Bill C-14: Carter v Canada re Physician Assisted Dying

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Jun 072016

Bill C-14: Physician Assisted Dying

In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada, which prohibited physician assisted dying (Carter v Canada, 2015 SCC 5, 1 SCR 331 [Carter]). The ruling gave decision-makers until February 2016 to respond. However, there was a 4 month extension to June 6, 2016.

Summary of Bill C-14

Bill C-14 was drafted in response to the Carter decision. Bill C-14 creates an exemption to the laws prohibiting the counseling, aiding or abetting of another person’s suicide for individuals who qualify and consent to medically assisted dying.

Who can provide medically assisted dying?

Individuals who are lawfully entitled to practice medicine in the province, and registered nurses who are lawfully entitled to practice as nurse practitioners in the province may provide medically assisted dying. Alternatively, the consenting individual may self-administer the noxious substance. In this case, any other person may provide assistance to the individual in self-administering the substance as long as the following conditions are met.

  • The assistance must be at the individual’s explicit request;
  • The assistance must be for the purpose of aiding the individual in self-administering the substance; and
  • The noxious substance must have been prescribed by a nurse practitioner or medical practitioner.
Who qualifies for medically assisted dying under Bill C-14

To qualify for medically assisted dying under Bill C-14, 5 conditions must be met.

  • The individual must be eligible for health care funded by the Government of Canada (or would be eligible but for any applicable waiting period);
  • The individual must be at least 18 years old and capable of making decisions with respect to their health;
  • The individual must be suffering from a grievous and irremediable medical condition. Bill C-14 defines a grievous, irremediable medical condition as (a) a serious, incurable disease or disability that, (b) has led to an advanced state of irreversible decline in capacity and, (c) causes enduring physical or psychological suffering which is intolerable to the individual and cannot be relieved by conditions the individual considers acceptable and (d) the individual’s natural death is reasonably foreseeable, taking into account all medical circumstances;
  • The request for medically assisted dying must be voluntary with no external pressures; and
  • The individual must give informed consent. One notable difference between the decision in Carter and Bill C-14 is the condition under the latter that the individual’s natural death must be reasonably foreseeable.
What safeguards does Bill C-14 implement?

Bill C-14 imposes multiple safeguards on providers of medically assisted dying.

First, the individual who requests medical assistance in dying must have 2 independent witnesses sign and date the request. Those witnesses cannot know or believe they are a beneficiary under the individuals’ will or stand to receive any material benefit from the individual’s death. Furthermore, neither witness can be an owner or operator of any health care facility where the individual is treated or where the individual lives. Nor can they be directly involved in providing personal or health care to the individual.

Second, the Bill also requires another medical or nurse practitioner to provide a written opinion confirming all criteria described in the paragraph above are met. This other medical or nurse practitioner must be independent, meaning.

  • they do not stand to receive any material benefit (other than fee for service) from the person’s death;
  • they do not know or believe they are connected to the individual requesting in any way that could affect their objectivity;
  • they are not in a business relationship with the other practitioner; and
  • they are not a supervisor or mentor of the other practitioner.

The Bill also requires that there be 10 clear days between the individuals request and the day of death, unless all medical or nurse practitioners involved are of the opinion that death is imminent.

Current status

Bill C-14 has passed third reading and is currently at the Senate stage. However, the deadline of June 6th, 2016 imposed by the Supreme Court of Canada has now passed, leaving the Supreme Court’s ruling in Carter as the law of the land until federal legislation is passed.

More Information

For more information, read the full text of the bill, or see the open letter from the CEO of the Canadian Bar Association to the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying.

Drafting Pleadings, Affidavits, and Orders

 Calgary, Edmonton, Legal News: National, LESA Update, News, Upcoming Seminars  Comments Off on Drafting Pleadings, Affidavits, and Orders
Dec 092015


Do you ever find yourself preparing pleadings? If so, LESA’s upcoming Drafting Pleadings, Affidavits, and Orders program has plenty to offer you.

You’ll discover best practices, review current case law, and explore the role that pleadings play in framing your case with this seminar that brings together a broad range of perspectives (from the civil litigator and family law practitioner to a Queen’s Bench Justice).

As seminar chair James Kindrake explains, the program takes a “big picture approach” to the topic of pleadings and will benefit civil litigators across all practice areas. To show you what the program is all about, we asked James a few questions. Here’s what he had to say about Drafting Pleadings, Affidavits, and Orders.

Why will this program benefit attendees? What will they gain?

People tend to look at pleadings as technical kinds of things, but when you really look at it they’re essential to an effective civil litigation practice. If you don’t follow up with them, you fall into bad habits or you follow bad precedents. Hopefully this seminar will help people understand the latest rules and requirements for pleadings and the case law that bears on it. It will not only refresh their memory of pleadings but may [also] improve it.”

What are going to be the key takeaways for people?

What I hope they’ll take away is a real understanding of how pleadings are being interpreted by the courts and what are the best practices that are currently being employed in drafting pleadings – plus some insight into what you’re trying to achieve with them.”

What are you looking forward to most about the program?

The thing I’m hoping we achieve with this is that people come away thinking pleadings are not dry and boring and merely technical things that you tick off to move on with your litigation. There are advocacy perspectives to take into account and you really have to know what the best practices are to make sure you’re asking for the proper remedies and you’re pleading the necessary facts and law to get you there.”

Is there anything else you want to add about the program?

I’m going to try to keep it as light as possible, because there’s almost a phobia of pleadings as being deathly boring. I’ve selected topics – like advocacy– that I thought take you out of the trench a little bit and lift your head up to think more expansively about it, not narrowly. … What I want to do is bring people up-to-date: what’s the latest case law saying, what does the Bench view as best practices, give them an example of what is currently the approach. … I think … it’s helpful to know what everyone else is doing.”

Presenters and Topics

James also shared a little snippet about what each speaker is covering.

Professor Barbara Billingsley discusses the “latest developments in case law” in a review of the most recent, salient court decisions regarding the purpose, preparation, and content of pleadings.

Ian Wachowicz explores “what role advocacy plays in drafting pleadings. Are they purely technical, to meet technical requirements to allow you to get the relief you want at the end of the proceedings? Or is there a persuasive element and role in them as well?”

Wendy Best QC considers pleadings from a family law perspective, something James sees as important because family law “pleadings and affidavits … are very different. … Normally pleadings in the non-family law section are minimalist … whereas family law pleadings tend to be more intricate and require particular averments that specifically relate to family law.”

W. Clarke Hunter QC, a senior litigator who frequently deals with complex litigation files, discusses a “medley of practical issues that arise in respect of pleadings and affidavits in the course of an action, including alternative pleading styles, the uses and abuses of relying on precedents, potential ethical issues, etc.”

Steven T. Robertson uses a pleading precedent to demonstrate what to do when you “actually put pen to paper … and how you draft them.”

Honourable Justice D. Yungwirth gives “the view of the rule of pleadings from the perspective of the Bench: how much weight they give to them, problems they see, things that could be done better or differently.”

The program then concludes with a panel session of all speakers. For more information on the topics discussed, view the program brochure.

Register Online

To secure your spot in this incredible program, register online now to attend Drafting Pleadings, Affidavits, and Orders in Edmonton (February 9) or Calgary (February 17).

Supreme Court of Canada Appointment – Russell S. Brown

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Jul 292015

LESA congratulates the Honourable Justice R.S. Brown on his elevation to the Supreme Court of Canada. His appointment is effective as of August 31, 2015, and the complete Supreme Court of Canada news release can be accessed here.

Breaking News – Supreme Court Rules on the Legality of Assisted Suicide

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Feb 062015

Want to learn more about the aid in dying debate? Register for our 48th Annual Refresher!

This morning the Supreme Court of Canada ruled 9-0 on the Carter v. Canada (Attorney General) case, deciding that Sections 241(b) and 14 of the Criminal Code are unconstitutional and that a prohibition on assisted suicide infringes on an individual’s rights as laid out in Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Court determined that s. 241(b) and s. 14 “are of no force or effect to the extent that they prohibit physician-assisted death for a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition” (Supreme Court Judgments).

The Court has given the federal and provincial governments 12 months to craft legislation in response to this ruling, but the ban on doctor-assisted suicide stands until then.

With this decision, the issue of aid in dying will likely continue to be a major topic of discussion for the foreseeable future.

It is timely then that our 48th Annual Refresher: Wills & Estates program, running April 19–21, opens with a keynote address on Aid in Dying. Dr. Arthur Schafer, of the University of Manitoba, will describe the contours of the current Canadian debate, ethical concerns, and legal issues. Kevin Díaz, Director of Legal Affairs for Oregon’s Compassion & Choices organization, will describe Oregon’s 17 years of experience with its Death with Dignity Act, which permits aid in dying to some terminally ill people.

Have you kept up with how the issue of aid in dying has been discussed in the news over the past few days and months?

  • Today the Calgary Herald shared an article written by Ian MacLeod, of the Ottawa Citizen, that outlines the debate over aid in dying that has been playing out in Canada, including a video with statements from Stephen Fletcher, Conservative MP, and Lee Carter whose mother, Kay Carter, travelled to Switzerland to end her life because aid in dying had been illegal in Canada.
  • In response to today’s ruling, the Edmonton Journal provided a summary of some right-to-die legislation that exists in other jurisdictions throughout North America.
  • Globe and Mail’s Sean Fine published an article yesterday, outlining the top 10 things people should understand about doctor-assisted suicide.
  • In December, the National Post shared findings from an Angus Reid poll that asked Canadians about their feelings on the proposed changes to allow assisted suicide. In this article, Joseph Brean solicited feedback on the issue from Dr. Arthur Schafer, who our Refresher program attendees will hear from on April 19.
  • Andrew Coyne, a Canadian political columnist, weighed into the debate, offering his thoughts on the ethical implications of erasing the distinction between suicide and assisted suicide in an editorial published in the National Post on December 8.

What is your perspective on this issue and the Supreme Court’s historic ruling today?

If you’re interested in hearing more about the issue of aid in dying (and 5 other pressing topics related to the area of wills and estates), consider heading to our website to register online for our 48th Annual Refresher program. If you want to attend this incredible program, don’t delay – there is limited space left available.

The State of Judiciary and Government Dialogue

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Sep 222014


UPDATE: This seminar occurred in the past, and the seminar materials are now available. You can use the LESA Library to access course materials or purchase course materials a la carte. Alternatively, you can view the complete list of upcoming seminars to discover live programs that are available now.

Questions about the role and current status of dialogue between the government and the judiciary have been raised in recent months, as the process to replace retired Supreme Court Justice Fish was underway.

Globe and Mail Justice Writer Sean Fine brought this issue to the forefront in May with a story outlining the controversy surrounding Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s appointment of Justice Nadon of the Federal Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court in September 2013. Following the March 2014 Supreme Court decision deeming this appointment ineligible, Stephen Harper appointed Justice Gascon to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. Although the federal government consulted with Quebec to develop the list of candidates leading to this appointment, further controversy ensued when the government did not follow the process of holding a public hearing allowing parliamentarians to question the appointee.

Fine’s various articles reporting on this story point to the frustration of the legal community over a lack of communication and dialogue between the judiciary and the government. This question of dialogue will also be explored at the upcoming Constitutional Law Symposium hosted by the Legal Education Society of Alberta and the Centre for Constitutional Studies. Sean Fine and the Honourable John C. (Jack) Major will take up this issue at the Symposium in what promises to be a spirited discussion. Register online now to reserve your spot at this fascinating seminar happening in Edmonton on October 3.

Visit the Globe and Mail online to read Sean Fine’s articles about this ongoing issue.

Supreme Court Decison on Securities Act

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Dec 222011

In Reference re Securities Act, 2011 SCC 66, a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada released today, the Court unanimously held that the Securities Act as presently drafted is not valid under the general branch of the federal power to regulate trade and commerce. The decision may be found here.

Canadians Owe Debt of Gratitude to Famous Five

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Oct 212011

An excerpt from the Edmonton Journal:

“Friday, the federal government will officially declare the Person’s Case a National Historic Event — on par with such historical milestones as the Battle of the Atlantic and the Winnipeg General Strike.

Rona Ambrose, the minister responsible for the status of women, and Edmonton’s senior federal minister, will be on the University of Alberta campus to unveil a new plaque, recognizing the lawsuit itself as a seminal moment in Canadian history.

The plaque will eventually be installed in Edmonton’s Emily Murphy Park, a few blocks from the house in Garneau where the redoubtable Murphy was living in 1927, when she invited four of her fellow Alberta activists, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Irene Parlby, and Louise McKinney to tea. At that tea party, they all agreed to challenge a federal law which said that women couldn’t serve in the Senate, because they weren’t legally considered to be persons.”

Click here to read the full article.

Persons Day 2011

 Legal News: National  Comments Off on Persons Day 2011
Oct 182011

A great post on regarding Persons Day 2011 highlights the LEAF, Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund annual gala Persons Day breakfast in cities across Canada as well as the Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case. Nominations for 2012 can now be made.

Click here to read the full article.

LL.B. to J.D. Degree Conversion

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Feb 182011

The Ministry of Advanced Education and Technology has approved a proposal to change the name of the University of Alberta law degree from an LL.B. to a J.D., effective September 1, 2011. (The University of Calgary received similar approval with a change in effect September 1, 2010.)

For more information on how this affects both students and alumni, visit the University of Alberta or University of Calgary for details.

The Council of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada has taken another step in the process of approval of new law degree programs in Canada by adopting the recommendations of a committee which reviewed applications from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia. The FLSC news release is here.

The Thompson Rivers JD degree is proposed to be offered in conjunction with the University of Calgary which has granted to Thompson Rivers the licence to reproduce and use the undergraduate law program and curriculum of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law.

The last time new Canadian law schools were opened in common law jurisdictions in Canada was in the 1970s. The University of Moncton initiated a French language law degree program in 1978. The University of Calgary opened its law school in 1976, and the University of Victoria launched one in 1974.

Canadian Law Blog Awards

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Dec 162010

The Canadian Law Blog Awards, known in the industry as the Clawbies, is quickly approaching! Begun in 2006, the Clawbies showcase the best of the best when it comes to blogging within the Canadian legal industry. With the intention of promoting a sense of community, increasing the accessibility of information, and of generating a global dialogue, blogging is now a part of the Legal Education Society of Alberta’s regular routine.  As a blog taking its first steps, we eagerly await the New Year’s Eve announcement of which Canadian law blog takes home the award!