08/31/2015 15:52 EDT | Updated 08/31/2016 01:12 EDT

Federal assisted-death panel defends independence as group travels to Europe

OTTAWA — The chair of an outside group established to report on the contentious issue of doctor-assisted death is defending his panel's independence as it embarks on a research tour in Europe.

Harvey Max Chochinov, who also serves as the Canada research chair in palliative care at the University of Manitoba, says the federal government has selected panelists who intend to be objective.

Chochinov says his team brings together years of experience and they are open to hearing different perspectives.

In July, the Conservative government established the panel to solicit attitudes and opinions of Canadians and key stakeholders after the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the right of clearly consenting adults who endure intolerable physical or mental suffering to end their lives with a physician's help.

The court also gave Parliament one year to come up with a set of laws to govern assisted suicide.

The panel's mandate is to establish key findings and options for the cabinet to review, but it has been criticized by some because two of its three members were federal witnesses who argued against assisted suicide when the case was heard


The Canadian Press