Mr. Speaker, some of the pertinent and important technical aspects of the debate that have been addressed by some of my hon. colleagues, questions such as the Senate committee hearings on these matters and the availability of palliative care, are all important issues and ought to have a bearing on the judgment we make here today.
However, ultimately what is before us today is a question fundamental to the nature of liberal democracy, a question that drives to the heart of what it is to be a citizen, a question of how we exercise personal liberty, and a question of the fundamental rights vested in parliament to protect on behalf of its citizens.
The preamble to the Constitution of Canada states that “whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law”. This was no accident. Its placement in the charter reflects a long and central tradition in the theory of liberal democracy, the notion that we do not grant rights unto ourselves. We do not create ourselves and we therefore do not create our own rights, but we are created and rights are bestowed upon us. Fundamental human rights such as the right to life are inalienable. Even individuals cannot through the exercise of some radical personal autonomy alienate rights which cleave to the human nature of individuals because they were granted to us by our Creator.
This is what the preamble of our constitution suggests. This is what the first section of our constitution suggests where it enumerates fundamental rights, the very first of which is the right to life.
This is an echo of the foundational document of liberal democracy, the American Declaration of Independence which states that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these is the right to life.
Certain inalienable rights are rights that cannot be alienated by a legislature, rights that cannot be alienated by a doctor whose business is killing and rights that cannot be alienated even by ourselves.
In this motion we are ultimately discussing whether or not parliament will grant to people the right to destroy themselves and the right to destroy the inviolable dignity stamped on them by the Creator of which our constitution speaks.
I say that we must never, in this society animated by a profound understanding of the inviolable dignity of the human person, allow a radical notion of personal autonomy or a disordered understanding of human liberty to overcome our most profound obligation as people, as creatures and as legislators to protect human life.
If parliament were to consider the motion and were consequently to pass legislation legalizing euthanasia and what is euphemistically referred to as physician assisted suicide, parliament would be entering the final taboo which would permit the wilful killing of the human person.
This century, the 20th century, what Pope John Paul II referred to as the century of tears, is tragically filled with a history of political movements based on the disordered notion of the authority of the state or of the authority of the individual which has resulted in the deaths of thousands and millions of human persons and sometimes the death of those persons based on physician assisted suicide and on euthanasia.
We must as legislators look seriously at the history of this century and understand that when the inviolable value of human life becomes compromised we all stand at risk.
I call on my hon. colleagues this evening to vote against what I think is a very dangerous motion.