First Doctor- Assisted Suicide in Ontario

1207px-Syringe_Needle_IVAssisted suicide is a highly controversial topic that evokes emotions in various spectrums for patients, doctors, law makers and the average person. The first case of assisted suicide in Ontario took place on March 17th, 2016.


The patient was an 81-year-old man suffering from cancer, specifically lymphoma. The patient’s family pleaded with the court to allow the man pass away with dignity. The family retained a lawyer to argue the case before the court who argued that it was the patients right to decide how they live or die. The judge permitted the family’s request in accordance to the recent Supreme Court ruling. The patient’s family claimed that the patient’s dignity had been restored and they believe it was the right thing to do.  The patient who cannot be identified, passed away peacefully in his sleep.


Although the patient was granted the right to assisted suicide, the subject is still illegal under the Criminal Code of Canada. The family argued to have the laws forbidding assisted suicide under the Criminal Code of Canada revoked. The family argued the fighting this legal battle was draining and took away from the time they could’ve possibly spent with the patient.

Doctors advice online

Quebec has embraced doctor assisted suicide, however; Ontario is still behind. The Liberal government has not finalized the proposed bill for assisted suicide and were granted a four-month extension in February to iron out any issues regarding the subject. While the government continues to work through issues surrounding doctor assisted suicide legislation, the courts have allowed terminally ill patients to begin applying for right to end their lives despite the Criminal Code ban.  So far, there have been cases of successful assisted suicides in B.C and in Manitoba, there is also a pending case in Ontario that is waiting to be addressed.

Passive Suicide

Passive suicide, which allows doctors to avoid taking medical measures to prolong lives of patients is permitted in Canada. These wishes are communicated by the patient’s family members or relatives.


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Points of Discussion:

1.  How do you feel about this case? Do you believe this a progressive step for Canadian legislation?

2.  Is doctor – assisted suicide permitted in your country?


Solitary confinement

Should prisoners be subjected to solitary confinement? Many lobbyists condemn solitary confinement and advocate for more humane practices while others support solitary confinement by arguing prisoners should be denied the comforts of society.

Imagine sitting alone for 10 hours with no interaction with others. Now imagine being confined to a room without television, internet or phones for 24 hours. Now imagine living in these conditions for two weeks.

prisonSolitary confinement can consist of 22-23 hours of isolation per day for a prisoner. Inmates are often placed in small cells sometimes in dimensions of nine by six feet. These cells have no windows only a toilet, bed and sink. Occasionally, inmates who are believed to inflict self- harm or display disruptive behavior in prison are placed in solitary confinement. There is an hour for exercise but there have been multiple cases where this right has been neglected. Currently, there is no limitation on how long an inmate can be locked in solitary confinement.

The logic behind solitary confinement is to punish misbehavior and allow the prisoner to reflect on their actions. Yet this can quickly become a reason for concern when the patient is mentally unstable and requires medical assistance. Isolating a person with mental health concerns with disregard for their mental health can be dangerous for the inmate. The mental pressure of isolation for long periods of time can result in a non-mental health patient becoming mentally unstable; thus the impact on a mental health patient can be far more profound and hazardous.


Proponents suggest that prisoners are not entitled to the comforts of law-abiding citizens. Furthermore, solitary confinement allows the prisoner to reflect on their behavior before re-entering the general prison population.  It is also argued that solitary confinement helps maintain order in prisons and power over inmates. However, opponents strongly disagree with this stance.


Numerous lobbyists are fighting to remove solitary confinement from the prison system. Conversely, some groups are maintaining a narrower focus of limiting solitary confinement to no more than 15 days; anything more is considered cruel punishment and torture. Critics argue that prisons can restrict an inmates’ right to mobility and liberty but the law should continue to protect their health care in accordance to basic human rights in Canada.Every_Canadian_Needs_A_Copy

Criminal law professors argue that there is currently a mental health crisis in the Canadian prison system which is largely neglected. They also argue that penitentiaries are meant to serve as a rehabilitative service not a means to punish individuals for their mental illnesses.

Long periods of isolation can lead inmates to feel resentful and angry upon release. Segregated inmates have frequently resorted to extreme measures for attention from guards including self-harm and attempting suicide. Prisoners are exposed to little social interaction for blocks of time and expected to function as ordinary prisoners or citizens upon their release despite being subjected to extraordinary conditions. The Liberal government is currently examining solitary confinement and the consequences of the practice.

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Points of Discussion:

1. How do you feel about solitary confinement?

2. Is solitary confinement a common practice where you live? If so, how effective is it?


Euthanasia: Who should dictate your life choices?

Doctors advice online

Doctor assisted suicide is a complicated subject with individuals who feel strongly on both sides of the debate. If a doctor were to tell you that there was no chance of a recovery and you’d be in immense pain for the rest of your life – would you want to end your life? Most individuals would argue yes without a second thought but there are others that would feel differently.


As of February 6th, 2015 assisted suicide will no longer be criminalized in Canada; this decision was made in February of 2014. The government has had a year to address the law but is not prepared to implement laws to regulate euthanasia. Quebec in particular is anxious to implement its own laws and to regulate doctor assisted suicides. However, the rest of the nation has not formulated any such legislation to address the issue. Health Ministers have argued that they require more time, six months to be exact, to formulate a consistent, national legislation to legalize doctor assisted suicide. Critics are arguing this is far too long.

Doctor assisted suicide would require the following criteria to decipher if a patient is eligible for euthanasia:
1. The patient is suffering from constant unbearable pain due to an irreversible decline in health;
2. there is no reasonable chance of relief from the pain;
3. the patient is mentally sound and fully competent;
4. the patient is an adult; and
5. the patient is at an advanced stated of an irreversible deteriorating condition

Patients may outline in thier wills for example, that if they are in a vegetative state due to health complications they give their consent to their family members to inform thier doctors that they’d like to be euthanized. Many doctors feel this is the humane thing to do but some individuals stand strongly against such practices.


Many Canadians believe that their right to life should entail their right to end their lives. Proponents argue that it is inhumane to allow a human to suffer unbearable pain and not dictate how to address thier physical health in a point of rapid deterioration. Pro- euthanasia advocates also argue that religion has no space in the legal realm as the “state and church” should remain separated; thus, religious arguments should not hold weight in the court of law.


Many individuals feel euthanasia undermines their religious doctrines and humans should not intervene with God’s will. Humans make mistakes, God does not.

Others have argued that doctors may abuse thier powers and make decisions in a hasty manner without considering all alternatives for patients. Furthermore, doctors are not error-free, they can make a wrong diagnosis and endanger the life of a patient. For instance, a doctor may inform a patient that they have a life-threatening non-reversible disease; consequently, the patient becomes depressed. The patient then makes an emotional decision to end their life as they are in pain and believe that it will be life-long and irreversible. However in reality, the patient actually has a treatable disease that is not life debilitating.

Opponents have also argued that there have been multiple cases of “miracle” recoveries, despite doctors suggesting there was no chance of betterment. Regardless of what the “chances” are, if there is a chance, the patient should not be permitted to make a decision to end their lives because the chance of miracle does exist. The argument essentially contends that once an individual hears the words “there’s no chance of recovery” they lose hope, perhaps fall victim to depression and make emotional decisions which they would likely have regretted if a miracle had taken place. Supporters argue that these cases are rare and few.

Is assisted-suicide legal in your country? If so, how successful is the implementation of such legislation?

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Points of Discussion:

1. How do you feel about the assisted-suicide decision?
2. What changes would you implement to the legislation, if any?


Justice For Amanda Todd


This picture was created by one of her peers. Amanda was tagged in numerous photos similar to this one by her peers after leaving her school. In her video she elaborates on the difficulties she had moving on due to her peers tagging her in similar pictures such as this.

Amanda Todd was 15 when she took her life as a result of online bullying. She was blackmailed into exposing her breasts on webcam to an online predator and was stalked and bullied by him. She changed schools but he found her again and made a Facebook page with her friends showing her breasts as the profile picture. As a result, she was continuously bullied by peers. She committed suicide in October of 2012.  The Canadian justice system is trying to persecute the man allegedly behind this heinous crime, Aydin Coban, but is facing considerable difficulty due to international law regulations.

Aydin Coban resides in the Netherlands and was under suspicion for distributing child porn in Amanda’s case but was not formally charged with her death. Upon further investigation it was determined that Coban had been arrested in January of 2014 for harassing victims online and charges including indecent assault and production and dissemination of child pornography.  A few months later, the RCMP declared that he was also charged with five accounts including extortion, internet luring, criminal harassment and the possession and distribution of child pornography in B.C in relation to Amanda Todd’s case. Coban has been suspected of blackmailing youth from all over the world to perform sexual acts over webcam. He is also facing sextortion and distribution of child pornography in a case of another Canadian youth.

Coban’s trial is currently in pretrial-motion hearings stage; the parties argue before a judge what evidence should be admissible, who can or cannot testify and if the case should be dismissed completely. It has been stated that Coban will not be charged in relation to non- Dutch victims (including Amanda). Christian van Dijk, Coban’s lawyer, has disclosed that Coban is on trial for 39 alleged victims. De Bruin, the Canadian lawyer for Todd has stated that Coban could be handed-over to Canadian authorities if the authorities choose to take that path. Conversely, Van Dijk has explained that extradition is not an option so long as the case continues in the Netherlands.

With the expansion and complexity of technology it has become difficult to determine the jurisdiction and legal implications of international crimes. Cybercrime and exploitation have become easier through the internet and various social media facets. Alternatively, these tools also serve to create social awareness and can be used as tool for victims to have a voice. For instance, Amanda Todd made a YouTube video explaining how she was exploited and bullied.

Countless youths are targeted and blackmailed by unknown faces online and then isolated by their peers when their story is brought to the public eye. Unfortunately, there are still individuals who suggest “don’t show your boobs online “is the solution but the topic is far more complex than nudity, legally and morally. Sometimes victims are unaware that photos are being taken of them or being shared. Predators often have information about the victim’s family, their residence, their school and more to manipulate their victims such was Amanda’s story: .

What are your thoughts?

Do you believe Coban should have a Canadian trial?

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