The Supreme Court of Canada is seen at sunset in Ottawa, Tuesday Sept. 1, 2020. The Supreme Court of Canada has affirmed that Ontario’s sex-offender registry regime violates the constitutional rights of people found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The Supreme Court of Canada is seen at sunset in Ottawa, Tuesday Sept. 1, 2020. The Supreme Court of Canada has affirmed that Ontario’s sex-offender registry regime violates the constitutional rights of people found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Sex-offender provision unconstitutional in not criminally responsible cases: court

There is opportunity, on a case-by-case basis, for those found guilty of sexual offences to be removed or even exempted from the registry

The Supreme Court of Canada has affirmed that Ontario’s sex-offender registry regime violates the constitutional rights of people found not criminally responsible for their actions by reason of mental disorder.

The decision came Friday in the case of an Ontario man who was found not criminally responsible in June 2002 for sexually assaulting his then-wife, and other charges, due to a manic episode.

In August 2003, the Ontario Review Board ordered that he be absolutely discharged on grounds that he posed no significant risk to public safety.

Still, he was required to enter his name into the provincial sex-offender registry.

In Ontario, the law requires those who are either convicted of a sexual offence or found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder to report to a police station to have their personal information added to the registry.

Registrants must report in person annually or when certain information changes.

There is opportunity, on a case-by-case basis, for those found guilty of sexual offences to be removed or even exempted from the registry.

However, someone found not criminally responsible for a sexual offence lacks the same avenues to be removed from the registry or exempted from reporting, even after receiving an absolute discharge from a review board.

The man, whose name is not public, argued the provincial provisions are unconstitutional because they unfairly deny someone found not criminally responsible of a sexual offence the chance to avoid being in the registry — as opposed to those who receive a discharge for the same offence under the Criminal Code.

He was at first unsuccessful in Ontario court but the Court of Appeal ruled the provisions unconstitutional, prompting the provincial attorney general to head to the Supreme Court.

In writing for a majority of the court, Justice Andromache Karakatsanis said the provincial regime draws discriminatory distinctions between people found guilty and people found not criminally responsible for sexual offences on the basis of mental disability.

Karakatsanis agreed with the Court of Appeal’s conclusion that this runs contrary to the equality guarantees in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“These discriminatory distinctions cannot be justified in a free and democratic society.”

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cascade Falls Regional Park is one of several Fraser Valley parks that saw record usage during the summer of 2020. (File photo)
Residents flock to Fraser Valley parks amid pandemic

Some trails saw usage double during summer months of 2020

A horse on Yale Road West in Chilliwack peeks out from its shelter at the rainy weather on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Several days of rain in forecast for Fraser Valley after single day of sunshine

According to Environment Canada, rain and showers are expected today until Wednesday

At the current rate of new infections, one in 53 Lower Mainland residents will catch the virus over the weeks to come. (Chart: Tyler Olsen)
GRAPHIC: One in 25 Lower Mainland residents may contract COVID-19 by February if virus continues spread

Moderate increase cases would leave one in 20 Lower Mainland residents with virus by February

Chilliwack musician Mauvey won the Dakota Leslie Fan Vote – and $2,500 – at this year’s Fraser Valley Music Awards. The virtual event was held Thursday night (Nov. 19).
Winners of Fraser Valley Music Awards announced in 16 categories

Annual awards honour artists in pop, hip hop, jazz and more

web
Mission RCMP searching for missing man

Asking the public for assistance to locate Rocky Tolfree

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Long-awaited federal rent subsidy program for businesses hurt by COVID-19 opens today

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest

An Oceana Canada audit of Canadian fish stocks reveals a growing number with critical populations, calling on Fisheries and Oceans Canada to enact existing commitments. (File photo)
B.C.’s declining fisheries the result of poor DFO management: audit

Oceana Canada calls for follow through on government commitments

Reverend Patrick John (PJ) O’Maoil Mheana, ordained as Father Luke, has been named the new rector for the Church of the Holy Trinity in White Rock. (Contributed photo)
From chaos to love, White Rock’s newest priest to spread message of hope

Rev. Patrick John O’Maoil Mheana to start work at Church of the Holy Trinity Nov. 30

Randy Bell. (File photo)
Former northern B.C. mayoral candidate arrested after allegedly refusing to wear mask

Randy Bell handcuffed and given a warning at Bulkley Valley Credit Union in Smithers

James Corden on the Late Late Show talking about BC Ferries on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (Screenshot)
‘You’ll see it when you see it’: BC Ferries mask graphic gains James Corden’s attention

Turns out, James Corden fans were just as quick as B.C. social media users to pick up on the dual imagery

Most Read