Rehtaeh Parsons-inspired cyberbullying law struck down in N.S.

HALIFAX -- A Nova Scotia judge struck down a law inspired by the death of Rehtaeh Parsons on constitutional grounds Friday, ruling it violates Charter rights to freedom of expression and liberty.

See Full Article

Justice Glen McDougall of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia also declined a Crown request to suspend his declaration that the law is invalid for 12 months to allow the legislature time to amend it.

In his decision, McDougall says the other option of striking down the "offending portions" of the law isn't practical either.

"The remaining parts of the act cannot survive on their own," he writes. "They are inextricably connected to the offending provisions, in particular the definition of cyberbullying. ... The act must be struck down in its entirety."

Lawyer David Fraser challenged the the Cyber-safety Act on constitutional grounds as part of a case involving client Robert Snell, who was placed under a cyber safety protection order sought by his former business partner last December. McDougall's ruling also voids that order.

Fraser argued the law was too broad and an "unreasonable and unjustified" infringement of freedom of expression rights.

The Crown said the Supreme Court of Canada has recognized the freedom of expression is not an "absolute right" and some limits must be placed even on fundamental rights when social values conflict.

But McDougall says the law fails to balance an individual's right to free speech against society's interests in giving victims of cyberbullying greater access to justice.

McDougall says the law is too broadly written and as a result infringes on a person's right to liberty, too.

"I have already found that the act, and in particular the definition of cyberbullying, is overbroad. By casting the net too broadly, and failing to require proof of intent or harm, or to delineate any defences, the act limits the right to liberty in a way that has no connection with the mischief it seeks to address."

The law was passed in May 2013 in response to public outrage over the death of Parsons.

Her family alleges the teen was sexually assaulted in November 2011 and bullied for months after a digital photo of the assault was passed around her school. Parsons died after attempting suicide in April 2013.


Latest Canada & World News

  • Oland's Supreme Court bail case expected to proceed, no matter what happens with murder conviction ruling

    Canada News CBC News
    Dennis Oland's bail appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada is expected to proceed on Oct. 31, even if a decision from the New Brunswick Court of Appeal on his second-degree murder conviction makes the hearing a moot point for him. Source
  • University groups try to stave off offensive Halloween costumes

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Geishas are out. Feathered headdresses are forbidden. And if you're planning to wear a Bill Cosby or Caitlyn Jenner costume, you may not be welcome at your Halloween party of choice. A growing number of institutions are starting to take a more proactive approach to potentially offensive outfits by developing strategies and even explicit policies to prevent people from donning controversial getups. Source
  • Widows of Boko Haram victims say aid overdue to Nigeria

    World News CTV News
    MAIDUGURI, Nigeria -- After her husband was killed by a Boko Haram suicide bomber late last year, Hajjagana Mbasaru was forced to pull her children from school and rely on friends to feed them. Like other widows of civilians fighting the Islamic extremists in northern Nigeria, she spent long months waiting for any kind of government support. Source
  • Thousands flood Cameroon hospitals in search of injured from train crash

    World News CTV News
    YAOUNDE, Cameroon -- Thousands of Cameroonians have been flooding hospitals in the capital, Yaounde, and the largest city, Douala, looking for corpses and survivors after an overloaded train derailed Friday, killing more than 70 people and injuring 600. Source
  • Russian police kill 2 terror suspects, recover bomb: reports

    World News CTV News
    MOSCOW -- Russian news reports say police have killed two suspected terrorists in a shootout in a central Russian city and that a bomb was found in the suspects' car. The reports on state television and state news agencies RIA Novosti and Tass said the shooting started Sunday afternoon when police stopped a suspicious vehicle in Nizhny Novgorod, a city 400 kilometres (250 miles) east of Moscow. Source
  • Trump's agenda overshadowed by lawsuit threats, accusations, personal spats

    World News CTV News
    GETTYSBURG, Pa. -- Donald Trump is laying out an ambitious agenda for his first 100 days as president but pointedly noting that he will find time to sue the numerous women who have accused him of groping and other unwanted sexual behaviour. Source
  • Ballot selfies: Personal choice or illegal act?

    World News CTV News
    TRENTON, N.J. -- Most Americans probably already know whether they'll vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton on Election Day, leaving one important question to consider when they walk into their polling places: Is it OK to take a picture of the ballot? Source
  • Iraqi, Kurdish forces join to drive ISIS from Mosul

    World News CBC News
    Iraqi and Kurdish forces launched a new offensive Sunday on a town near Mosul as part of a massive operation aimed at retaking the country's second largest city from the Islamic State group. The Kurdish forces, known as peshmerga, said they launched a dawn offensive on two fronts to the northeast of Mosul, near the town of Bashiqa. Source
  • Rafferty to appeal Tori Stafford murder conviction

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The man convicted of killing eight-year-old Victoria Stafford seven years ago will ask Ontario's top court for a new trial Monday, trying to pin the blame on his accomplice. Michael Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 with no chance of parole for 25 years for kidnapping, sexual assault causing bodily harm and first-degree murder in the death of the Woodstock, Ont. Source
  • N.B. village still cut off weeks after excavator fell through bridge

    Canada News CTV News
    An excavator that fell through a historic bridge in New Brunswick earlier this month is still there, raising safety concerns for those in the area. The excavator remains in the same place where it fell, leaving the 102-year-old covered bridge in French Village, N.B. Source