Sunday, November 23, 2008

Assisted Suicide takes centre stage in Quebec court room

The Canadian Press is reporting that the Stephan Dufour (30) case will begin in Alma Quebec on Tuesday, November 25, 2008.

Dufour is charged with assisting his uncle Chantal Maltais (49) to commit suicide in September 2006.

Dufour was acting as a home care worker for his uncle Maltais. Maltais had attempted to commit suicide on several occasions. Maltais died by hanging himself to death.

Michel Boudreault, the lawyer for Dufour, has requested a trial by jury with the hope of convincing the jury to find Dufour not guilty.

The Canadian Press article quoted legal expert, Jocelyn Downie, a law professor at the Dalhousie Law School in Halifax and the Canada Research Chair for Health, Law and Ethics who stated:
“We tend not to see the full extent of the Criminal Code brought to bear on to anybody.(This case) doesn’t create a precedent that impacts across the country, but it could fit into a broader pattern.”
The Right to Die Society of Canada’s Ruth von Fuchs told the Canadian Press that:
Quebec has always been a hot zone for debate, pointing to Bloc MP Francine Lalonde. She plans to reintroduce a bill which would amend the Criminal Code to allow, under specific conditions, seriously ill people to end their lives.

“Quebec is one of the leaders in this whole area. When polls are taken, the support for aid in dying is strongest in Quebec.”
I was quoted by the Canadian Press this way:
says surveys his group (EPC) has conducted show the Canadian public tends to waffle on the issue.

“The Canadian people are not hardened on the issue. This is an important case, I’d like to see where it goes and the decision . . . will affect all other future cases.”
There is not a lot of information available about this case. We will learn most of the facts during the trial.

A few weeks ago when the Francine Lalonde - Bloc MP spoke to the World Federation of Right to Die Societies conference in Paris France, she alluded to the court cases that she expects to see in Quebec.

EPC is really interested in how the defense lawyer sets up the case and how the crown prosecutes the case. We find that these cases are often defended by the Crown in a less than perfect manner, probably because their is very little legal precedent in this area.

The one case that was decided well was the case of Dr. Maurice Genereaux, the Toronto physician who prescribed a lethal cocktail for two men who were HIV positive. One man died, while the other survived.

We will be following this case closely.

Link to the Canadian Press article:

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