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May Advocate 2017

338 V O L . 7 5 P A R T 3 M A Y 2 0 1 7 THE ADVOCATE those who are suffering from a grievous and irremediable condition, even one that is not terminal in nature, have the constitutional right to seek medical assistance in dying. However, Bill C-14 added a requirement of “reasonably foreseeable” death. Joe will soon be back before the courts arguing for Julia Lamb that the statute does not go far enough. One of the challenges that Joe has met with great determination and creativity involves the fact many of the clients he likes to represent have no money to pay him. Constitutional litigation, done well, can be highly complex, requiring a great deal of time and resources to marshal the right evidence and to research and develop novel legal arguments. If the scope and content of constitutional rights were to be defined exclusively in litigation involving the corporate and institutional bodies that can afford to pay for it, the rights of the more vulnerable and marginalized members of society would likely never be recognized, and our understanding of fundamental rights and freedoms would be a thin and impoverished one. Joe has done perhaps more than anyone to ensure that the interests of vulnerable people are brought to the courts and that the interpretation of concepts like the right to “life, liberty and security of the person” takes into account the circumstances of those most desperately in need of the Charter’s protection. Not only has Joe taken on and won many complex cases for those who have no ability to pay, but also he has helped develop the law relating to costs so that sometimes lawyers acting in the public interest actually can get paid. Our constitutional law is much tricher, and Joe perhaps only a little bit poorer, as a result of his significant pro bono efforts. As Professor Berger said last year in presenting Joe for an honorary doctorate in laws at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, “It is in no way hyperbolic to say that we live—and die—better in Canada by virtue of Joe’s advocacy. This is a remarkable thing to be able to say about the effect that one person has left on a country.” He went on to quote F.R. Scott, the poet, scholar and advocate who argued the famous case of Roncarelli v. Duplessis.13 In the introduction to his book Essays on the Constitution, Professor Scott wrote as follows: Changing a constitution confronts a society with the most important choices, for in the constitution will be found the philosophical principles and rules which largely determine the relations of the individual and of cultural groups to one another and to the state. If human rights and harmonious relations between cultures are forms of the beautiful, then the state is a work of art that is never finished. The law thus takes its place, in its theory and practice, among man’s highest and most creative activities.14 Joe is nothing if not an exquisitely creative lawyer. As Professor Berger stated:


May Advocate 2017
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