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Amendment to bill on sexual assault a ‘profound’ victory: abuse survivor

HALIFAX – Back in the 1970s, Bob Martin was sexually abused by Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh, and now he’s fighting for all victims of sexual abuse.

His latest battle has been to introduce an amendment to the province’s Limitation of Actions Act to allow historical sex abuse victims to sue their abusers in civil court. It’s a fight he was ready to give his all to see resolved.

Early Thursday morning, Martin sent Nova Scotia MLAs an open letter asking them to support the amendment, along with two photos of himself telling them not to forget his face.

“Here’s this image, here’s my face. I’m going to be back in the House of Assembly and don’t forget it,” he said.

Under the act, historical sexual assault victims can’t launch a civil claim against their abusers. It’s a limitation several Canadian provinces have removed.

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Progressive Conservative MLA Allan MacMaster had tried to introduce an amendment during the last session.

“[We] gave the government four opportunities to fix the problem in the last sitting, they chose to vote against it all four times, so as soon as this sitting starts we’ll be putting forward the legislation again,” MacMaster said.

But it’s likely MacMaster won’t need to re-introduce the legislation. On Thursday afternoon, Nova Scotia Justice Minister Lena Diab announced she would introduce an amendment to the act during the spring session.

“I’ve looked at the legislation that is across the country and plan to do the same thing,” she said, adding the amendment will “deal with passing retroactive legislation with respect to sexual assault.”

It’s news Martin describes as a “profound” victory.

“They should have just fixed this flaw long ago,” he said. “It’s wonderful it’s done and I’ll be there to congratulate them.

Martin said he plans to be at Province House the first day the spring session resumes.

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