Charter has changed since 1993 right-to-die case, plaintiffs argue in appeal

The Canadian Press
Associated Press

VANCOUVER - The plaintiffs in a landmark case that struck down Canada's ban on doctor-assisted suicide are asking the B.C. Appeal Court to uphold the ruling, arguing the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has evolved since the issue was last decided two decades ago.

The federal government is appealing a decision by the B.C. Supreme Court, which issued a judgment last year that said the law violated the rights of people who have disabilities or who are gravely ill.

Ottawa has argued allowing assisted suicide demeans life and that a 1993 Supreme Court of Canada decision involving Sue Rodriguez that upheld the law was final.

But the plaintiffs argue in recently filed documents that the interpretation of the charter has since evolved, and the 1993 decision came before important rulings on disproportionate and overly broad laws.

They say Ottawa failed to provide any evidence that allowing assisted suicide would demean all life or endanger vulnerable people, and instead they argue the current law discriminates against people with disabilities.

Among the plaintiffs was ALS patient Gloria Taylor, who also won an immediate exemption from the law but died last year without requesting the assistance of a doctor.