Gloria Taylor (L) is seen with her sister Patty Ferguson outside of the B.C Supreme Court, where she is testifying to challenge the law regarding assisted-suicide, in Vancouver, B.C. Gloria Taylor suffers from Lou Gehrig's disease and is trying to change B.C's medically assisted suicide law. (REUTERS/Ben Nelms)
OTTAWA - Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Friday the federal government will appeal a British Columbia Supreme Court ruling that eliminated a ban on doctor-assisted suicide.
The feds will file its appeal with the B.C. Court of Appeal, and will seek a stay of all aspects of the June 15 decision. The ruling granted an exemption for Gloria Taylor, a sufferer of Lou Gehrig's disease, to die with a doctor's assistance.
"The government is of the view that the Criminal Code provisions that prohibit medical professionals, or anyone else, from counselling or providing assistance in suicide, are constitutionally valid," Nicholson said in a statement.
"The government also objects to the lower court's decision to grant a 'constitutional exemption' resembling a regulatory framework for assisted suicide."
Nicholson said laws surrounding euthanasia and assisted suicide exist to protect all Canadians, "including those who are most vulnerable, such as people who are sick or elderly or people with disabilities."
He pointed to the 1993 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the existing legislation.
But NDP MP Megan Leslie said the government is missing an "opportunity" to have a discussion about end-of-life care with Canadians.
"I don't think that it is a smart move," Leslie said. "If the government had been smart about it, they would have accepted the decision for what it was and then started to consult Canadians to create laws around end-of-life care...assisted suicide is one piece of it."
Leslie said it is unclear if Canadians would consider methods like assisted suicide if they were able to "die with dignity" and believes a palliative care strategy is needed.