NEWSLETTER – January 2015
Nancy Cleman, President
Allen Mendelsohn and Larry Markowitz, Editor(s)
Dear Honourable Judges and Colleagues,
Happy New Year to you all. I hope that 2015 brings you health, joy and happiness. I am thrilled that our upcoming lecture on Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 will feature Society Past President Raphaël Schachter Q.C. Ad.E., who will speak on the topic of “Representing the High Profile Client”. This evening is our Annual Students Dinner when we host stagiaires and law students, and present The Lord Reading Law Society’s academic prizes to the deserving winners. The award winners, as well as representatives from each of the law faculties, will be present at the dinner lecture and we look forward to welcoming them.
You can register and pay online, or download the paper invitation to pay by cheque, using the links at the left of this page.
Me Schachter was born and raised in Sherbrooke, Quebec and is a graduate of the Université de Montréal’s Law Faculty where he has established a perpetual scholarship in criminal law. We are honoured to have him as our speaker for such an important dinner meeting.
Thank you to Lavery for their generous sponsorship of the evening.
The future of our Society will depend on today’s young lawyers, stagiaires and law students. We understand that young jurists face all sorts of challenge in the early stages of their careers. We want them to know that we are here to support them as they embark on their careers in law. I ask you to welcome our young guests and take the time to introduce yourselves and make them feel at home. The Society is always here to provide a welcoming atmosphere. Our meetings are an excellent setting to meet colleagues of all ages and to establish and maintain long-lasting connections.
On another note, I want to encourage you to participate in SALON VISEZ DROIT which will take place this year from April 13th to 16th. Please volunteer some time; it is a truly rewarding experience. There is more information about the event further down in this newsletter.
We are also pleased to announce the following dates for the rest of our current season, when we will be welcoming the following speakers:
Monday March 9, 2015 – The Honourable Madam Justice Andromache Karakatsanis (the Henry Steinberg Memorial Lecture)
Thursday April 16, 2015 – Corey Anne Bloom and Iain Kenny of MNP, on forensic evidence
Tuesday June 16, 2015 – The Annual Human Rights Lecture
We look forward to seeing you on the 28th and at future dinners.
Quebec’s Bill 52: An Act Respecting End-of-Life Care
For our final dinner meeting of 2014, the Lord Reading Law Society tackled a serious topic, hosting a panel discussion on Quebec’s Bill 52: An Act Respecting End-of-Life Care. Guest speakers Me Gordon Kugler – of Kugler Kandestin LLP – and Rabbi Sydney Shoham – Rabbi Emeritus of Beth Zion Congregation – raised numerous questions that challenged the wisdom of this new law.
Unfortunately, the intended third member of the panel, McGill professor Daniel Weinstock, who is on the record as being in favour of Bill 52, was forced to cancel at the last-minute due to illness. Had Professor Weinstock been present, there likely would have been more of a debate.
An Act Respecting End-of-Life Care was passed by the National Assembly in June 2014 and is expected to come into force within the coming year, once the “Commission sur les soins de fin de vie” has been established to oversee application of the law and various administrative requirements have been met. The Act will give Quebecers the right to receive medical assistance to die in exceptional circumstances and under tight controls. In addition, the legislation formally recognizes Quebecers’ right to palliative care.
While public opinion polls indicate that a significant majority of Quebecers are in favour of allowing physicians to help competent people to die if they are suffering, Physician-assisted Death, or PAD, is a choice that is incompatible with traditional Jewish values. The Orthodox Jewish position on PAD is clear: To help someone die is murder. Judaism teaches that every moment of life is precious and of infinite value.
Proponents of the new law characterize Bill 52 as a major advance, as it gives people the right to choose the end of life they want. Our two speakers were not of that view, however. Rather than “coming out swinging” against Bill 52, they instead posed a series of thought-provoking questions to the audience – Me Kugler from a juridical point of view and Rabbi Shoham from a religious perspective.
In true lawyerly form, Me Kugler cited several key terms in the Act that are not defined. These include expressions such as “end of life”.
Me Kugler also pointed out that Bill 52 may contravene section 241(b) of the Criminal Code, which prohibits “aiding suicide” (though suicide itself in not illegal). Under section 241(b), anyone who “aids or abets a person to commit suicide” is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for up to 14 years. The Quebec government has not sought an exemption to section 241(b) and we may therefore expect a constitutional challenge to Bill 52 on this basis in the not-too-distant future.
That said, as recently as October 15, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada heard the case of Carter v Canada (Attorney General) and will have to choose whether to follow its 1993 decision in Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney General), which upheld section 241(b), or to distinguish from it.
The Quebec legislator did incorporate safeguards and conditions in its new end-of-life legislation. For instance, the “patient must request medical aid in dying themselves, in a free and informed manner”, as opposed to via, say, a living will.
The patient cannot merely be in a hopeless situation (e.g. suffering from ALS, which almost invariably leads to death). They must truly be at the “end of life” (even though, as mentioned, that term is not defined in the law). Bill 52 leaves much to the judgment of the attending physician, but “is [the attending physician] qualified?” asked Me Kugler.
To ensure that the request to die is “free and informed” and that the patient won’t change their mind, the physician must conduct more than one interview and these interviews must take place “at reasonably spaced intervals”. However, the law is silent as to what amount of time must have passed between interviews. “Is it two days? Ten minutes?” asked Me Kugler.
When his turn to speak came, Rabbi Shoham grabbed the audience’s attention by citing a recent People Magazine cover that extolled the “pleasant”-ness of an assisted death. “But who possesses the ability to make that decision?” asked the Rabbi. Is it the patient, as “owner” of their own body, or is it the right of the “creator who gave life”?
Rabbi Shoham distinguished between types of euthanasia: active and passive. Active euthanasia includes death with the patient’s consent and death without the patient’s consent. Passive euthanasia, by contrast, is where therapy is withheld. However, the bible states that one should “not stand idly by the blood of your brother”.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, any taking of life is murder (the sixth commandment: “Thou shalt not kill”). Furthermore, the Talmud states that “Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.”
The Catholic tradition dictates that God is the supreme master over life and death. The Church will not allow “private killings” for expediency. The Protestant view is more nuanced. There is an inherent conflict between the principles of “do not kill” and “have mercy on your fellow human being”. The Jewish view more closely resembles the Catholic one. Even removing one moment of life is considered murder.
Rabbi Shoham concluded his presentation by speaking out in favour of the guarantee of the right to palliative care, which is contained in the new Quebec legislation. A peaceful death without killing the patient fits within the framework of Jewish law. After all, even with pain, a patient can live.
Some food for thought, indeed.
Sponsorship Opportunities at Lord Reading
The Lord Reading Law Society is currently seeking sponsors for its upcoming events.
Why sponsor Lord Reading?
The Lord Reading Law Society is the voice and gathering place for Jewish members of the Bar in Montreal, as well as their colleagues from the Chambre des notaires and members of the judiciary. By sponsoring one of our events, you will place your firm name or brand in front of some of Montreal’s most prominent lawyers, notaries, in-house counsel and judges, while benefiting from the opportunity to raise your firm or company profile among existing and potential clients, and referral sources.
The Society organizes some six dinner events per year, with attendance at each dinner typically ranging from 150 to 250 leading legal professionals. Our conferences are also widely regarded as valuable networking occasions. Sponsorship therefore offers you the opportunity to put your firm or company brand in front of some of the top members of Montreal’s legal profession, decision-makers in prominent law firms and in-house counsel of major corporations.
We offer many opportunities for potential sponsors to become involved with the Lord Reading Law Society, which in turn allows you to reach our 300-plus members and 900-plus mailing list.
For more information on sponsorship opportunities or should you have contacts with potential sponsors, please get in touch with our Sponsorship Chair, Steven Slimovitch, at email@example.com.
Your Lord Reading Membership
Hershie Frankel, Membership Chair
We always encourage lawyers and notaries, as well as judges, students and stagiares, to join the Society. Being a member and paying your annual dues helps to support the long-term health of the Society, and for you offers the immediate benefit of a discounted rate for dinner-meetings.
Many of you have been members for years but have not yet renewed your membership for the current season; we would ask you to please renew your membership online or renew by completing the paper form and mailing it with your cheque to the coordinates on the form. Even if you are exempt from paying membership dues (this includes judges and retired judges, first-year lawyers and stagiaires, as well as lawyers over 75 or who have been practising for 50 years) we ask that you complete the membership form so that we have your coordinates (and so that you can benefit from the dinner discount!) and to ensure you remain part of the Lord Reading family.
Université de Montréal JLSA / AEJD Shabbat Dinner Invitation
All members and friends of the Lord Reading Law Society are cordially invited to Shabbat Dinner on January 30th, hosted by the Jewish Law Students Association of the Université de Montréal, in conjunction with Hillel. The dinner features, as guest speaker, noted constitutional law expert Professor Peter Hogg. Dinner begins at 6:00 P.M. and takes place at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue.
For more information and to register online, please visit Hillel’s website.
Bar of Montréal Seeks Volunteer Lawyers for Salon Visez Droit
Barreau de Montréal
The Bar of Montreal is currently preparing the program for Salon VISEZ DROIT, which will be held in the Grande Place of Complexe Desjardins from April 13 to 16, 2015. It will feature many different activities, including free legal consultations, quiz games and mock trials. In addition to reaching a very large segment of the general public, Salon VISEZ DROIT brings together over a hundred lawyers as well as judges from all jurisdictions.
We strive to make the Salon a memorable event. For this purpose, we would appreciate your volunteering for the free legal consultations, one of the activities which is most appreciated by the general public. These consultations provide visibility and help us promote the human dimension of our profession. Since this activity is offered from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. without interruption for four consecutive days, we need a large contingent of volunteers.
We therefore invite you to volunteer a half day of your time for this increasingly popular event which benefits from a large-scale advertising campaign. Please click here to download the registration form which must be completed by each volunteer to confirm his or her availabilities. Requests for information and/or offers of services may be sent directly to Christine Plourde by telephone at 514 866-9392, ext. 235, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
News from the Mishpuchah
- To Society Board member Irving (Bo) Narvey for his dedicated service to the Head and Hands Legal Clinic for the past 43 years(!), as discussed in this wonderful profile;
- To Society member and past LRLS Human Rights Honouree The Honourable Irwin Cotler P.C., O.C., M.P. on another upcoming honour. He will receive The Law Society of Upper Canada’s inaugural Human Rights Award on February 12th.
- To Mark Brender and his wife, Society member Rhonda Rudick, on the loss of Mark’s mother Bernice.