By Alex Schadenberg, executive director
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) and EPC-British Columbia were granted intervener standing today in the appeal of the decision by Justice Smith in the Carter case at the British Columbia Court of Appeal.
The Honourable Madam Justice Neilson granted EPC and EPC-BC intervener standing based on our legal experience and based on the fact that EPC represents a broad cross-section of the Canadian population.
EPC also intervened in Carter before Justice Lynn Smith at the lower court. EPC has been granted intervener standing in the Leblanc case in Quebec, EPC intervened in the Rasouli case at the Ontario Court of Appeal and EPC also intervened today at the Supreme Court of Canada in the Rasouli case.
It was argued by the respondents that EPC should not be given standing in the appeal of Carter based on the fact that parts of the EPC submission are similar to the Government of Canada submission while other parts of the submission were similar to that of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities/Canadian Association for Community Living submission.
EPC argued that while we share some of the same concerns as other interveners, we also offered a unique perspective.
Madame Justice Neilson decided that the EPC submission will focus on the following points:
1) in other jurisdictions where assisted suicide or euthanasia have been legalized, the safeguards put in place are illusory and have resulted in significant abuse. They are value-laden as they differentiate between levels of disability, and do not protect those most vulnerable from abuse;
2) the lower court misapprehended and misapplied expert evidence relative to the efficacy of safeguards in permissive jurisdictions that have legalized assisted suicide;
3) the trial judge erred in her (s. 15) analysis by failing to consider the circumstances of vulnerable groups in jurisdictions with legalized assisted suicide or euthanasia, whose lives are marginalized and devalued by these practices;
4) the trial judge wrongly relied upon the “myth of autonomy” and inverted the notions of autonomy and choice in a manner that derogates from the equality, dignity and respect of vulnerable groups and devalues, stigmatizes and subjects members of these groups to prejudicial views. Her decision effectively creates a class of persons with disabilities for whom death is perceived as not only acceptable but desirable, and diminishes choice and autonomy for the most vulnerable members of society.