Parksville man unhappy federal Liberals seeking extension on doctor-assisted death laws

'I could write it in a day, even the legal part of it,' says Bill Martin

Bill Martin says he doesn’t understand why the federal government has asked the Supreme Court for a six-month extension to draft new laws on doctor-assisted dying.

The 87-year-old Parksville resident doesn’t believe crafting the new legislation would be too difficult.

“I don’t know why (the delay),” said Martin, who suffers from spinal degeneration and has advocated for medically-assisted death for more than 50 years. “I could write it (new legislation) in a day, even the legal part of it.”

In February of 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Canadians with unbearable suffering should be allowed to end their lives with the aid of a physician and it gave Parliament one year to enact new laws. In December of 2015, the new Liberal government, through Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould (MP for Vancouver-Granville), asked the high court for a six-month extension.

“A comprehensive response to the court’s judgment raises important and complex issues which require extensive work by Parliament and provincial legislatures, and can not reasonably be completed before Feb. 6, 2016,” said the 73-page document filed with the court by the A-G.

“That’s terrible,” said Martin. “If they get the six months, it shows they don’t care.” Martin said, if legalized, he would “absolutely” consider using medically assisted death sometime in the future. He is not alone. A poll conducted in 2014 by Dying With Dignity suggests 84 per cent of Canadians support the idea of medically assisted death for terminally ill patients suffering from unbearable pain.

The Ipsos-Reid survey was based on a sample size of 2,500 Canadians.

Wilson-Raybould said that while it is true that an extension of the suspension will mean that some Canadians will have to wait to access physician-assisted dying, it is necessary and responsible to ensure that sufficient protections are in place across the entire country.

“Physician-assisted dying is a complex and deeply personal issue for Canadians of all ages and backgrounds,” Wilson-Raybould said Dec. 3, 2015. “The federal government’s response will affect all of society. That is why we are firmly committed to including Canadians and taking the time to develop a thoughtful, sensitive, and well-informed response. We recognize both a person’s right to make fundamental decisions about his or her life and the need to protect those who are vulnerable.”

Statistics Canada shows Parksville’s median age is 58.2, while Qualicum Beach’s median age is 63.9, making the latter notorious for being the oldest community in Canada.

Parksville’s Martin was asked this week how he was doing since he last spoke with The NEWS about 14 months ago.

“I’m surviving,” he said, “with lots of medication.”

— With files from Candace Wu

Just Posted

RDN gets three new faces for Area F, G and H

Salter, Gourlay and McLean take most votes for Regional District of Nanaimo directors

Surprise start to arts career for newly-arrived Qualicum Beach painter

From factory worker to commercial artist to teacher

Three strong earthquakes reported off Vancouver Island

The quakes, all measuring more than 6.0 on the richter scale, were about 260 kilometres west of Tofino

PQBTA to work on affordable housing plan

Association to continue receiving tax revenues from accommodation providers

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

Man reportedly exposing himself to Vancouver Island students

Incident happened Monday afternoon at Lake Trail School in Courtenay

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Move follows troublesome evidence of online Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election

More court before Dutch man charged in Amanda Todd case is extradited here

Appeals must be dealt with in Europe, before charges faced in B.C.

Crown says man guilty of B.C. girl’s 1978 murder based on alleged confession

Jury hears details of girl’s 1978 murder while Crown says man should be convicted of girl’s murder based on alleged confession.

BCHL alumni has NHL jersey retired by Anaheim Ducks

Paul Kariya played with the Penticton Vees from 1990-1992

Most Read