Nova Scotia

Landon Webb's lawyer says client has lost phone and internet privileges

The lawyer for Landon Webb says her client won't be giving any more interviews because he's lost his telephone and internet privileges.

Justice Minister Diana Whalen says she's 'alarmed' Nova Scotian man is cut off in care facility

The parents of Landon Webb say he functions at the level of a 10-year-old boy. (Submitted by RCMP)

Nova Scotia's justice minister called Landon Webb's situation a "catalyst" forcing her government to look at the "archaic" system of guardianship. 

Speaking on As It Happens Wednesday, Diana Whalen said Webb's case has sparked the Justice Department to look at the province's Incompetent Person's Act. 

"What I want to do immediately would be to speak to my counterparts in Community Services, in health, and my officials at the Department of Justice to see if there is any other avenue that we could use to intervene or play a role in the case before we get to change the legislation or move in that direction," she said.

"I'm really cognizant of how long it takes to make these changes. It might take us a year or more and that's not a very encouraging amount of time if you're currently in the situation where your rights are not in your own hands."

Whalen said it's a big problem that the act doesn't let people get re-assessed to show they've improved and should have their rights restored. 

But when it comes to Webb's situation right now, Whalen said, "I don't think there's much we can do." She said she was "alarmed" that he didn't have access to a phone or the internet. 

"We don't have legal authority. The guardians always have legal authority," she said. 

The government can change the law, and she promised to "get right at it." 

Parents cut off telephone and internet

Webb's lawyer said her client won't be giving any more interviews because he's lost his telephone and internet privileges at the care facility where he is staying.

Susanne Litke, a lawyer with Dalhousie Legal Aid, is representing the 25-year-old who is challenging an order under Nova Scotia's Incompetent Persons Act that places him under the guardianship of his parents.

His parents have said they are simply trying to do what's best for what they describe as an adult child who would be at risk if left to his own devices.

Webb found himself the subject of several police alerts this year that said he had gone missing. His parents claim he functions at the level of a 10-year-old boy, and were upset when he discharged himself from a rehabilitation centre, where treatment is voluntary.

Litke said Webb's phone and internet privileges were pulled because his parents were concerned about Webb speaking with people outside of the facility. They said they want to ensure his attention is focused on working with the health care professionals inside of the centre.

Because of the phone and internet ban, Landon Webb can't communicate with his son.

Last week, Webb's parents sent out a request to the media asking for them to stop contacting Webb.

"That's the way the Incompetent Persons Act grants rights to a caregiver or a guardian under the legislation. So the guardian, once they are appointed through the courts, have the ability to make decisions for that person deemed incompetent in all aspects of their life," Litke told CBC's As It Happens on Tuesday.

"That does include who they can talk to, who they can visit, where they live, all aspects of their life."

Incompetent Persons Act needs review, said lawyer

Litke said it's important that Webb's voice 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 sort of let people know where he presently stands," she said.

Litke said she believes that people should have privacy in their personal struggles but "when a person's rights are being withheld from them, that is an important voice to be heard."

The Incompetent Persons Act needs careful examination because Webb doesn't have many rights under it, said Litke.

She would like to see Webb's competency tested, but she said Webb doesn't trust the process. 

About a week ago, Litke said she requested a meeting with the facility, counsel for the facility and counsel for the parents, but is still waiting to hear back.


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