Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dr. Gary Badcock


This thesis examines the problematic prospect of the introduction of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide into Canadian society. The thesis argues that euthanasia is too simplistic an approach to address the complexities of end of life issues. The policy proposal under active discussion is profoundly mistaken. The language of euthanasia is examined in relation to the choice of words used, drawing attention to how words, when used loosely, can distort reality in this matter. Historical experience from other jurisdictions is presented to provide a context for this discussion. A "slippery slope" argument emerges via the claim that, in practice and in principle, euthanasia can neither be contained nor managed upon its introduction into a society. A theoretical model based on virtue theory is then used to interpret these findings and to frame a constructive response. The policy alternative of enhanced resources for palliative care is presented. It is concluded that the risks associated with euthanasia are momentous and grave while the benefits are few.