Explanation of Scott Reid’s vote against the Government’s response to C-7 Senate Amendments (March 2021)March 17, 2021
In December 2020 I voted in favour of the bill at Third Reading, because that is how constituents in our riding instructed me to vote, when I asked them. A constituency referendum conducted in late 2020 yielded a majority for the question, Should I vote Yes or No on Bill C-7.
Then the Bill was sent to the Senate, where it was substantially amended. A number of changes that struck me as unwise were made by the Senate. In particular, a number of restrictions, such as the one guaranteeing that mere depression or transient mental distress would not be permitted to serve as authorized grounds for ending one’s life, were removed from the Bill.
The Senate cannot amend a Bill on its own, so the amended version was sent back to the House of Commons, with a message from the Senate indicating that they would like the Commons to adopt the bill in its amended form, so that it could be sent for Royal Assent.
The Liberal government responded with a message to the Senate, indicating that the House is prepared to accept some of the amendments (although they asked for some others to be toned down). MPs were asked to vote on these amendments. Additionally, the Conservative Caucus proposed an amendment to the Liberal motion. The amendment called for many of the protections in the original text of the bill to be re-established.
The government’s message to the Senate and the Conservative amendment to the government’s message were presented to the House of Commons for a vote of approval in early March. As is normal, the amendment was voted upon first.
I voted in favour of the Conservative-initiated amendment, but the majority of MPs voted against it. This meant that the next vote was on an unamended version of the response motion that the government had authored. I voted against this motion.
My rationale for doing so is this: I think the Senate amendments are unwise, and I think the government should go further than it has done, in ensuring that the protections removed by Senators are restored. Voting against the government motion does NOT mean that I favour the amendments made by the Senate. Remember, no bill can become a law unless identical versions are approved by both Houses of Parliament. So I believe that the government could have been, and should have been, much more assertive in telling the Senators to back away from the very aggressive changes that they had made to Bill C-7.
All of this is consistent with my promise to support the bill—in its original form—which was the mandate given to me in last December’s constituency referendum.
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