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

  • Quebec party leaders head to Gatineau to survey tornado-damaged areas

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Quebec's political party leaders set their political differences aside on Saturday as they headed to Gatineau to survey the damage from a tornado that ripped through homes and sent several people to hospital on Friday night. Source
  • Tornado among top 'traumatic events' in Ottawa's history, will take days to restore power, mayor says

    Canada News CBC News
    About 150,000 Hydro Ottawa customers alone remain without power after a twister ripped through the area Friday — and the mayor warns it could take "days" to restore service to those affected by the storm. Speaking to reporters Saturday, Jim Watson said the tornado has plunged large swaths of the city into darkness after the Hydro One-owned Merivale substation was badly damaged by high winds, disconnecting parts of the city from the provincial grid. Source
  • Child drowns after boat with Syrians capsizes off of Lebanon

    World News CTV News
    BEIRUT -- Lebanon's army says a child has drowned after a boat carrying 39 migrants hoping to get to Europe capsized off the northern Lebanese coast. The army says Saturday all other passengers were rescued off the coast of Akkar. Source
  • $154M plan with federal government step toward self-government for Métis: Manitoba Metis Federation

    Canada News CBC News
    A plan that includes $154 million in federal government funding for the Manitoba Metis Federation is just the beginning of a transformational process advancing reconciliation between Canada and the Métis people, MMF president David Chartrand says. Source
  • U.S. airstrike kills 18 al-Shabaab militants in Somalia

    World News CBC News
    A U.S. military airstrike has killed 18 al-Shabaab extremists after U.S. and local forces came under attack in southern Somalia, the U.S. Africa Command said Saturday. The airstrike was carried out in self-defence on Friday about 50 kilometres northwest of the port city of Kismayo, the U.S. Source
  • Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's fate rests on what story Trump believes

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The fate of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein could turn on whether President Donald Trump believes the account of an ex-FBI official who, as Trump once asserted in a tweet, had "LIED! LIED! LIED!" Source
  • U.S. airstrike kills 18 al-Shabab extremists after U.S. attacked in Somalia

    World News CTV News
    In this Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011 file photo, hundreds of newly trained al-Shabab fighters perform military exercises in the Lafofe area some 18 km. south of Mogadishu, in Somalia. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh, File) Source
  • Tens of thousands without power following tornado in Ottawa region

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Officials are warning people in the Ottawa area to brace for days without power in the wake of a tornado that ripped through the area yesterday afternoon. They're encouraging people to stockpile food and water following the storm, which tore roofs off of homes, overturned cars and felled power lines in Ottawa, nearby Dunrobin, Ont. Source
  • Tens of thousands without power following tornado

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Officials are warning people in the Ottawa area to brace for days without power in the wake of a tornado that ripped through the region yesterday afternoon. They encouraged residents to stockpile food and water following the storm, which tore roofs off of homes, overturned cars and felled power lines in the Ottawa community of Dunrobin and in Gatineau, Que. Source
  • Unclear whether Kavanaugh accuser will testify in Senate

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The high-stakes brinkmanship over whether Brett Kavanaugh's accuser would testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee came to a momentary standstill as GOP Chairman Chuck Grassley gave Christine Blasey Ford more time to decide on the terms of her appearance. Source