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

  • Oscar Pistorius's sentence more than doubled to 13 years, 5 months

    World News CBC News
    South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal on Friday increased Oscar Pistorius's murder sentence to 13 years and five months after the state argued that his original sentence of six years was "shockingly lenient." Pistorius was imprisoned in July last year after being found guilty on appeal of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013 in a case that attracted worldwide interest. Source
  • Hamilton school bus driver charged in alleged abduction of 14-year-old girl

    Canada News CTV News
    Hamilton police say a 70-year-old school bus driver is facing abduction charges after several alleged incidents involving a 14-year-old girl. Police allege the developmentally delayed girl was abducted four times in late October while being driven to and from school in the city's east end. Source
  • China reports breaking up gang that moved $3 billion abroad

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING - Chinese police say they have broken up a gang that smuggled 20 billion yuan ($3 billion) out of the country, evading financial controls imposed by Beijing to stem an outflow of capital from the economy. Source
  • Texas trooper killed during traffic stop; suspect arrested

    World News CTV News
    FAIRFIELD, Texas - A Texas state trooper was shot and killed during a traffic stop in East Texas on Thanksgiving. The Texas Department of Public Safety released a statement on its Twitter account Thursday night identifying the trooper as Damon Allen, 41. Source
  • Chinese authorities look into kindergarten abuse claims

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING - Chinese authorities are investigating allegations that children attending a kindergarten in Beijing run by a U.S.-listed company have been abused and molested. The Beijing Municipal Commission of Education said Friday it would inspect kindergartens in the Chinese capital, a day after the reports drew widespread attention. Source
  • Firefighters who responded to Mississauga explosion receive Medals of Bravery

    Canada News CTV News
    Paramedics and firefighters who responded to a massive warehouse explosion in Mississauga, Ont. were among those honoured for their bravery at an awards ceremony at Rideau Hall on Thursday. Eleven first-responders from across central Ontario rushed to the explosion on April 23, 2014. Source
  • U.S. navy ends search for 3 sailors missing after plane crash

    World News CBC News
    The search has ended for three sailors missing in the Philippine Sea since a U.S. navy aircraft crashed on Wednesday, the navy said Friday. The C-2A "Greyhound" transport aircraft was travelling to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier when it crashed. Source
  • 8 thought to be North Korean fishermen wash ashore in Japan

    World News CTV News
    TOKYO -- Japanese police said Friday they are investigating eight men found on Japan's northern coast who say they are from North Korea and washed ashore after their boat broke down. Akita prefectural police found the men late Thursday after receiving a call that suspicious men were standing around at the seaside in Yurihonjo town. Source
  • Flynn lawyers make a break with Trump team: AP source

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Lawyers for former U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn have told U.S. President Donald Trump's legal team that they are no longer communicating with them about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference. Source
  • Kevin Rubletz guilty of second-degree murder in death of Jessica Newman

    Canada News CBC News
    A Calgary jury has found Kevin Rubletz guilty of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of his former girlfriend Jessica Newman. Members of Newman's family shed tears as the verdict was read Thursday evening in a Calgary courtroom. Source