ID of doctors who might help terminally ill Ontario man die to stay secret

The identities of any doctors who might help a terminally ill man kill himself can be kept secret, an Ontario court ruled Monday.

TORONTO — The identities of any doctors who might help a terminally ill man kill himself can be kept secret, an Ontario court ruled Monday.

In agreeing to the man’s request for anonymity, Superior Court Justice Thomas McEwen said confidentiality orders in this case were needed to avoid unwanted publicity and media attention for the man, his family and the doctors involved.

The man, 80, identified only as A.B., will be seeking a constitutional exemption later this month for a doctor-assisted suicide in the first such request in Ontario.

A.B. and his family did not ask for the hearing itself to be held in secret. They only wanted anonymity for themselves and the doctors.

“Cases involving physician-assisted suicide warrant such restrictions,” McEwen said in his written ruling. “The (man’s) proposal is a reasonable compromise.”

At a hearing last week, a group of news outlets agreed the identities of the man and his relatives should remain private but opposed secrecy for the doctors who help him die.

McEwen said the man’s position struck a balance between the open-court principle and the right of the man and his family to maintain their privacy and dignity.

There are also good reasons to black out the names of the physicians as well, the justice said.

“The physicians wish to maintain anonymity because of personal and professional implications,” McEwen said. “Their wish and concerns are entirely reasonable, in my opinion, given the publicity and controversy surrounding physician-assisted death.”

McEwen said adverse publicity might dissuade doctors from helping others. He also said he was not concerned doctors might become “rubber-stamps” for assisted deaths given the role the courts must still play in approving requests for such help.

The decision calls for an unredacted court record — along with explanations as to why any information was blacked out — to be put to the judge hearing the case. It will be up to that judge to make any changes. Media will also be able to make submissions at that time if they want.

According to his affidavit, the man was diagnosed with advanced aggressive lymphoma in 2012, a terminal condition that has left him in ‘intolerable pain and distress that cannot be alleviated.”

He argued he could only “die with dignity” away from a blaze of unwanted publicity. He and his family also worried about unwanted harassment from those opposed to assisted suicide.

Last year, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down laws that made it a criminal offence for doctors to help someone die.

The court gave the government a year to rewrite the laws. However, unable to meet the deadline, the government asked the court for an extension. The courts granted another four months, but said the terminally ill could apply to superior courts for an exemption to the ban during that period.

Just Posted

Red Deer’s single parents and children at greatest risk of poverty, says report

Yet almost half of local low-income families are people living alone

Graffiti vandals strike Kerry Wood Nature Centre in Red Deer

Cleanup will be tricky at bird sanctuary

Foodgrains project is in the ground

Lacombe County farmers continue to help feed the hungry

Red Deer housing market sales down 6%

The Red Deer housing market remains flat, says a realtor. Alex Wilkinson… Continue reading

Stamp collectors from across Alberta will gather in Red Deer Saturday

Local philatelist wants to restart the Red Deer stamp club

Dogs and drugs don’t mix: Red Deer business wants to leave downtown after 18 years

One business owner is done with downtown Red Deer after 18 years.… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Gardening: Adding a new dimension with water

A water feature, large or small, adds a whole new dimension to… Continue reading

Alberta throne speech promises changes to expand economy, end carbon tax

EDMONTON — The new Alberta government has set its first legislature sitting… Continue reading

Wider fire bans, off-highway vehicle restrictions in northern Alberta

The fire ban prohibiting campfires and unauthorized burning, and restricting the use… Continue reading

WestJet pilot injured by green laser light while approaching Orlando airport

A WestJet pilot flying from Newfoundland to Orlando International Airport had his… Continue reading

Canada hires firm to ship back garbage, will be done before end of June: McKenna

OTTAWA — Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says the Canadian trash that has… Continue reading

Newfoundland man pleads not guilty in case of skeleton stolen from graveyard

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A young Newfoundland man pleaded not guilty Wednesday… Continue reading

Canadians increasingly worried over boomers’ health bills, survey finds

CHARLOTTETOWN — Canadians are increasingly concerned about how to pay for the… Continue reading

Most Read