POLITICS

Quotes from across Canada about Supreme Court ruling on doctor-assisted death

02/06/2015 02:16 EST | Updated 04/08/2015 05:59 EDT
OTTAWA - "Finally, it is argued that without an absolute prohibition on assisted dying, Canada will descend the slippery slope into euthanasia and condoned murder. Anecdotal examples of controversial cases abroad were cited in support of this argument, only to be countered by anecdotal examples of systems that work well. The resolution of the issue before us falls to be resolved not by competing anecdotes, but by the evidence." — From the judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada.

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"The appropriate remedy is therefore a declaration that s. 241 (b) and s. 14 of the Criminal Code are void insofar as 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. 'Irremediable,' it should be added, does not require the patient to undertake treatments that are not acceptable to the individual. The scope of this declaration is intended to respond to the factual circumstances in this case. We make no pronouncement on other situations where physician-assisted dying may be sought." — From the judgment.

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"This is a sensitive issue for many Canadians, with deeply held beliefs on both sides. We will study the decision and ensure all perspectives on this difficult issue are heard." — Justice Minister Peter MacKay.

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"The Supreme Court of Canada sent us back to do our job." — New Democrat MP Francoise Boivin.

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"The ruling actually wants people with disabilities to end their lives when they believe their suffering and the condition doesn't have to be terminal. From my point of view, all legal protection has been stripped." — Taylor Hyatt of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

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"Today's decision marks an important first step for Canada in granting individuals autonomy over their end of life choices." — Sukanya Pillay, general counsel and executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

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"I have to say I'm ecstatic about the court decision. She just felt that everyone should have the option. She had written letters to each and every parliamentarian, outlining her situation and her hopes and heard back from none of them. But she would be so pleased." — Natasha Griffiths, whose mother Susan travelled to a clinic in Switzerland in 2013 for a physician-assisted death.

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"Shame on Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and her decade-long campaign teaching judges to be 'policy law makers.' The chief justice should be committed to upholding democratically enacted laws, instead she gives lectures across the country on how to overturn the laws of the people. Now unelected, appointed individuals are acting as philosopher kings ruling over our country. This is not democracy." — Charles McVety, president of the Institute for Canadian Values.

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"We want the governments to honour this decision and to uphold the rights that the Supreme Court of Canada has so clearly set out in this unanimous decision." — Grace Pastine, litigation director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

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"There does need to be some Criminal Code provision that, I think, to prevent abuse. I don't want, you know, people, because 'I have a bad hair day,' to have their car mechanic take them down. We want to make sure that we move forward quickly but thoughtfully and the Supreme Court, I think, has really given us a clear path." — Conservative MP Steven Fletcher, a quadriplegic who has two private member's bills on assisted dying on the Commons order paper.

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"We know that requests to die are often made as a cry for an end to suffering, and this cry is impossible to ignore for those who witness the suffering. But the compassionate response must be to provide social, emotional and spiritual support and the best pain management and palliative care possible." — Roman Catholic Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton, in a prepared statement.

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"Today's decision to respect the wishes of Canadians who live in unimaginable agony was a relief to patients and their families." — Green party Leader Elizabeth May.

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"This situation is clearly resolved across the country and we're quite happy the conclusion is such and we expect all provinces to go forward in our direction," Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette.

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"What about teachers, priests and pastors — would they be reprimanded or disciplined if they counselled someone wanting to end their life? Clearly, the court has not thought through its decision." — a statement from the group REAL Women of Canada.

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"The judgment creates the potential for the most permissive and least restrictive criteria for assisted suicide in the world, putting persons with disabilities at serious risk." — A statement from the Council of Canadians with Disabilities.

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"The CMA policy recognizes that there are rare occasions where patients have such a degree of suffering, even with access to palliative and end-of-life care, that they request medical aid in dying. We believe in those cases, and within legal constraints, that medical aid in dying may be appropriate." — Chris Simpson, president of the Canadian Medical Association.

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"A sacred line has been crossed. This decision turns the right to life from something that is objectively fixed and inviolable to something that is subjectively fluid and based on what someone feels it is worth." — Mark Penninga, executive director of The Association for Reformed Political Action Canada, an intervener in the case.