On May 29 in the House of Commons, David Anderson, Member of Parliament for Cypress Hills—Grasslands, began debate on his Private Member’s Bill, C-418: the Protection of Freedom of Conscience Act.
“I believe it is time to stand up for the fundamental conscience rights guaranteed to all Canadians in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” stated Anderson. “Pressure on medical professionals to act against their beliefs exists and they are looking for relief.”
C-418 seeks to amend the Criminal Code to make it an offence to intimidate a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or any other health care professional for the purpose of compelling them to take part, directly or indirectly, in the provision of physician-assisted suicide. The legislation would also make it an offence to dismiss from employment or to refuse to employ these professionals for refusing to participate in taking a life.
Through C-418, Anderson hopes to fill the legislative gap left by Liberal bill C-14, the legislation that legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada. Although C-14 stated that it did not compel an individual to provide or assist in providing medical assistance in dying, it lacked the clarity needed for its enforcement. C-418 would implement a criminal penalty for the act of compelling actions that go against deeply held conscientious beliefs of medical professionals.
Anderson noted that the Supreme Court, the Charter, and even the Liberal government’s euthanasia legislation all align on the importance of freedom of conscience and belief in Canada. He believes that it is time for parliamentarians to do something about it by passing his bill.
“Canadians have enthusiastically responded to this bill and the need for increased conscience rights for our medical professionals,” said Anderson. “Thousands have made their voices heard loud and clear. They support the ability of doctors and nurses to live with integrity and follow their conscience.
“I would like to thank, in particular, the constituents of Cypress Hills—Grasslands who have taken the time to write, sign petitions, and make phone calls in support of this legislation.”
For more information and to sign a petition calling on the Liberal government to pass C-418, visit davidanderson.ca/issues/c418.