Health: Rotten law, rotten politicians, rotten eggs

Months ago, I wrote a bracelet could be worn by those opposed to medical assistance in dying (MAID). The bracelet would protect those individuals, and the law’s restrictive, now seemingly unconstitutional, conditions could be relaxed for those who want access to MAID.

I sent a letter and the column to every Member of Parliament (MP) and Senator in Canada urging a rewrite of the law. I’ve delayed writing another column on this topic so our elected and appointed leaders could respond. So what happened?

First, there was an avalanche of mail from readers in response to my initial column.

From JR – It’s a brilliant solution to a difficult problem. Congratulations for your efforts to ensure human rights for all.

SW says – Your article makes more sense than I have seen in years. Politicians take years of useless studies before making the wrong decision.

Another replied – I do not want others to feed me, change diapers, give me a cookie and then have someone to play the accordion.

From Calgary – My husband died in terrible pain in spite of morphine. Humans should be treated with the same common sense and compassion we treat loved animals. Please keep up the pressure on politicians to change our NOT COMPLETE LAW. It makes total sense to use the bracelet just as it’s used for alerting doctors of a person’s allergy or diabetes.

Several readers accused politicians, and some doctors, of tossing the Hippocratic Oath out the window when it comes to end-of-life-suffering. They wrote of being treated like children who could not make up their own minds about when and how to die.

From SB – It’s hard to believe how we keep going backward. I keep hoping that someday we will start moving forward. Thanks for your No Nonsense writing. How can anyone disagree with letting the bracelet decide?

One reader has this sage advice, “I tell people just because I don’t like peas, doesn’t mean they can’t eat them. Let each person decide vital issues for themselves.”

I expected several readers might find ways to disagree with the bracelet suggestion. But it did not happen. One reader, although in pain, said he was not ready to exchange the temporary for the eternal, but added his opinion might change in a few years.

Others replied that they did not want to end their lives by stepping in front of a truck, or other means of suicide. Rather, they wanted to leave on their own terms. For politicians to deny it is an egregious prohibition. Or, as another remarked, he hoped “the kids on the hill would get the message and smarten up.”

So how many of the 443 MPs and Senators replied? It’s was a single Senator, but no mention of trying to change the law. It’s a shameful response. Although the pen can be mightier than the sword, in this case the pen failed miserably. Old-fashioned common sense proved to be an uncommon commodity.

I’ve pondered what will it take to get politicians to do their job. When will they acknowledge that thousands of patients are needlessly dying in pain? When will the Advanced Directives of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, signed while still mentally competent, be respected? When will the extreme suffering, not imminent death, of cancer patients and others experiencing excruciating quality of life be a benchmark for compassionate care?

So I have a burning desire to toss rotten eggs at Parliament, as a signal of extreme disappointment and frustration. It’s not because I have disrespect for these buildings or the institution. Rather, I have an intense disrespect for MPs and Senators who allow this suffering to continue. In case I cannot resist it, I’ll gather rotten eggs. I’d like your opinion.

Dr. W. Gifford-Jones can be reached at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Trudeau unveils details for emergency payment for Canadians

Applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit will be accepted starting Monday

‘It’s like ghost towns:’ Canada’s border communities adapt to COVID-19 changes

Entry between Coutts, Alta., and Sweet Grass, Mont., is one of the busiest on the Canada-U.S. border

COVID response offers chance to shift direction of Canadian economy: experts

Many are asking how the economy can be restored without greenhouse gases tagging along

WATCH: Red Deer emergency call centre hours change starting next week

Hours at the City of Red Deer’s COVID-19 emergency call centre will… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services provides COVID-19 prevention tips

Alberta Health Services has a number of recommendations for people amid the… Continue reading

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

With workers at home, feds eye ways to fast-track training program, groups say

How to help workers stuck at home or out of work to prevent their skills from becoming

Hajdu brings anthropology, public health experience to COVID-19 fight

“There’s a piece of me that’s still an anthropologist at heart, if you will”

Spring cleaning can’t be avoided

It’s the perfect time for spring cleaning now that we are confined… Continue reading

Drake does the ‘Toosie Slide’ in new video, shows his mansion and empty T.O. streets

New creative outlet during the COVID-19 pandemic: The “Toosie Slide.”

Singer Pink says she had COVID-19, gives $1M to relief funds

The artist and her three-year-old son displaying symptoms

US braces for more virus deaths; Europe hopes crisis peaking

The number of people infected in the U.S. has soared to more than 300,000

Most Read