It's Life or Death: A Q&A with Daniel J. Baum

It's Life or Death: A Q&A with Daniel J. Baum

Posted on July 19 by Daniel J. Baum
Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Pinterest

Our bodies are ours to control, free from state interference – or so it appears. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

But, how absolute is this? Do parents have the final decision in determining the medical care of their children, even if that choice may mean death? May children override the choices of their parents as to medical care? What role, if any, does the state (or the courts) have in reviewing individual medical choices, even if those choices are made by an adult but could result in death? Can physicians insist that their patients must have certain medical treatments? Do the terminally ill have the right to ask for assistance in dying?

These are among the questions upon which Canadian judges must rule. When and how they reach decisions are explored in Life or Death: A Matter of Choice?


How did you come up with the idea?

Life or Death: A Matter of Choice? is the fourth book in the series “Understanding Canadian Law.” The previous titles are: Youth and the Law, Freedom of Expression, and Crime Scene Investigations.

Law sets rules under which we live. There is a need to understand the values inherent in these rules. Often these values are stated and applied by the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court of Canada, in real cases involving real people.

I have seen the need to bring law to the people in a non-judgmental way so that they can understand, shape their own opinions, and act as citizens taking responsibility for the kind of society in which they want to live.


Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote your book?

Yes, I had in mind students, young adults, the elderly, and especially those who see citizenship as both an honour and a responsibility that continually is subject to redefinition as our society evolves. This should mean that the book will be taken seriously, that it will be discussed, and that readers will form their own opinions.


What about your first book, Freedom of Expression, what inspired you to write on that topic?

I have had an interest in democratic government for many years. To me, this has meant citizens having the right to exert control over their government and the duty to be informed and to act responsibly. I am the author of more than twenty books. All have been written towards these ends.


Do you have anything upcoming? A new project? 

A new series of books is being developed.  The subject: terrorism.

There is little need to describe the horrors of terrorism from kidnapping, to murders, to the brutalization of whole populations. But there is a need to ask how a society such as Canada, bottomed on the rule of law and fundamental rights and freedoms, can effect a balance at home and abroad in order to keep and enhance a way of life. Such will be the thrust of three books, written to be read, especially by youth, new Canadians, and our elders, whose experience so often is looked to in guiding us from the stress of the present to the a more peaceful future.

Daniel J. Baum

Posted by Kendra on October 30, 2014

Daniel J. Baum

Daniel J. Baum is the author of nineteen books, most of which deal with important public policy issues. He draws on his experience as a professor of law for more than forty years. Baum is the author of the Understanding Canadian Law series and the Building Your Future series for young people. He lives in Toronto.