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Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) in
Canada: the Carter v. Canada lawsuit

Part 10 of thirteen parts

2016-JAN & FEB:
The Supreme Court of Canada grants
a delay in implementing "Carter."

Public opinion poll on PAS. Gov't
Committee issues recommendations.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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2016-JAN-15: The Supreme Court of Canada permits a shorter delay than the one requested (Continued):

The Court unanimously agreed to a delay in the earlier 2016-FEB-06 deadline by which an assisted suicide law is to be in place. The federal government had asked for a six month delay; the Court allowed a four month interval. The new target is to be 2016-JUN-06.

The Justices also ruled that the new assisted suicide law which came into effect in Quebec can remain in place.

By a 5 to 4 decision, the High Court ruled that Canadians who live outside of Quebec can individually apply to a Superior Court in their province for authorization of assisted suicide until the new law comes into effect. Quebeckers already have a PAS law in place and can request their own "Death with Dignity."

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The Court's majority decision stated, in part:

"In agreeing that more time is needed, we do not at the same time see any need to unfairly prolong the suffering of those who meet the clear criteria we set out" 5

Wanda Morris, CEO of Dying With Dignity Canada responded:

We are disappointed that Canadians facing terrible diagnoses may have to wait even longer to realize their right to die in peace and dignity, Our hearts go out to the patients and families who will be harmed by this decision." 5

Elayne Shapray, has MS (Multiple Sclerosis) -- a degenerative disease -- and has conflicting feelings about the Justices' decision. She said:

"Well I was elated when the Supreme Court originally came down with their unanimous decision to allow physician assisted dying. I was disappointed when they granted an extension. But I think now, as of FEB-06, all Canadians will be entitled to choose, when life becomes intolerable, they can choose to leave."

She said that only a person who is suffering:

"... can know how much is enough and I think that unless you're in that position you can't make that choice for someone else. ... it was very important for suffering people to know that they had a way out and there was a way to protect the slippery slope that people talk about and I think that's what the court has done, is given people the choice." 5

Benoît Pelletier is a University of Ottawa law professor, and chair of the expert panel that the former government had set up to prepare legislation to meet the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling. He noted that if the Liberal government misses the new 2015-JUL target, that  Supreme Court's ruling in "Carter" would become effective. He said:

"It's not like if nothing would exist. The Carter decision would prevail, but of course there would be no laws, which means no protection for vulnerable people." 5

This might result in religious, political and social conservatives pressuring the federal government to pass a PAS law as the JUL-06 deadline approaches, in order to avoid the alternative which would involve the Carter decision being implementing without adequate protections for vulnerable people.

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2016-FEB-11: Canadian poll on the High Court's original ruling:

About one year after the High Court's ruling in "Carter," the Ipsos Reid -- a market research company -- conducted a poll of Canadian adults on behalf of Dying with Dignity Canada.

Results showed that:

  • 85% of Canadian adults support the court ruling to legalize PAS: (53% strongly support it; 34% support it "somewhat.")

  • 15% of adults oppose the ruling: (7% strongly; 7% "somewhat.")

  • 2,500 adults were involved in the polling. 3 The margin of error was ~+mn~2 percentage points.

These results would appear to be one more indication of the gradual secularization of the Canadian culture, and the weakening of the authority of conservative religious groups.

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2016-FEB-20: Global TV News reviews the status of PAS in Canada:

They broadcasted a sensitive and balanced review of the PAS law during an episode of their 16 X 9   9 program:


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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Carter v. Canada," British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, 2016, at:
  2. Bruce J. Clemenger, "Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: Where Do We Go From Here? Reflections on the Carter v. Canada decision," The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, 2015-FEB-10, at:
  3. "Eight in Ten (80%) Canadians Support Advance Consent to Physician-Assisted Dying," Ipsos Reid, 2016-FEB-11, at:
  4. "News Release: Physician-assisted dying: Request to Supreme Court of Canada to extend time for federal, provincial and territorial response," Department of Justice, Government of Canada, 2015-DEC-03, at:
  5. "Supreme Court gives federal government 4-month extension to pass assisted dying law. Original deadline to pass assisted dying law was Feb. 6," CBC News, 2016-JAN-15, at:
  6. "Canadian bishops blast Parliamentary report’s embrace of 'state-sponsored killing',", 2016-FEB-29, at:
  7. Ian " Macleod, "Doctor-assisted death report called ‘radical and dangerous’ by some Conservative committee members," Ottawa Citizen, 2016-FEB-26. at:
  8. "Canadian report recommends widening access to physician-assisted suicide," National Catholic Reporter, 2016-FEB-26, at:
  9. "16 x 9" refers to the aspect ratio of television programs. This is the ratio of the horizontal to vertical dimensons of the image.
  10. "Full story: Wating for the right to die," Global News, 2016-FEB-20, at:

Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" topics  > Assisted Suicide > Canada > here

or: Home page > "Hot" topics  > Suicide menu > Assisted Suicide> Canada > here

Copyright © 2016, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2016-FEB-29
Latest update: 2016-MAR-02
Author: B.A. Robinson

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