Tuesday, October 8, 2019

EPC letter to the Attorney General of Canada to appeal the Truchon Québec assisted suicide decision.

Hon David Lametti,
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington St.
Ottawa ON K1A 0H8


Dear Minister Lametti:

We are writing on behalf of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition to urge you to appeal the Québec Superior Court’s ruling in Truchon c. Canada (Procureur general) 500-17-099119-177 (2019-09-11). We believe the court made substantial errors in rulings of fact and law, and failing to appeal this judgment by the deadline would foreclose access to justice for elderly, physically and psychologically ill and disabled Canadians.

We understand that this decision was handed down during an election campaign, putting the government in the awkward position of having to make the decision whether to appeal in a highly-charged political atmosphere.  Regardless of the political stakes, however, failing to appeal would mean that all options of redress for Canadians represented by the Attorney General would be cut off.  This must not be allowed to happen.

In our opinion, the Québec Superior Court made serious errors of law and fact in arriving at its conclusion that the reasonably foreseeable natural death criterion in Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying statute violated plaintiffs’ constitutional rights. For example, the court found that plaintiffs were “incapable” of living independently, which is simply not true. It is access to self-directed in-home personal assistance services, rather than a person’s physical abilities that dictate whether a person can live independently. Yet the court repeatedly confuses the lack of choice with an inability to make a choice. The court also adopted the narrowest possible definition of “external pressures” that can impair a person’s ability to make a free and informed request for Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). In doing so, the court excludes the effects of discrimination and social policies that force people into institutional care against their will and in violation of article 19 of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The court rejects any reference to a group of “vulnerable persons,” requiring an “individual assessment of vulnerability,” which cannot account for the effects of systemic discrimination.

The court disapproves of the Government’s legislative goals of preventing suicides and “affirming the value of disabled lives,” as “too broad,” and uses stereotypes to conjure negative images about the quality of the plaintiffs’ lives, referring to them as “prisoners” of their bodies. Further, the court invokes the “medical model” of disability by declaring that only physicians who administer MAiD are qualified to evaluate the program’s operation.  In ruling that the Québec and Canadian data show “no slippage or drift,” the court disregards the findings of Québec’s Commission on End-of-Life Care which indicates a 4% “non-compliance” rate, including the euthanasia of 11 ineligible people, 55 violations of safeguards, and a backlog of 134 unevaluated cases.

Even if you personally agree with the decision, based on the legal and social issues related to the decision, we urge you to appeal the decision to ensure that the issues are properly settled.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has worked closely with disability rights organizations for 20 years to represent the interests of Canadians with disabilities in the debate on ending-of-life issues.  We understand that the choice to die cannot be free while elderly, physically and psychologically ill and disabled Canadians do not have a free choice in where and how they live.

We call on the government to re-commit to preventing all suicides, to ensure effective palliative care for all, to affirm the value of the lives of all Canadians, and to ensure that everyone has the services and supports they need to live in their own communities and avoid institutionalization. 

But first, the Attorney General must take the most immediate step of appealing the Truchon decision before the 30 day deadline.

Amy Hasbrouck
President, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


Nancy said...

Thank you! I join your request to appeal!

Wisdom Hunter said...

Sent email to Minister of Justice in support of EPC letter

Rose said...

I also join your request to appeal. To go ahead would be the beginning of another 'very slippery slope' against human rights. I myself have seen the wonderful benefits of Palliative Care given at the 'natural end of life'.

Theresa said...

I join you in your request for appeal. Palliative care for the elderly and disabled o is what we Canadians should work for.

Unknown said...

I am a disabled Canadian, please SVP appeal this decision. I think it is a dark path that we should not go down. There are so many alternatives for those who are truly suffering, hospice care just want to name.. thank you for your time and consideration and your service. Kevin Harvey

Leonie Channon said...


I join you in your request to appeal this judgement.

Bernie D. said...

It will be a very sad day for Canada if the Truchon Quebec assisted suicide decision is not appealed ..I join with you in your request for an appeal ..