Canada’s suicide hotline reveals Justin Trudeau’s dystopia

Dec 5, 2023 by

by Mary Harrington, UnHerd:

Euthanasia has been reduced to a bureaucratic detail.

Canadian leader Justin Trudeau recently launched a new suicide hotline. Internet jokers wondered whether its aim is to dissuade or to find new takers for Canada’s notoriously liberal state-supported euthanasia programme. Surely it is paradoxical for the same government to offer both pro and anti-suicide services?

But what if this isn’t a paradox? Then it becomes clear that, for Canada, the meaning of death is now less a moral question than a bureaucratic one. This in turn offers insight into the trajectory and ambitions of the post-democratic, managerialist politics of which Canada is a leading exponent, and which is now spreading throughout the liberal West.

It should come as no surprise that the legalisation of euthanasia in Canada arrived via extra-democratic means. In 2015 Canada’s Supreme Court ruled that prohibiting physician-assisted suicide contravened the country’s founding managerialist charter, the 1982 Canadian Charter on Rights and Freedoms, and gave the government a year to draft legislation.

Passed in 2016 and titled Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), the resulting law legalised euthanasia, initially restricted to cases with a “reasonable foreseeability of natural death”, which is to say to those already terminally ill. It didn’t take long for this to expand, though, again via extra-democratic courts in 2019. Since being broadened, the eligibility criteria have since given rise to well-publicised cases suggesting that assisted suicide is increasingly a cheap substitute for Canadian state welfare, for example making up shortfalls on disability support, veterans’ support or even suicidal ideation or threats.

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On the face of it, then, there is a dark irony to the same nation launching a service whose aim — we have to assume — is trying to persuade Canadians to stay alive, all while another department is busily bumping them off. But this is less paradoxical when one realises that the key innovation of MAiD is the ongoing colonisation by management of terrain once understood as the domain of morality.

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