It was a privilege to be visited last summer by a friend from overseas. Sadly, his country was in the midst of a crisis. He spoke about the effects of civil war, an unstable government, and food scarcity. Amid such trials, he also spoke of growing churches and gospel faithfulness. The suffering that this brother had endured seemed unimaginable. We talked about how Canada has been incomparably stable, peaceful, and prosperous. Many Canadian Christians, however, are noticing that we are entering a different kind of crisis. Though our nation’s violence may primarily be carried out in the sterile rooms of hospitals, it is a grim reality. Behind closed doors, Canada is becoming a nation of state-sanctioned lawlessness and violence.
Canada has changed considerably since the 1960s. A pluralistic national identity has emerged, which has demanded the acceptance of various worldviews. Laws were altered to allow no-fault divorce, unlimited abortion, and the redefinition of marriage. Progressive conversion therapy, hate speech, and censorship bills have recently been passed. Perhaps most startling has been the speed with which our nation has changed its approach to assisted suicide.
Ten years ago, this practice was illegal. In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Canadian Parliament had to amend criminal code prohibitions to address the rights of individuals who wanted access to assisted suicide. At that time, Canada was governed by a Conservative Party majority that failed to introduce legislation. The responsibility to address the court ruling fell to the progressive, Liberal Party government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was elected in October 2015.
In 2016, this Liberal government introduced legislation that allowed terminally ill adults to access “medical assistance in dying” (MAID). Assisted suicide is now largely known in Canada by this acronym. Words such as euthanasia, assisted suicide, or mercy killing have faded from official use. In this legislation, death had to be “reasonably foreseeable” for a patient to qualify, and several regulatory boxes had to be checked. Though the language surrounding these changes appeared to be compassionate to many people, the reality was that God’s prerogative to choose the moment of death was being challenged (Ex. 20:13; Ps. 48:14, KJV).
Since the initial change, the issue has snowballed. In 2020, the government introduced new legislation to permit assisted suicide for individuals whose death was not reasonably foreseeable. Since then, it has become clear that a significant proportion of the population and media voices favor few limits on the practice. Perhaps most troubling is the latest development: as of March 17, 2023, assisted suicide will be allowed for persons whose sole medical condition is mental illness. A person who is severely depressed or delusional will be able to demand assisted suicide.
A special committee is also discussing extending MAID to children, which several leading pediatricians have recommended. It seems that assisted suicide in Canada may soon join the unlimited status that abortion has been given: it will be offered at any time to anyone, as long as a victim gives consent and a medical professional is willing to administer the poison. Suicide is being streamlined and mainstreamed. Assisted suicide is also now being lauded as a solution to the lack of donor organs for transplants.