Tag Archives: capitalism

The Carter decision: Of Power and Permission

Carter and the right to end one’s life

Last week the British Columbia Court of Appeal decided to allow the Attorney General’s appeal to the constitutional challenge of the assisted suicide prohibition: the Carter case.[1] This case featured two persons named Gloria Taylor and Lee Carter. Both suffered from intractable and progressive diseases, and wished to have the option of physician assisted suicide when their life would become intolerable (they both passed away before the appeal was rendered). However, s 241(b) of the Criminal Code makes aiding or abetting a person to commit suicide a crime.[2] Ms. Carter and Taylor challenged the constitutionality of the section alleging a violation of their right to life, liberty and security of the person, and of their right to equality.[3] One of the major hurdles they faced was that a similar issue involving the same section of the Code was challenged on similar grounds and had been decided by the Supreme Court of Canada in the past.[4] In Rodriguez, the plaintiff lost her appeal to the Supreme Court by a close 5 to 4 vote. Nevertheless, the trial judge, Justice Smith, found that she was not bound by the Supreme Court ruling because this case raised three new grounds: (1) the right to life was not at stake in Rodriguez; (2) two principle of fundamental justice did not exist at the time of Rodriguez, overbroadness and gross disproportionality; (3) the majority did not consider s 15 (equality) in its entirety in addition to the fact that recent Supreme Court decisions changed the applicable test.[5] She found in the plaintiffs’ favour and declared the section unconstitutional with a grace period of one year for the government.

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Some self-reflections

I rarely use social media to talk about myself. I talk about my ideas and my work, but not about me as an individual and certainly not about my feelings. But a lot has happened to me since I left the Federal Court and went back momentarily to the school bench. The events of the past months have forced me to reflect on some aspects of my life and of myself; some of which are worth sharing.


Before exposing my reflections I think it is useful to summarize the events that led me to them. In August 2011 I started working for the Federal Court. Shortly after, I moved in with my partner. I entered this new phase of my life (working full time and living with one’s partner) already exhausted from 5 years (for three different degrees) of law school and part time work to pay for my education. I’m not trying to attract anyone’s pity; after all I come from a progressive upper middle class white family. But such experiences are subjective and I felt exhausted. The smart thing to do would have been to take some time off to write and read until I could apply to a PhD program (I didn’t have time to apply during my tenure at the court) since there was no need for me to go back to school or work at a job I hated. But no, I had to enroll into another master program and manage a plethora of activities at the same time instead. The program ended up much less interesting than expected (partly because I am intellectually insecure and thus cannot admit that I could be intelligent without the schooling to prove it) and, instead of being enjoyable, fueled my stress and exhaustion further. It negatively affected my whole life. I reached the breaking point a few weeks ago and dropped everything. And now I feel great! But why did I go through all of this in the first place?

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Video Reflections 2: Slavoj Zizek investigates the ethical implications of charity

Yes I am back, at least partially. I am still very busy but I will try to post one video reflection and one longer post each months until I find more time (probably in December). In any event, today’s video, still from RSA animate (I really love those video, I think the little cartoons really help comprehension, at least for me), is on capitalism, charity and the coming end of that system. It’s from Slavoj Zizek, my favourite Marxist and an overall excellent philosopher (even if you don’t agree with him).

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