Media Advisory: Comment on appeal of Carter v. Canada (assisted suicide)

Media Advisory

Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) and Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL)

Comment on appeal of Carter v. Canada (assisted suicide)

October 9, 2013

On Thursday October 10th the British Columbia Court of Appeal will hand down its ruling in Carter v. Canada (assisted suicide).  The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) and the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), two of Canada’s largest organizations representing persons with disabilities and their families, intervened in this case to oppose any change in the Criminal Code of Canada that would allow assisted suicide.

CCD and CACL spokespersons will be available to comment on the Carter Appeal decision this Thursday. 

Interviews can be coordinated with CCD Spokespersons by contacting Laurie Beachell, CCD National Coordinator 204 947-0303 or 204 981-6179 cell, or spokespersons may be contacted directly. 

Amy Hasbrouck (Not Dead Yet –a project of CCD) available at 450 921-3057 to do interviews in either English or French.

“People with disabilities don’t need to die to have dignity.”

Nancy Hansen (member of CCD Ending of Life Ethics Committee) available at 204 474-6458

“I have an excellent job, four university degrees and I am very happily married. Yet, every time this issue emerges, as a disabled person I feel vulnerable.  It is as is if  we have to continually justify our existence.”

Jim Derksen (member of CCD’s Ending of Life Ethics Committee, past Chairperson CCD) available at 204 786-7937

“When society allows assisted suicide, it’s saying some lives are more worth saving.”

Interviews can be coordinated with CACL Spokespersons by contacting Tyler Hnatuk 416 709-3429 :

Laurie Larson (President, CACL; Parent of two adult sons with disabilities)

“The protection of the Charter should be focused on improving the lives of people with disabilities, not on offering a quicker and earlier death. The public needs to hear and understand the perspectives and concerns of people with disabilities on this issue because it impacts all of us and is potentially catastrophic.”

Catherine Frazee (Former Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Professor Emerita of Ryerson University's School of Disability Studies and CACL Values and Ethics Task Force member)

"At the heart of the assisted suicide debate are deep misapprehensions about human dignity. If we accept that physical decline and incapacity strip away dignity, that bedpans and feeding tubes are markers of an undignified life, what are we saying about the lives of people with disabilities – people like myself? We must not permit our anxieties about bodily functions to trivialize the true meaning of human dignity and devalue the lives of people who rely upon others for intimate care in daily life."

Tim Stainton (Professor and Director, School of Social Work, Director of the Centre for Inclusion and Citizenship and Chair, CACL Values and Ethics Taskforce)

“No safeguards can protect people with disabilities in a world where their lives are not valued.”

David Baker, Legal Counsel (bakerlaw)  416 533-0040 Ext. 222

“While enormous attention has been focused on this case, the courts, past and future, who hear it do not have the evidence they require to decide a case of this importance to persons with disabilities.  The just outcome, whatever the decision of the BCCA, is that the case be referred back for re-hearing, with the Federal Government given the opportunity it was denied to properly defend legislation that has been recently upheld by both the Supreme Court of Canada [Rodriguez] and the Parliament of Canada.”

CCD and CACL seek to ensure:

That the rights of person with disabilities and elderly persons are protected and that the Criminal Code prohibition against assisted suicide is upheld.

That allowing a few people the privilege of controlling the time and manner of their death does not justify the danger it would pose to many more elders and persons with disabilities.