Department of Justice Canada

Department of Justice Canada

July 17, 2015 15:21 ET

Government of Canada Establishes External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada

Panel to consult with stakeholders and all Canadians

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - July 17, 2015) - Department/Agency

Today, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Peter MacKay and Minister of Health Rona Ambrose announced the establishment of an external panel that will consult with Canadians on options to respond to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Carter v. Canada.

The panel will conduct consultations with medical authorities and with interveners in the Carter case to assist the federal government in formulating a legislative response to the Supreme Court's decision. The panel will also consult Canadians, including interested stakeholders, through a public online consultation. The panel will then provide a final report to the Ministers of Justice and Health that outlines its findings and options for a legislative response for consideration by the federal government.

The panel includes three members:

  • Chairman, Harvey Max Chochinov, MD, PhD, FRCPC, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Canada Research Chair in Palliative Care at the University of Manitoba, and Director of the Manitoba Palliative Care Research Unit, CancerCare Manitoba;
  • Catherine Frazee, D.Litt., LL.D., Professor Emerita at Ryerson University, where, prior to her retirement in 2010, she served as Professor of Distinction and Co-Director of the Ryerson-RBC Institute for Disability Studies Research and Education; and
  • Benoît Pelletier, LL.B., LL.M., LL.D., LL.D., Professor of Law, University of Ottawa, constitutional expert and former member of the National Assembly of Quebec from 1998 to 2008, and Quebec Cabinet minister from 2003 to 2008.

Quick Facts

  • On February 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Carter v. Canada held that sections 241(b) and 14 of the Criminal Code violate the constitutional rights of certain grievously and irremediably ill adult individuals. These sections of the Criminal Code currently make it illegal for anyone, including a doctor, to assist in or cause the death of another person.
  • The Court ordered that the Criminal Code provisions remain in force for 12 months to give Parliament time to respond.
  • The panel's mandate is to consult with Canadians and key stakeholders - with a focus on the interveners in the Supreme Court case, who represent a spectrum of diverse perspectives - on considerations relevant to a federal legislative response to the Carter decision. The Panel will provide a final report to the Ministers of Justice and Health that outlines its findings and options for a legislative response for consideration by the Government.
  • The panel will provide its report to the Government by late Fall 2015.

Related Products

  • Panel Biographies

Associated Links

- Consultation on legislative options for assisted dying

- Supreme Court of Canada judgement : Carter v. Canada

Follow the Department of Justice Canada on Twitter (@JusticeCanadaEn), join us on Facebook or visit our YouTube channel.


External Panel Biographies

Harvey Max Chochinov, OC MD, PhD, FRCPC, FRSC, FCAHS (Chair)

Dr. Harvey Max Chochinov is a Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Manitoba and Director of the Manitoba Palliative Care Research Unit, CancerCare Manitoba. He holds the only Canada Research Chair in Palliative Care. His publications addressing psychosocial dimensions of palliative care have helped define core-competencies and standards of end-of-life care. He did his undergraduate medical training and Psychiatric Residency at the University of Manitoba and completed a Fellowship in Psychiatric Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York. In 1998, he completed a PhD in the Faculty of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba. Dr. Chochinov is the Chair of the Canadian Virtual Hospice.

Dr. Chochinov's research has been supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute and the National Institute of Health. His work has explored various psychiatric dimensions of palliative medicine, such as depression, desire for death, will to live and dignity at the end of life. He has been a guest lecturer in most major academic institutions around the world. He is the only psychiatrist in Canada to be designated as a Soros Faculty Scholar, Project on Death in America. He is a recipient of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal, the Order of Manitoba, and in 2014, was appointed an Officer in the Order of Canada. He is the Chair for the Canadian Virtual Hospice, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. Besides many other national honors, in 2012 the Canadian Medical Association bestowed its highest recognition, the FNG Starr Award.

Dr. Chochinov has served on many prestigious boards, nationally and internationally. He was a member of the Governing Council of the CIHR for seven years, during which time he also chaired the CIHR Standing Committee on Ethics. He is the only Canadian to serve on the Scientific Advisory Board of the National Palliative Care Research Center (NYC, USA) and the only Canadian to serve on the prestigious international scientific expert panel of the Cicely Saunders Foundation (London, UK). In addition to over 200 publications, he is the Co- Editor of the Handbook of Psychiatry in Palliative Medicine, published by Oxford University Press, and the Journal Palliative and Support Care, published by Cambridge University Press. He is a member of editorial boards for most major journals of palliative care. His most recent book, Dignity Therapy: Final Words for Final Days, published by Oxford University Press, was the 2012 winner of the American Publishers Association Prose Award for Clinical Medicine.

Catherine Frazee, D.Litt., LL.D.

Catherine Frazee is a Professor Emerita at Ryerson University, where, prior to her retirement in 2010, she served as Professor of Distinction and Co-Director of the RBC Ryerson Institute for Disability Studies Research and Education. Through her scholarship, teaching, art and public service, she has challenged barriers to the full social inclusion of people with disabilities and contributed to reforms in areas ranging from artistic opportunity to legislation.

As the Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission from 1989 to 1992, Dr. Frazee has worked for decades to advocate for human rights through her involvement with numerous organizations including the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund, the Canadian Association for Community Living, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, and the Abilities Arts Festival (now Tangled Art + Disability).

She has provided expert testimony before federal and provincial courts and tribunals on human rights and disability disadvantage and contributed actively in Supreme Court of Canada interventions of strategic concern to disabled Canadians. She has authored a wide array of academic and literary texts and journals and published numerous opinion pieces in Canadian media on human rights, precarious citizenship, and the activist resistance of disabled people.

Dr. Frazee has also been particularly active in the exploration of cultural interpretations of the disability experience. Most notably, she was co-curator of the award-winning exhibition Out From Under: Disability, History and Things to Remember and a collaborator in the 2006 National Film Board film Shameless: The ART of Disability. She has received a number of awards, including honorary degrees from Dalhousie University, the University of New Brunswick and McMaster University.

Dr. Frazee was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in December 2014 for "her advancement of the rights of persons with disabilities, and as an advocate for social justice".

Benoît Pelletier, O.Q., Ad. E., LL.B., LL.M., LL.D., LL.D.

Admitted to the Barreau du Québec in 1982, Benoît Pelletier first practised law in civil litigation and real estate law with the Department of Justice Canada (1983 to 1989) and with Legal Services of Correctional Service Canada (in 1989 and 1990) in Ottawa. In 1990, he joined the faculty at the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law, where he currently holds the position of full professor. Benoît Pelletier also held the position of assistant dean of that faculty of law from 1996 to 1998.

For 10 years, Benoît Pelletier represented the Chapleau riding in the National Assembly of Quebec. He was a minister with the Government of Quebec for nearly six years. In that role, he was responsible for such things as Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs, Canadian Francophonie, Aboriginal Affairs and Reform of Democratic Institutions.

With a Bachelor of Laws from Université Laval, Benoît Pelletier also holds a Master of Laws from the University of Ottawa and two Doctors of Law, one from the Université de Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne) and the other from the Université Aix-Marseille III.

In 1989, Benoît Pelletier received the Medal of the Barreau de Paris, as best student in the graduate studies law programs of the University of Ottawa. In 1998, he was issued the Award of Excellence in Teaching from the University of Ottawa.

Benoît Pelletier is the author of numerous scientific publications, including a major treaty on constitutional amendment in Canada (published in 1996). He has also given numerous speeches in Canada and abroad. He was received as a guest professor by the universities of Nantes, Corse, Paris II, Paris V and Lyon III. He was also received twice, in 2007 and 2009, as Public Policy Scholar by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

Benoît Pelletier is also the author of a political essay, published in 2010 by the Université Laval presses, entitled Une certaine idée du Québec. Parcours d'un fédéraliste. De la réflexion à l'action.

In 2006, Benoît Pelletier was admitted into the Ordre de la francophonie de Prescott et Russell. In 2008, he was awarded the Léger-Comeau Medal by the Société nationale de l'Acadie, and also received the medallion of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City. In 2009, he was admitted into the Ordre de Gatineau as Grand Citoyen. In 2010, he was appointed a Commander of the Ordre de la Pléiade, to underscore his outstanding contribution to international francophonie. Also in 2010, he received the insignia of the Ordre des francophones d'Amérique from the Conseil supérieur de la langue française du Québec. In 2011, he was made a Commander of the Royal Order of the Crown of Belgium. In 2011, he received the Gloire de l'Escolle medal as Grand diplômé from the Université Laval. In 2011, the Barreau du Québec awarded him the title of Lawyer Emeritus. In 2011, he received the Prix Boréal from the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada. Again in 2011, he was made a Commander of the Ordre des Palmes académiques de France. In 2012, he was issued an honoris causa doctorate in law by the Université de Moncton. He was made an honorary member of the Association canadienne d'éducation de langue française. He was made a Knight in the Ordre national du mérite de France. In 2013, he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He was also the recipient of the Gérard-Lesage Medal of the Université du Québec en Outaouais. In 2014, Benoît Pelletier was made an Officer in the Ordre national du Québec. In 2015, he received the gold medal of the Ordre du mérite de la Fédération des commissions scolaires du Québec, for his outstanding contribution to public education.

Contact Information

  • Clarissa Lamb
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of Justice

    Media Relations Office
    Department of Justice

    Michael Bolkenius
    Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
    Federal Minister of Health
    (613) 957-0200

    Health Canada
    Media Relations
    (613) 957-2983

    External Panel on options for a legislative response
    to Carter v. Canada