The Justice Minister (Irwin Cotler) told a Commons committee last November that Parliament would benefit from a debate on the issue, but there has been no activity on it until now.
Mr. Cotler's spokeswoman, Mylène Dupéré, said the minister welcomes the debate on the private member's bill in the spirit of his call last year for MPs to examine both sides in the context of several court rulings in recent years on assisted suicide.
Ms. Dupéré said the minister will hear the debates before deciding how to vote on the bill. Private member's bills are normally treated as free votes by the four political parties in the House.
She added that Mr. Cotler's mother died two weeks ago after a long illness.
"He was confronted with this type of moral debate and he understands the file very well . . . as a justice minister and as a human being as well," she said.
Cotler wasn't afraid to take the lead on homosexual marriage and push it through Parliament.
Yet on euthanasia, another issue on which the Liberals would normally rush to take the "progressive" approach, they've suddenly lost their courage, preferring instead to hide behind Francine Lalonde's skirts.
One wonders whether this private members' bill is being used to test the waters before they advance euthanasia legislation of their own.
Cotler's vote on the bill may well signal the Liberals' intentions.
But they may still remain hesitant, even if he votes in favour.
Unlike with homosexual marriage, whose very novelty has so far meant a lack of direct statistical and anecdotal evidence on its negative effects, there has been a long period of widespread practice of euthanasia.
The practice of euthanasia in the Netherlands provides no comfort even for its advocates: widespread involuntary euthanasia, even of newborn children has become standard practice there.
Slippery slope arguments against euthanasia are not simple logical progressions, as they have been with homosexual marriage: they are fact.
The Liberals will have a harder time convincing opponents of euthanasia that Canada will not slide down the same slippery slope.
Source: Globe and Mail