Assisted dying: When what if becomes what is

Calgary Herald

Peter Stockland

If tone and body language are at all reliable indicators, within the coming year, Canada’s Supreme Court will strike down current laws against assisted suicide.

The justices hearing the Carter case on Oct. 15 gave no visual or audible signs of sympathy to the federal government’s argument that the laws ruled constitutional in the 1993 Rodriguez case should still be deemed constitutional 20 years later.

By contrast, those on the bench appeared eagerly engaged by the position of opposing counsel that Criminal Code prohibitions against counselling suicide and assisting suicide violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and Justice Rosalie Abella were particularly active in querying the “blanket prohibition” of the current law, and its contribution to the “suffering” of those who want help to kill themselves.

All those who assert with certainty how any of this will translate are, of course, themselves unreliable. No one outside of the court itself will know before we all do. But the tableau last week at least gave credibility to the “what ifs” of Canada suddenly opening the legal door to assisted suicide. . . [Full text]

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