Politics

Amendments to assisted dying bill defeated, C-14 passes report stage

All nine opposition amendments to the federal government's assisted dying bill failed to pass in the House of Commons Monday night.

Bill C-14 will return to the House tomorrow for 3rd reading where it will face vote to send it to Senate

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau votes against opposition amendments to the federal government's assisted dying bill Monday night in the House of Commons. (CBC)

All nine opposition amendments to the federal government's assisted dying bill failed to pass in the House of Commons Monday night. 

After the amendments were shot down, MPs voted 192-129 to send the bill to third reading, where the MPs will vote on whether to send C-14 to the Senate. 

All but four Liberal MPs voted with their party. Those that did not were Alexandra Mendes, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Robert-Falcon Ouellette and, notably, Rob Oliphant, the government appointed co-chair of the special committee studying medically assisted death.

There were 19 Conservatives who voted with the Liberals to send the bill to third reading. All NDP MPs voted against the move as did Bloc MPs and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

The Trudeau government says it is still holding out hope both houses of Parliament will approve the government's proposed bill on doctor-assisted suicide in time to have new legislation passed before the Supreme Court's deadline of June 6, but stiff opposition from some MPs and senators is making that next to impossible.

Earlier in the evening MPs voted 177-140 to send Bill C-7 to the Senate. The bill, which has also failed to meet a Supreme Court deadline, will, if passed, allow the RCMP to collectively bargain — a power it currently does not have. 

Justice Minister Jody-Wilson-Raybould acknowledged during question period in the Commons on Monday the "incredible diversity of opinion" around what has been an emotional and complex debate on assisted dying, but she said the government was still committed to having "a legal framework" in place by this time next week.

Health Minister Jane Philpott said the government was at risk of missing the deadline and that new legislation was needed "as soon as possible."

"Without legislation in place, health-care providers will not have the legal framework that they require to proceed," Philpott told MPs Monday.

Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott speaks with reporters before Question Period today 1:58

The Canadian Pharmacists Association sent out a release backing the government in its wish to see legislation in place by June 6.

"Bill C-14 strikes the appropriate balance between ensuring Canadians' right to access to assisted dying while providing the necessary protections for health-care professionals who choose to participate in assisted dying," the association said in a statement moments before question period got underway.

'Deeply flawed' bill, critics say

New Democrats Murray Rankin and Brigitte Sansoucy added their voices today to the growing number of MPs and critics expressing concerns with the government's proposed legislation on doctor-assisted suicide.

MPs Sean Casey, Michael Cooper and Murray Rankin discuss the push to get assisted dying legislation passed by June 6 14:00

"As a lawyer, I cannot accept passing a bill that I know to be unconstitutional," Rankin said on Monday during a news conference on Parliament Hill.

Rankin and Sansoucy, the NDP justice and health critics respectively, said the Liberal government's proposed legislation does not meet the minimum requirements laid out by the Supreme Court of Canada — a view also expressed by the family of the late Kay Carter, the woman at the centre of the top court's ruling over doctor-assisted suicide.

The NDP critics said the Liberals should stop hiding behind the June 6 deadline, urging them not to rush the "deeply flawed' bill through Parliament.

"Today, we are here to call on the Liberal government to listen to the vast number of commentators and experts out there ... let's fix it, let's do it right," Rankin said on Monday.

Rankin noted that even former prime minister Paul Martin told Liberals gathered during the party's convention in Winnipeg last week that Parliament should not be bound by the arbitrary deadline set by the Supreme Court. 

"Do it right, rather than doing it right now," Rankin said.

If the government's proposed bill on doctor-assisted death were to pass the House without any amendments, Rankin said, the Liberals should refer it back to the Supreme Court.

'Impossible' for the Senate

Conservative Senator Claude Carignan said on Monday the Red Chamber would take its time studying the bill whenever it is approved by the Commons, but closed the door to passing it this week.

"We will take time to study this bill properly. We will try to reduce the delay, to do our job with diligence — but this week, it's impossible."

Any amendments made by the Senate would force the bill back to the Commons for another vote, further delaying its passage.

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