Cyberbullying legislation moving forward, Justice Minister closes door on CyberSCAN changes

Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey speaks with a reporter on Oct. 17, 2017. Paul DeWitt/Globl News

Nova Scotia’s Justice Minister hasn’t closed the door on amendments to the province’s proposed cyberbullying law but firmly rejected expanding the power of its CyberSCAN program.

Initially created under the province’s Cyber-safety Act to pursue a case in court on behalf of victims, the CyberSCAN unit’s duties are strictly limited to “education and public awareness of online bullying” after the bill was ruled unconstitutional in 2015.

Mark Furey told Global News on Monday that despite experts saying the Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act would “neuter” CyberSCAN — reducing it solely to an advisory agency — that he doesn’t foresee the role changing.

“The CyberSCAN unit will continue to do what they’ve done; a navigator for victims of cyberbullying and bringing them right up to the court process,” Furey said.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia’s proposed anti-cyberbullying bill creates access problems

Wayne MacKay, a Dalhousie University law professor, told Nova Scotia’s law amendments committee that by limiting the unit’s powers it will leave victims unprotected and unable to navigate the court system or bear the costs involved.

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“I don’t think there is sufficient power left in the agency (CyberSCAN) and that’s particularly important in terms of access to justice,” he said.

Furey acknowledged that there is a cost to pursuing justice in the form allowed under the new bill but said that this bill is “victim-driven” — that it’s up to the victim to decide if they go to the courts.

WATCH: Lawyer says new cyber safety bill a barrier for victims

Click to play video: 'New cyber safety bill a barrier for victims: lawyer' New cyber safety bill a barrier for victims: lawyer
New cyber safety bill a barrier for victims: lawyer – Oct 19, 2017

Third reading could happen as early as Tuesday night

The Justice Minister said the Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act will come to the committee of the whole on Tuesday and even seemed to imply that the bill could have it’s third reading by that evening.

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“If circumstances come together, it’s quite possible that we could pass the bill this fall,” he said.

— With files from the Canadian Press

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