Long-awaited law, investigative backup

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It’s one thing to have laws, quite another to apply them. People will be happy to see we’re off to a good start on step one: legislation proposed in the province to deal with cyberbullying.

Justice Minister Ross Landry has also held discussions with his federal counterpart, Rob Nicholson, and other ministers across the country on the need for changes to the Criminal Code to address the distribution of intimate photos online without the subject’s consent.

The sudden tackling of these issues comes in the wake of the death of Halifax’s Rehtaeh Parsons. Many, of course, will call the political attention long overdue, since the problem has been growing for a long time.

Because of the complexity of the technology involved, the issue has drawn blanks over the years in how to prosecute wrongdoers.

In the tragic case involving Parsons, recall that people were perplexed over the failure to mount charges – if not for an alleged sexual assault, then at least for distribution of child porn, since Parsons was 15 when the images of the assault were put online.

One accompanying feature with this new legislation will be an investigative team trained to deal with cyberbullying complaints. But even with that it will take a lot of fine-tuning to positively identify a wrongdoer, to avoid the risk of losing the case to a rights appeal and to provide evidence that carries a good chance of conviction.

We welcome any new laws that will tackle such criminal behaviour, but ensure the resources are there enabling this new team to detect those responsible, otherwise we just have more laws that aren’t enforceable. That will be the harder part. These are crimes in which, by the nature of the commission, there is no smoking gun.

Parsons’ father said his daughter was “disappointed to death” by the lack of response from authorities over her complaint. Done thoroughly, this measure has the potential to see that more aren’t similarly disappointed.

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  • James
    April 26, 2013 - 08:55

    I certainly agree with the comment that has been written here and would like to add the following open letter to the Prime Minister. It makes me sick how we have played political games with the lives of children. With respect to the Family's who have lost loved ones and the good people who have spoken up, please consider sending the attached open letter to the Prime Minister. I for one am appalled at the death rate of children and in particular the death rate of children in Foster care in Ontario. Over 600 in the last five years. Please consider sending the attached note to the politicians and demand accountability from the outrageous abuse of children. Please Forward:: Mr. Prime Minister, please stop this stupidity. Enforce the law! Now! The Criminal Laws of Canada are very clear. ... "151. Every person who, for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of a person under the age of 16 years (a) is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year; ..... " or "153.1 (1) Every person who is in a position of trust or authority towards a person with a mental or physical disability or who is a person with whom a person with a mental or physical disability is in a relationship of dependency and who, for a sexual purpose, counsels or incites that person to touch, without that person’s consent, his or her own body, the body of the person who so counsels or incites, or the body of any other person, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, is guilty of (a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or..." " 163.1 (1) In this section, “child pornography” means (a) a photographic, film, video or other visual representation, whether or not it was made by electronic or mechanical means, (i) that shows a person who is or is depicted as being under the age of eighteen years and is engaged in or is depicted as engaged in explicit sexual activity, or...." " 264. (1) No person shall, without lawful authority and knowing that another person is harassed or recklessly as to whether the other person is harassed, engage in conduct referred to in subsection (2) that causes that other person reasonably, in all the circumstances, to fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them. Prohibited conduct (2) The conduct mentioned in subsection (1) consists of (a) repeatedly following from place to place the other person or anyone known to them; (b) repeatedly communicating with, either directly or indirectly, the other person or anyone known to them; (c) besetting or watching the dwelling-house, or place where the other person, or anyone known to them, resides, works, carries on business or happens to be; or (d) engaging in threatening conduct directed at the other person or any member of their family. Punishment (3) Every person who contravenes this section is guilty of (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or " How many more people in positions of authority are you going to let rationalize their professional stagnation that has clearly lead to the death of many young people across this country. Mr. Prime Minister, please stop this stupidity. Enforce the law! Now!

    • Johnny smoke
      April 26, 2013 - 10:56

      @James, thank you for your comprehensive rendition of the criminal code of Canada as it is "presently written". It goes to show the folly and the impertinence of the political arms of government both provincally and federally. Do nothing until they are harassed or embarased, or God forbid their precious positions and pay cheques are threatened. Well I can tell you right now that there are careers and pay cheques on the line, and while I must wait several years to vote against the lazy and ineffectual gang in Ottawa, I do not have to wait very long to do the same here in Scamma Scotia. Because that is what this exercise really is just a scam, put in place by the same scammers who protect the same scammers who call themself's law enforcement and prosecutors in this province. Good God how we have fallen. we will never recover no matter how amny useless laws this gang conjures up because like the one's on the books now, they will not be enforced.

  • johnny smoke
    April 26, 2013 - 07:29

    First of all let us look upon this exercise for what it really is. Rear end covering in its most blatant form. If you will take a moment and peruse through the criminal code. All of the items proposed here are already written there. Now the language may be slightly different, but then when was the wording of a charge kept you out of court or the hoosgow. These lackadaisical cops, politicians, and crown prosecutors could not see any merit in this young ladies complaint, but look now, they are falling all over one another seeking redemption. To add to the mix we are to be burdened with an additional six public servants no doubt at $100 grand per head to chase down the "Cyber bullies" well good luck with that one, these same persons who propose this quick fix could not even deal with four in the flesh bullies and alleged rapists.So I guess the dog and pony show will continue at great expense and like everything else this justice system touches with little pay back. I am not hopeful that this will be printed as the N.G. news has shown it's self to be in the past a mouth piece for the status quo, a vast disservice to it's readers but then again the government grants must come first at all costs