Lee Carter, et al. v. Attorney General of Canada, et al.

(British Columbia) (Civil) (By Leave)


Canadian charter (Criminal) - Right to life (s. 7), Fundamental justice (s. 7).


Case summaries are prepared by the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada (Law Branch) for information purposes only.

Charter of Rights - Right to life - Equality - Fundamental justice - Terminally ill patients seeking assistance to commit suicide - Whether trial judge erred in distinguishing Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney General), [1993] 3 S.C.R. 519 — Whether Criminal Code provision prohibiting aiding person to commit suicide infringes s. 7 or 15 of Charter - If so, whether infringement justifiable under s. 1 - Criminal Code, R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46, s. 241(b).

Ms. Kay Carter and the applicant Ms. Gloria Taylor both suffered from intractable and progressive diseases and are now deceased. They had joined with the others in bringing a civil claim before the British Columbia Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Criminal Code provisions against assisted suicide and euthanasia, specifically ss. 14, 21(1)(b), 21(2), 22, 222(1)-222(5), and 241. They focused their case, however, on s. 241, which prohibits aiding another person to commit suicide. They succeeded at trial notwithstanding this Court’s decision in Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney General), [1993] 3 S.C.R. 519, that s. 241 did not infringe certain Charter rights under ss. 7 and 15. A majority of the Court of Appeal, however, allowed the Attorney General of Canada’s (“AGC”) appeal.