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Disabled man’s letter to Canada’s new prime minister about assisted suicide

by | Nov 2, 2015

By Mark Pickup

Editor’s note. Mr. Pickup is a prominent Canadian disability rights activist who has spoken at NRLC’s annual convention.

Below is a letter I sent to Prime Minister-designate, Justin Trudeau to invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to halt the Supreme Court ruling on assisted suicide. I am aware that chances he will do this unpopular thing are remote. Justin Trudeau is basking in the glow of public approval, and the Liberal Party supports assisted suicide. Still, as a citizen I must make a plea for the Common Good of my nation, and those who are depressed because of their circumstances and will be euthanized with the full sanction of the state. I must speak up.

The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
OTTAWA, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Mark Pickup

Mark Pickup

Dear Prime Minister:

I am writing to plead with you to invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and freedoms and override the monstrous Supreme Court [of Canada’s] decision to strike down the nation’s law against assisted suicide. It will be consistent with your previous support for a National Suicide Prevention Strategy that received unanimous support of Parliament in October of 2012. The high court’s odious decision threatens to set back advances in disability inclusion forty years that I and others have fought hard to gain.

I have been incurably ill with aggressive multiple sclerosis (MS) for more than thirty years. Its degenerative nature gradually stripped me of physical function from being healthy and athletic to living in an electric wheelchair. If assisted suicide had been available during the mid-1980s I might have opted for it at a low point. I’m so glad I did not seek out a Jack Kevorkian. I never would have known my grandchildren.

Justin Trudeau, leader of Liberal Party of Canada

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

You see, Prime Minister, quality of life changes. What gave my life quality in 1984 is not what gives my life quality in 2015. Physical function is not so important to me anymore; it is love that brings quality to my life now: To love and be loved.

You did the right thing in 2012 by supporting a national suicide prevention strategy. Do the right thing again and invoke the notwithstanding clause, even though it will be unpopular. A national suicide prevention strategy must be for all Canadians, not just the healthy. Support increased emphasis on palliative medicine in medical schools and nursing programs across the country.

Thank you for reading and considering my letter. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

I am, Sir,
Yours very truly,

Mark Davis Pickup