Challenging Nova Scotia’s cyberbullying law

A keyboard and the words

Sometimes out of tragedy, some good can come. Such was the case with the tragic case of teenager Rehtaeh Parsons, who committed suicide in April 2013. Many, including her parents, blame the online posting online of graphic photos as well as subsequent bullying of her as the cause of her suicide.

Responding swiftly to public outcry, the Nova Scotia government in May 2013, passed an anti-cyberbullying law to combat the kind of bullying Parsons endured.

Unfortunately, the law may have been passed too quickly. It is now being challenged under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, for being too vague.

See: Charter cheat sheet: main sections

This court challenge, brought by lawyer David Fraser, is seeking to get a judicial answer to these questions;

  1. Did messages between his client and a former business partner constitute cyberbulling?
  2. Can Fraser launch his argument that the provincial Cyber-safety Act is unconstitutional under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

Fraser is representing Robert Snell who is accused of cyberbullying Giles Grouch when the two got into an argument.

While an anti-bullying law is much needed, the government also cannot make the law so vague as to affect free speech, argues Fraser. For a law to be truly effective, it has to be balanced so that it doesn’t violate competing rights.

Space elevator patented by Canadian company

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a space elevator! Canadian company Thoth Technology of Pembroke, Ont. has patented a 20-kilometre-high free-standing space elevator.

This innovative new technology would send astronauts into space from a platform high above the earth. Thoth obtained a patent from the United States government for its invention to ensure its rights to build this space elevator are protected in the U.S.

Thoth is also working on getting a Canadian patent to protect their rights in Canada, as well as the U.S.

See: Patent - FAQ

In Canada when someone obtains a patent to a product, their rights over that product are protected for 20 years, meaning nobody is allowed to copy this product. And this new technology from Thoth is definitely worth protecting.

Inventor, Dr. Brendan Quine, explains how this technology is used: “We basically null out the external forces on the tower using pneumatic pressure and actually lean the tower, actively guide the centre of gravity towards things like hurricanes so that the tower won’t fall down.”

This truly is a Eureka moment in technology!

Police street checks lack proper procedure

Carding is already a hot-button topic due to accusations of racial profiling. The Globe and Mail recently conducted research to find out what kind of procedures 21 police departments across the country used to stop and card people.

The practice is also known as a “street check” and as it turns out there are few rules guiding the process.

Generally, a police officer stops a person, asks them questions, and enters that information into a database. What’s disturbing is that this analysis has uncovered that, with the exception of two of the 21 interviewed police departments, none of them have a formal procedure to guide the interaction between the officer and the person who is stopped.

Recently in Toronto, the police have been forced to implement a new policy when stopping a person for carding purposes. Officers must inform the person stopped, that they have the right to walk away from being carded. Officers also have to issue a receipt to the person they carded.

Still, with this lack of procedure for a search of a person’s identity in most of Canada, could a Charter challenge be coming soon to a court near you?

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