A bill that would legalize assisted suicide in Canada died on the order table Monday when Canada’s Liberal minority government was toppled with a historic vote of non-confidence.
All of Canada’s political parties, except for the Liberals, voted to bring down Prime Minister Paul Martin’s government. On Tuesday, Martin asked the Governor General to dissolve Parliament. Martin’s government had passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in June.
Party leaders have already taken to the campaign trail, and Canadians are expected to go to the ballot box Jan. 23.
Pro-life groups are relieved that bill C-407, the assisted suicide bill proposed by Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde, would not get to second reading in the House of Commons. But they also fear that another such private member’s bill will be presented with the next government. They are encouraging Canadians who are against assisted suicide and euthanasia to voice their opposition and to vote for members of Parliament whose values respect life.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement Wednesday urging Canadians to exercise their duty to vote Jan. 23, and addressing the problem of voter apathy.
“Citizens too often undervalue politics and public service,” the said. “Whether as part of the governing party or the opposition, political involvement is a determining factor in social, ethical and economic questions, with direct repercussions on the lives of everyone in our land. It is a major responsibility, which should not be belittled by voter disinterest.”
The bishops said Canadians must get to know the political, social, ethical and economic positions of candidates in their ridings, as well as their “fundamental values,” and to carefully select and vote for Parliamentarians who will protect the common good and defend the freedom of religion and conscience.
“It is important to realize that political life is undermined in a democratic nation if those involved are obliged to distance themselves from their own religious beliefs, fundamental convictions and the voice of their conscience,” the Canadian bishops said.
“The basic questions which are part of the current reflections and discussions of Canadian society require political leaders to use all their personal resources, in order to develop political orientations and legislative options that truly serve the common good and respect freedom of religion and conscience,” they said.