Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The media appears to be trying to create an assisted suicide story in Canada?

I was just watching the CBC national news (June 16, 2010). They were reporting on a sad and unique story of a retired Quebec Judge who has been charged with the murder of his wife.

Jacques Delisle
Retired Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Jacques Delisle (75) was charged yesterday with homicide and unlawful possession of a loaded firearm in the November 12, 2009 death of his wife Nicole Rainville.

The report stated that the police had responded to a 911 call on November 12 where they found Rainville dead from a reported suicide. The report stated that Rainville had a stroke several years earlier.

The CBC report then stated that the case is suspected of being an assisted suicide case. This comment confused me since it is clear that euthanasia is a type of homicide in Canadian law and assisted suicide is prosecuted under Section 241 of the Criminal Code, the assisted suicide statute. The report also suggested that a careful review of the case occurred before Delisle was charged with homicide.

It appears clear to me that the CBC reporter has made an error in the report because the Director of Public Prosecutions would not charge Delisle with homicide if the act was in fact an assisted suicide.

Homicide occurs when someone kills another person.

Assisted suicide occurs when someone aids, abets (encourages) or counsels someone to commit suicide. Therefore the person commits suicide with the direct and intentional involvement of another person.

I thought, how could CBC make such a clear error in their reporting?

I found an article from today's National Post that also referred to assisted suicide. The article stated:
Martine Berube, a spokeswoman for Quebec's office of public prosecutions, said the murder charge has "sent shockwaves" through Quebec's legal community. "We checked, and this is the first time in Canada that a judge has been charged with murder," she said.

She noted that the Criminal Code makes no distinction between murder and assisted suicide. "Causing the death of someone is a homicide, and when it has been planned it is premeditated murder," she said. "Assisted suicide is not yet recognized in Canadian law."
The context of the statement by Martine Berube is not clear but it appears that she is responding to a question by a reporter. It is also likely that the comment was made in french and then translated incorrectly into english.

The Criminal Code makes no distinction between homicide and euthanasia in Canadian law. The Criminal Code clearly differentiates homicide from assisted suicide.

Homicide is Section 222 of the criminal code and Assisted Suicide is Section 241 of the criminal code.

This reminds me of the calls I received when the Fonteece case became known. Peter and Yanisa Fonteece were travelling west to find work when their car broke down in Thunder Bay. When Yanisa was found dead at the Super 8 motel in Thunder Bay, the media assumed it was an assisted suicide case and contacted the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition for a comment. Peter Fonteece was charged with criminal negligence in connection to his wife's suicide death. There was no evidence that Peter assisted her suicide in any manner.

Basically the media was prematurely refering to the Fonteece case as an assisted suicide when one didn't exist.

Is the media jumping to conclusions in order to create an assisted suicide case to stoke the fires of the assisted suicide debate in Quebec and Canada or is this simply an error by a reporter who doesn't understand the law?

Further to that, how did the CBC editors not catch the error in the story before it went to air?

The news story stated that there will be a discovery hearing on June 21. Hopefully the truth becomes known and is reported with the same vigour as the non-assisted suicide story.

Link to the article in the National Post:

No comments: