A Truro man says he's been unfairly targeted by Nova Scotia's cyberbullying unit after he jumped into the debate surrounding a nude photo of a politician on Twitter.
The controversy started in late November when a 17-year-old tweeted a screen capture of Lenore Zann from her time on the Showtime series The L Word. She appears topless in the photo.
The New Democrat MLA for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River said a furious online response to her request to remove it amounted to cyberbullying so she called police and the province’s new CyberSCAN unit.
Now Ray McLennan, an amateur political commentator, said he's been caught up in the cyberbullying law too.
McLennan has sent more than 22,000 tweets. Most are about Nova Scotia politics, but when he commented on the nude photo Twitter spat, his words were declared cyberbullying by CyberSCAN.
"To say I was shocked was an understatement," he said.
McLennan's tweets contained links to similar images, and read: "could Lenore Zann be harassing a HS student for tweeting these pornographic images of her [sic] The L Word."
He also sent a message reading, "NDP leader hopeful Lenore Zann doesn't think images like this of her border on pornographic" with a link to a blog with stills.
McLennan said the CyberSCAN unit called him with instructions.
"If I didn't remove the tweets, I could face further action," he told CBC.
Halifax lawyer David Fraser said Nova Scotia's cyberbulling law violates Canada's constitution.
"I think that it is unreasonable repression of protected speech," he said.
"I find it extremely, almost heart wrenching, that they put in place this legislation that is supposed to help the victims, but ultimately I think it's going to be found unconstitutional."
Freedom of expression argument
The man in charge of the CyberSCAN unit said investigators keep freedom of expression in mind. Roger Merrick said politicians will be protected like any other citizen.
"Any Nova Scotian can make a complaint to our unit," he said.
Zann agrees it was right to ban McLennan's tweets.
"I had nothing to do with that gentleman and then all of a sudden he jumped in and he was basically, seemed to be encouraging the kids to keep up this behaviour," she said.
But McLennan denies he was being a cyberbully.
'I was simply making fair comment about her past, and her suitability as a leader for the NDP.' - Ray McLennan
"I was simply making fair comment about her past, and her suitability as a leader for the NDP."
The CyberSCAN Investigation Unit said it has handled about 50 complaints since it was created.
None of those have been challenged in court.
Truro police said they've closed their investigation about the nude picture tweet without finding any criminal wrongdoing.