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MAID Canada: Canadians Are Considering Killing Their Homeless

This is an article from the Matchless Gift magazine, volume 1. Matchless Gift is a brand new Krishna conscious magazine designed, written and edited by the BLISS devotees. All funds go towards spreading Srila Prabhupada's movement. If you like what you read, please support us and buy a copy here!

MAID Canada: Canadians Are Considering Killing Their Homeless

Canadian flag with blue sky background
Each issue of Matchless Gift includes articles by His Grace Purujit Prabhu giving a Krishna conscious perspective on world news

Retired Army Corporal Christine Gauthier from Canada asked for a wheelchair lift to be installed in her home. She lost the use of her legs after suffering an injury during military training in 1989 and has been a target of great injustice.

Gauthier, who competed at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics, testified in Parliament on December 1st 2022 that an unnamed Veteran Affairs case worker had offered in writing to provide her instead of the wheelchair lift, with the equipment needed to perform her own euthanasia. “I have a letter saying that if you’re so desperate, madam, we can offer you MAID, medical assistance in dying,” Gauthier, told a House of Commons Veterans Affairs Committee.

MAID (medical assistance in dying) is a healthcare "option"available to Canadians at the end of life. It allows a capable adult suffering from a grievous and irremediable medical condition to voluntarily request medicine that will bring about their death.

According to the provincial medical website, there are five phases of MAID to ensure that no one's life is terminated whimsically:

Pre-contemplation — looking at and thinking about end-of-life care options

Contemplation — getting information about end-of-life care options.

Determination — assessment of eligibility and formal request for MAID

Action — confirming the request and patient death

Care after death — grief support

Candidates are given a choice to move back and forth between the phases, or choose not to proceed at any point. To qualify for this service, people must meet all of the eligibility criteria set out by federal law in order to prevent indiscriminate "recommendations" for euthanasia.

However, some human rights advocates and religious groups say the regulations are open to abuse and lack necessary safeguards. And it seems that some form of abuse of that sort took place in the case of Mrs. Gauthier. Testifying in her native French, Gauthier had written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to express her concern over the incident. On December 2nd, Trudeau called the incident absolutely unacceptable” and went into greater detail about how his government should address the situation. “We are following up with investigations and we are changing protocols to ensure what should seem obvious to all of us,” Trudeau said. “It is not the place of Veterans Affairs Canada, who are supposed to be there to support those people who stepped up to serve their country, to offer them medical assistance in dying,” Trudeau continued, but did not make clear whether other departments should take charge of this responsibility.

Assistance in seeking a medical death has been legal in Canada since 2016 for terminally ill patients but in 2022 the law was expanded to include a large subset of Canada’s sick and dying population. People with debilitating disabilities or those suffering from tremendous pain were added to the list of eligible patients and, as a fresh new addition, Canada plans to allow citizens with mental disorders to be added later in 2024. Furthermore, according to a recent Research Co. poll examining how comfortable Canadians are with its burgeoning euthanasia laws, one-third of people in Canada are okay with prescribing MAID to the country's homeless.

Research Co. surveyed 1000 Canadians on May 5th and found that a staggering 28% of respondents said that medical assistance in dying guidelines should be extended to the homeless while 50% said those who are disabled should be also allowed access to the program.

"Canadians are split when pondering if mental illness should be a justification for an adult to seek medical assistance in dying: 43% support this idea, while 45% are opposed. The federal government has delayed a final decision for eligibility related to mental illness until March 2024," Research Co.'s Mario Canseco wrote in a blog post from the self-described public opinion forum.

Indeed, this great dilemma of whether a person's project called "life" should be terminated only because he is suffering a great pain, or whether we should let him suffer and die naturally, reaches beyond medical or legal considerations. The dilemma brings out a question more suited for philosophical circles. It presents a challenge to the vague and often cloudy understanding about the value and meaning of life itself that we have as a society. Why are we here?

One can argue that all material life can be viewed as one big continuous pain since all we accomplish in our lifetime is taken from us at the time of death anyway. Is one morally entitled to kill another person when the person requests that?

"Just like in your country the real policy -- to continue the Vietnam -- means they cannot manage these hippies, and they are trying to send them to Vietnam and kill them. That's all."

Christine Gauthier on the cover of iRun magazine
On the cover: Mrs. Gauthier depicted in the iRun magazine

Can we take our own life even if we did not give it to ourselves? What is life? What happens after death? Modern medical practitioners and politicians are not clear on these issues and therefore such discussions cannot attain Krsna simply by giving up the body.

Krsna is attainable by devotional service. There is no other means for attaining Him. Acts such as suicide are influenced by the mode of ignorance, and in ignorance and passion one cannot understand who Krsna is." So the Lord does not approve of suicide even for spiritual purposes, what to speak of material reasons such as to avoid the painful condition of a diseased body?

Srila Prabhupada explains: "So these rascals think, ‘If I suicide, if I commit suicide, and just have a knife on my throat, then all my pains and pleasures finished.’ No, that is not... He will be put into more pains and pleasure. Sometimes we'll have to accept - why "accept"; it is certain - the ghostly body. Because Krsna has given you, or maya has given, maya has given under the direction of Krsna, a certain type of body for enjoying for a certain span of life, you cannot finish it. If you disregard it, then, if you commit suicide, the result will be that you will not be allowed to accept another material body. You will have to remain in that subtle body. That is ghost. Ghostly life means one who has misused this life, this body, and by his whims he has killed this body. He becomes ghost. That means he will have to suffer for so many day, then he'll get another material body.” (The Nectar of Devotion – January 10, 1973, Bombay).

In other words, by the law of karma one has been given a body for a specific amount of time and if one kills that body, one must become a ghost and then again take a material body and suffer whatever pain or a disease one was due.

In fact Srila Prabhupada states in another lecture: "Just like a rascal or foolish man thinks that ‘I am suffering so much. Let me commit suicide, and it will be a great relief.’ It is foolishness. He will be put into further torture after this life. He will become a ghost.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam7.9.9 – July 4, 1968, Montreal).

Just like you are put into a prison house for a certain number of months or years. Before that period, if you flee away, then you are again punished. Because you did not fulfill the terms of your prison life, then again you become a criminal. Similarly, those who kill another’s body, or those who commit suicide, they again become a criminal.

Actually, this is simply propaganda, that people want to die. Nobody wants to die. Dying is unnatural because we are eternal spirit souls, who have become entangled inmaterial bodies due to our controlship mentality.

Srila Prabhupada confirms: "Even a person or living being in the most wretched condition of life, if you propose that "Let me kill you," he'll not agree. Therefore the psychology is that every living being does not want to die. So..., but actually we are not subject to death or birth. That will be discussed. We have somehow or other, by chance or by coincidence, we have acquired this material body. Actually it is not by chance, but we wanted to lord it over the material world; therefore we have got this material body.” (Bhagavad-gita 2.15 – February 15, 1975, Mexico City).

Euthanasia might be a convenient way to convince people to commit not-so-messy suicide, so those who have to take care of them, such as the government-run health care system, can be relieved of extra responsibility and basically a burden of unproductive citizens. According to Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, a professor at Harvard Medical School, euthanasia is indeed "a way of avoiding the complex and arduous efforts required of doctors and other health-care providers to ensure that dying patients receive humane, dignified care."

There seems to be a thin line between "assisted suicide"and plain murder. In fact, the line seems to be drawn by mere semantics. Sometimes, when an animal is suffering due to disease, it is killed and we call it "mercy killing." But can killing be an act of mercy at any point? Considering the life of a person whose future has been entrusted to a medical procedure of assisted suicide in the light of euthanasia's ghostly after effects, perhaps we should reevaluate our terminology. Srila Prabhupada makes common sense remarks on this issue in the following conversation:

Christine Gauthier holding Canadian flag with dog
Mrs. Gauthier from Canada has been offered euthanasia instead of a lift from the Canaidan government

Srila Prabhupada: So this is nonsense. Mercy killing. Killing mercy. [laughs] Just see. The action is killing, and that is his mercy. This is their mercy. All contradictory. Killing by mercy? Mercy is killing?

Hari-sauri: There's an example that's just going up to the courts now. There's one family, their daughter was being supported by one machine, so that one day they went in early and pulled out the plugs. So now they are being taken to court. They stopped the machine because she'd been in a coma for so long, so they just pulled out the plugs and everything, the machine. So that's what they call mercy killing. They don't like the doctors just to keep them there uselessly.

Ramesvara: But then they want to kill the old people. This mercy killing, they think that "An old man is suffering, so let us kill him."

Pusta Krsna: They think if someone dies in their sleep, they are very lucky.

Prabhupada: It is dangerous to die here.

Tamala Krsna: Not as dangerous as in Africa. I saw one movie, and there's one tribe, that when a man becomes very old...

Prabhupada: Yes, I've heard of that.

Hari-sauri: They throw him on the roof, and then eat him.

Prabhupada: That is a feast.

Tamala Krsna: Love feast.

Prabhupada: Grandfather feast. Now great-grandfather feast.

Cyavana: We're preaching to them, Srila Prabhupada. Trying to change them.

Ramesvara: Also the Eskimos, when a man gets old, if he is an Eskimo, then he has to go out into the ice lands and wait for some animal to kill him. He cannot stay at home and be supported by the family.

Bali-mardana: He eats too much, they say.

Ramesvara: Too much burden.

Bali-mardana: Because he's eating, and he is not able to go and hunt, they send them out to die.

Prabhupada: The Communists also, they'll do. All old men should be killed. That time is coming. Don't become old. [laughter]

Tamala Krsna: You are teaching us to remain young forever, Prabhupada.

Svarupa Damodara: One must become Krsna conscious to become young.

Prabhupada: So many difficulties will come unless there is Krsna consciousness. Therefore Krsna says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam [Bg 18.66], if you want to be happy. (Morning Walk – July 11, 1976, New York)

Srila Prabhupada smiling
Srila Prabhupada, the ocean of mercy

Disregard for life, as already shown in the examples of animals killed on mass scale in the meat industry, or unwanted children aborted due to accidents, is now showing its teeth in the new ways introduced by the leaders of the present materialistic society in the form of the chilling cool of euthanasia. It seems like whenever there is some problem, killing is a fast solution. In history there have been many such examples, where the leaders avoid solving actual problems by brutal killing. Srila Prabhupada speaks of one such an example from the First World War:

Prabhupada: One Mr. McPherson, Englishman, he was known to me. He was coming to my shop. He stated that in the First World War, he was in the war, service, and some Belgium refugees came to France because Marshall Foch, he was in charge of that area. And when he was informed that so many refugees, mostly women and children, they have come, so he became so much disturbed that "Where shall I give them shelter in this warfield?" His advice was that "Blow them. Finish." So they were blown up. This is a practical... In war field such things happen. "Who is going to take responsibility of so many women and children in this war?" They were blown up. They came to take shelter, but they were blown up. Such things happen in war. Yes.

As another example of such barbaric mentality, Srila Prabhupada mentions the Vietnam war that took place inthe 1960's between USA and Vietnam, where thousands and thousands of people lost their lives.

Prabhupada: Just like in your country the real policy -- to continue the Vietnam -- means they cannot manage these hippies, and they are trying to send them to Vietnam and kill them. That's all. That is the policy. They cannot manage. They cannot make them sane and normal condition. They have no such policy, neither they do know it. So what to do? "Blow him. We cannot manage them." Therefore they are continuing. That's all. This is the policy. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.2.1–5 – January 6, 1971, Calcutta)

Krishna conscious devotees believe that every living entity, no matter what he or she is, is a part and parcel of God. One cannot claim to love God, but at the same time kill His parts and parcels. Krishna consciousness is therefore needed so we can avoid such killing trends as seen these days in Canada. Otherwise, we will soon have to look for a studio that can tattoo the preventive: "When I'm old, please don't kill me." on our foreheads to avoid the MAID's kind "assistance."

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