Assisted Dying, Suspended Declarations, and Dialogue’s Time
University of Toronto Law Journal, Forthcoming
28 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2019 Last revised: 23 Mar 2019
Date Written: February 24, 2019
How long does it take the elected branches of government to study complex policy questions and develop legislation that respects constitutional rights? Judges often suspend for 12 months declarations that a law unjustifiably limits a right protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Dialogue theorists praise such suspensions for allowing the legislative and executive branches to act. The paper recounts the experiences of the governments of Quebec and of Canada in grappling with assisted suicide en route to legislating. It concludes that tackling a serious policy issue – including research, public education and consultation, and meaningful deliberation – may take much longer than 12 months. Consequent possible changes to judicial practice include granting fewer suspensions and prompting fuller debate in court on the appropriate order. As for dialogue theorists, they might better align their justifications of suspensions with legislative realities.
Keywords: Charter remedies, assisted dying, Carter v Canada (Attorney General), suspended declarations, judicial review
JEL Classification: K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation