Friday, April 15, 2016

Death with Dignity - BILL C 14 Change Please

It is fundamental that an individual holds domain over mind and body, this is the paramount concern in drafting legislation of this sort and this legislation is failing in this concern. The recent attempt at DEATH WITH DIGNITY legislation is weak to say the least, it institutionalizes a personal choice, it makes arbitrary the decision to actuate “treatment”, it fails to attend to legal review, it reduces the safety to the individual that exists now, it seems to preclude the right to offer written authority prior to events of ill health taking place and perhaps worse, it fails to subordinate itself to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Please Note: I am waiting some verification - this a 1st DRAFT

Link to Bill C 14

All legislation exists under the umbrella of Section 7 of the charter and all legal concern contemplates its application from the perspective of “reasonable” state intrusion on section 7 rights. The fundamental under pinning here is CHOICE. To be at liberty, is to be able to choose and when one chooses something absent harm to others, the state has no authority to intervene and where possible the state should facilitate a chosen action. There are moral concerns of a specific nature being forwarded in the resistance to this legislation and the manner in which choice to DEATH WITH DIGNITY has been “watered down” here. This represents gross intrusion on many fundamental rights that support an individual’s autonomy.

CLICK HERE: Letter to Peter MacKay, past Justice Minister

DEATH WITH DIGNITY is in no way a medical decision, the decision to die is a profoundly personal one, once the choice to seek medical aid to die is made, the medical decisions are in the actuation of the act – how, where when. The only impediment to the choice to end one’s life should be the presence or absent of mental competency as determined by standardized legal tests for mental competency and under the presumption of competency.  Rational people choose to live, unless affected by a complex of factors to choose to die; the perception of legitimacy of those factors as a rationale for choosing to die is a profoundly personal one and one that the state has no place to influence.  So the state putting parameters on the reasons for seeking DEATH WITH DIGNITY breaches sections 7 rights. Medical personnel should be acting on the request of a rational person as opposed to their perception of reality. The determination of grievous and irremediable (medical) condition should lie with the person whose choice it is to make and if this was the case, the term of the condition would have no relevance.  


With this legislation the state  imposes itself once again on the rights of parents to manage their children’s lives in accord with their specific culture and values. There has been an increasing propensity for the state to encroach on parental choice, an offensive trend. Who better to manage the fate of a child than the ones that love them most?

Suicide, as it is widely perceived, as an aggrieved person taking their own life at a moment of lost perspective, is by any measure an unreasonable act and should in no way be associated with a person seeking DEATH WITH DIGNITY measures.


The only reason that vulnerable people are put a risk with DEATH WITH DIGNITY legislation is if you institutionalize the process. My making a choice to seek solution to use DEATH WITH DIGNITY measures, in no way imposes on another human being; save the emotional effect on love ones. When you place decision making in the hands of the state, then you expose vulnerable people to risk. The only barrier now to medically induced death in practice, is the opinion of two doctors, there is an absence of judicial review – this is a very dangerous circumstance. There should be an expedited court functionality to facilitate rapid judicial review and opportunity of intervenors to offer weight to court deliberations in circumstances where mental competence is in question. In this way, if the event is being exercised against the interests of the person of subject, third parties can seek intervenor status – that is to say “trusties” may be authorizing medically induced death in circumstance where information is incomplete. If you choose to regulate this choice with law, you require LEGAL process to manage it, if you’re going to insist this is an institutional decision then you require LEGAL process to manage it – two people saying it’s okay is insufficient and it is arbitrary. It is better to insist that the “system” is required to respond to clearly stated wishes related to DEATH WITH DIGNITY and leave all legal and moral onus on the individual.  

It is essential that people be given right for prior directives or better, that prior directives are made mandatory and can be confirmed by family or designates. In doing so the state is barred from in anyway influencing the use of medically assisted death. The provisions provided make no mention of designates or family, it is conceivable, or functionally possible, that medically induced death could be implemented entirely by state actors or strangers, by the co-operative action of four or five people with no judicial review. There can never be a circumstance where a state actor or collection of state actors can facilitate the death of a citizen FOR ANY REASON, humane or otherwise, and most certainly never absent judicial review.

Authorization to for DEATH WITH DIGNITY measures should come from the person affected and no government institution should be provisioned the capability to make that decision on someone’s behalf – functionally it could happen under this law. This being an essential part of crafting this legislation, it follows that it be mandatory that people provision documented directives in advance with their verification at the time of actuation OR verification by a designate; certainly absent advanced directives, judicial review becomes critically important.

The passion that I feel in regard to this issue is driven in large measure by my experience with my own mother, she expressed clearly to me on numerous occasions what her wishes were, she had a stroke and was incapable providing consent – this legislation would force me through the same scenario as I went through, having to let her dehydrate; a most inhuman circumstance.

I believe in Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, this government has forgotten that it has historical equity in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and has failed to subordinate itself to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and all our ability to hold domain over mind and body is diminished because of this.




"It is the case that in the practice of law, that the minutia tends to take us away from justice, the big picture. In Canada we have a circumstance in play that has the erosion of fundamental law occurring at an alarming rate. If you have a deep belief in common law and its fundamental tenets that are the foundation of our system, then you will share my concern with respect to this disturbing trend, a trend that has expediency trump due process. There are a number of examples of this trend throughout the system, no more glaring however, than the BC Mental Health Act. An act that has drifted away from fundamental law, and that was drafted and is now administered is a manner that flouts common law traditions and the charter. We need to be very wary of the “tribunalisation” of legal process, as it has been applied here a number of ills have emerged; not the least of which is the stagnation of statute absent exposure to court process and alterations due to its administration in the face of precedent effect. We need to ensure that people have the benefit of the “full due process” that courts provide. We need to protect evidentiary process. We need to ensure that the standard of review is commensurate with state sanction. We need clarity in law. We need the absence of arbitrariness. " Bill C14 as written puts far to much power in the hands of medical professions and negates due process - in much the same way the BC Mental Health Act. does. 

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