Thursday, June 02, 2016

Charter Right to Die Humanely Upheld by BC Supreme Court Chief Justice

The Chief Justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court, Christopher Hinkson, understands the plain meaning of the Supreme Court of Canada decision in the Carter case.

Another B.C. resident has been granted a court exemption allowing a physician-assisted death.

The woman, who can be identified only by the initials H.H. due to a publication ban imposed in the case, has a serious medical condition that has resulted in her suffering a number of symptoms leading to two strokes and requiring surgery.

In a petition filed in B.C. Supreme Court, she claimed that she fears experiencing another stroke, and believes that her condition is incurable and that her physical and psychological suffering is intolerable.

In approving the exemption, Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson found that H.H. was a competent adult who had carefully and thoughtfully come to her decision to seek a physician-assisted death.

“The evidence establishes that the petitioner’s condition is grievous and I find that it is irremediable,” Hinkson said in a written ruling released online Wednesday.

“It greatly interferes with the quality of her life. It is life threatening in at least the long term and could be so in the short term.”

Justice Hinkson didn't require that the woman be a walking corpse in order to be granted the exemption for a humane death. The condition was "irremediable", the test set by the SCC, and it was threatening, diminishing the quality of her life by both physical and psychological suffering.


Anonymous said...

I'm seeing less and less need for the government's assisted dying bill. Aside from a shrinking number of foetus fetishists, the lack of federal abortion laws is a non-issue for Canadians. I expect we'd say the same thing 10 years from now if Trudeau just shit-canned bill C-14.


The Mound of Sound said...

Interesting idea, Cap. However it's plain that this government intends to legislate in this field. Part of that, I'm sure, is concern for the evolution of "patchwork" standards/requirements that could vary from province to province. The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized that every Canadian has a Charter right to die humanely.

I expect that courts across the land will make a laughing stock out of this government's "compromise" and plainly unconstitutional law. There was a time, before Harper, when governments would be troubled by that. In this Harper-Trudeau II era that does not seem to be much of a deterrent. If the only way you can legislate on something is to do so unconstitutionally, you've surrendered moral authority to political expediency.

Anonymous said...

There's no doubt the government plans to legislate in this field. I'm tired of the media narrative that the government must legislate by the SCC's deadline or Canada faces Logan's Run becoming a reality.

I also agree that if you're going to legislate, you'd better be at least as expansive as the Carter decision provides for. Expecting people to be satisfied with half a loaf is just asking for successful constitutional challenges.


The Mound of Sound said...

Yes, and what fate befalls those Canadians who, for any one of countless reasons, are incapable of seeking the constitutional protection of the courts against the very government that refuses to uphold their Charter rights?

By what right does government subject people in unbearable circumstances to bear the costs and delay of fighting an unconstitutional law, a fight that may be rendered moot by the afflicted's death. This is one of those situations in which justice delayed is truly justice denied and when it's denied for the sake of partisan political interests it's despicable.

I've known a few people who died in near poverty who never would have had the wherewithal or the strength for a court challenge. That they should be made fodder for a political show is completely unacceptable.

The Mound of Sound said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Mound of Sound said...

I hope that the courts quickly begin awarding petitioners full costs against the government, every dime, plus a punitive award for the unjustified pain and suffering caused by the delay. Crank it up. Then you would get Ottawa's attention.

Anonymous said...

I certainly question the quality of Crown attorneys we have left after the Harper years. I always thought that the Crown had a duty to ensure that government bills would pass constitutional muster. When the bill as it's currently drafted wouldn't even allow the successful plaintiff in the Carter case to access a physician assisted death, it's hard to argue that basic due diligence was met. Where's the LSUC in all this? Don't they have a role in ensuring quality and ethical legal services in Ontario?


The Mound of Sound said...

That's not quite how it works, Cap. Crown attorneys litigate in criminal matters. Governments employ legislative draftsmen, invariably lawyers, to draft statutes that not only effect the government's intentions but also complement the greater body of laws, including the Charter.

Peter Mackay let slip that it was standard practice within the Harper government to deliberately draft legislation that had little chance of passing muster with the Charter, to "try it on."

This is another practice that the Trudeau government will be adopting from the Harper regime in this assisted dying law. Trudeau's A-G indicated they intend an end run around the Carter decision when she said government was not required to "cut and paste" the SCC judgment into its legislation. That started this nonsense about a "conversation" between the government of the day and the SCC.

First, that's a lie, utter bullshit, suited perfectly to a Harperian notion of government. What she (and Slick) are refusing to admit is that the crux of this legislation is to recognize a Charter right to die humanely in the event of terminal illness or chronic conditions, physical and psychological, that are unbearable. They want to withhold that Charter right, to abridge or deny it, in defiance of the SCC ruling.

The worst part, and every Liberal should hang his head in shame, is that they're doing it for partisan political purposes. They're afraid of a backlash from some sector of the public. They're afraid it might hurt them. And so, for the sake of their political hides, they will compel individuals suffering unbearably to die protracted, miserable deaths.

This is a tough issue, no question. However governments worth their salt are supposed to be able to handle tough issues responsibly and with integrity. This government, as we have unfortunately seen on this and other issues, does not handle tough issues well at all. They do the easy, pretty things quite well but the tough ones - the Saudi Death Wagon deal, B/D/S, climate change, bitumen/pipelines/tankers, state surveillance and now assisted dying - on those they have no courage.