Hugh Scher: Letter to Members of Parliament and Senators

From: Hugh Scher, Scher Law Professional Corporation (Toronto, Ottawa)

To: Member of Parliament
House of Commons, Ottawa ON K1A 0A6

Hugh Scher

Hugh Scher

Dear Honourable Member: 

Re: Response to Joint Committee Report on New Assisted Suicide Law

I am a constitutional lawyer and authority on human rights and the rights of people with disabilities in Canada, particularly in respect of end of life issues. I have advocated on these issues for the past 25 years. 

I have served as counsel or been consulted on virtually every end of life case in Canada over the past 15 years. Despite this, the joint committee investigating euthanasia and assisted suicide refused to hear my testimony. 

My review of the joint Parliamentary Committee report highlights the following major concerns: 

1. The Committee appears to unquestionably endorse a Benelux style regime of euthanasia, which has proven to be the most abused system of end of life practices in the world;

2. Even the Supreme Court of Canada recognizes that 32% of cases of euthanasia in Belgium were carried out without request and without consent, despite a legal requirement for these elements. In 47% of those cases, the doctors refused to report the matter to the overseeing body, despite a legal requirement to do so. Despite these clear breaches of the legal requirements of the Belgian law, not one Belgian doctor was prosecuted;

3. The joint Committee report suggests the broadest possible euthanasia regime in the world without any meaningful safeguards or effective oversight;

4. The joint Committee report and recommendations would extend access to euthanasia to children which is clearly contrary to the recommendations of the Supreme Court of Canada;

5. The joint Committee report would extend access to euthanasia to those acting based upon an advance directive and without the requirement for consent at the time of the act. This also contradicts the recommendations of the Supreme Court of Canada;

6. The joint Committee report further supports granting access to euthanasia to people with psychiatric conditions which fundamentally undermines both suicide prevention measures as well as requirements and safeguards for voluntariness, capacity and consent in end of life practices;

Link to the full article