Canada generally has a good reputation as a country. We’ve got universal health care, the Rocky Mountains, and poutine. Our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is a young and hip Liberal who has done some progressive things as the country’s leader. I’m here today to tear those assumptions down and tell you about a recent piece of disastrous legislation that will ensure that I will never vote for him or his party. Bill C-7, “An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Medical Assistance in Dying)” has had a tumultuous life in Parliament, bouncing back and forth from different legislative chambers with numerous amendments proposed and passed. If you’re not a political fiend like me, its path may confuse you. I’m not here to talk about the politicians; I want to explain how this legislation will affect me. But first, I want to set the stage. Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) has been legal in Canada since June of 2017. It was made for people whose death was “reasonable and foreseeable.” Justin Trudeau’s government decided that it wanted to expand the criteria for MAiD and introduced another Bill, C-7, which removed the requirement above, and thus made people with chronic conditions or disabilities able to access it. To me and many other advocates, this directly targeted people living with disabilities. How? Well, the answer was put aptly by an opposing Senator who said that this Bill “offers people with a disability a way out instead of a way into society.” Ableism, both structural and individual, is a direct threat to the lives of people with disabilities. We don’t hear about it a lot compared to other forms of oppression, but that doesn’t take anything away from its danger. I am from a privileged position – I am white, middle-class, English-speaking, and educated. I am disabled, yes, but because of those qualities listed above, I am less likely to be targeted for MAiD. People who face numerous other structural barriers in their lives compounded by suffering (as a result of their disability) are literally at risk of losing their lives because of this legislation. There is great evidence that medical coercion exists targeted at people with disabilities. Anecdotally, I heard numerous testimonies as I listened to folks with lived experience speak as witnesses against the proposed bill. Their stories were heartbreaking, and displayed how medical professionals – you know, the ones that are supposed to save us – would bring up MAiD because of their disabilities. To make matters worse, an amendment proposed that people whose sole disability was mental illness could apply to receive MAiD. Yes, they could apply to the government for death. This addition is now part of the bill that passed the House of Commons on March 11, 2021. The government did add a clause that they would “study” this part of it for 2 years – although I believe that they already have their minds made up. The Canadian Mental Health Association put out a well-thought statement in opposition to this addition, that included scientific evidence that “it is not possible to determine whether any particular case of mental illness represents an advanced state of decline in capabilities that cannot be reversed.” So basically it’s saying that doctors are not in the position to say that a patient who may be suicidal or greatly suffering is never able to recover. The science is just not there. Despite this, Bill C7 will likely become official law soon. This is greatly upsetting because of how I connect it to my lived experience. I live with borderline personality disorder, depression, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and chronic pain from endometriosis. Given that list of diagnoses, it likely won’t come as a surprise to anyone that I have struggled with strong and treacherous suicidal ideation numerous times in my life. When you are in those dark pits of despair, well versed in your own psychiatric case, killing yourself can be thought of as the only way to escape such overwhelming pain. It was for me anyway. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is one of those for-life conditions. In those instances in my life, I could not bear the thought of being stuck in a cycle of unrelenting suicidal thoughts. If MAiD existed as proposed by Bill C-7 then, I would have surely applied for it. No question about it. My suffering felt indeed insurmountable, and I was dealt a diagnosis (BPD) that I had to live with forever. This is all to say that had the timetable shifted, I could be dead right now at the hands of the government. Even if I was refused MAiD, I would likely have been encouraged to take my own life because of the message it sends to people with mental illnesses and other disabilities – your life isn’t worth living. At such a vulnerable place, I could have been indirectly coerced into death. This is coming from a privileged person. Can you imagine if I faced things like racism, poverty, homo/transphobia, or other barriers? I mentioned that Canada has universal health care, but that was a bit of a fib. Psychological care (other than what’s provided by those with a medical license) is not covered by our health care. This means I pay over $500 a month for counseling and would pay thousands of dollars a year for necessary medication if I didn’t have private insurance. So much for universal, huh. The supports needed for people with all types of disabilities are sorely lacking in Canada, which can make folks feel like a burden to society. It’s not right, but it is a reality. Until these needs are actually addressed by governments at all levels, expanding MAiD should not be an option. This is a matter of life and death for many, and I for one cannot idly stand by while my peers die from state-sponsored murder. In my case, while I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel for many years, am now in a place of semi-recovery. I am so thankful that I made it through those perilous times of suffering. For anyone reading this who is considering suicide – don’t let anyone convince or coerce you into believing that your life isn’t worth living. Things can get better, and they will.