VANCOUVER, British Columbia, July 13, 2012 ( – Canada’s federal government is appealing last month’s court ruling that overturned Canada’s ban on euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Friday the Conservative government is seeking a stay on the decision, including on a provision that allowed ALS sufferer Gloria Taylor to seek physician-assisted suicide immediately if she desired.

“The laws surrounding euthanasia and assisted suicide exist to protect all Canadians, including those who are most vulnerable, such as people who are sick or elderly or people with disabilities,” said Nicholson in a statement. “The Supreme Court of Canada acknowledged the state interest in protecting human life and upheld the constitutionality of the existing legislation in Rodriguez (1993).”

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, who intervened in the case, said they “applaud” the government’s move to appeal. They had called Justice Smith’s decision “fundamentally anti-democratic” and a “recipe for elder abuse.”

Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, also applauded Nicholson, saying that “across the nation, elderly and disabled citizens will breathe a sigh of relief. After all, they are the primary targets of the suicide lobby

“Justice Smith had legislated from the bench, so we’re glad to see the government assert its parliamentary superiority over this activist-judge,” said Mary Ellen Douglas, National Organizer for CLC.

On June 15, Justice Lynn Smith of the B.C. Supreme Court ruled in Carter v. Canada that the ban discriminates against the disabled by arguing that because suicide is legal, banning assisted suicide is unjust for those who are incapable of taking their own lives.

Justice Smith put a one-year stay on the ruling to give the government time to consider its options, but included a “constitutional exemption” for Taylor allowing her to get help taking her life immediately.

Nicholson said the government objects to the “exemption,” which he said resembles a “regulatory framework for assisted suicide.”

He announced that the government is launching an appeal to the B.C. Court of Appeal to argue that the existing Criminal Code provisions are constitutionally valid.

The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) launched the case in April 2011 claiming that Canada’s provisions against euthanasia and assisted suicide are unconstitutional since they violate the “right” to die.

The suit was launched on behalf of the family of Kay Carter, who died by assisted suicide at the Swiss Dignitas suicide center in January 2010. But Taylor was added as an additional plaintiff in August, which allowed them to fasttrack the case because she had been told in January 2010 she only had a year to live.

The campaign in the courts began after Canada’s Parliament rejected a bill to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in 2010, by a vote of 228 to 59.

In his Friday statement, Nicholson called that vote an “expression of democrat will on this topic.”

Despite Parliament’s determination, however, the Quebec government is moving ahead with plans to implement a recent report from its Dying with Dignity committee that called on the province to permit euthanasia.


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