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

(Black Press file photos)
City of Lacombe announces new public health measures

The city is adopting recommendations that were announced by the provincial government yesterday

The new bylaw will take effect on Nov. 30, 2020. Photo courtesy of the Town of Blackfalds.
Town of Blackfalds approves mandatory mask bylaw

The bylaw was approved after a council meeting on Nov. 24

(Black Press file photo)
Alberta mobile home tenants and landlords can now resolve issues faster

The provincial government is asking residents to complete a survey to identify any further concerns

Alberta premier Jason Kenney declared a public health state of emergency Tuesday and sweeping new measures as COVID-19 cases in the province continue to rise. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Kenney declares state of public health emergency as COVID-19 cases rise

High schools shift to online learning, businesses face new restrictions

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

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at B.C. campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

A pedestrian wears masks while out walking in front of the Alberta Legislature as the COVID-19 numbers spike in Edmonton on Tuesday November 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Doctor says Alberta restrictions not enough to reduceCOVID-19 strain on hospitals

Mithani notes people are still allowed to gather indoors at large places of worship and in bars,

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
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
VIDEO: How do the leading COVID vaccines differ? And what does that mean for Canada?

All three of the drug companies are incorporating novel techniques in developing their vaccines

Ilaria Rubino is shown in this undated handout image at University of Alberta. Alberta researcher Rubino has developed technology allowing mostly salt to kill pathogens in COVID-19 droplets as they land on a mask. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-University of Alberta
Alberta researcher gets award for COVID-19 mask innovation

The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval.

Russ and Luanne Carl are sharing about their experiences of fighting COVID-19 this past summer. (Photo submitted)
Stettler couple opens up about COVID-19 battle

Luanne and Russ Carl urge others to bolster personal safety measures amidst ongoing pandemic

This 2019 photo provided by The ALS Association shows Pat Quinn. Quinn, a co-founder of the viral ice bucket challenge, died Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, at the age of 37. (Scott Kauffman/The ALS Association via AP)
Co-founder of viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge dies at 37

Pat Quinn was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2013

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti speaks with the media following party caucus in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Exclusion of mental health as grounds for assisted death is likely temporary: Lametti

Senators also suggested the exclusion renders the bill unconstitutional

Most Read