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

  • Health-care havoc: Trump's 1st legislative test a 'big loser' that puts his agenda on shaky ground

    World News CBC News
    So much for the hard-bargaining American president's ultimatum on repealing Obamacare. Donald Trump's first major legislative push veered into a ditch on Friday, denting his image as a master negotiator and dealing an embarrassing blow to his young presidency's momentum. Source
  • Aid group fears hundreds of migrants drowned off Libya

    World News CTV News
    MADRID -- Hundreds of migrants may have died off Libya's coast, a Spanish aid organization said Friday, and Turkish media reported that 11 migrants died after a boat sank in the Aegean. Video footage from DHA in Turkey showed a half-dozen covered bodies that were laid out near ambulances. Source
  • SPCA in Alberta says about 100 small-breed dogs removed from home

    Canada News CTV News
    LETHBRIDGE, Alta. - The Alberta SPCA says about 100 dogs have been removed from a home in Lethbridge. The SPCA says in a news release that officers visited the home based on a tip from the public earlier this week. Source
  • Jailed Philippine senator says she 'won't be quiet' about President Duterte

    World News CBC News
    The most vocal critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte could be stuck behind the lime-green walls of a Manila prison for a long time. "Rot in jail" was the destiny the president predicted for his nemesis, Senator Leila de Lima, who has loudly and vigorously objected to his crackdown on suspected drug users and dealers, which has resulted in more than 7,000 deaths. Source
  • Man sentenced in death of pregnant ex-girlfriend in Hawaii

    World News Toronto Sun
    HONOLULU — A judge sentenced a man Friday to life in prison with the possibility of parole in the murder of his ex-girlfriend who disappeared while pregnant with his child in Hawaii. A jury previously convicted 27-year-old Steven Capobianco of second-degree murder in the death of Carly “Charli” Scott. Source
  • 2 killed, 22 injured in fight between Mexico union factions

    World News CTV News
    FILE -- A man checks his cell phone as he stands guard in a commercial zone in the port city of Veracruz, Mexico, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez) Source
  • Shooting in northern France injures three

    World News Toronto Sun
    PARIS — Police say three people have been injured in a shooting in the northern French city of Lille. Witnesses told police that an unidentified assailant opened fire near a metro station Friday night before fleeing, according to two Lille police officials. Source
  • U.S.-led Mosul airstrike may have killed over 100 civilians

    World News CBC News
    Iraqi rescue workers continued pulling bodies from the rubble of a collapsed building in the al-Jadida neighbourhood of Western Mosul on Friday. According to eyewitnesses, the building, which was being used as a shelter by people fleeing ISIS militants, was hit by a coalition missile. Source
  • B.C. adds $150M to education, 1,500 new teachers after deal with union

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- British Columbia's education system will receive a $150-million funding boost after the province reached a deal with teachers to restore contract language that called for smaller class sizes. Education Minister Mike Bernier said the new classroom enhancement fund is in addition to the $180 million announced in this year's budget, bringing the total to $330 million. Source
  • Catherine Benton becomes first Mi'kmaq, female aboriginal judge in N.S.

    Canada News CTV News
    Standing on lands her people have inhabited for centuries, Catherine Benton took a historic oath on Friday, becoming both Nova Scotia’s first Mi'kmaq and female aboriginal judge. “I believe it's vital that the Mi'kmaq community and non-First Nation communities alike see Mi'kmaq people as competent, of value and respected for our contributions and perspectives,” Benton said during her swearing-in ceremony in Bridgewater, N.S. Source