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BCCLA reacts to procedural decision in assisted dying case

Wednesday, October 11, 2017
For immediate release

VANCOUVER, B.C. – Today the Supreme Court of British Columbia issued a decision in response to the BCCLA’s application for a faster, more efficient trial of its constitutional challenge to Canada’s assisted dying legislation.

Earlier this year, the BCCLA asked the Court to prevent Canada from re-litigating issues already decided in Carter v. Canada, the BCCLA’s landmark case that secured the right to a dignified death for suffering Canadians. Unfortunately, in a decision released this morning, the court found that the government should be allowed to introduce evidence even if that evidence retreads ground already covered in Carter.

Caily DiPuma, Acting Litigation Director for the BCCLA: “The downside of this decision is that the trial of our case may take longer. And that means that more people will spend more time trapped in intolerable suffering under a law that unjustly restricts access to medically assisted death. But it’s important for Canadians to understand that today’s outcome – while unfortunate – does not end our fight. We succeeded in defeating the government’s arguments in the Carter case and we will succeed in defeating them the second time around.“

After Carter, the government passed Bill C-14 – legislation that requires individuals to be near a ‘reasonably foreseeable death’ to qualify for medically assisted in dying. In Lamb v. Canada, the BCCLA challenges the constitutionality of this requirement, asserting it leaves some Canadians trapped in intolerable suffering.

Jay Aubrey, counsel with the BCCLA, emphasizes the suffering of those not eligible for an assisted death under the current law:  “Many critically ill Canadians are suffering unbearably as they wait for yet another trial of Canada’s assisted dying laws. The only reason we are having this trial is that Canada’s government enacted a law that is unjustly restrictive and cruel. Sick and dying Canadians should not have to bear the burden of re-litigating facts that were already affirmed by our Supreme Court in 2015.”

The BCCLA is represented by Sheila Tucker, Q.C. of Shapray Cramer Fitterman Lamer LLP, and Joseph Arvay, Q.C. and Alison Latimer of Arvay Finlay LLP.

What:                  Decision on application to strike pleadings in Lamb v. Canada

When:                 Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Where:               British Columbia Supreme Court (Vancouver, BC)

Who:                   Jay Aubrey, BCCLA Counsel available for comment at (604) 630-4986, [email protected]