Euthanasia in Canada
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Legislation on euthanasia in Canada distinguishes between passive euthanasia (withholding of life-preserving procedures) and active euthanasia (assisted suicide). Either form remains illegal, but a recent British Columbia Supreme Court decision has overturned the section of the Criminal Code banning physician-assisted suicide while this decision has been appealed by the Minister of Justice and General Attorney.
Canadian laws on Living Wills and passive euthanasia are a legal dilemma. Incognitive is defined as destitute of the faculty of cognition (mental process of knowing); unable to take cognizance (knowledge or recognition) is not a legal term, though used in Living Wills. The term Incapable defined as unable to perform adequately; incompetent: an incapable administrator,is a legal term. Living Wills default on the term incapable equal to the term incognitive in legal confrontation. In many of the Provinces the proxy is the only person who needs to inform you, once deemed incapable and the document invoked. A standard Living Will removes water for sustenance and any medical treatment, once invoked. Living Wills are under Contract Law (Civil Law) every one who has signed is liable, though the nomenclature is protective and confusing and overall support, sustenance, treatment is costly to the medical health system. Documents which set out guidelines for dealing with life-sustaining medical procedures are under the Provinces' control, in Ontario under the Health Care Consent Act 1996.
|This section's factual accuracy is disputed. (January 2013)|
Passive euthanasia can include starvation or de-hydration, or withholding any life-preserving procedures, not a drop of water for live preserving. In Ontario, Canada, patients do not have to be informed if they are deemed "incapable", even if they speak and respond, by the medical staff. Living Wills use the word "incognizance" though this is not used or defined in the Health Care Consent Act, Ontario1996. Their legal representative (Wife/husband/partner/children/guardian-Relation) does not have to be advised or evaluated as capable when invoked in medical emergencies. However, there are no guarantees that any term of the living will will be followed. Family members or your proxy, in consultation with medical staff, will have to decide what to do, taking into account all factors, including your written wishes. (A proxy is someone you have appointed to make decisions about your health care should you be unable to consent)
A living will is a clear indication of your wishes and may help your family and medical staff reach a decision. The Proxy legally is the person who has to inform you, if the "Living Will" is invoked.
In several high-profile cases in recent years,[which?] patients and families have authorized passive euthanasia and no punishment was given to the attending physician. You can enter a hospital and be misdiagnosed and with in hours have the Living Will invoked and pass away, your proxy can invoke for any reason and they are the only ones who have to inform you. Questioning the motivation or legality is in civil law, "Breach of Contract" not criminal law, if the living will is not followed or there is foul play.
Laws on assisted suicide
Suicide is not a crime in Canada and hasn't been since 1972, but physician-assisted suicide is illegal.
The Criminal Code of Canada states in section 241(b) that
- “Every one who ….(b) aids or abets a person to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years” 
However, on Friday, June 15, 2012, the Supreme Court of British Columbia struck down these sections on constitutional grounds as they apply to severely disabled patients capable of giving assent: "the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe s. 7 [and s. 15 ] of the Charter, and are of no force and effect to the extent that they prohibit physician-assisted suicide by a medical practitioner in the context of a physician-patient relationship". Moreover, the court found that the relevant sections were legislatively overbroad, had a disproportionate effect on people with disabilities, and were "grossly disproportionate to the objectives it is meant to accomplish."
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General has appealed the last decision considering that laws that prohibit and punish euthanasia and assisted suicide are constitutionally valid and exist to protect all Canadian people, "including those who are most vulnerable, such as people who are sick or elderly or people with disabilities." He also added: "The Supreme Court of Canada acknowledged the state interest in protecting human life and upheld the constitutionality of the existing legislation in Rodriguez (1993). In April 2010, a large majority of Parliamentarians voted not to change these laws, which is an expression of democratic will on this topic." 
Value placed on human life
The reason behind its illegality is due to prevent people from ‘assisting in suicide’ of those that are not mentally capable of making the decision and because of the “value that society [places] on human life” which “in the eyes of the law makers, might easily be eroded if assistance in committing suicide were to be decriminalized.” 
The most prominent case opposing this law was that of Sue Rodriguez, who after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) requested that the Canadian Supreme Court allow someone to aid her in ending her life. Her request appealed to the principle of autonomy and respect for every person, which states that “everyone has the right to self-determination subject only to an unjust infringement on the equal and competing rights of others.” 
Her main argument for her assisted suicide, however, appealed to the principle of equality and justice which states that “everyone should be treated equally, and deviations from equality of treatment are permissible only to achieve equity and justice.”  The application of this principle to the case is as follows. Ms. Rodriguez’s ALS would eventually lead her to lose her voluntary motor control. Therefore, this loss of motor control is a “handicap of ALS-sufferers” 
Because suicide is not a crime, Ms. Rodriguez was being discriminated against in her option of deciding to commit suicide with the help of another person due to her disability, without the law "providing a compensatory and equitable relief”  Though in 1992, the Court refused her request, two years later, Sue Rodriguez, with the help of an unknown doctor ended her life despite the Court’s decision. Due to her death, the Canadian medical profession issued a statement through Dr. Tom Perry and Dr. Peter Graff, who both said that they had assisted some of their patients in speeding up their death.
Robert Latimer is a Canadian canola and wheat farmer, who was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of his daughter Tracy (November 23, 1980 – October 24, 1993). This case sparked a national controversy on the definition and ethics of euthanasia as well as the rights of people with disabilities, and two Supreme Court decisions, R. v. Latimer (1981), on section 10 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and later R. v. Latimer (2000), on cruel and unusual punishments under section 12 of the Charter.
Canadian Medical Association
In response to the controversy, the Canadian Medical Association stated that it is not up to them to decide on the issue of euthanasia, but the responsibility of society. Though in 1995, the Canadian Senate Committee decided that euthanasia should remain illegal, they recommended that a new category of crime be specifically created for those charged with assisting in suicide, called “’compassionate suicide.’” 
Quebec College of Physicians
The Quebec College of Physicians has declared that it is prepared to cross the line on the debate over euthanasia and propose that it be included as part of the appropriate care in certain particular circumstances.
On June 2005, Francine Lalonde introduced in Parliament a private Bill C-407 that would have legalized assisted suicide in Canada. Re-elected in January 2006, Lalonde has promised to reintroduce her bill to legalize assisted suicide.
Elections in 2006 and 2008 destroyed Lalonde's attempts to legalize euthanasia. However, on May 13, 2009, Lalonde introduced another bill—Bill C-384—of the same nature as her other two attempts. The Bill was debated in the House of Commons, but died on April 21, 2010 in second reading House of Commons when the vote to advance Bill C-384 to the Justice and Human Rights committee failed 59 to 226. Nearly every member of the Bloc Québécois supported the legislation along with one independent and a handful of Liberal, New Democratic Party (NDP) and Conservative MPs. Every other MP either abstained or voted against the bill.
Conservative Minister of Democratic Reform Steven Fletcher, who is Canada's first tetraplegic Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister, made a public point of order after the vote to have an abstention recorded for the bill inviting for the discussion.
- Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
- Maurice Généreux
- Assisted Suicide and Canadian Law on LegalEase CKUT 90.3 FM Montreal
- Gloria Taylor
- Health Care Consent Act, 1996 http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca
- Health Care Consent Act, 1996 http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca
- Whiting, Raymond (2002), A Natural Right to Die: Twenty-Three Centuries of Debate, Westport, Connecticut
- Kluge, Eike-Henner W. (2000), "“Assisted Suicide, Ethics and the Law: The Implication of Autonomy and Respect for Persons, Equality and Justice, and Beneficence.”", in Prado, C.G., Assisted Suicide: Canadian Perspectives, Ottawa, Canada: University of Ottawa Press, p. 83
- Darryl, Greer (Monday, June 18, 2012). "B.C. Supreme Court Kills Assisted-Suicide Ban". Courthouse News Service. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
- Kluge, Eike-Henner W. (2000), "“Assisted Suicide, Ethics and the Law: The Implication of Autonomy and Respect for Persons, Equality and Justice, and Beneficence.”", in Prado, C.G., Assisted Suicide: Canadian Perspectives, Ottawa, Canada: University of Ottawa Press, p. 84
- Kluge, Eike-Henner W. (2000), "“Assisted Suicide, Ethics and the Law: The Implication of Autonomy and Respect for Persons, Equality and Justice, and Beneficence.”", in Prado, C.G., Assisted Suicide: Canadian Perspectives, Ottawa, Canada: University of Ottawa Press, p. 86
- Kluge, Eike-Henner W. (2000), "“Assisted Suicide, Ethics and the Law: The Implication of Autonomy and Respect for Persons, Equality and Justice, and Beneficence.”", in Prado, C.G., Assisted Suicide: Canadian Perspectives, Ottawa, Canada: University of Ottawa Press, p. 87
- Whiting, Raymond (2002), A Natural Right to Die: Twenty-Three Centuries of Debate, Westport, Connecticut, p. 41
- Quebec physicians tentatively propose legal euthanasia