By Wayne Litke
The Supreme Court of Canada made a decision last week that will have a huge impact on society from this point forward. Actually, the ruling won’t take effect for a year while the legislation is being drafted, so we will have time to adjust to the idea of doctors assisting with a suicide. That’s right – the Supreme Court ruled that banning a doctor from assisting with a suicide is a violation of our Canadian rights and freedoms.
The ruling resulted in concern from groups who represent disabled individuals who are possibly the most vulnerable members of society. The fear that doctor-assisted suicides will put a country on the slippery slope to moral decay may have some merit. As euthanasia becomes more accepted by people in general, it can give the perception that death is preferable to dealing with a significant health issue, disease or genetic imperfection. It gets especially dicey when dealing with individuals who face physical or mental disabilities and are incapable of choosing their own fate. Tracy Latimer is an example of such a person.
However, for people living with a terminal disease, it may be comforting to know their suffering can end at the time they choose. They will not have to endure years of existence in a state that is totally contrary to their values and beliefs. Those individuals will have the choice to “pull the plug” when they feel it is time, provided a doctor is available to oversee the procedure.
The new law will not force doctors to participate in suicides, so that fact makes me wonder how many general practitioners will actually get involved in the process. On the other hand, watching someone waste away is an agonizing process that no one should have to endure, not even doctors. Furthermore, that is not how life was intended to end. From my limited dealings with death, it is never an easy thing to deal with and given the choice, I will certainly steer clear of it.
On the international scene, is it just me or do other people think national news coverage of ISIS atrocities is wrong. It seems to me that the terrorist group is similar to a spoiled or undisciplined child. They will do anything to get media attention, so their acts of brutality have escalated in order to garner as much attention as possible and hopefully instill fear in the masses. It seems to me that giving the jihadist publicity only makes them bolder, so let’s stop showing videos and photos of the terrorists and their victims, and especially their barbarous acts.
I must have lost some of my journalism principles because my next statement is not in line with the principles of free press. Nonetheless, it seems to me that anyone can revert to an animalistic state, and since we choose not to, why should we let the actions of uncivilized people be routinely broadcast into our heads.
In other international news, a radical Islamic leader in Norway has officially been banished from Oslo and will be forced to live in a remote northern village. In the interest of national security, the court felt that Najmeddine Faraj Ahmad should be banished to an isolated area where he will have little influence on other people. The goal of the court is to prevent the radical preacher from spreading his doctrine of hate while not deporting him.
Therefore, it was decided that the father of four children would not have the right to remain with his family and enjoy his liberty. It is a somewhat controversial decision since Ahmad had been recently released from prison after being incarcerated for almost three years for making threats. He was released in January and will now get to enjoy the beauty of the north country without the encumbrances of prison bars, guards, a wife and children. He will have to report to authorities three times per week, so he will not be able to leave the area. However, he will have the great pleasure of a clean and refreshing lifestyle in a refugee center in a small coastal town approximately 500 km north of Oslo. The preacher of hate will be living in Kyrksaeteroera, a small and reportedly “insignificant” town of 2,500 people.
I find the term “insignificant” ironic since Maple Creek has a population of 2,500 and I consider it to be a settlement of substantial size. Think about it, the Town of Maple Creek has a new hospital that is close to opening, an elementary school and composite high school, a curling rink and skating rink, swimming pool, golf course, and 11 year-round eating establishments. Can you name all of them? It also has three businesses that offer accommodations (and another which will open soon), three financial institutions, three hardware stores, two automobile dealerships with service centres, two additional garages, two drug stores, two newspapers and numerous other businesses. That’s substantial in my opinion, but not when compared to large cities such as Oslo, Medicine Hat or Swift Current.
In other news from Norway, the government is proposing a new law that will criminalize anyone begging and the individuals who help them. That’s right, if you throw a few coins to a panhandler while in Norway, you could be guilty of complicity or being an accessory. The penalty is up to one year in jail – or perhaps banishment to a remote northern village. The government claims the new law is aimed at stopping the influx of begging gangs that are a public nuisance and also contributing to crime. In the end, judges will undoubtedly be the ones who will determine if the law is used to uphold social values or tromp on one of the underprivileged sectors of society.