Politicians urged to be forthright

Writer wishes politicians would just say what they really mean

Re: Controversy over assisted dying in hospice growing (Chilliwack Progress, March 7).

If Laurie Throness simply came out and said, ‘Look, I can’t support the idea of assisted dying because my religion forbids it,’ you could respect the guy. You might still not want to vote for him, but you would appreciate his candour in admitting that politics, like everything else, is always rooted in faith. But in place of such forthrightness we get the usual tiresome bafflegab about the slippery slope. According to Throness, once assisted dying is mandated for all hospices in B.C., it will not merely be available to those who desire it, it will be pushed on them to such a degree that “people will fear that their safety is in jeopardy.” Throness admitted fearing for his own safety: “I want to be able to die a natural death without pressure to end my life early.”

Really? He feels actual fear? For his actual safety? We don’t have to call up the image of hospices all across the province soon being staffed by beetle-browed functionaries with thick Russian accents stirring strange powders into our hot chocolate in order to see how ludicrous it is to argue that making euthanasia available is the same thing as foisting it upon us. Presumably, in a democracy, we are entitled to at least a minimal level of rationality in the arguments of our politicians, but the kind of fear-mongering going on here is not merely irrational, it verges on the hysterical.

Is Laurie Throness genuinely hysterical, though, or are we dealing with a calculated sort of Bible-belt political cunning? What about Barry Neufeld, when he tells us that granting respect to people with flexible sexual and gender orientations is tantamount to opening our doors to armies of proselytizing sodomites? What about the mayor of Merritt? In that community, first the students and then the school board got behind the idea of painting a crosswalk near a school in rainbow colours in order to celebrate diversity and inclusiveness. The mayor and city council turned the idea down flat. The mayor started off with the slippery slope argument: if you paint one crosswalk in rainbow colours, soon you’ll have the hockey team wanting one, then the Rotary Club …. But when pressed in an interview, the mayor revealed his real colours, and they tended more to the black and white: “That’s their lifestyle and that’s all well and good, but they don’t have to take that … and make it obvious within the community, and push it on everybody else.” (Presumably the mayor doesn’t feel quite so threatened by the hockey team or the Rotarians.)

It’s the same calculus, everywhere you go: acknowledging difference = getting difference shoved down your throat. It’s a foolish logic and it’s either borderline paranoid or transparently dishonest and we deserve much, much better from our politicians.

Graham Dowden


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