The Alberta cabinet minister in charge of anti-bullying issues says she doesn't think new provincial legislation is the right way to tackle the problem.
Sandra Jansen, the associate minister of family and community safety, spoke on a panel hosted by the Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association on Thursday night.
The Calgary-North West MLA said the threat of punishment alone does not deter bullies.
“I can tell you right now that from what I've seen I don't feel at this point strongly that legislation is where we want to go in this province,” she said.
Several Alberta municipalities have passed local anti-bullying laws, including Airdrie, where Mayor Peter Brown said his own children have been victims.
“I am a less-government kind of guy, but I think with this particular issue we’re actually supporting those individuals and making sure that they're safe and secure, and that's the way people should feel.”
Derek From, a lawyer for the Canadian Constitution Foundation, worries that such laws overstep their bounds.
“When people do harm they should be punished, but I have problems with legislation that is unconstitutional,” he said.
“No one endorses bullying, but I have a problem with — if it’s purely to restrict the expression of ideas — municipalities cannot do that.”
Jansen also said a provincial anti-bullying law might not stand up to a court challenge
But she said the province is planning to include some anti-bullying provisions in its new education act that would only apply to schools and carry limited penalties.