Conservative MP's bill on conscience rights fails, but gets Poilievre's support

OTTAWA — Nearly all Conservative members of Parliament voted for a bill they say would protect the conscience rights of health professionals when it comes to medical assistance in dying.

The private member's bill was defeated in the House of Commons today despite getting support from most Tories, including leader Pierre Poilievre.

The bill was introduced by Kelly Block, a Conservative MP from Saskatchewan who hails from the party's social conservative wing, which champions the issue of conscience rights.

The governing Liberals and MPs from the NDP and Bloc Québécois voted against the proposed law, which sought to change the Criminal Code to protect health professionals from having to "directly or indirectly" participate in medical assistance in dying.

The bill would make it offence to intimidate or fire a health-care worker who refuses to provide a medically assisted death or provide a referral for the service.

The Liberal government has long said there is nothing in its legislation that forces a health professional to "provide or help to provide" the procedure if it conflicts with their personal beliefs.

Ontario's Court of Appeal has also ruled that allowing doctors to refuse to provide referrals would stigmatize already vulnerable patients and restrict their access to medical services.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 5, 2022.

The Canadian Press