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.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • White House officials to kick off big Trump impeachment week

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Two top national security aides who listened to U.S. President Donald Trump's call with Ukraine are preparing to testify in the impeachment hearings, launching a week of back-to-back sessions as Americans hear from those closest to the White House. Source
  • Chilean leader acknowledges excess force used in protests

    World News CTV News
    SANTIAGO, Chile -- Chile's president is struggling to bring calm as demonstrators took to the streets again Monday, a month into a potent protest movement that has dramatically altered the political landscape of the South American nation. Source
  • Deadly attack leaves California Hmong community in shock

    World News CTV News
    FRESNO, Calif. -- A close-knit Hmong community was in shock after gunmen burst into a California backyard gathering and shot 10 men, killing four. "We are right now just trying to figure out what to do, what are the next steps. Source
  • U.S. prison system long plagued by staffing crisis, violence

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- For years, the federal Bureau of Prisons has been plagued by systematic failures, from massive staffing shortages to chronic violence. But the largest agency in the Justice Department has largely stayed out of the public view. Source
  • Student protesters hold out as Hong Kong leader urges peaceful resolution

    World News CBC News
    Hong Kong's embattled leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday she hoped a standoff between police and a hold-out group of anti-government protesters at a university could be resolved and she had told police to handle it in a humane way. Source
  • Prince Charles meets New Zealand leader, public

    World News CTV News
    WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- Prince Charles met with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday and later joined wife Camilla to greet people along the Auckland waterfront. The heir apparent to the British throne and the Duchess of Cornwall were on the third day of a weeklong trip to New Zealand. Source
  • 15 killed, 9 injured in northern China coal mine explosion

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING - Authorities in northern China say 15 people were killed and nine injured in a gas explosion inside a coal mine. The blast occurred Monday afternoon, and rescue work was halted early Tuesday morning after everyone was accounted for. Source
  • Judge rebuffs Trump's bid to delay woman's defamation suit

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- U.S. President Donald Trump lost his latest bid Monday to delay a former "Apprentice" contestant's defamation suit as he faces a Jan. 31 deadline to undergo pretrial questioning in the case, which involves claims of unwanted kissing and groping. Source
  • Thousands of CN Rail employees head on strike, but talks continue

    Canada News CBC News
    About 3,200 Canadian National Railway conductors, trainpersons and yard workers are on strike after the union and company failed to reach a deal by the midnight ET deadline. The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, the union representing the employees, gave the required 72-hour strike notice on the weekend. Source
  • Doctor says Trump's trip to medical centre was 'routine'

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump's physician says the president's unscheduled weekend visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center was "for a routine, planned interim checkup." Navy Cdr. Sean Conley, physician to the president, says Trump "has not had any chest pain, nor was he evaluated or treated for any urgent or acute issues. Source