The Carter v. Canada (Attorney General) case has led to the striking down of Canada’s laws that prohibit assisting someone to commit suicide. The federal government now has until Feb. 2016 to introduce legislation to regulate when and how assisted suicide can be legally practised. The government recently asked the court for a six-month extension on this deadline.
This case was heard at several courts, with the final appeal heard Oct. 15, 2014 and the Supreme Court's decision released Feb. 6, 2015. The EFC was an intervener in the case.
EFC Resources and Commentary
- Federal Government Options on Assisted Suicide, Bruce Clemenger (December 7, 2015)
- Audio recording of EFC webinar with EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger (April 23, 2015)
- The Court Has Allowed Physician-assisted Death – What Next?, Geoffrey Trotter, February 24, 2015
- EFC Letter to the Minister of Justice, February 11, 2015
- Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: Where Do We Go From Here? Bruce Clemenger, February 10, 2015
- Autonomy and the 6th Commandment, Bruce Clemenger, October 21, 2014
- Four Takeaways from the Carter v. Canada Assisted Suicide Case, Faye Sonier, October 17, 2013
- Assisted Suicide: Care for our Elders or Elder Abuse?, Faye Sonier, August 29, 2011
- Parliament, the courts and the questions “who cares” and “about whom”, Don Hutchinson, August 8, 2011
- Doctor Death at Our Door, Elisabeth Fallon, October 8, 2010
- A Vote for Life with Dignity, Don Hutchinson, April 22, 2010
- Should a Unanimous Vote Clarify Anything?, Don Hutchinson, November 24, 2009
- How Assisted Suicide Would Change Canada’s Legal Landscape, Faye Sonier, November 16, 2009
- EFC Deeply Disappointed In Supreme Court Carter Decision, February 6, 2015
- Charter Affirms Life, Not Its Removal, Says the EFC, October 15, 2014
- Only Parliament Can Address Assisted Suicide: The EFC Responds to Carter Decision, October 10, 2013
- EFC to Appear Before B.C. Court of Appeal on Assisted Suicide Case, March 18, 2013
- EFC Granted Leave to Appear Before B.C. Court of Appeal on Assisted Suicide Case, December 13, 2012
2012 British Columbia Supreme Court: On June 15, 2012, Justice Lynn Smith of the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that exceptions should be carved out of the existing Criminal Code provision that prevent euthanasia and assisted suicide, particularly section 241’s prohibition on counselling or assisting someone to commit suicide. The judge ruled, contrary to the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1993 decision in Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney General) and despite the demonstrated expressed will of Parliament, that the Code’s provisions violated equality rights and the rights to life, liberty and the security of the person. The judge determined the existing provisions discriminated, in particular, against persons with physical disabilities who might be unable to commit suicide without assistance. Accordingly, she concluded the state should be required to provide a means to assist those who want to commit suicide but are unable to do so.
Over the last 20 years, since the decision in Rodriguez that found s. 241 of the Criminal Code to be constitutionally valid, there have been nine private members’ bills which sought to decriminalize euthanasia and assisted suicide which were voted down in the House Commons. The last attempt, in private member’s Bill C-384, was defeated on April 21, 2010 by a wide margin in a vote of 228-59.
The EFC’s unique and useful perspective focuses on the principle of “the sanctity of human life” as a deeply rooted value underpinning the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which finds expression in the criminal law generally and on the prohibition on physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in particular.
2013 British Columbia Court of Appeal: The British Columbia Court of Appeal heard the case from March 4-8, 2013. A decision was announced Oct. 10, 2013, which kept physician-assisted suicide illegal.
2014 Supreme Court of Canada: The final appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was heard Oct. 15, 2014. The EFC intervened again in this case. The court's decision came Feb. 6, 2015, and the EFC responded.
- Webcast of the Supreme Court of Canada hearing, October 15, 2014 (the EFC verbal intervention, which is much shorter than its written factum, can be watched in minutes 426-438)
- Factum of the Intervenor, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, as submitted to the Supreme Court of Canada, August 2014
- Summary of oral presentation made before the B.C. Court of Appeal on behalf of the EFC, March 19, 2013
- Factum of the Intervenor, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, as submitted to the B.C. Court of Appeal, December 2012