Nova Scotia

Landon Webb's lawyer says Nova Scotia will repeal Incompetent Persons Act

Susanne Litke, a lawyer with Dalhousie Legal Aid, says the Nova Scotia government will not oppose the charter challenge against the law she says infringes on Webb's rights and freedoms.

Susanne Litke says the province will not oppose charter challenge against the act

Landon Webb is challenging a court order that puts him under his parents' guardianship, under Nova Scotia's Incompetent Persons Act. (Payge Woodard)

A Nova Scotia man fighting to no longer be considered a mentally incompetent person is a step closer to reaching that goal.

Landon Webb's lawyer says the province will not be opposing the charter challenge to the Incompetent Persons Act, a law that Susanne Litke says "severely infringed" on Webb's rights and freedoms.

The Incompetent Persons Act allows a parent or guardian to prove that a person has a "mental infirmity," making that person unable to manage their own affairs. Webb's parents have said he functions at the level of a 10 to 12-year-old child.

"The Incompetent Persons Act will be repealed and it will have to be rewritten," said Litke, a lawyer at Dalhousie Legal Aid Service.

"The government will need some time, obviously, to prepare new legislation so that all the persons who are presently under a guardianship order will have a new legislation to abide by and to follow," she said.

Webb was declared mentally incompetent by a court, but he says he has grown up and wants to prove his competency. He was the subject of several police alerts in 2015 that said he had disappeared. 

Webb argues he should be found competent, and in the past has sought to live independently by running away from residential facilities.

"With Landon's case there were some additional infringements on his rights and freedoms such as an order that allowed police to apprehend him and place him in a locked facility if he was deemed to be a flight risk," Litke says.

Justice Minister Diana Whalen is scheduled to give an update on the government's path forward with the Incompetent Persons Act on Tuesday. In December, the minister said she was looking at modernizing the law

Two of the main concerns with the act are how a person is deemed to be incompetent and how a person might appeal that decision. 

New legislation by 2017

Litke says the province indicated to her that new legislation should be ready by May 2017. She says the timing puts Webb in a bit of a quandary.

"His rights would need to be addressed prior to that, that's my view," Litke said, adding that Webb has a court date scheduled for late April.

Litke says the fact the province will be repealing act is significant. She says there was a law reform commission report 20 years ago that told the government of the day that the Incompetent Persons Act needed to be changed.

"Obviously there needed to be a person bright enough as Landon Webb is to bring forward a challenge," she said.

'Landon's Story' on the fifth estate

Webb's story will be featured on an upcoming episode of CBC's the fifth estate titled, "In Their Own Words: Landon's Story."

"I really want to work a Monday to Friday job," Webb told the fifth estate, "just living like anybody else."

"Coming home to my girlfriend Tiffany and the kids and spending time with the kids and playing around with the kids and put them to bed and watch a movie with Tiffany at night. Just doing anything else that any other normal family does," he said.

"I think I deserve that."

The episode will air Friday, March 18, at 8:00 p.m. AT on CBC TV.

With files from Paul Withers and the fifth estate


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