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Question in Senate Chamber: Bill S-225 to Amend Criminal Code (physician-assisted death)—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned


Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

 Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I thank Senator Nancy Ruth for her work on this bill and for the deep commitment that she has made to this cause. I will ask Senator Nancy Ruth just where, in law and in the Constitution, does she or any person derive a power to take a human life? I would like to know the constitutional basis of such power. That is the first question.

Interestingly, many years ago, this country, Canada, moved, like most Western countries — let us leave the United States of America out of the scenario — in acknowledging that no human being has the power to take another human being's life. This was demonstrated in many communities by their abolition of capital punishment, on the grounds that no human decision and no human decision-making apparatus is so perfect as to be accurate in every circumstance. The legal condition reached a point in most countries where governments, judges and juries avoided findings of guilt so as to avoid death sentences because of the lack of certainty in process.

It is very interesting that the law of our land set aside capital punishment. Now we want to create a form of capital killing.

Senator Campbell: Question!

Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I am asking Senator Nancy Ruth's opinion on what I am saying. I would invite you to give it careful consideration as well.

I put my question to you, senator, because you have done a lot of research on this. From whence is a legal power derived to ask one man or one woman to take the life of another human being? This is very unsettled, it is an unanswered question in the history of humanity for millennia. It is the essential question that will have to be answered in this debate, the source of the power to take another human life.

Senator Nancy Ruth: Honourable senator, I'm not aware of any constitutional power to end life, nor am I aware of any constitutional power to begin life.

Senator Cools: There is a constitutional power to begin life.

The Hon. the Speaker: All the questions have been asked.

(On motion of Senator Campbell, debate adjourned.)

The remainder of this day's Senate Debates are available here.