Wednesday December 16, 2015

[UPDATE] Landon Webb wants public to know his story, his lawyer says

Landon Webb

Landon Webb (Submitted by RCMP)

Listen 7:23
[UPDATE - 2016-06-28]

 

Landon Webb is free to choose for himself. 

When we spoke to the Nova Scotia man in December, he had just launched a challenge to the province's Incompetent Persons Act. Webb had been declared incompetent under the act and his parents had been given absolute decision making authority over him.

Friday morning in Halifax a judge declared Webb to be a competent adult and gave the province a year to rewrite its unconstitutional legislation. 

Original story aired December 16th, 2015:

Landon Webb won't be giving any more interviews. Not for a while anyway. Shortly after he was interviewed on As It Happens, Webb lost his telephone and internet privileges. 

Host Carol Off spoke to the 25-year-old while he was housed in a locked Nova Scotia care facility for assessment. He is challenging a court order placing him under the guardianship of his parents. His case has prompted the provincial government to review its Incompetent Persons Act. But Webb's mother told As It Happens her son would be at risk if he weren't under her guardianship.



Now Webb's parents have issued a press release asking for privacy. Susan Litke, the legal aid lawyer representing Webb, says her client wants the public to hear his story.

Litke spoke with As It Happens co-host Carol Off about the press release and about how her client is responding. Here is part of their conversation.

Mentally Disabled Missing 20151028

Brenda Webb and her husband, Darrell, in Halifax on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015. At the time, her son Landon Webb, declared legally incompetent by the courts, hadn't been seen since Oct. 15, when he left a rehabilitation centre in Nova Scotia. (Andrew Vaughan/CP)



Carol Off: Ms. Litke, why have they taken away your client's telephone and his internet privileges?

Susan Litke: I understand that the parents, who are his legal guardian, are concerned about Landon speaking to people outside of the facility, and people calling him, so that he is focused outside as opposed to focusing on the therapeutic relationships with the professionals that are wanting to work with him.

CO: So they could make that decision or do they ask for that and then the facility decides to go along with that request. Do the parents have the right to say he can't have a phone or an internet privilege?

SL: Yes that's the way that the Incompetent Persons Act grants rights to a caregiver or a guardian under the legislation. The guardians, once they are appointed through the courts, have the ability to make decisions for a person deemed incompetent in all aspects of their life. That does include who they can talk to, where they live, all aspects of their life.

CO: The press release reads in part, this is from Landon's parents, "We would all appreciate if others, who have neither the expertise nor the facts, would allow the process to unfold and for Landon to have his privacy, even if he is unable to appreciate it at this time." So, by doing this interview, are you going against this request of the parents?

SL: Yes, his parents have asked me not to speak to the media.

CO: And why did you decide that you would?

SL: I decided that it would be important for Landon's voice to be heard. He provided me with instructions today, that even in light of his parents asking me not to speak to the media, that I would agree to have this one conversation with you and to let people know where he presently stands.

Landon Webb

Landon Webb (Brenda Webb)



CO: When we did the interview with Landon (and also we interviewed his mother as you know) listeners, about half of them that contacted us, said that they felt that this was an intrusion into a painful part of a family's life and that this things should be allowed to be conducting in privacy.

SL: I don't disagree with that. I believe that people should have privacy in their lives. Certainly the Webb family would like to deal with this matter on their own. I believe also, that when a person's rights are being withheld from them, that that is an important voice to be heard. I think it follows that one has to look at legislation that provides such kind of control over an individual. We really need to look at and examine carefully the Incompetent Persons Act that allows for such all-encompassing order against a person's rights.

CO: And so when his parents say that he should have his privacy even if he doesn't appreciate it at this time, your instructions from Landon are that he wants his case to be heard in public?

SL: That's correct.

CO: This press release also says that Landon is being "assessed as he has requested." Is that an assessment that could change his status under this Incompetent Persons Act?

SL: It's hard to respond exactly to the word "assessed" because the only way for Landon to have that order terminated or varied or changed is to have a further assessment. To be able to provide the evidence to support to say "I'm no longer in need of the guardianship order that's over me." That's why a full multi-modal assessment that actually looks at his competency is what's required here. I have read the press release from Darrell and Brenda Webb and I do note that they're indicating that he is being assessed presently. I have not been completely apprised of what that assessment includes, so I can't guarantee or I don't know whether that assessment that is being done is addressing what I just spoke about. It could be an assessment for a number of other components of his abilities, as opposed to his competence.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

To hear the full interview please select the Listen audio link above.