Canadian Justice Minister: Gov’t won’t reopen euthanasia issue
OTTAWA, August 8, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Despite a recent British Columbia Supreme Court ruling to fast track the lawsuit of a Lou Gehrig’s disease sufferer challenging Canada’s law against euthanasia and assisted suicide, Canada’s Justice Minister says the Conservative government will not reopen the issue in Parliament.
“Parliament passed judgment on that,” the Hon. Rob Nicholson told media. “The question of euthanasia was rejected within Parliament, just within the last year.”
“We are in court on a regular basis arguing on the constitutionality of existing laws of this country, and we have indicated we have no plans to reintroduce this within Parliament,” he added.
In 2010, Canada’s parliament soundly rejected a bill introduced by Bloc Québécois MP Francine Lalonde to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, by a vote of 228 to 59.
On August 3rd, BC judge Justice Lynn Smith agreed to expedite a challenge to Canada’s assisted suicide statute by the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) who are representing Gloria Taylor and the family of Kay Carter.
The BCCLA filed an affidavit with the court saying Taylor was told in January of 2010 that she was likely to die within one year and that she “wants the legal right to die peacefully, at the time of her own choosing, in the embrace of her family and friends.”
Taylor was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2009 and is seeking a judicial ruling on the right to commit doctor-assisted suicide.
BCCLA lawyer Joe Arvay argues that the courts rather than Parliament have the “last word” in the creation of laws.
“Parliament obviously has an important role to play in the political process, but when it comes to determining what our fundamental rights and freedoms are, the court has the last word because the constitution is the supreme law of the land and not Parliament,” Arvay told the media. “Obviously [Mr. Nicholson] knows Parliament does not have the last word.”
Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director of Canada’s Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC), criticized the efforts of the euthanasia and assisted suicide lobby to circumvent the democratic process and seek their ends through the judiciary.
“The euthanasia lobby has been unable to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide through parliament by democratic means and have therefore decided to circumvent the power of parliament by convincing the courts to strike down the laws that protect Canadians from euthanasia and assisted suicide,” Schadenberg said.
“EPC recognizes that people with ALS and other life-threatening and chronic conditions need excellent care but giving doctors the right to prescribe suicide is not the answer,” Schadenberg added.
Justice Smith is also hearing a suit filed by the BCCLA on behalf of Lee and Hollis Johnson, who took Lee’s mother, Kay Carter (89), to the Dignitas suicide clinic in Switzerland in January 2010, where she died by lethal injection.
The Carter lawsuit claims that Canada’s Criminal Code provisions (section 241) that prohibit assisted suicide are unconstitutional and deny dying people the personal choice and right to request to be euthanized.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is seeking intervention status in the BCCLA (Carter/Taylor) court case.