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May Advocate 2017

THE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 5 P A R T 3 M A Y 2 0 1 7 337 work and outstanding lifetime achievement, and the Advocates’ Society’s Award of Justice. His career is a remarkable one. He has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada over 70 times and has been instrumental in shaping the development of the law in a wide variety of areas; indeed, most leading constitutional law cases in this generation have Joe’s fingerprints on them. His advocacy for the rights of sexual minorities is legendary. He served as counsel in Egan,1 Chamberlain,2 Reference re Same-Sex Marriage,3 and defended Little Sister’s Book & Art Emporium,4 not once but twice, all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. These are not cases that make lawyers rich but they contribute enormously to progress in Canadian society. His advocacy for justice in the workplace led to the Supreme Court of Canada overturning 20 years of precedent to provide Charter protection for collective bargaining in the Health Services5 case. The Henry6 case helped preserve the rule of law as meaningful for those most vulnerable to abuse by establishing that the Charter authorizes damages awards against the Crown for prosecutorial misconduct absent proof of malice. And it was in the Insite7 case that he argued against the Harper government’s cruel resistance to safe injection sites in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, which led to an exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and served as a springboard in more recent times for legislation designed not to thwart but rather to implement the court’s judgment. He is also passionate about Indigenous justice, participating in leading cases like Grassy Narrows First Nation,8 Delgamuukw9 and Tsilhqot’in.10 But the case that Joe is most recently associated with and which has changed the lives of thousands of Canadians is the Carter11 case, in which a unanimous Supreme Court reconsidered its decision in Rodriguez12 and established access to medical assistance in dying. Lesser advocates would perhaps have been a little bit daunted by the existence of a Supreme Court judgment denying the remedy Joe sought and which was pronounced not that long ago. Joe was not. He persevered because he concluded that justice required it. He assembled a remarkable team of advocates and presented the court with affidavits from people around the world. Ultimately, he persuaded the court that it was time to provide a constitutional right to Canadians who meet certain specified criteria to avail themselves of the existence of physicians in choosing the time of their death. Slightly more than a year after the judgment, the then new Liberal government introduced Bill C-14, which went some distance (but not far enough, according to Joe) to implement the Carter decision. The Carter judgment did not require a person to be near death; instead, it held that


May Advocate 2017
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