There has been much discussion in our pages on the subject of assisted dying following the publication of Liam McArthur’s Private Member’s Bill last month.

Last week columnist Mark McGeoghegan noted that so far, the discourse has not turned into the bitter, polarised pollical conflict that has typified the debate around recent gender and hate crime legislation.

Read his article here 👈

Today, however, one of our readers takes exception to his statement that Canada’s assisted dying laws have become “a favourite target of the far right”, arguing that there is good reason to be concerned about that country’s experience.

The Herald:

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John Brown of Clydebank writes:

"I read with alarm Mark McGeoghegan’s article on the assisted dying issue. He states: 'We have been able to navigate the opening of this sensitive, nuanced issue discussion of assisted dying with the dignity, intelligence, and open-mindedness that it deserves.' He welcomes, as I do, the fact that this is a debate which is not a bitter, polarised, political conflict. He then does exactly what he wishes to avoid by calling those who discuss what is happening in Canada as the far right and presumably not to be considered useful in this debate.

MSP Liam McArthur is reported as saying that his bill is a 'restricted' model in line with Oregon and Australia rather than that of Canada. However, he fails to talk about the political landscape in the USA where there is fierce opposition in other states and even among the Federal Government, not the most favourable conditions for extending the safeguards, although Oregon has done so. In Australia not all states have introduced assisted suicide so the situation there is not the same as Scotland. Our political situation is more akin to that of Canada. So, it is legitimate to argue that what happened is Canada in terms of extending the safeguards is an unintended but predicable consequence of a bill based upon autonomy of the person.

In addition, no parliament can promise that others who follow will not alter what they agree. No other jurisdiction has managed to keep the safeguarding promises due to legal and political challenges. How can Scotland be different? Within seven years of it being made legal in Canada, the poor and vulnerable are being offered assisted dying instead of social care. Canadian Federal Minister for Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, has been reported as saying: “In some places in our country, it’s easier to access MAiD [Medical Assistance in Dying] than it is to get a wheelchair.'"