Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia's New Cyberbullying Legislation 'Too Cautious,' Expert Says

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia's New Cyberbullying Legislation 'Too Cautious,' Expert Says

Article excerpt

New cyberbullying law 'too cautious': expert


HALIFAX - A new Nova Scotia law replacing anti-cyberbullying legislation struck down in the courts two years ago is moving forward unchanged, against the advice of legal experts who say it will be costly and difficult for victims to use.

The governing Liberals pushed the proposed Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act through the law amendments committee Monday, despite previous assurances they would take their time and likely wouldn't pass the bill until the spring.

Wayne MacKay, a Dalhousie University law professor who was the only person to appear before the committee on Monday, told reporters he was disappointed the bill was being sent back to the legislature without changes.

"I think there were and are some relatively friendly and simple amendments that could further promote the stated purposed of the act," he said.

The Liberals voted down Progressive Conservative amendments and an NDP motion to send the bill back to the Justice Department for more deliberation.

In an interview, Justice Minister Mark Furey said the government had received "great feedback" despite the limited attendance at law amendments. Furey said he wants to consider what he has heard, including amendments advanced by the opposition.

"If there is an opportunity with the support of the opposition and the majority of those who have spoken -- without creating unintended consequences -- there could be an opportunity to pass the bill this fall," he said.

Furey also said he's open to holding off on passage of the bill because he wants to make sure the government "gets it right."

"Our objective is to make this a strong bill that will withstand any future constitutional challenge."

The previous law was passed in 2013 as part of the response to the death of 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons, a Halifax-area girl who was bullied and died following a suicide attempt.

When the legislation was presented earlier this month, Furey said it would cover cases involving cyberbullying and the distribution of images without consent. The bill redefines cyberbullying as an electronic action that is "maliciously intended to cause harm'" or as an action carried out in a reckless manner "with regard to the risk of harm. …

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