Inspired by N.S. woman, feds seek input on medically assisted dying legislation
HALIFAX -- Three-and-a-half years after it became legal in Canada, Ottawa is seeking the public's input in changing the country's medical assistance in dying legislation.
It's largely due to a court ruling in Quebec, but the federal justice minister admits a high-profile case in Halifax put the spotlight on some significant issues with the law.
In the final months of her life, Audrey Parker became a powerful advocate for altering the country's medical assistance in dying legislation.
Battling incurable breast cancer, and having already made the decision to end her life, Parker was deeply concerned she wouldn't be able to consent again when the time came.
Her solution was to leave early, lobbying for change right to the end.
The group Dying With Dignity released a heartfelt, posthumous video from Parker, one of its greatest champions, almost a year ago.
"By supporting me, you have made it possible for me to use my story to help others," Parker said.
Many people were touched and profoundly moved by her story, said federal Justice Minister David Lametti.
Now, a little more than 14 months after her death, Ottawa has launched an online consultation with an aim to improve the law, in part because a court in Quebec ruled it was unconstitutional to limit access to people nearing the end of life.
Lametti hopes to draft new legislation quickly and expects Parker's story will play a role.
"We'll hear in this round of consultations across Canada if there is a consensus to move on Audrey's case," Lametti said.
Parker's friends are delighted with the announcement and hope Canadians seize the opportunity to help change the law, which is all she ever wanted.
Opinions are also being collected on the right to die for so-called "mature minors," and requests from those suffering from mental illness.
These are the kinds of developments that would have pleased Parker, who fought for change right to the end.
"It has been one of the most satisfying experiences of all my life," Parker said in her video. "I thank you from the bottom of my heart."
That message is still resonating, from a powerful champion for change, so, perhaps it's no surprise that the minister kicked off the campaign in Halifax on Monday, although it's worth noting he also said it was important to strike a balance and protect people who might get talked into medically assisted dying when they're not sure it's what they want.
The consultations end at midnight on Jan. 27.