So the federal leadership candidates weren’t posed any tough questions about physician assisted dying during Thursday night's Maclean’s election debate.
But that doesn’t mean the issue won’t move votes when Canadians go to the ballot box this October.
In fact, a recent poll by Ipsos suggests that Canadians really do want the contestants to talk about assisted dying on the campaign trail. Released just days before the Aug. 2 election call, the poll of 2,000 Canadians revealed that assisted dying ranked in the top-30 issues on voters’ minds. End-of-life choice came in at Number 14 — just ahead of public transit, job-training programs, gun control, and high cell phone rates, which tied for the 15th spot. Twelve per cent of respondents included assisted dying among their top-five issues this election season.
However, the poll also revealed how concerns over the economy are set to dominate the election debate. Economic issues, including the rising cost of living and job losses, nabbed seven of the 10 highest positions on the list.
Whether or not end-of-life choice emerges as a defining issue in the Oct. 19 election, the next Parliament will be tasked with making tough decisions on how to deal with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Carter v. Canada. In their unanimous Feb 6. ruling, the justices on the high court struck down the Criminal Code ban on physician assisted dying. They stayed their ruling for one year, allowing the federal government and the provinces 12 months to respond to this colossal legal shift.
After five months of near-silence about the decision, the Justice Minister Peter MacKay announced last month the government’s plans to probe Canadians’ views on assisted dying. A panel of experts has been tapped to conduct the public consultation on end-of-life choice, but submissions have yet to open.
For more detailed results from the Ipsos poll, go to the pollster’s website.