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ular illustrate both her commitment, as a lawyer, to the cause of justice and
her contribution to the development of the law.
In 2010 and 2011, Sheila represented Vancouver Coastal Health, the operator
of the Insite safe injection site in the Downtown Eastside, in Canada
(Attorney General) v. PHS Community Services Society, 2011 SCC 44. She acted
for Coastal Health both in the British Columbia Court of Appeal and in the
Supreme Court of Canada on a pro bono basis. In PHS, the Supreme Court
held that the Ministry of Health was constitutionally required to grant Insite
an exemption from criminal law provisions prohibiting possession and trafficking
of illegal drugs in order to allow it to continue operating.
From 2011 to 2015, Sheila acted as co-counsel for the plaintiffs in Carter
v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5 at all three levels of court, including
the Supreme Court of Canada. In Carter, the Supreme Court overruled
its previous decision in Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney General),
1993 3 S.C.R. 519 and struck down the Criminal Code provisions that prohibited
assisted dying on the basis that they violated the constitutional
rights of persons suffering from grievous and irremediable medical conditions.
Carter was a monumental undertaking with a record consisting of
some 116 affidavits and expert evidence canvassing assisted dying regimes
in seven different jurisdictions, The total pro bono hours that Sheila devoted
to Carter, from start to finish, were equivalent to about two years of fulltime
work for many lawyers.
Just before her appointment to the bench, Sheila was actively engaged in
the follow-up litigation to Carter, Lamb v. Canada (Attorney General), in
which the Criminal Code amendments in response to Carter are challenged
on the basis that they do not meet the constitutional requirements set by
Until her judicial appointment, Sheila also sat on the honorary advisory
board of Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland and provided pro bono services
to that organization. Sheila’s contribution through her pro bono work has
been invaluable both in terms of the benefit to the affected communities
and in terms of its impact on the development of the law.
Sheila has also been a frequent writer and speaker on the subjects of constitutional
law, human rights, labour law and administrative law. Prior to
her appointment, she sat on the editorial board of the Charter and Human
Rights Litigation Journal, was a contributing editor to the Regulatory Boards
and Administrative Law Litigation Journal and authored numerous published
articles and papers. Her scholarly work is typified by the same searching
analysis, novel and creative insight and, above all, clarity of thought that
marks her advocacy work.