Death’s tug of war with mystery and science

If you want technology as a friend, learn its values, side effects and track record. Particularly when discussing issues like medical aid in dying

Death’s tug of war with mystery and scienceI count myself lucky to have been born when death was still pretty much a mystery, more the prerogative of poets and other artists, philosophers and religious teachers than of scientists and doctors. I grew up surrounded by death. I served as an altar boy at dozens of funerals, attended the wake of my maternal…

Three years after Robin Williams death, reporting on suicide still contentious

By choosing not to report on mental health or suicide, journalists only perpetuate the stigma for those living with a mental illness

Three years after Robin Williams death, reporting on suicide still contentiousThree years ago, comic icon Robin Williams was found dead. His death was subsequently confirmed by California police as a suicide. The coverage was overwhelming: articles, blog posts, live coverage, television segments and an outpouring of emotion over social media. There have been similar public responses more recently with the deaths of Chris Cornell, frontman…

How Alberta can deal with the ‘silver tsunami’ health-care crisis

If the NDP is going to lose the next election, the government should just fall on its sword and introduce a sales tax

How Alberta can deal with the ‘silver tsunami’ health-care crisisAs a baby boomer, I’m very concerned about my future dignity in Alberta. For the past two months, my 85-year-old mother-in-law, who suffers from dementia, has lived in Foothills Hospital because there are no long-term care facilities that can accept her. Her days (and nights) are spent locked in a chair because she wanders and…

Assisted dying and the dark corners of history

We need to learn from the lessons of history when considering assisted dying for those with disabilities – no matter how unsettling that history may be

Assisted dying and the dark corners of historyHistory has a role in the national conversation about medically-assisted death, despite protests to the contrary. A respected physician and scholar recently stepped down as chair of the expert working group appointed to study the issue of advanced directives for medically-assisted death. Named to this position only two weeks earlier by the Council of Canadian…

Justin Trudeau and the tragic things left undone

One year after Trudeau took power, he has failed miserably to protect Aboriginal Canadian children

Justin Trudeau and the tragic things left undoneA year ago today, the Liberal Party of Canada won a big election victory. One year later, what do we know? We know that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his party are still very popular. Polls say so. Against his opposition – both essentially leaderless, both seemingly directionless – he seems unbeatable. We know that, when…

Hospitals have no conscience, only the people who work in them do

Publicly-funded Catholic hospitals have no institutional claim to Freedom of Religion

Hospitals have no conscience, only the people who work in them doCanadians are grappling with one of the most difficult legal issues we have faced in decades: our collective responsibility to facilitate medically-assisted death for those who choose it and satisfy the legal criteria. Ever since the Supreme Court decided in Carter v Canada that individuals have a Charter protected right to a dignified death of…

Senate feasts on Trudeau’s assisted dying bill

It's time to try again – this time without the bad luck, the divisions, the parliamentary brinkmanship and the flying elbows

Senate feasts on Trudeau’s assisted dying billSome of us aren't enthusiastic about assisted dying. Although, in the case of the Senate, we will happily make an exception and assist. The Senate – that undemocratic, unaccountable, unwanted monstrosity that has affixed itself to the side of Parliament like an ermine-garbed parasite – is in the news again. And, yet again, for all…

Bridging the divide in the assisted suicide debate

The dynamics of inducement are at the heart of disability rights groups’ urgent calls for a cautious approach to medically-assisted death

Bridging the divide in the assisted suicide debateFor some of us, the book of life will close abruptly. A sudden pop, crunch or snap, and we’ll be gone. Perhaps some body part or system will betray us, utterly and fatally, in an otherwise banal moment of the day or night. Or perhaps some force of nature or violent strike will pluck us…

The slippery slope of physician-assisted suicide

The Supreme Court Carter decision normalized suicide, turned it into a medical treatment and trivialized life

The slippery slope of physician-assisted suicideThe outrage came fast and furious. Within hours of the federal government releasing its draft legislation on assisted suicide, politicians and the public were clamouring for more permissive legislation. A majority of Canadians accept assisted suicide as a national value. This is evident in polls, in the language we use and in the national conversation…

Canada’s isolated Aboriginal communities can thrive

We can prevent tragedies like that in Attawapiskat by focusing on culture, connectivity and commerce

Canada’s isolated Aboriginal communities can thriveThe tragedies of Attawapiskat – suicides, hopelessness and poverty – have touched us all. But what can we do? Former prime minister Jean Chretien proposed shutting down that and perhaps other small, isolated settlements and shipping the residents elsewhere. But that ignores the feelings of the people who call these communities home. Instead, there are steps we can take to bring long-term viability…