Canadian Justice Minister calls for debate on assisted suicide


Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler said Nov. 17 that debate on assisted suicide should be reopened in Parliament and that Canadian laws forbidding it should be reviewed in light of two recent events in British Columbia and Quebec. 

A week earlier, a jury in a British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that Evelyn Martens, 73, was not guilty of assisting in the suicides of Monique Charest, a 64-year-old former Catholic nun, and of Leyanne Burchell, 52.

Charest and Burchell committed suicide in 2002.

Martens admitted to knowing the women, giving them information on how to commit suicide, counselling them and being present at their deaths.

Police found a quantity of sedative-type drugs, including Rohypnol, the date-rape drug, helium tanks and exit bags when they searched Martens' van and home. Yet the jury decided that there was not enough evidence to indicate that she actually assisted in the suicide acts.

Martens said that since her trial, she will retire from her involvement in the Right to Die Society of Canada

In Quebec, Marielle Houle was arrested and charged Sept. 26, after having helped her 36-year-old son, Charles Fariala, to commit suicide. Fariala was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last year.

If Houle is convicted, she faces a maximum of 14 years in prison.

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