Debates of the Senate  
1st Session, 42st Parliament, Volume 150, Issue 45
  Wednesday, June 8, 2016
 
Question to Senator Ogilvie on Bill C-14

Senator Dyck: Will the honourable senator take a question?

Senator Ogilvie: Certainly, senator.

Senator Dyck: Thank you. I enjoyed your speech very much. I thought you were very, very clear. You stated that this bill will be taking away the rights of a category of people, and that is cruel. I agree with you entirely.

In the court challenges, in particular the Carter decision, was the Government of Canada not arguing that no one had those rights? They weren't even willing to grant those rights, those same lawyers in the government. Would that mindset still be part of their decision making? Would that not give them a perspective that maybe they are being generous, when, in fact, they're not?

Human beings all have their own viewpoint. Did the argument against granting any rights taint their neutrality in granting rights to all those groups of people?

Senator Ogilvie: I thank the honourable senator for the question. There are a number of elements in the question with regard to why. I can't speak for the absolute motivation of either the Minister of Justice or the officials advising that minister. I can say unequivocally it is now a matter of judicial decisions in this country. I refer to the arguments put before it and the decision that it made. It is very clear, honourable senator, that there is a mindset somewhere in the Justice Department that's been there, it seems to me, probably for 20 or more years.

Senator Dyck: Right.

Senator Ogilvie: They fail to respond to the evolving needs of Canadians in society. I suspect if they're totally entrenched, it's almost a religious zeal on their part. However, the minister has a responsibility to weight the advice as well. That advice has been argued in exactly the same manner, before the Carter decision. It has been argued in exactly the same form before the Alberta Supreme Court of Appeal and in the Ontario case that we've heard. It is lost, clearly and unequivocally, in all three cases.

Senator, I would say that whatever emotion leads a minister to take this position, for the Attorney General of Canada to argue to take away a right of the most vulnerable Canadians is, in my opinion, at the very least, a very cruel action.

Senator Dyck: As I understand it, the Attorney General did not give a fulsome answer with regard to the reasons why this particular group was limited. She did not articulate why the person had to be near a natural death that was reasonably foreseeable. If we had known why, perhaps that would have helped us understand. As I understand it, there was no good explanation as to why those provisions were put in. Is that correct?

Senator Ogilvie: I understand your question, but I think I better answer in the following way. I have not heard the minister enunciate an argument that is either convincing or different from simply a fixed-policy position, and I think the minister came closest to that when she actually admitted to the term "terminal" in her responses to us in open session.

I think we know where the minister is coming from. I believe the minister is offside with the needs of an extremely vulnerable section of Canadians and the decisions of the courts to protect those individuals.