July 18, 2018

Winnipeg
29° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Steven Fletcher's new book could make assisted suicide an election issue

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/8/2015 (1054 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA -- Winnipeg Conservative MP Steven Fletcher could force the issue of assisted suicide onto the election agenda with the release this week of a new book documenting his political battle on the topic.

Almost a month into this marathon campaign, assisted suicide has yet to be raised by any of the main parties, despite a looming Supreme Court deadline that will result in Canada's law barring assisted suicide being revoked in February.

On Feb. 6, 2015, the high court gave the government one year to pass a new law before its ruling takes effect allowing physician-assisted suicide for competent adults with terminal illnesses or intolerable suffering from incurable conditions who clearly request help to die.

Fletcher, who is running for re-election in Charleswood-St.James-Assiniboia-Headingley, said he hopes his book will kick-start more national discussions on the issue during the campaign.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 60 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 60 days

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 60 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/8/2015 (1054 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Conservative MP Steven Fletcher is shown in a Thursday March 27, 2014 photo. (Fred Chartrand / The Canadian Press files)

Conservative MP Steven Fletcher is shown in a Thursday March 27, 2014 photo. (Fred Chartrand / The Canadian Press files)

OTTAWA — Winnipeg Conservative MP Steven Fletcher could force the issue of assisted suicide onto the election agenda with the release this week of a new book documenting his political battle on the topic.

Almost a month into this marathon campaign, assisted suicide has yet to be raised by any of the main parties, despite a looming Supreme Court deadline that will result in Canada's law barring assisted suicide being revoked in February.

On Feb. 6, 2015, the high court gave the government one year to pass a new law before its ruling takes effect allowing physician-assisted suicide for competent adults with terminal illnesses or intolerable suffering from incurable conditions who clearly request help to die.

Fletcher, who is running for re-election in Charleswood-St.James-Assiniboia-Headingley, said he hopes his book will kick-start more national discussions on the issue during the campaign.

"I don't know if it will put pressure on (the parties) but I think it is worthy of creating a question people might want to ask their candidates when they knock on their door," he said Friday.

The book wasn't intended to be released during an election; but it was delayed and the election was called early.

Master of My Fate, authored by former Manitoba Tory cabinet minister Linda McIntosh with help from Fletcher, is a 167-page sequel to the 2008 tome What Do You Do If You Don't Die?, a biographical account of the 1996 accident that left Fletcher paralyzed from the neck down, its aftermath and the first years of his political career.

The new book is partly a partisan account of events in Ottawa from 2008 to 2015. But it mostly chronicles the battle to legalize assisted suicide in Canada, including Fletcher's role.

It started in July 2013 when Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Fletcher he was to be dropped from cabinet.

Fletcher reports in the book being "stunned, disappointed and puzzled" about being pushed from cabinet after four years, but notes Harper told Fletcher to use the opportunity to pursue issues of personal importance.

Whether Harper had any inkling Fletcher would take him up on that to become one of the most prominent advocates for assisted suicide is unclear.

Fletcher won't say if he and Harper have ever discussed it.

"I don't discuss the private conversations I have with the prime minister," he said.

"That's for the book in 30 years."

In the new book, McIntosh notes Fletcher "took a big risk by not seeking government approval" but it does not criticize Harper or any others in Parliament for not supporting him.

Those bills never made it to the debate stage.

The Supreme Court ruling will make assisted suicide legal under specific parameters but the government must outline how it can happen, putting in place safeguards such as a waiting period and how many doctors must be involved.

It's unlikely there will be enough time to develop and pass such legislation before the deadline.

The court isn't expected to extend the deadline either.

The government appointed a three-member panel to consult with Canadians on how it should proceed, but even if that panel issues its report as soon as the election is over, Parliament will sit for just a few weeks before the February deadline.

Shortly after the Supreme Court decision, the Liberals tried to pass a motion to set up a special committee to study the issue and respond to the court ruling with draft legislation by mid-summer.

The motion failed when the Conservatives voted against it.

Fletcher was the exception.

The NDP supported the motion but has been quiet on where it stands or what it would do should the party form government after the Oct. 19 election.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.