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Thursday Thinkpiece: Downie on Pathways to Law Reform for Voluntary Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Each Thursday we present a significant excerpt, usually from a recently published book or journal article. In every case the proper permissions have been obtained. If you are a publisher who would like to participate in this feature, please let us know via the site’s contact form.

Permitting Voluntary Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Law Reform Pathways for Common Law Jurisdictions

Jocelyn Downie, SJD, FRSC, FCAHS; Professor, Faculties of Law and Medicine, Dalhousie University
Queensland University of Technology Law Review Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 84-112

Excerpt: Introduction and Sections III-VI | Footnotes omitted. They can be found in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Thursday Thinkpiece

Quebec Report Calls for Doctor-Assisted Euthanasia Legislation

After almost two years, the National Assembly’s Select Committee on Dying with Dignity tabled its 180-page report in legislature, on March 22, 2012. Titled Dying With Dignity, the report proposes “medical aid to die” and 23 other recommendations.
Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

Royal Society of Canada Calls for Decriminalization of Euthanasia

In a report released this week, a Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel proposes that assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia should be decriminalized for competent individuals who make a free and informed decision that their life is no longer worth living.

The panel concludes:

  1. That there is a moral right, grounded in autonomy, for competent and informed individuals who have decided after careful consideration of the relevant facts, that their continuing life is not worth living, to non-interference with requests for assistance with suicide or voluntary euthanasia.
  2. That none of the grounds for denying individuals the enjoyment of their moral
. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

British Columbia’s Civil Liberties Association Files Lawsuit Challenging Laws Against Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

While Quebec is consulting and holding public hearings on euthanasia and assisted suicide, on April 26, 2011, British Columbia’s Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and three other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in BC’s Supreme Court challenging Canada’s Criminal Code provisions against euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

Euthanasia Subject of Renewed Debate

This week the Quebec government opened public hearings on euthanasia and assisted suicide. The National Assembly selected the Select Committee on Dying with Dignity to travel to 11 towns and cities in Quebec to canvass public opinion on the various issues surrounding euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

Maybe Bill C-7 Meets the Letter of the Law, but Does It Meet the Spirit?

The federal government has now introduced changes to its legislation on medical assistance in dying (MAiD) in response to the Truchon decision. The existing Criminal Code provisions, enacted after the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Carter, had been criticised on several grounds, particularly in requiring death to be “reasonably foreseeable” before someone is eligible for medical assistance in dying. The 2019 Quebec Superior Court decision in Truchon held that the foreseeability requirement in the Criminal Code and the parallel Quebec provision in that province’s End-of-Life Care Act are unconstitutional. The government’s Bill C-7 is in response to Truchon . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation

Effective Referral Policy Upheld in Ontario

Following the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Carter v. Canada, amendments to the Criminal Code and other statutes allowed for some instances of physician-assisted death to be used in Canada. These amendments received Royal Assent through Bill C-14 on June 17, 2016, through what is now called Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD).

The fourth and final interim report on MAiD by the Government of Canada confirmed that 6,749 medically assisted deaths occurred in Canada since legislation came into force on December 10, 2015 in Quebec, and on June 17, 2016 in the rest of Canada, to October 31, . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Summaries Sunday: SOQUIJ

Every week we present the summary of a decision handed down by a Québec court provided to us by SOQUIJ and considered to be of interest to our readers throughout Canada. SOQUIJ is attached to the Québec Department of Justice and collects, analyzes, enriches, and disseminates legal information in Québec.

MUNICIPAL (DROIT) : Le pourvoi en contrôle judiciaire visant à attaquer la légalité et la validité de la décision de l’arrondissement de Montréal-Nord ayant déclaré dangereux un chien de type pitbull qui a mordu 4 enfants et 2 adultes et ayant ordonné son euthanasie est rejeté.

Intitulé : Road to . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

Then There Were Two

The sale of Wolters Kluwer’s remaining Croner/CCH publishing assets in the UK did not, of itself, significantly affect the bigger picture of law and tax publishing there, primarily because of the residual size and scope of its activities and failure to compete immediately prior to the sale. To some romantics and self-delusionists, it may be thought to be the end of an era, with wistful memories of Croner’s heyday in the last century; to others, for its, at times, unhinged, incompetent (or perhaps worse) and at top level, obscenely and inconceivably justifiable overpaid management and self-serving nitwit advisers and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Assisted Dying Finally Becomes Law

After pushing it through the Senate on Friday morning, the House of Commons finally voted for Bill C-14 on Friday afternoon. The Department of Justice has created a Q&A page on the Bill and some of the related issue.

The Senate attempted to modify Bill C-14 to adjust the issue of reasonable foreseeability, but were unsuccessful in doing so. This issue was especially important in light of a recent decision by the Alberta Court of Appeal, which indicated this criteria was not necessary under the 2015 Carter decision.

The Department of Justice has responded to this concern in an . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

Physician Assisted Death Exception Doesn’t Require Terminal Illness

Following the extension to develop assisted dying legislation, provincial courts have scrambled to meet the special exemptions created by the courts.

The first provincial application under this exemption was Re HS in February 2016, where the motion judge described her role in such an application,


[51] … The role of this Court is limited to applying or authorizing an existing constitutional exemption and determining whether a particular person qualifies for that exemption…

The process for doing so would be to apply the criteria enunciated by the Court in the 2015 Carter decision at para 127 to a a . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Options for Implementing Carter: One Lawyer’s Unique Perspective on the Landmark SCC Decision

I recently read a national post article by Dr. Will Johnston. In addition to being a family physician, Dr. Johnston is an anti-euthanasia activist. His article suggests that members of the judiciary would be better positioned to judge whether or not a person is competent to make a life-ending decision than members of the medical profession. I believe there is merit to Dr. Johnston’s point but I do not know if the model Dr. Johnston is proposing would be an appropriate one. Members of the judiciary may have similar issues in making competency. This is because, for the most part, . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues