By Hugh Scher, Legal Counsel - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Québec’s landmark law allowing euthanasia contravenes Canadian criminal homicide laws and represents a dangerous step towards a patchwork quilt of provincial regulation of serious criminal conduct, which is why the issue must be handled federally, says Toronto health, human rights and constitutional lawyer Hugh Scher.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC), represented by Scher, was granted leave to intervene in a constitutional challenge brought by the Physicians Alliance Against Euthanasia and Vivre Dans La Dignite, Living With Dignity, against both the federal and Québec provincial governments arguing Québec’s law, which was adopted last summer and will go into effect in December 2015, is stepping on federal jurisdiction by undercutting sections of the Criminal Code that outlaw assisted suicide and euthanasia and by attempting to define the intentional killing of patients by doctors as healthcare.
The proposed safeguards in the law are discriminatory and violate ss. 7 and 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, says an affidavit filed by the Coalition.
“Any change to decriminalize euthanasia is properly the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada, as it is in its pith and substance a question of criminal law,” says the court document. “The federal law is and should be paramount in order to ensure certainty, universality and equal benefit and protection of the criminal law across Canada.”