TWO separate cases are being heard in B.C. courts this week, both attempting to change the law and allow doctors or loved ones to help a person end his or her own life. Three U.S. states and four European countries currently permit assisted suicide.
It's regrettable that once again, Canadians must look to a judge to set social policies. The courts play a crucial role in our nation's governance, but they were never intended to develop policy; that is the job of our elected officials - in this case, Parliament.
But as with many other difficult, emotive issues, MPs are looking the other way.
When there is no clear political percentage in taking up a certain issue, the temptation is always to do nothing. Years of nothing are what have driven these folks back to the courts.
Assisted suicide is a complex issue. The role of doctors and family and the level of mental clarity required to consent to one's own death are only a few of the tough questions involved. Decisions like this should be made following a full public discussion, not the formalized procedure of the courts.
The public may yet get their chance to weigh in. Should the courts decide to throw out the law that bans assisted suicide, it will fall back to Parliament to come up with new legislation and we hope that will follow a real national conversation. It's just a shame that our MPs have to be goosed by judges before jumping into action.