Friday, June 03, 2016

Wanted: Courage and Integrity. Urgently Needed for Hard Times Ahead.

Q:  What kind of government says, "I don't care if you have a Charter right, even a right to die humanely. I'm taking it away from you. I'm denying your right to a humane death. It will be the alternative death for you - protracted and unbearable."

A:  The Trudeau government. It has decided that the Rule of Law, the foundation of constitutional democracy, is optional and is to be set aside when it confounds the will of government.

Or that would be the situation if the Trudeau government had its way. And if you ever wondered why Canadians trust their judges and their doctors far more than their politicians, Liberal or Conservative, that's a great place to begin.

Fortunately our trust is not misplaced. Our judges have the courage and integrity our political caste so woefully lacks. We can see that in reading the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in the Carter case. We witnessed it in the decision of Chris Hinkson, Chief Justice of British Columbia in an assisted dying case earlier this week.

We also have some journalists, such as CBC's Neil Macdonald, capable of seeing through the Trudeau government's dodgy pretences.

Parliament ...will almost certainly go on arguing long after June 6 about who should be allowed an assisted death, and who shouldn't, and how sick you should be before society allows it, and how much time you should have left before you qualify, and how clear your mind should be, and whether anyone should have such a right in any event, because really, shouldn't it be God's decision?

That of course is what parliamentarians do. They can and should talk for as long as they see fit; years, if necessary.

Politicians are notoriously unable to decide such matters, and given the option, will discuss them indefinitely, and given a deadline, will likely miss it, which Parliament is in the process of doing right now with the government's bill to regulate medical assistance in dying.

Happily, it doesn't matter. Because the nine learned, fearless jurists a few doors down Wellington Street have once again made the tough decisions.

Absent some new law from Parliament, the existing criminal prohibition on helping someone commit suicide is null and void as of June 6, struck down as unconstitutional.

In part, the high court ruled that under the criminal prohibition, "people who are grievously and irremediably ill cannot seek a physician's assistance in dying and may be condemned to a life of severe and intolerable suffering. A person facing this prospect has two options: she can take her own life prematurely, often by violent or dangerous means, or she can suffer until she dies from natural causes. The choice is cruel."

This drew the usual howls of "judicial activism" from conservatives.

Actually, the justices were doing their job.

Courts are supposed to decide whether laws offend the Constitution. The Supremes decided the ban on assisted suicide did. And that's that.

A previous generation of high judges did exactly the same thing in 1988, when they struck down the old Criminal Code restriction on abortion, ruling it "manifestly unfair," creating so many barriers that abortion was effectively unavailable even to women who legally qualified for one.

As it did with the assisted dying law, the court gave Parliament the option of creating a new, constitutional law, which of course Parliament tried and failed to do.

The result: Abortion became just another medical treatment, a matter between a woman and her doctor, with government out of the picture. Just as assisted dying will almost certainly be as of June 6.

Doctors, after all, are responsible, self-regulating professionals, governed by quasi-judicial panels of their peers, who enforce ethics and standards of practices. For better or worse, democratic society trusts its doctors, just as it trusts its judges.

And thank Odin we still have those we can trust with our freedoms, our lives, and our right to die humanely. I'm sorry, Liberals. You can just keep polishing that turd in your hand as long as you like but, when you stop, it's still going to be a turd and it'll still be in your hand.

Update - There has been a lot of opinion expressed that reflects a poor grasp of the case and the Court's decision. Bear in mind this wasn't some close call, a 5-4 split for example. This was a per curiam decision. It was unanimous, 9-0. The entire court spoke with one voice.

For those who would like to read it, here's a link to the Carter v. Canada (AG) decision. Read it, let it sink in, and then come to your own conclusions about how the Trudeau government has chosen to try to get out from under it.


Unknown said...

Mound, how can a government legally set aside the rule of law and bypass our constitution? Isn't there something in the charter that says all laws created must be in accordance with the constitution or is that the job of the SCC to determine if a law is constitutional or unconstitutional? What power gives the government the right to set aside the rule of law and bypass our constitution?

The Mound of Sound said...

You had better ask Justin that question, Pamela. His Justice Minister, in her testimony before the Senate, said that a Supreme Court of Canada ruling is a "conversation" between the Court and the government. I have trouble believing that an A-G of a constitutional democracy would have the gall to say that. She did and I think that speaks volumes for the government she serves. It's only a "conversation" if you don't accept the Rule of Law.

Unknown said...

It seems to be getting harder and harder Mound for our previous and now present government to do the right thing. I am always left with the feeling that they are trying to pull a fast one.

Anonymous said...

F*ck assisted dying! Trudeau is passing an assisted dying law. So the original statement is nonsense. If it has shortcomings they can be challenged in the courts. It's the way the system works.

Also f*ck these establishment talking-head fake journalists! Why are they trying to break Trudeau's balls with all this bullshit? They are trying to discredit his electoral reform initiative that would put an end to the establishment's stranglehold over our democracy.

If people want progressive government that abides by the letter of SC rulings, it's never gonna happen under f*cking caveman voting. We also have to wrest control of the fourth estate from establishment hands. Their idea of journalism is manipulating public opinion to pave the way for their corrupt looter agendas that take a wrecking ball to the economy. Hang the f*ckers! Hang 'em high!

Anonymous said...

"death for you - protracted and unbearable" Eh?

Few weeks ago I have posted something like that: Get one OTC medication, combine with another OTC medication, booze, optional sleeping pills, easily available from any doc, and you will wake up in Osiris boat.
Paraplegic issue is the toughest, but as long as such individual can swallow...
Do not have guts to do it yourself? Tough luck...

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Anon 3:00. Yours is one of the most bone-headed remarks I've encountered. You are profoundly ignorant of "the way the system works." I'd put you around borderline moronic. You would do better to take your fingers off the keyboard and use that time instead to learn the basics of constitutional democracy. You could use the help.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ A..non. Easy peasy, eh? You go ahead and try it and let me know how well it works. Or talk to any paramedic or morgue attendant or forensic pathologist and ask them how often these home brew cocktails result in painless, tranquil death. Maybe they'll show you a few of their scrap books. I've seen a number of the pictures. Look at them right after dinner. It's a great way to lose weight.

This is a serious issue. Try to approach it that way, with a bit of gravitas and respect.

The Mound of Sound said...

By the way, there is great significance to this being a "per curiam" decision. It not only means unanimity it also means complete concurrence with the reasoning. These judges have locked arms on this one. This is the strongest possible ruling a 9 judge court can deliver.

When the reasons are prefaced with those two words, "The Court" it means this is one decision of all nine justices.

For Trudeau's Justice Minister to diminish it by saying the ruling is really some "conversation" between the Court and the government puts her integrity right down the toilet.

Northern PoV said...

"For Trudeau's Justice Minister to diminish it by saying the ruling is really some "conversation" between the Court and the government puts her integrity right down the toilet."

Hey Mound, stop hyperventilating for a few minutes and try and keep up. The world is not black and white... Beverly just made a speech and said the same thing.

The Mound of Sound said...

NPoV, I disagree with your take on this. Have you read the decision? I spent too many years reading court decisions not to know what this one means. It establishes the right to a humane death for people whose lives have become unbearable. It is a right that will be upheld by the Charter. Not just some of them. Not just those the government considers worthy. All who meet the criteria set out in this case.

The world is not black and white but a per curiam decision means something. It is as though you took your nine biggest battleships and they all fired all of their guns in one instant.

9-0. No dissent. No disagreement on reasons, the ratio decidendi. One voice.

For the superior courts of the provinces of Canada, Carter is the law. It's your government that seemingly can't accept that.

Northern PoV said...

Well we know how Harper CONs handled this 9-0, big battleships decision: skwat.
Their side of the "conversation" (Beverley McLachlin's term) was more like yelling back.
"Beverley McLachlin says a “healthy tension” exists between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. " (Today's Toronto Star not G&M)
So at least the Libs are operating within the norms of Canadian governance and they took the hot potato and dealt with it, flawed though C-14 may be.

So there will be two-tiered assisted dying - the easy kind under the law and for the 'charter' cases you cite, the courts will OK them just as they are right now. Or it will become routine w/o court intervention - like our non legislated court created law on abortion. All part of the democratic cycle.
Move along now, nothing to see. ;-)

I don't like the gov't stance on TPP,CETA, Saudis weapons, Pot/Bill Blair, NEB, LNG. They just got a whole lot better on electoral reform. C-14 is not done yet - we may get to see Justin's gamble (the independent Senate) pay off and fix it. Wouldn't that be sweet justice indeed. ;-)