As the Trudeau government sees it, the per curiam decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Carter case, the one that establishes the framework of the assisted dying right, is no longer applicable.
"The defendant does not admit that these findings remain true today or that they are applicable in the present case," the government argues in a document filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
Among the facts that the government suggests are no longer true are the top court’s findings that:
— Denying assistance in dying for people with grievous and irremediable medical conditions may condemn them to a life of severe and intolerable suffering.
— Such a person faces a "cruel choice": take his or her own life prematurely or suffer until natural death.
The government’s argument is in response to a court challenge launched by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and Julia Lamb, a wheelchair−bound 25−year−old who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative disease that she fears will eventually consign her to years of intolerable suffering. Lamb and the BCCLA contend the new law is unconstitutional and not compliant with the Carter decision because it would not allow an assisted death for people, like Lamb, who are suffering but not near death.
In a terse reply to the government’s document, Joseph Arvay, lawyer for the plaintiffs, says the government "is estopped from disputing the factual findings made in Carter ... and to do so is an abuse of process."
The legal fight that culminated in the Carter ruling took four years and cost millions, she noted, adding that the government is creating "a real barrier to justice" by maintaining that battle must be fought all over again.
"If ordinary Canadians and public interest groups and pro−bono lawyers have to recreate the wheel every time they challenge an unconstitutional law, they’re seriously disadvantaged against the bottomless pockets of the federal government," Pastine said in an interview.
Trudeau and justice minister Jody remind us, yet again, of the bad old days of the Harper regime. When it suits them they can be every bit as despicable, just as authoritarian, as the scoundrels they replaced. Just like Harper they see themselves as above the law.