Wednesday June 1, 2016
Uncertain Senate awaits Medically assisted dying bill
When C-14, the Liberal government’s legislation to regulate medically assisted death, passed the House at second reading four weeks ago, the vote was 235 in favour, 75 against.
That vote though was likely the easiest C-14 will face. At second reading, MPs are only asked to approve a bill in principle. A member with reservations can vote in favour and hope to see the legislation amended when it goes to a House committee for further study.
On Monday night, with a slightly amended bill reported back to the House, the margin of approval was more than halved, with C-14 passing by a vote of 192 to 129. A series of amendments moved in the House were defeated immediately beforehand.
Just one Liberal and one New Democrat voted nay at second reading, but upon further review, and having seen what amendments the majority was willing to accept, four Liberal MPs voted against, as did all NDP MPs. Still, 19 Conservatives were willing to support the bill, and with those votes on side, C-14 still passed comfortably.
That result suggests the bill will pass again at third reading, a vote that is expected to occur as early as Tuesday evening.
It is at that point that the C-14’s margin for passage becomes somewhat mysterious. After passing the House of Commons, C-14 will be delivered to the Senate, an upper chamber in the midst of an experiment in legislative independence.
“The outcome I think is beyond my ability to predict,” says Liberal Senate leader James Cowan.
It is seemingly unlikely the Senate will finish with the bill by June 6, the Supreme Court’s deadline for new legislation, something Health Minister Jane Philpott seemed to concede on Monday.
“We are at risk of not meeting the June 6th deadline,” she said. “Having said that, it is my hope that we can see this piece of legislation put into effect at the very soon as possible date.”
The potential impact of any lack of legislation is a matter of some debate, but regardless of when C-14 receives royal assent, it still remains to be seen precisely how, and in what form, it will get there. (Source: CBC News)