Thursday, June 09, 2016

Trudeau's No-Win Dilemma

What to do, what to do? Trudeau's flawed (to the extent that being unconstitutional renders a proposed law flawed) assisted dying bill could become a millstone round the new prime minister's neck.

Let's say the Senate returns it with a host of amendments unacceptable to the false majority government.

Trudeau could put an end to the Parliamentary squabbling by referring the proposed legislation to the Supreme Court of Canada. Easy peasy. That's one of the things the SCC is there to do.

If the government genuinely believes its law comports with the Carter decision why shouldn't it go the reference route? Unless it doesn't think the bill would pass judicial muster.

Surely this government believes in the rule of law and would never want to enact unconstitutional laws, right? Right?

There's a second, potentially greater problem facing Trudeau. That would follow from enactment of the existing bill. Trudeau's law that extends the Constitutional protection to one class of sufferers while denying it to another.

It won't be long before the papers are harvesting accounts of patients left to endure excruciating ordeals at the instance of the federal government, real stomach churning, heart rending stuff. Trudeau the Younger will be an easy target, forced to wear responsibility for every one of those cases.

What will he say? Will he fall back on the "balance" excuse so feebly advanced by justice minister Jody? Will he say their desperate torment is in our best interests? Will anyone believe him?

We'll be hearing from the anguished relatives, seeing photographs of the Trudeau law's handiwork, reading accounts that will make our skin crawl.

As for public opinion, that Trudeau claims to read and follow, he knows how fleeting and fickle that can be. Once the "Trudeau Compromise" deaths roll in and people read what he has done, there's likely to be a tide change in public opinion.

My guess is that Trudeau knows all too well the disaster that would befall him from enacting his "compromise" assisted dying bill. He no more wants it becoming law than do the senators racing to amend it to make it constitutional.

Trudeau as Pontius Pilate. He wants to wash his hands of it, let someone else - preferably the Supreme Court of Canada - take the heat. He can tell the anti-assisted dying crowd that he did his best, fought the good fight, but got overruled.

Cowardly? Absolutely. The last thing Justin Trudeau wants is to have to live with the fallout from his own legislation.


Lorne said...

As you already know, Mound, you and I have different perspectives on this legislation. In today's Star, Rick Salutin offers his take on it:

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised Trudeau even gave the anti-assisted dying crowd the time of day since their arguments have already been considered and rejected. In the Carter case, the whole gamut of Catholic and evangelical groups intervened and the Court showed them the door just like it did in the Morgentaler decision.

As the history of abortion rights shows, these groups are fanatical and will use any excuse to make incremental changes with a view to rolling back civil rights won in the courts. Even an evangelical like Harper understood the political liability of giving these groups any more than lip-service. It's hard to understand why the Libs didn't just say, "sorry the Supreme Court has ruled on the constitutionality of assisted dying and outlined its parameters, there's no more we can do."


The Mound of Sound said...

Lorne, I read Salutin's piece but his argument was most telling for what he left out. He chose not to address the Charter issue as though it did not exist, something vital to his point. He approached it, as many do, from society's perceived values not from the perspective of the minority that the Charter is securing from an unbearable, protracted tragedy. Your position, no matter how well-intentioned, relies on that same mistake.

Ask yourself, if this Charter protection can be erased with the stroke of a pen as some "compromise" then what Charter right is safe? Presumably Charter rights that are universal or serve the majority would always stand for no one would dare mess with them. That sort of Charter would be a piece of fluff.

It's when rights of a minority must be protected against the preferences of a more or less engaged, religiously-steered majority that these Charter/BillofRights and similar enactments stand or fall. Ours has stood in the form of a per curiam, 9-0, judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada. It wasn't just unanimous, it was per curiam, "one voice." That has huge significance most people cannot grasp.

You, Lorne, like many see this as an abstract issue, a debate. Those of that protected minority view it entirely differently. For them there's nothing abstract about it. This is an issue that causes them enormous fear just as their condition causes them intolerable suffering. Imagine being in that state and having someone like Rick Salutin or Rex Murphy divine what is the right way to dispose of you, why another should be relieved of intolerable suffering but not you. Salutin doesn't get that either. He's oblivious to it as are the rest including the prime minister, justice minister Jody, and their dutiful caucus. There is an incredible cowardice in their arguments and, like most scoundrels, their arguments are riddled with omissions lest they collapse under the weight of fact.

The Mound of Sound said...

Cap, the answer to your question is twofold: political expedience and cowardice. Those are two traits we've seen in this fellow before seemingly whenever he's confronted by a hard issue.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Lorne - you might want to read the Star editorial on this.

Anonymous said...

Justin had the stones to come straight out and tell Lib MPs to support abortion access or take a hike. The corporate press, of course, went nuts about how "undemocratic" it was, but he stuck by his decision. But now he's too feckless to stand up to these very same MPs?

As for political expedience, the easiest thing would have been to follow the spirit and the letter of the Carter decision. No muss, no fuss from anyone that mattered. The Christian Taliban won't be lining up to vote Lib no matter what he does. That's why I don't get this decision - it doesn't make political sense. I wonder if Trudeau's personal views are in play.


The Mound of Sound said...

Who knows, Cap? You could be right. This could be a matter of his religious orientation.

Lulymay said...

My Mum was 58 years old when she started complaining of not feeling well. The doctor she trusted most was off on his annual contribution to the WHO, so she waited till he returned to make an appointment. In a very short period of time, she was in such pain she was admitted to the local hospital. She was rather overweight and being early 1980's there was a reluctance to give heavy does of painkiller due to the thought it would cause the patient to become addicted, so it took several days of experimentation before they finally had control of by then extreme pain and she was going downhill fast. I arrived in town on the Friday when they had finally made her comfortable but when I touched her brow she started groaning. The nurse advised me not to be concerned because by the time, my mother did not know who she was. My response was" "But I know who she is and I wanted her pain free". Well, overnight the nurse on duty decided not to provide the next prescribed dose of pain med because in her words "she seemed to be resting comfortably". But of course, by morning when we tried to visit, you could hear her screams from the hospital entrance and they sent us home until they could get the pain under control again. By Monday morning Mum was no longer with us; she had been under Dr. care for all of 10 days. This experience left an indelible mark on me that never goes away. These pseudo religious wackos that insist you have to suffer before you can "enter into the arms of your lord in heaven" drive me crazy. When will they understand my right to die as comfortably as possible supercedes their right to tell me I must suffer untold pain before I go? Thanks for letting me rant, Mound.

Anonymous said...

Justin's religious orientation? Perhaps, Mound. I was thinking more along the lines of his mother - someone who's struggled for years with mental health issues. It's these non-terminal but irremediable psychological conditions that he seems to want to carve out of the Carter ruling. I suspect old Freud would have a field day with this.

But, as you say, who knows? I've yet to see the government justify departing from the Supreme Court's decision.

Anonymous said...

How can religious fanatics be so concerned with the right to die issue? When it comes to pain they are oblivious? Oh yes I forgot, if a person believes truly believes, then God will cure. My sister recently suffered enormous pain from bone cancer. It is not nice. It is devastating, mentally draining and in some cases can cause PTSD.

Anonymous said...

"Cowardly? Absolutely. The last thing..." boomers want to do is to die by their own (at least partially) sword...

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Lulymay - Thanks for your remarks although I'm sorry to have brought you to revisit your and your mother's ordeal. I only wish everyone had a graphic awareness of what we put the incurable through both at the end of life and some, even more tragically, long before. A lot of people think there's a ready solution to all pain and suffering. Here's a pill. For some, yes. For many, no.


The Mound of Sound said...

@ Anon, 12:54 - his mother's emotional problems have been chronic but I've seen no suggestion they have left her in unendurable pain. That's not to diminish her suffering at all. I just don't know.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Anon 2:37 - I'm somewhat familiar with the excruciating pain that can accompany bone cancer. My sympathies to you and your sister.

The Mound of Sound said...

A..non. I have no idea how your comment relates to this post. None. Sorry.