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Canada Can’t avoid national debate on assisted suicide, Wynne says

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne visits Foodshare Toronto in Toronto Monday, September 16, 2013 to announce a $30-million dollar investment in local food projects over the next three years.

Mark Blinch/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says there's going to be a national debate about whether assisted suicide should be legalized, whether the federal government wants one or not.

Wynne says the late Donald Low's video pleading for Canada to do a better job in dealing with end-of-life issues has sparked debate on a topic on the minds of many.

The Premier says she personally is conflicted on euthanasia and assisted suicide, and says she suspects most other Canadians are as well.

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Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay says the Conservative government has "no desire" to introduce legislation that would open up the issue for debate.

However, Wynne says the federal government can't ignore the fact the people are talking about what she calls a very challenging ethical issue, in part because of Low's video pleading with opponents of assisted suicide to reconsider.

Wynne says people want more control over end-of-life issues and the country needs to engage in a debate to see if the law banning assisted suicide should be changed.

The Quebec government is already holding public hearings on its legislation which would outline the conditions necessary for someone to get medical assistance to die. But Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews says it's up to the federal government to decide whether it should legalize assisted suicide.

Low, who guided Toronto through the 2003 SARS crisis, urged Canada to allow people to die with dignity in a video taped just eight days before he died from a brain tumour last week at age 68.

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