Senator Cardozo: Thank you, Minister Lametti and Minister Duclos for being with us for this important debate. I have two questions for you.
My first question is this: When the government decided to ask for an extension, did you think about a shorter extension, one of six months, for example?
Mr. Lametti: Thank you, senator, for the question. The short answer to that is yes. As Minister Duclos has mentioned, the group of experts led by Dr. Gupta felt that we would be ready to go later this month. However, questions were raised by certain medical faculties across Canada and by other groups, provinces and territories, who said they weren’t. Both Minister Duclos and I had a number of different discussions, including with senators in this honourable place, as well as parliamentarians and experts across Canada, regarding six months or nine months. At the end of the day, it was felt that a safe period of time, to be perfectly honest, was six to nine months. We have gone with a year to be safe, to ensure that everyone is on the same page and we’re prepared as a country to move forward with this next step at the same time — that is, the medical profession, the provinces and the territories. This will give us an adequate amount of time to really be ready together.
Senator Cardozo: My second question is perhaps a bit more philosophical. I ask this from the perspective that when it comes to MAID, I think there is no right or wrong answer. We must respect everyone’s perspective. We all get letters, as parliamentarians, from Canadians who are desperate that there not be a delay. We also hear from people who feel that MAID should be scrapped altogether. I ask you to help us with this. It’s a struggle for us as lawmakers. What do you say to us and to people who seriously do not want this delay?
Mr. Duclos: You are right. It is a very intimate, difficult and complex issue that people take very personally.
Obviously, by definition, all life and death issues are central to human life. It is understandable that we are divided, at least at first, when we think about these issues, particularly in a society that continues to evolve. More and more, people want to enjoy a certain quality of life while maintaining a certain amount of independence. They also want their choices to be respected, no matter what choices they want to make in life. These are sometimes choices about their personal identity, their religious and other beliefs, their lifestyle or the way they want to end their life. We all know that life will end one day, in one way or another.
There are very personal and very difficult questions that you are carefully considering in this chamber. The work that you are doing is not easy. It is similar to the work that was done in the other place, that of trying to bring together people and perspectives that, at the beginning, almost by definition, are very far apart.
That’s why I would like to encourage you to continue. I’m thinking of all the members of Parliament and the senators, in particular, who served on the committee. I’m thinking of Marc Garneau, the committee chair, who announced his departure today. Marc delayed his departure from politics until today. He could have left sooner. At his age and after giving so much to Canada, he could have left us sooner, but he told me at the Quebec caucus meeting this morning — David was there too — that he wanted to see this through. He felt that the work he did with some of you here in the Senate was important, and he wanted to see it through.