Politics

No need for special committee on assisted suicide: Tories

The government will reject a Liberal proposal to set up a special committee to craft a comprehensive response to the landmark ruling on physician-assisted suicide handed down by the Supreme Court earlier this month.

Government plans to 'consult and engage directly with Canadians'

A spokeswoman for Justice Minister Peter MacKay told CBC News the government doesn't see a need for a special House committee to come up with recommendations on a response to the Supreme Court ruling on physician-assisted suicide. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The government will reject a Liberal proposal to set up a special committee to craft a comprehensive response to the landmark ruling on physician-assisted suicide handed down by the Supreme Court earlier this month.

A spokeswoman for Justice Minister Peter MacKay told CBC News Monday the Conservatives will oppose the motion, which will be be debated during Tuesday's Liberal-designated opposition day.

"We do not believe there is a need to strike a special committee," Clarissa Lamb said via email.

"The government's plan is to consult and engage directly with Canadians on this sensitive issue, in an informed and respectful way."

Under the Liberal motion, MPs would follow the lead of the "non-partisan, deliberate and effective discussion" that took place in Quebec National Assembly when it considered the matter.

"Canadians expect parliamentarians to take a leadership role on this issue and engage with it in an informed and respectful way," the motion says.

The committee would have until July 31 to come up with recommendations for "a legislative framework that will respect the Constitution, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the priorities of Canadians."

12-month deadline 'grave mistake': Conservative MP

The Supreme Court has given Parliament one year to come up with a law, but with just 12 sitting weeks left until the summer recess, and a federal election expected to keep the Commons shuttered until November at the earliest, the window for drafting and passing new legislation could be uncomfortably tight.

Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth says the Supreme Court's 12-month deadline to draft new legislation on assisted dying is a "grave mistake" given this is an election year. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Speaking with reporters after question period, Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth suggested the Supreme Court erred in setting such a short deadline.

"I think that the Supreme Court made a pretty grave mistake allowing a period of only 12 calendar months for Parliament to do this, considering that we will be rising in June and ordinarily won’t come back until perhaps a month in November and then not until the end of January next year," he said.

"That’s a serious issue, and I don’t think the court properly considered it." 

But Woodworth was also critical of the Liberal proposal, which would see the discussion get underway within a few weeks.

"I think that would be entirely too truncated a process." he said.

"The government needs to consult with people across the country and while the government is pretty good at that, I don’t think it’ll happen by July."

New Democrat justice critic Françoise Boivin said she's still studying the Liberal proposal.

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