Government Senate Rep Concedes Assisted Dying Bill May Not Be Constitutional

December 16, 2020 Updated: December 16, 2020

OTTAWA—The government’s representative in the Senate concedes it’s possible that a bill to expand access to assisted dying may be struck down as unconstitutional by the courts.

Sen. Marc Gold says it’s inevitable that Canada’s law on medical assistance in dying will continue to be litigated by people who believe their rights have been violated.

But he says it’s impossible to predict how the courts might rule and parliamentarians have a duty to do their best to strike the right balance among competing rights and values.

Gold, a former constitutional law professor, says the government is trying in Bill C-7 to strike a balance between the right to autonomy for intolerably suffering people who are not near death and the need to protect vulnerable people.

Some senators, who are debating the bill, have maintained the bill is unconstitutional because it goes too far, others because it doesn’t go far enough.

Gold says there are good arguments on both sides and that the government will seriously consider amendments to improve the bill.