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

Senator Dyck: Senator Wallace, would you take a question?

Senator Wallace: Yes.

Senator Dyck: Thank you. I very much enjoyed listening to your speech.

As I was looking back at the Carter decision, you were saying that you didn't agree with the amendment because we can infringe upon a person's section 7 rights by invoking section 1; however, if you look at the Carter decision in paragraphs 65 and 66, they do talk extensively about the suffering that the appellants had to go through when they were grievously and irremediably ill. The B.C. court and the Supreme Court said that that interfered with their bodily integrity and medical care and thus trenches on liberty, and therefore that was impinging on their security, which is a violation of section 7.

I'm not sure how we can square that with taking it away, by saying section 1, if we don't take it away from one group but not another, because the groups who are near to death will have their rights acknowledged but those who are not will not. So it seems to me a contradiction.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Wallace, your extended time has expired, but with leave of the house you can answer that question. Is leave granted?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Wallace: Thank you, senator. There is no question that any time we as parliamentarians could create a limitation through section 1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the effect of that, yes, could well be to limit individual rights under section 7 that is not something to take lightly.

There is a very strict test that you may be familiar with from the Supreme Court of Canada in the Oakes decision, which lays out what would have to be demonstrated in order for the section 1 limitation to be considered reasonable. All I can say is that the effect of a section 1 restriction would, to some extent, limit individual rights. That's true. The extent to which we wish to do that is something we each have to make a decision on.

For me, the only real justification in doing that is if there is some broader societal interest that needs to be considered; perhaps the safeguards that are in C-14 right now may not be adequate to cover a broader range of circumstances that, for example, the proposed amendment could open up, and that would be a concern.