Sine November 2019, according to Farrish and her fellow petitioners, the board has granted membership to applicants who oppose euthanasia, and denied the applications of those in favor of the practice, with the intent of preventing the acceptance of euthanasia by the Delta Hospice Society.
Ireland has confirmed that 310 applications were rejected.
The membership of the society was about 600 in March, and was 1,400 by mid-April, according to Fitzpatrick.
According to Farrish and her fellow petitioners, anyone who applied for membership and contributed the membership fee was accepted, until 2020.
Under British Columbia's Societies Act, the directors of societies do not have discretion to deny membership on any self-determined basis unless criteria for membership are set out in the society's bylaws.
Fitzpatrick wrote that “It is clear enough from Ms. Ireland's affidavit alone that the Board has sought to screen membership, allowing only those that could be determined to uphold the Constitution as she and others on the Board interpret it. However, what the Board has also effectively done is deny membership to people who, in the past, would have been granted membership. The Board has done so with the express intention of preventing those who would have become 'new' members from voting on what is to be a very important decision in the direction of the Society.”
She rejected the Delta Hospice Society's argument that its board has full discretion to determine membership, and found that the board “has not been acting in good faith in terms of admitting members on a proper basis.”
The hospice society has appealed Fitzpatrick's ruling.
The British Columbia Court of Appeal held a hearing on the case Aug. 17 that was adjourned.
Ireland said that the appeal is a welcome chance “to argue on constitutional grounds why it’s wrong for the courts to force us to let a hostile group take over the Society, change its foundational purposes, and seize the assets built up for over 30 years.”
She has said that Fitzpatrick's ruling that the rejected applications must be accepted “gave carte blanche to organized groups to perform hostile takeovers of private societies that hold minority views.”
She added that “it would mean thousands of societies can now be taken over by any organized group of a few hundred people. That is not how a free society is supposed to work.”
She has said there is a “public and coordinated campaign to infiltrate the Delta Hospice Society and overwhelm the existing membership with those who do not share our constitution. Their whole purpose was to reverse our policy on euthanasia.”
Pettypiece, Levin, and Farrish are, in fact, associated with and can be contacted through the ‘Take Back Delta Hospice Movement’, the goal of which “is to engage concerned citizens to become members of the Society” so as to vote in a new board.
Take Back Delta Hospice believes the current board’s efforts not to participate in euthanasia “are both inconsistent with the Society’s moral responsibility to serve the entire community without discrimination and incompatible with the founding principles of the Society upon which its brand, its assets and its goodwill have been built since 1991.”
The board argues that Fitzpatrick's ruling erred in ordering open acceptance of membership applications, and that she treated the hospice society not as a private association, but as a public institution. If the Societies Act requires such an order, it violates rights of association and freedom of conscience, they argue.
Pettypiece said earlier this month that Delta Hospice “should be available to all that require hospice care, regardless of their end-of-life choices. We are committed to ensuring a membership that reflects the wishes of the entire community.”
Euthanasia is readily available at Delta Hospital, which is located a one-minute drive from the Delta Hospice Society’s Irene Thomas Hospice. Delta is part of the Vancouver metropolitan area.
In British Columbia, the death certificate of those who are euthanized or commit assisted suicide list Medical Assistance in Dying as the immediate cause of death, with antecedent causes giving rise to the euthanization or assisted suicide listed subsequently.
The carrying out of the euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada have led to questions over the imprecision of the country's requirements, from family of patients, disability advocates, pro-life groups, and bioethicists.
Eligibility is restricted to mentally competent Canadian adults who have a serious, irreversible illness, disease, or disability. While to be eligible a patient does not have to have a fatal condition, they must meet a criterion variously expressed as they “can expect to die in the near future”, that natural death is “reasonably foreseeable” in the “not too distant” future, or that they are “declining towards death”.