On June 15, the British Columbia Supreme Court rendered a controversial judgment in the case of Carter vs. Canada, one that purports to create constitutional immunity for those who provide assistance to those seeking to kill themselves — a judgment that stands at odds with the Supreme Court of Canada’s Rodriguez ruling in 1993. The only saving grace is that doctors will not be scribbling lethal prescriptions any day soon: Current law will stand for at least a year (the sole exception being the plaintiff in this case, 64-year-old ALS patient Gloria Taylor). Let us hope that a higher court restores sanity to the issue before this 12-month period expires.
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Friday, June 29, 2012
"Especially if older people have money or real estate, our laws against assisted suicide are there to protect them"
Editor, the Times:
I see that this greatly affects the way the parent feels as they grow older. They feel as if the family wants them to die so they can have their money. Some express the pain that they feel when they see loved ones discussing their money as if they have already passed away.
If assisted suicide was legal, some older people would feel the need to say yes - to die - because they are given the message that they are a burden to their family. Some of these older people can be easily convinced and put their trust fully in their caregivers and families.
If assisted suicide were legal, then some would really not make the decision, but let someone else make the decision for them. How is this right?
Especially if older people have money or real estate, our laws against assisted suicide are there to protect them.
Changing the law to allow assisted suicide would violate their right to be protected in this way.
Arlena Vane Aldergrove
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Canada will be known as the country where a Provincial Judge has more power than the Federal Government. "
* * *Dear Ms. Kerry-Lynne Findlay MP,
* * *Dear Ms. Kerry-Lynne Findlay MP,
I am angry and upset about Justice Lynn Smith's decision in the Carter case, giving Gloria Taylor the "right" to assisted suicide/euthanasia.
This erroneous and presumptuous decision by Justice Smith is a guarantee of elder abuse unto death. We already have a problem with elder abuse in Canada. I witnessed this firsthand with my mother, when, after a mild stroke, the relative holding power of attorney decided my mother would have no treatment. I sat by my mother's bedside in a Nova Scotia nursing home, unable to do anything except hold her hand while she suffered for six days, before finally succumbing to dehydration and starvation. If Justice Smith's decision is allowed to stand, there will be no need for inconvenienced or greedy relatives to wait for even this questionable medical procedure of withholding treatment.
It appears that Justice Smith holds herself above the Government of Canada. She has given our elected representatives, such as yourself, a year to comply with her decision to allow people to "help" kill other Canadians. This is the right to commit homicide. The Federal Government of Canada decided many years ago that Canada would not kill convicted murderers, even if they want to die, but now Justice Smith had deemed that we can kill other people who allegedly ask to be killed.
MP Findlay, the "right" to kill someone is not a decision for a Provincial Court Justice to make. If Justice Smith's decision is upheld, Canada will be a place of supreme irony. We will have the distinction of protecting the lives of convicted murders, while allowing our vulnerable elders and others to be subject to human error or deliberate murder. We will also be, I believe, unique as a nation: Canada will be known as the country where a Provincial Judge has more power than the Federal Government.
I look forward to your response on this matter.
Kate Kelly, B.A., B. Ed.
Monday, June 18, 2012
By Margaret Dore
On June 15, 2012, Justice Lynn Smith of the BC Supreme Court issued an opinion purporting to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in Canada. As discussed below, the legal effect of this opinion is unclear. The reasoning is also invalid.
A. Legal Effect
The opinion was the result of a summary trial in which both the Attorney General of Canada and the Attorney General of British Columbia argued that the court had no power to do anything other than dismiss the case. This was due to the Supreme Court of Canada's prior decision on similar facts (the Rodriguez case). The opinion states:
"They [Canada and British Columbia] say that it is not open to this Court to do anything other than dismiss the plaintiffs' claim."
If Canada and British Columbia are correct, the opinion is nothing more than an advisory document. Unless and until this point is resolved any person participating in a death under the opinion will remain at risk of criminal prosecution, civil lawsuits and/or professional discipline.
B. Invalid Reasoning
The opinion is also written in double-speak, which means to say one thing and to mean another, sometimes the opposite. Most centrally, the opinion bases the plaintiff's "right to die" on her "right to life" in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These are opposite concepts.
The opinion also argues that because Canadian law does not prohibit suicide as a crime, that committing suicide is a right. This claim ignores other Canadian law discouraging suicide. Indeed, a suicidal person can be committed against his or her will in order to prevent a suicide. With suicide actively discouraged under the law, it cannot be said that the law somehow grants a right to commit suicide. Once again, the opinion's logic is flawed.
* * *
 To view the opinion, click here.
 Opinion, page 251, paragraph 891.
 Id., pages 365-8.
 See e.g., the opinion at 366, paragraph 1314, which states: "Canada argues that the right to life does not include the right to choose death. [Canada] submits that such an interpretation would directly contradict the plain and obvious meaning of a right to life and would mark a significant departure from existing Supreme Court of Canada jurisprudence."
 See e.g., the opinion at 10, paragraph 15: "The claim that the legislation infringes Ms. Taylor's equality rights begins with the fact that the law does not prohibit suicide. However, persons who are physically disabled such that they cannot commit suicide without help are denied that option because s. 241(b) prohibits assisted suicide."
 See BC Mental Health Act, Part 3, Section 22 (allowing involuntary admissions "to prevent the person's or patient's substantial mental or physical deterioration or for the protection of the person or patient or the protection of others").