Ian Goligher

Dear Prime Minister, I write this open letter to you about the grave concern held by multitudes of Canadians over your government’s proposal to extend medical assistance in dying (MAID) to those who are not at the end of life including the mentally ill. The recent questionnaire to be submitted to the Department of Justice Canada by January 27, 2020, has highlighted the rapid pace by which MAID has been introduced and the plans of the government to extend it to the most vulnerable in society, even when not facing imminent death. Rather than a serious attempt to proceed with caution seeking the true welfare of all Canadians the questionnaire appears to be a launching pad for your government to proceed with such legislation, which has already been adopted, sadly, in the Province of Quebec. The lack of publicity surrounding this questionnaire kept within a two-week deadline and the ambiguity of the questions reveal a lack of interest in thorough consultation with all Canadians. Would you dare make this a policy for re-election? I think not. Rather, it is perceived that this trend to broaden the scope of patients who receive medical assistance in dying is quietly being advanced with an attempt to keep it under the radar of the general public. The fears that arise from this proposed extension to MAID to those not at the end of life are real and substantial. The present use of MAID has already been open to abuse and caused fear to the elderly and division among medical personnel, who are called on to provide MAID, or to provide referrals. Vulnerable people who are isolated, enduring ill health, though not life-threatening, may be encouraged to choose any legal option without which they would be of a different mind on a better day. Many people get through periods of suffering to enjoy a good quality of life. But if MAID was their choice, they and their loved ones would never know that potential outcome. Then there is the inevitable fact that over time MAID will become the accepted norm for all categories of people who will feel they can use their own autonomy to end their life for purely subjective reasons. That is not the Canada we know nor want. Sadly, there are reports from within the medical profession that MAID has already been included as part of palliative care. All clear thinking people know that these two should be kept completely separate, but with the usual shortage of funding, lack of facilities, shortage of staff and the increase in the cohort of the aged, MAID and palliative care will all the more become merged into one. This is already happening to the consternation of all who value the right to life. The whole concept of MAID is often promoted as a personal choice to die peacefully as opposed to die without dignity in intolerable suffering. That is not the case when proper palliative care is administered, and it is not the case for those who trust in the Lord as their Saviour. There is hope for the suffering and the dying. Let me quote what a renowned gospel minister testified of what often happens at the point of death. “The power of our holy religion comes in. How calm, how resigned, sometimes how triumphant, how ecstatic, is the frame of mind of the departing believer! I never heard one of them regret that he was a Christian. In time, when we sift what they have done and believed, and when they tell no lies, for the naked truth comes up before them, I have heard them glory in belonging to Christ, and in resting in him; but I have never heard them regret that they did so. Our religion is not all of the future; it is not a thing that dreams concerning the world to come. It gives us present joy, present strength, present comfort, and we commend it to you most heartily, for this is our duty, to be witnesses for Christ.” I ask that you and your government take a long step back from this decision and revert to the well-tested position of a medical system based on the Hippocratic value of doing no harm and that focuses on healing while minimizing suffering, not hastening death.    Yours most respectfully,   Rev. Ian Goligher (Minister of the Free Presbyterian Church in Cloverdale, British Columbia) Phone: 604 576 1091 18790 58 Ave. Surrey, B.C. V3S 1M6