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Schadenberg: Medically assisted death survey a ‘sham’

On Jan. 14, I wrote an article urging Euthanasia Prevention Coalition supporters to participate in the Canadian Department of Justice Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) consultation questionnaire.

In my article I stated, “The language of the consultation questionnaire is not great, nonetheless, the questionnaire does allow you to leave further comments.”

On Jan. 15, I published a guide to answering the Canadian MAiD euthanasia questionnaire. I am pleased to report that more than 18,000 different people used the guide.

The online consultation is now closed, and the Department of Justice has stated that 280,000 Canadians participated in the online consultation.

Alex Schadenberg

Here is my experience with the process.

The online consultation questionnaire was a sham.

Many of the questions implied an outcome. It is a sham to ask people to complete a questionnaire when some of the questions are designed to provide a predetermined outcome.

For instance, Question 2  asked about the importance of potential “safeguards,” such as “A different reflection period (currently a 10-day reflection period) between the submission of a person’s written request for MAiD and receiving MAiD.

First, the safeguard question assumed that the participant supports MAiD.

Next, answers to this question lacked meaning because the question didn’t indicate whether it was referring to maintaining the waiting period, increasing the waiting period, or removing the waiting period. In other words, the data is useless and the government cannot conclude that the questionnaire provided data for a policy to maintain, extend, or remove the waiting period.

The only good part of the consultation questionnaire was that it provided a 500-word box that enabled participants to offer their concerns or thoughts.

The online consultation questionnaire was fraudulent.

After encouraging our supporters to participate in the consultation questionnaire, I began to receive emails stating the website kicked them out as they completed the questionnaire. I simply urged these people to try again.

The second complaint was far more of an issue. Several of our supporters indicated that the consultation website enabled them to complete the questionnaire more than once. One person contacted me stating that he had completed the questionnaire more than 50 times from the same computer.

I did not encourage this, nor did I tell others about this problem. I only encouraged our supporters to participate in the questionnaire that was questionable to begin with.

If one of my supporters completed the questionnaire more than 50 times, how many euthanasia supporters did the same?

The Department of Justice stated 280,000 people completed the questionnaire. Since the website did not prevent people from participating multiple times, they have no idea how many people actually participated, and the data collected in the online consultation is unreliable.

If the government wanted to do a proper consultation, it would have asked clear questions that were written in a neutral manner and enabled people who oppose killing to answer in that manner.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition asked our supporters to participate in the online consultation questionnaire, but since some of the questions implied support for euthanasia, many of our supporters refused to participate.

Unfortunately, other than the odd story, the media and the government have ignored the failures of Canada’s euthanasia law, even though there are several key problems and abuses of the law.

Alex Schadenberg is executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. He can reached at alex@epcc.ca. This column was originally published by the B.C. Catholic.