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

Ecole H.J. Cody School. File Photo
Sylvan Lake high school temporarily moves to online classes

Over the weekend, H.J. Cody reported six positive cases of COVID-19

.
Alberta confirmed more than 1,500 COVID-19 cases Sunday

Central zone active cases slightly up

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Traffic crosses over the Lions Gate Bridge from North Vancouver into Vancouver on July 2, 2015. Motorists would have to pay a fee to drive into downtown Vancouver under the city's plan to slow climate change but one expert warns it could pose financial hardship for some. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver’s climate plan ‘first 10 steps in a journey of 10,000,’ says expert

Almost 40 per cent of Vancouver’s carbon pollution comes from vehicles

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
After COVID-related transplant delays, 16-year-old N.S. girl gets lung transplant

‘This is the difficult time now of seeing Tahlia in ICU hooked up to 15 IVs and sedated’

Britain's Princess Anne The Princess Royal, right, talks to NATO delegates from left, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during a reception at Buckingham Palace, in London, as Nato leaders attend to mark 70 years of the alliance, Tuesday Dec. 3, 2019.  While NATO leaders are publicly professing unity as they gather for the London summit, several seem to have been caught in an unguarded exchange on camera apparently gossiping about U.S. President Donald Trump’s behaviour. In footage recorded during the Buckingham Palace reception on Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was seen standing in a huddle with French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Britain’s Princess Anne. (Yui Mok/Pool via AP)
Canada, Britain strike new trade, beating Brexit, incorporating expiring EU pact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British counterpart, Boris Johnson, announced the deal Saturday

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
An individual in Clearview school division (Stettler and region) has tested positive for COVID-19

Case affects students and staff at Wm. E. Hay Stettler Secondary School, Stettler Elementary School, and Erskine School, officials say

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes an announcement at the Ornamental Gardens in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Nix non-essential travel, stay home as much as possible as COVID 2nd wave surges: Trudeau

Trudeau was back outfront Rideau Cottage amid concerning COVID-19 projections from Dr. Theresa Tam

(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
School custodians ‘unsung’ heroes during pandemic

Schools have increased the sanitization of key, high-touch areas

A pedestrian walks past a closed storefront on St. Catherine street as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its toll on local businesses, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
High-income earners in Canada collected CERB, pandemic-related data shows

Tax policy experts note that many higher-income earners saw their workplaces closed

Most Read