Tuesday, June 05, 2018

A Tale of Prime Ministerial Cowardice and a Situation That Should Never Have Happened in Canada

It's hard to respect cowardice. Yet that has too often been the story of Justin Trudeau's premiership.

One of the most glaring examples of Trudeau's cowardice is found in his government's callous and self-serving policy on assisted dying or death with dignity.

The Supreme Court of Canada mapped out every Canadian's rights, under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to die humanely, with dignity. This was all laid out in remarkable detail and clarity in the Carter decision, a very rare, 9-0, per curiam judgment. The Court spoke with one voice on this. The law could not be any clearer.

Only, rather than upholding the law of the land, Trudeau decided he would whittle down Canadians' Charter rights. The Charter means what Justin Trudeau says it means and nothing more. He and Justice Minister Jody would enact parts of the Court's decision and omit the rest.

Cecilia Chmura and her now widowed husband, David Dunn, paid the price for Trudeau's cowardice and political opportunism.
David Dunn knew his wife, Cecilia Bernadette Chmura, 59, had suffered from unbearable fibromyalgia pain for more than 20 years and that she planned to kill herself after being denied medical assistance in dying. 
He and their children even knew that it was going to happen on Jan. 18, 2018, in their Saskatoon apartment. 
But it wasn't until Dunn heard the buzzing of a coffee grinder as Chmura crushed up her pain pills in the next room that the reality hit him.
Chmura had originally come up with a plan that would avoid any legal risk for Dunn. She would go to a motel by herself for her final act. 
"I said 'of course not, you're not going to do that. I'm not going to allow you to die alone,'" he said.
Why was Chmura prohibited from dying with dignity? Trudeau's law, that's why.
However, despite half a dozen appointments with psychiatrists and others who deemed Chmura as having a sound enough mind to make the decision to be in hospital and have a doctor administer a fatal drug, she was denied in the fall of 2017. 
She didn't check off one box in the federal government's medical assistance in dying criteria, which requires that the person "be at a point where your natural death has become reasonably foreseeable."
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."
Because her death was not imminent within the next six months, she was denied, Dunn said. 
Legally, Dunn said, he had to be at arms-length throughout the process, which left Chmura to the uncertain task of ending her life. The uncertainty included not knowing if the amount of pills she took would be enough. His presence in the apartment introduced the potential criminal element.
Now it's a police matter and their target is Dunn.
He wasn't surprised when police arrived and took him into custody for questioning. He was released from custody that night. 
Police told him the case is now in the hands of prosecutors, who have six months from the date Chmura died to lay charges. A decision is expected before the six months are up on July 18. 
"I, of course, had nothing to do with it, other than holding her," he said.
That Dunn, having lost his wife, should now be in the hands of Crown prosecutors, is a disgrace to Canada. And that lies entirely at the feet of this prime minister.

For the record, the following are the relevant passages of the Court's judgment in the Carter decision:

It is a crime in Canada to assist another person in ending her own life. As a result, 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.
We conclude that the prohibition on physician-assisted dying is void insofar as it deprives a competent adult of such assistance where (1) the person affected clearly consents to the termination of life; and (2) the person has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition. We therefore allow the appeal.

Where Trudeau put himself above the law:
An individual’s response to a grievous and irremediable medical condition is a matter critical to their dignity and autonomy. The law allows people in this situation to request palliative sedation, refuse artificial nutrition and hydration, or request the removal of life-sustaining medical equipment, but denies them the right to request a physician’s assistance in dying. This interferes with their ability to make decisions concerning their bodily integrity and medical care and thus trenches on liberty. And, by leaving people like Ms. Taylor to endure intolerable suffering, it impinges on their security of the person.

Irremediable and unbearable suffering are the test, not being on Death's doorstep.
The appropriate remedy is therefore a declaration that s. 241 (b) and s. 14 of the Criminal Code are void insofar as they prohibit physician-assisted death for a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life; and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition. “Irremediable”, it should be added, does not require the patient to undertake treatments that are not acceptable to the individual. The scope of this declaration is intended to respond to the factual circumstances in this case.
It's not an overly complex decision. That's probably not accidental. Any lay person can read it and clearly understand it. Justin Trudeau cannot. The Court specifically dealt with the circumstances when the Charter right operates. Two conditions: one, an irremediable condition causing; two, intolerable suffering.

Trudeau fashioned his own law, in defiance of the Supreme Court of Canada, to stipulate that the individual must have a terminal condition and be likely to die within six months. That's not the law of Canada. That's the law of Trudeau. He did it knowing that there are certain diseases that will prevent the afflicted from communicating consent by the time they're on death's doorstep thus consigning them to a cruel death. He did it knowing that there are people who would be forced to endure inescapable intolerable suffering for years, decades, because of his whim.

The Court is clear - grievous and irremediable, not terminal and imminent.

That's your prime minister.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Well put.

Just one more fuck up in the continuing fuck up that is the JT government. Has the man done anything right? Met any election promise cleanly? Repealed C51? Reviewed the NEB whitewash of KM expansion as promised? No, he liked the pipeline so much, he BOUGHT it.

Now the gormless fuzz who have trouble sniffing out neo-nazis holding placards on the street in front of them, find it much easier to ruin a single citizen's life. Kind of like the CRA going after a $50K a year person gilding the expenses lily, but ignoring offshore tax avoidance by the wealthy in the billions.

The small guy is a sitting duck and doesn't fight back. Charter rights - you have to pay lawyers to get them, when it should be the government promoting and defending them. Always take the lazy way out seems to be the motto of those who are somehow elected to rule over us. Excellence requires effort and who has time for that when a tapdancing selfie performance beckons?