dying last February and gave the government a year to come up with a new law recognizing the right of clearly consenting adults who are enduring intolerable physical or mental suffering to seek medical help in ending their lives.

The Liberal government is seeking a six-month extension on the court's deadline which, if granted, would give it until August to come up with a new law.

Quebec has passed its own law on medically assisted dying, which went into effect Thursday. It will remain in effect at least until Dec. 18, when the Quebec Court of Appeal is to hear arguments on a lower court ruling which suspended some key aspects of the new law.

The body that oversees Crown prosecutors in Quebec announced Thursday it will not file charges against any medical personnel who help people die so long as evidence shows the patient was "not in a situation of vulnerability."

The stance came a day after provincial Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée issued guidelines to prosecutors.

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