Dear Mr. Trudeau, Leader of the Opposition, all MP’s and the Senate.

For the past several hundred years, you and the rest of the Canadian politicians have been treating every visible minority with your colonial attitude. One of your comments was, “We have to get this right!” for those people. It’s what you’ve been saying to the Indians the homeless, the Asians, the Syrians, the blacks, the drug users, the suicidal…and now those that desire to end their lives but don’t have the physical way to do so.  Not once have you said to any of these groups, “What can we do to help?” “What do you need?”  then, actually following through by giving or helping with what they need instead of trying to do it all for them or to them. This is a simple thing! Don’t make it complicated!  What we need is a law that allows us to go to a doctor to have them help us end our unbelievable suffering! We need a law that allows us to slip away in the arms of, or surrounded by our friends and loved ones if they desire. That’s it. It is not up to the government to tell us what is unbelievable suffering!

You or I or any physically capable person can end things right now in any fashion we choose! This law is to give those without the means, the ability to do this too.

The other law we, and I’m talking all Canadians, need is the one that allows us to pre-plan our deaths. We need a law that allows us to say, “If something should happen to me in the future that meets these conditions (and we decide the conditions, not the lawmakers) then help us end our lives with these people present.”  We are the only ones that can say what suffering is, because it is not the same for all of us. When we are born into this world, we are usually surrounded by family or doctors and nurses. Often times our birth is planned, but when we leave, we must leave alone. No one can know of the timing. It is against the law! Don’t be an idiot! Understand that this type of thinking is just plain wrong!

I have a story to tell. My kids are old enough that although traumatic, I think they’ll understand.

My former wife Tracy was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease in about 1987 or 88. (I’ll never forget her response to the diagnosis. “Merry Christmas now go home and die”) This was after a few years of gradual decline that was becoming more noticeable. Her wish at the time was for me to take her out to the back forty and shoot her! She was raised in a farming community and understood that there are some things that are just not worth living through when there is no hope, and at that time, there was absolutely “no hope.” At the time we lived on a small farm. Now although tempted I didn’t follow through. I got help and gradually worked things out so we could move to town.

At the time, we had an older dog. This dog killed chickens and anything else he could. He would go nuts when put on a leash. He was a free spirit farm dog but nobody with a farm would take him because of his less than desirable habits. Because we were moving into town, because he would not understand that the neighbour kids were not lunch, and because of several other things, he and I made a trip to the back forty with a gun and a moose steak! As I was returning I kept hearing Tracy’s wishes and thinking I took the wrong one out there!  (Robert Latimer had more guts than me and that was a travesty of justice if there ever was one!)

We moved to town. Tracy soon moved to an assisted living facility. (She was 28 or 29 when she moved into an old folk’s home because that was all that was available in a small town) Over the course of several years, her ability to do things gradually declined. She started lashing out at her care givers out of frustration. This caused many moves to different care facilities throughout Alberta where she was sedated to the point of being a like a zombie. She eventually declined to the point where all she could do was lay in a bed or recliner and look in the direction of the TV. She couldn’t speak, she couldn’t communicate. Her body survived another 5 years in that condition. During all this time, we took the kids to see her, because she was their mother and we wanted them all to know each other. However at some point she started forgetting their names and only, if they did something to catch her attention, could she gaze with unfocused eyes in their direction. Eventually her body died, alone, without family and friends around her, after being in a diseased prison for about 15 years. Had she been legally able to make the choice, I know what it would have been!

We had three children. This was before we knew for sure that Huntington’s was in the family. Because Huntington’s disease is a dominant gene, for each child you can flip the coin and each child has a fifty/fifty chance of having the disease. I say having because if you have the gene, you have the disease. Symptoms may appear early or later depending on genetic factors. I guess we were lucky. We only had one child with Huntington’s disease. Each of the children lived with the knowledge that they may have the disease. Testing wasn’t allowed to happen until they were of legal age which in the case of Alberta is 18. So like any gun is always assumed to be loaded, each child assumed they had the disease. When Lee-Anne, our youngest turned 18, she went with her best friend to get tested. Yes, she had the disease. She swore on that day that she would not go through what her mother did.

She created a bucket list! She followed through on whatever promises she made for herself. She moved to BC, She got and held a job until she couldn’t, she fell in love until it went sideways, she put together the most amazing group of caregivers to watch over her when things got tough. Part of her reason for moving to BC was to spare us from watching her go through what would come. Part was to ensure she didn’t get in the same position as her mother! Eventually things went from bad to worse and she knew she would have to end it while she still could. She wished she could say, “when things get to (this…) level, I’d like help dying.” But that was not to be. She had several failed attempts.” She had a farewell party and planned on it being the end afterwards, but someone “ratted her out”. (her words). Another time she tried drowning herself but her ability to swim took over. That time her jaw was dislocated from shivering in the cold, and she was in excruciating pain for about 3 days. She wouldn’t go to a doctor because she was fearful of being put in an institution! Several times she tried drugs to end her life, but there were never enough of the kind that were effective. Eventually she did succeed after suffering pain for quite a few days so she could amass enough meds. We miss her but we totally understand her wishes! It is just too bad we couldn’t have been with her. We feel cheated too. We couldn’t sing for her the songs she loved, and to protect us, she wouldn’t say when she was leaving. And it is so sad that she had to try so many times before success. It is so sad that she couldn’t have stayed until things got really bad! She was waiting for the law! There are so many more people waiting for the law. Waiting for the cruelty to end!

If we had an animal that we kept in the condition of some of these folks, we would be charged with cruelty to animals!

So let’s change the rules as above. Also, let’s build more and better palliative care facilities because this end of life solution may not be desired by everyone, but it should be available for everybody at their choice! Let’s not tell people what they need but provide them with choices so they can make up their own mind, as to what is right for them.


Francis (Frank) H. Peters

Laws we need:

  1. What we need is a law that allows us to go to a doctor to have them help us end our unbelievable suffering! (we are the only ones that can define our suffering)
  2. We need a law that allows us to slip away in the arms or surrounded by our friends and loved ones if they desire. (We need it to be legal to plan and announce our passing)
  3. We need a law that allows us to say, “If something should happen to me in the future that meets these conditions (and we decide and define the conditions, not the lawmakers) then help us end our lives with these people present.”

These three ideas can be reduced to one law:

  1. “If I decide I am in a state of suffering or, if something should happen to me in the future that meets these conditions (and I decide and define the conditions, not the lawmakers) then allow a doctor or ‘end of life practitioner’ to enable me to end my life with these people present.”

Resources we need:

  1. Better long term facilities for younger people.
  2. More & Better palliative care facilities

Remember. Keep it simple…


  1. chilko says:

    Please pass this on to any who may be interested. Thanks Frank

  2. Vernita Carlson says:

    Tracy was my best friend growing up, and I was maid of honor at her wedding to Frank. Watching her deterioration from a strong, vital, fun-loving young woman, to where she was a few years later was heart breaking. There is no need for people to suffer the way some people are made to in our society today – and the suffering extends to their family as well.

    Frank, what a beautifully thought out and written letter. I can only imagine the pain that you and your family have gone through, most especially with Tracy and Lee-Anne. I wish you all the best in your quest to get laws changed so that others are spared the pain and indignities you had to watch them go through. I must definitely support you in this.

  3. Donna Schmidt says:

    Frank: This is heartbreaking to read. You all suffered so much. May you never have to go through this kind of pain again. Your wife, your daughter, your grandson. too much for anyone to bear.

    • chilko says:

      Thanks Donna but this isn’t about me. It’s about getting the government to legalize assisted death if desired, with the right to pre-plan also if desired.

  4. Liz says:

    How thoughtfully and succinctly written. Through your loss and ability to represent this situation you have created an opportunity for reasonable and compassionate solution. Thank you

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