Nicole Gladu, Quebec advocate for medical assistance in dying, dies of natural causes

MONTREAL – Nicole Gladu, the Quebecer who fought to extend the right to medical assistance in dying, has died of natural causes.

An obituary states that Gladu, who suffered from an incurable degenerative disease called post‐poliomyelitis syndrome, died Sunday in Montreal.

In 2019, the Superior Court of Quebec ruled in favor of Gladu and another terminally ill Quebecer, Jean Truchon, who had argued that laws on medical assistance in dying were too restrictive and violated their rights to access to the procedure.

The judge struck down the Criminal Code requirement that a natural death be “reasonably foreseeable” before a person could be eligible for assisted dying, and the judge also struck down the provincial requirement that people are at the end of their life.

Federal Justice Minister David Lametti praised Gladu in a Twitter post, saying she “made the whole country reflect what suffering and dignity meant.”

“My deepest condolences to his family and loved ones,” he wrote.

A longtime friend of Gladu says the former journalist and trade unionist fought for fairness and justice, adding that she also loved life. “She fought, not because she didn’t like to live, quite the contrary,” said Micheline Raymond, who knew her for more than 50 years.

“The proof is that she never used (medical aid in dying). She lived to the end, to the end of her strength.

Gladu and Truchon fought clauses in the legislation that denied them access to medical assistance in dying because their death was not “reasonably foreseeable”, even though they suffered from painful and incurable conditions.

“What she found difficult was that MAID was for people who knew in how many months they would die, whereas with a degenerative disease like her, that was impossible,” Raymond said.

“However, his suffering was very great. She fought because she thought it wouldn’t be right for her.

Truchon died in 2020 with medical assistance.

Gladu told reporters in 2017 that she wanted to die at home, surrounded by friends, “with a glass of rosé champagne in one hand and a canape of foie gras in the other.”

“At 71, I am much more concerned about the quality of my life than about its extension,” she said at the time.

Raymond says she will remember Gladu for her strong personality and her love of life and travel.

A private funeral will be held later this month.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 1, 2022.

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