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

UBC Sports Hall of Famer Carrie (Watson) Watts (far right, front row) helped lead the UBC Thunderbirds to the 2004 national championship, their first since 1974. She served as assistant coach a few years after graduation. (Photo/UBC)
Agassiz-born basketball star inducted into UBC Sports Hall of Fame

Carrie (Watson) Watts helped lead the team to their first championship in decades

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on BC highways – checkpoint at Manning Park

Four checkpoints are set up Thursday, May 6 around the province

Winnie Peters, centre, spoke about the loss of two husbands over the years, both of who were murdered. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls event in Hope on May 5, 2021 included prayers for men who have been killed as well. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)
Red dresses hang in Hope’s Memorial Park in remembrance

Group gathers for National Day of Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

The AHL Board of Governors has approved the Vancouver Canucks decision to move their franchise to Abbotsford. (File photo)
AHL approves Canucks’ franchise relocation to Abbotsford

Board of Governors approves move, season set to start on Oct. 15

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

A worker rides a bike at a B.C. Hydro substation in Vancouver, on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Hydro report raises safety concerns as pandemic prompts jump in yard work

Incidents involving weekend tree trimmers, gardeners and landscapers have risen 30% since the pandemic hit

Surrey RCMP is investigating after a serious three-vehicle crash at the intersection of King George Boulevard and 128th Street Thursday afternoon (May 6, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Serious crash in Surrey sends 1 to hospital

Surrey RCMP say one of the drivers fled on foot, but was later found at an area hospital

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. (Screen shot)
Salmon farmers warn Surrey jobs on line as feds end Discovery Islands operations

344 full-time jobs at risk in Surrey and 1,189 B.C.-wide

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read