Fate of Liberal resolutions unclear as convention wraps in Montreal

Federal Liberals have voted in favour of legalizing assisted suicide but whether Leader Justin Trudeau will run with the idea is a mystery.

MONTREAL — Federal Liberals have voted in favour of legalizing assisted suicide but whether Leader Justin Trudeau will run with the idea is a mystery.

Trudeau was not in the room Sunday when delegates to the party’s national convention passed a resolution urging that voluntary, medically assisted death be decriminalized — although moments earlier he had been just outside the convention hall, cheering as the Canadian men’s hockey team won Olympic gold.

He was in the room later when delegates gave him an overwhelming, after-the-fact endorsement of his decision to kick senators out of the Liberal caucus.

Delegates also passed a raft of potentially costly resolutions that included supporting many big-ticket items:

— An $18-billion-a-year investment in infrastructure.

— Creation of a basic annual income.

— A national transportation strategy.

— Funding for aboriginal education on reserves equal to that spent on provincially operated schools.

— Increased funding for mental health services.

— Expansion and enhancement of the Canada Pension Plan.

None of the resolutions are binding on the leader and, since he gave no closing remarks and did not hold the traditional wrap-up news conference at the convention’s end, it was unclear which resolutions Trudeau believes should make their way into a 2015 election platform or how a Liberal government would pay for them.

He did give a number of one-on-one television interviews — which were taped before the resolutions were voted upon.

In an interview with Global’s Tom Clark, Trudeau, who has promised not to hike corporate or income taxes or the GST, said the debate to come will be over where to spend the surplus the Harper government has forecast for next year.

In an interview with CTV’s Question Period, he declined to give his personal view on assisted suicide, saying he’s waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on some pending cases which could provide guidance on the issue.

He did allude to the “death with dignity” resolution, jointly proposed by the party’s women’s and youth commissions, in relatively positive terms during a keynote convention speech Saturday, but stopped short of taking a clear stand.

The resolution, Trudeau said in the speech, challenges Liberals “to expand our idea of what it means to be a free citizen in a modern democracy” and “to reflect on giving terminally afflicted Canadians the choice to end their pain and suffering and plan their own death with dignity.”

Voluntary, medically assisted death should be decriminalized, states the resolution — after a public consultation to recommend the criteria for allowing terminally ill Canadians to choose to end their lives and an oversight system to protect the vulnerable.

It passed by a show of hands after a brief debate.

Resolution co-author Wendy Robbins said it reflects findings that 70-80 per cent of Canadians want the right to choose to die, with medical help.

“It’s a question largely of autonomy,” she told the convention. “We think we have the right to die with dignity.”

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