Constituency Referendum: Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (Medical Assistance in Dying)

Constituency Referendum: Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (Medical Assistance in Dying)

[DOWNLOAD BILL C-7 REFERENDUM PACKAGE]

BILL C-7 USEFUL LINKS

Latest publication of the bill: https://parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/43-1/bill/C-7/first-reading

Major Speeches at Second Reading: https://www.parl.ca/LegisInfo/BillDetails.aspx?Language=E&billId=10648716&View=4

Legislative Summaries: https://lop.parl.ca/sites/PublicWebsite/default/en_CA/ResearchPublications/LegislativeSummaries/431C7E

House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Bill C-7: https://www.ourcommons.ca/Committees/en/JUST/StudyActivity?studyActivityId=10983212

MEDIA RELEASE

MP SCHMALE ANNOUNCES RIDING REFEREDUM ON UPDATE TO MEDICAL ASSISTANCE IN DYING (BILL C-7)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 18, 2020         

Lindsay: Local MP Jamie Schmale announced that he will hold a Constituency Referendum – his third – to give every eligible voter in his riding the opportunity to cast a vote on whether Mr. Schmale should vote in favour of, or against, Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (Medical Assistance in Dying), when it comes to its final vote in the House of Commons.

“I believe the people of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock deserve to have their opinions heard directly. As such, I am asking the people of our riding how I should vote on this Bill through a constituency referendum,” said Schmale.

Medically-assisted dying is already lawful in Canada, as long as the process is carried out in accordance with a series of conditions which were enacted by Parliament in 2016.

Some of these conditions have since been successfully challenged in court. The Quebec Superior Court ruled that some of the restrictions in the existing law are an unconstitutional violation of Section 7 of the Charter of Rights, and the law must be rewritten to expand the range of circumstances under which assisted suicide will be permitted.

Some of the provisions in Bill C-7 are a direct response to the Court’s ruling, while other provisions are not court-mandated. The primary changes contained in Bill C-7 are as follows:

  • The existing requirement that a written request for medical assistance in dying (MAID) must be signed by two independent witnesses is relaxed—a single witness will henceforth be sufficient, and that person can be “a paid professional personal or health care worker.”
  • The 10-day minimum waiting period between the date of the signed written request for MAID and the date on which MAID takes place, is removed.
  • The “final consent” requirement, under which the person seeking MAID must expressly confirm their consent immediately before receiving MAID, can be waived in certain circumstances, which are enumerated in the Bill.
  • An existing restriction, under which a person’s suicide may not be assisted unless their natural death is “reasonably foreseeable”, is lifted. Such assistance is now lawful, conditional upon a series of seven safeguards, which are enumerated in the Bill, being met.

Each household in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock should receive a copy by mail of the constituency referendum publication over the next few weeks. Included are arguments for both sides of this issue, a link where constituents can go to get help with further research.

The ballots can be filled-out and returned to the office of Jamie Schmale by mail, postage-free or scanned to Jamie.schmale@parl.gc.ca. One vote may be cast per registered voter in each household. If somebody does not receive a copy of the constituency referendum publication, or if more ballots are required for larger households, additional ballots will be made available upon request.

Only ballots received prior to the date of the vote at Third Reading will be counted. The timeline for this bill could be short. As such, MP Schmale is holding this referendum in the hopes that time will be on our side to hear from his constituents.

As with his past referendums, MP Schmale will respect the decision of his constituents, and will vote according to the majority of ballots he receives prior to the Third Reading vote on Bill C-7.

“I encourage my constituents to return their ballot as soon as possible after they receive it,” added Schmale. “I can only base my decision on ballots I have received before the final vote in the House of Commons, and that could come at any time.”

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For more information contact:
Jamie Schmale, MP
(705) 324-2400 or (866) 688-9881​

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How does the Constituency Referendum on Bill C-7 work?
Every household in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock will be sent a single flyer by mail, each containing four ballots. Eligible voters will be invited to answer the question: “Should MP Schmale vote in favour of Bill C-7, the Medical Assistance in Dying Act, if the bill remains in its current form?” The flyer will include an explanation of Bill C-7, along with prominent arguments for and against the bill. The actual mailing of the flyer is conducted by Canada Post, and is handled as “unaddressed” mail – so that every household should receive a copy, rather than individual constituents. Since correspondence to Members of Parliament can be sent postage-free, constituents who want to participate in the referendum do not have to affix a stamp to their reply.

How do you ensure the process will be impartial?
MP Schmale has designed his ballot forms, for this referendum and for previous referenda, on the model of the impartial voter information booklets that have been sent to voters in state referenda in Washington State, California, and Switzerland.

Why are voters asked to include their name and address on each ballot?
Respondents are asked to include their address and the names of each participating voter on their ballot, so that it can be confirmed that each vote originated from within the constituency and from an individual eligible to vote in elections (as per the Elections Canada list of electors, which is provided to Members of Parliament annually). The contents of each individual ballot will be kept in strict confidence, the ballots will be kept in a secure location, and every ballot will be destroyed following the House of Commons vote.

What are the rules for the Constituency Referendum?
The following rules were contained on the ballot form: VOTING RULES:

1) Each REGISTERED VOTER in the household may vote once.

2) Ballots will be reviewed against the current Elections Canada voter’s list. If more votes per ballot are cast than the number of voters residing at that address, all of the votes will be disregarded. (However, there is no requirement that all voters residing at an address participate, in order for the ballot to be counted).

4) To prevent multiple voting, please give your name(s) and address below. By law, your information cannot be divulged to anyone. For security, ballots will be destroyed following the vote in the House of Commons.

5) The results will be made public prior to the vote in the Commons, unless the government rushes the date of the vote.

How will you determine if votes are spoiled or ineligible?
Some may be invalid due to voter ineligibility (out-of-riding address, no address). Others may be invalid because it is not possible to determine the voting intention of the voter(s). (For example, some voters have, in the past, failed to mark either a “Yes” or a “No”.) If ballots received at our office are damaged in the mail, or are not filled out in compliance with the voting rules, they will be considered ineligible. These ballots will be set aside, and then reviewed by a 3 person panel. If all panelists agree the ballot should be counted, it will be added to the total, and if the panelists agree that the ballot should be designated as ineligible, then ballot will be deemed invalid. This process will be conducted independent of MP Schmale’s judgement.

Isn’t a constituency referendum an extra cost for the taxpayer?
Every Member of Parliament is permitted to send four “householder” mailings to their constituency per year, as the costs are already provided for by parliamentary budgets. Most MPs use this allocation to send calendars or updates to their constituents. As means of giving you a greater say in this issue, MP Schmale has chosen instead to use this allocation on this constituency referendum at no extra cost.

Why is Bill C-7 Important?
Medically-assisted dying, or physician-assisted suicide, is lawful in Canada, as long as the process is carried out in accordance with a series of conditions which were enacted by Parliament in 2016.

Some of these conditions have since been successfully challenged in court; in September 2019, the Quebec Superior Court ruled that some of the restrictions in the existing law are unconstitutional violations of Section 7 of the Charter of Rights, and that the law must be rewritten to expand the range of circumstances under which assisted dying/assisted suicide is permitted.

Some of the provisions in Bill C-7 are a direct response to the Court’s ruling, while other provisions are not court-mandated. For voters who are interested in this distinction, some of the background materials provided in the mailing package gives further information; you can also find more information on the links provided on this page.

The primary changes in Bill C-7 are as follows:

– The existing restriction, under which a person’s suicide may not be assisted unless their natural death             is “reasonably foreseeable”, is lifted. Such assistance is now lawful, and are conditional upon meeting   seven safeguards, enumerated in the Bill.

-The existing requirement that written request for medical assistance in dying (MAID) must be signed       by two independent witnesses is relaxed—a single witness will henceforth be sufficient, and that   person can be “a paid professional personal or health care worker”.

– The 10-day minimum waiting period between the date of the signed written request for MAID and      the date on which MAID take place, is removed.

-The “final consent” requirement, under which the person seeking MAID must expressly confirm their consent immediately before receiving MAID, can be waived in certain circumstance, as enumerated in     the Bill.

What Happens Next?

The bill will be examined by a committee, with witnesses and MPs presenting arguments and amendments.

When the Third Reading vote takes place, MP Schmale will abide by the decision of the voters of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock. MP Schmale will announce the results prior to voting. Only ballots received at my office prior to Third Reading can be taken into account, so please mail yours as soon as possible.