But they are not legislators and are not the voice of the people. They have little or no training in sociology, philosophy or politics. Their task is to interpret and apply laws -- not to write laws.
And yet, despite 120 years of legislative consideration, a judge today held the legal ban on assisted suicide was improper. The judge decided that she, rather than members of Parliament elected by Canadians across the country, was better able to reform the law. Her view, standing alone, trumped that of Parliament.
Maybe legalizing assisted suicide is the right decision -- in fact, I am inclined towards it -- and if I am ever an MP I'd be interested in legislative reform. But legislative reform is a decision for Parliament, the elected representatives of the nation, and not a lawyer appointed to the bench for life.
A judge commissions no studies, hears no witnesses, save as called by the parties, and has no input from ordinary Canadians. A judge doesn't face voters every election and doesn't have to justify her decisions to the public. All that makes sense when applying the law as between two parties. But it makes no sense to have such an individual, without anything more, making new laws. Even kings have their advisers -- judges have none.
Parliament has repeatedly considered, and rejected, proposed changes to the law regarding assisted suicide. In recent years, Parliament has dealt with nine private member bills on the issue – three failed to gain any support, and six were debated in the House and voted down.
The issue does not pose an obvious infringement of a protected right or freedom. Only by stretching the meaning of equality and life or security of the person could the judge finesse a Charter breach (indeed, the Supreme Court of Canada found no breach only twenty years ago). Parliament has given the issue consideration. This is not a proper decision for the Court to make. The Court over reached.