Revised May 2007

Assisted Suicides in Canada

1949 - Eelounaling, Northwest Territories - Eerkiyoot and Ishakak
Helped Eerkiyoot's elderly mother use a rope to kill herself
Verdicts: Eerkiyoot, guilty, with a recommendation for leniency; Ishakak, not guilty
Sentence: 1 year, with a promise of early parole for good behaviour
Served: 6 months
1) "Death hastening and Canada's Inuit"
Last Rights (ISSN 1198-3922), Issue 15 (1996), Pages 90-92

1963 - Pond Inlet, Northwest Territories - Amah, Avinga and Nangmalik
Helped their fatally ill chief to shoot himself
Verdict: Guilty
Sentence: Suspended
Selected References:
1) "Death hastening and Canada's Inuit"
Last Rights (ISSN 1198-3922), Issue 15 (1996), Pages 88-89
2) "Timely death" (ISBN 0676970389), 1996, Pages 52-57

1985 - Toronto, Ontario - Lois Wilson
Helped her boyfriend (who believed he had stomach cancer) drown himself
Plea: Guilty
Sentence: 6 months
1) "Woman jailed for helping lover drown himself"
Toronto Star, April 10 1986, Page A2

1990 - Vancouver, British Columbia - David Lewis
Helped 8 friends with AIDS to end their lives
Charges: Murder plus 8 other charges
Verdict: None – no charges were laid (Lewis would not give the names of the people he had helped, and the coroner decided there was not enough information to justify laying charges)
Selected References:
1) "AIDS counsellor in media whirlwind for aiding suicides"
Vancouver Sun, July 7 1990, Page A1+
2) "AIDS activist Lewis died peacefully, mourners told"
Vancouver Sun, September 5 1990, Page B3

1994 - Victoria, British Columbia - Svend Robinson
Provided a supportive presence during the suicide (or euthanasia – details are not public knowledge) of his friend Sue Rodriguez
Verdict: None – a legal opinion was given by Robert Johnston QC and it did not recommend laying charges
Selected References:
1) "Patient fought to die on her own terms"
Globe and Mail, February 14 1994, Page A4
2) "The legacy of Sue Rodriguez"
Maclean's, February 28 1994, Pages 22-28

1994 - Halifax, Nova Scotia - Mary Jane Fogarty
Wrote out the suicide note of her friend Brenda Barnes, and gave her a syringe (suicide method was self-injection with insulin)
Verdict: Guilty
Sentence: Suspended
Selected References:
1) "No jail time for Fogarty"
Halifax Chronicle-Herald, December 19 1995, Pages A1-A2
2) "Woman escapes jail time for aiding a suicide"
Toronto Star, December 19 1995, Pages A1 and A32

1994 - Edmonton, Alberta - Robert Cashin
Provided a large dose of sedatives to his mother, who was dying of cancer
Plea: Guilty of administering a noxious substance (a charge of attempted murder was stayed)
Sentence: 2 years probation
Selected References:
1) "Son gets probation in mom's mercy killing"
Toronto Star, April 9 1995, Page A3
2) "Son relieved he confessed to aiding death"
Edmonton Journal, April 10 1995, Page B3

1996 - Toronto, Ontario - Maurice Genereux
Prescribed barbiturates for 2 HIV-positive men who used them for suicide attempts
Plea: Guilty
Sentence: 2 years less a day
Selected References:
1) "Doctor jailed two years"
Globe and Mail, May 14 1998, Pages A1 and A12
2) "Sentencing a doctor"
Maclean's, May 25 1998, Page 29

1997 - Winnipeg, Manitoba - Bert Doerksen
Was suspected of helping his wife kill herself with carbon monoxide
Verdict: None – charges were eventually stayed (Doerksen was near death himself, and would have had to be carried into the courtroom on a stretcher)
Selected References:
1) "Crown should drop charge in Doerksen assisted suicide case"
Winnipeg Free Press, November 13 1999, Page A17
2) "Now he can die in peace: Doerksen cries as Crown drops charges"
Winnipeg Free Press, July 29 2000, Pages A1 and A2

1999 - New Dundee, Ontario - Wayne Hussey
Test-fired the gun with which his father killed himself
Verdict: Not guilty
Selected References:
1) "Jury finds son not guilty of aiding father's suicide"
Toronto Star, April 27 2000, Page A2
2) "There must be rules for assisted suicides"
Toronto Star, April 30 2000, Pages F1 and F2

2001 - Moncton, New Brunswick - Richard Trites and Michael Breau
Were involved in the death of Dan Horsman, who wanted his suicide to look like a murder so that his wife could collect his life insurance
Pleat: Guilty, for Trites; charge against Breau was dropped
Sentence: Suspended
Selected References:
1) "New Brunswick: Murder charges withdrawn"
National Post, July 31 2001, Page A5
2) "New Brunswick: Man guilty of helping acquaintance commit suicide"
National Post, February 12 2002, Page A9

2002 - Victoria, British Columbia - Julianna Zsiros
Helped her housemate learn how to start the car in which she killed herself with carbon monoxide, and helped ensure the garage was airtight
Verdict: Guilty
Sentence: Suspended
Selected References:
1) "Woman spared jail for assisted suicide"
Victoria Times-Colonist, June 26 2003, Page A1
2) "Woman who assisted suicide won't go to jail"
Vancouver Sun, June 27 2003, Page B4

2002 - Duncan, British Columbia - Evelyn Martens
Provided companionship during the self-deliverances of Monique Charest and Leyanne Burchell
Verdict: Not guilty
Selected References:
1) "The trial of Evelyn Martens"
Humanist in Canada (ISSN 0018-7402), Spring 2005, Pages 9-19
2) "An interview with defence lawyer Catherine Tyhurst, January 2005"
Humanist in Canada (ISSN 0018-7402), Spring 2005, Pages 20-21

2004 - Montreal, Quebec - Marielle Houle
Helped her son Charles Fariala implement his self-deliverance plan
Plea: Guilty
Sentence: Suspended
Selected References:
1) "Montreal woman's ‘pure love' ends sick son's life"
Globe and Mail, September 28 2004, Page A1
2) "No jail for mother in assisted suicide"
Montreal Gazette, January 28 2006, Page A1

2005 - Sherbrooke, Quebec - André Bergeron
Carried out the suicide plan of his wife Marielle Houle; when it failed, tried a plan of his own, which appeared to work but ultimately did not
Plea: Guilty of aggravated assault (Crown rejected idea that death was a suicide)
Sentence: Suspended
Selected References:
1) "Quebec man may face jail after ailing wife dies"
Globe and Mail, July 11 2005, Page A11
2) "No jail time for death"
Sherbrooke Record, October 20 2006, Front page

2006 - Vernon, British Columbia - Ramesh Sharma
Was involved in a suicide attempt by his patient Ruth Wolfe
Plea: Guilty
Sentence: Not known as of May 2007 (sentencing is to be in July)
Selected References:
1) "Doctor charged in attempted suicide"
Vancouver Sun, August 2 2006, Page B1
2) "Doctor agrees to stop practising medicine"
Vancouver Sun, April 3 2007, Page B3