As It Happens

Landon Webb says he dreams of 'just living a normal life'

Twenty-five-year-old Landon Webb says he's capable of living on his own -- but his parents say he should continue to be under their care. His case has Nova Scotia's Justice Minister re-examining the laws on "mental competence."
Landon Webb is currently living at the Quest Regional Rehabilitation Centre, just outside of Halifax. (RCMP/CBC)

Landon Webb has set off a chain of events that may alter the way Nova Scotia addresses the challenges facing people with special needs and the people who love them.

On Thursday, he spoke to As It Happens from inside a Halifax-area care facility.

The 25-year-old Nova Scotian wants to challenge the province's Incompetent Persons Act. His complaints have prompted Justice Minister Diana Whalen to review the legislation. Under the law, Webb has been deemed incompetent and placed under the guardianship of his parents.

As It Happens spoke to Webb's mother, Brenda Webb on Wednesday. She said that she and her husband are simply trying to do what's best for an adult child who would be at risk if left to his own devices. They went public with their concerns for Landon in October, when he left the facility where he was living to find work in Alberta. He only returned to Nova Scotia a few days ago.

As It Happens spoke with Webb, who is currently at Quest Regional Rehabilitation Centre, just outside of Halifax. Here is a part of their conversation.

Carol Off: Mr. Webb, how did you end up at [Quest Regional Rehabilitation Centre]?

Landon Webb: My parents. I had an idea of when I left Kings that I was going to be enrolled in such a facility, like this.

CO: Kings was the Kings Regional Rehabilitation Centre, that's where you were before and you left there?

LW: Yes. I left there before I got discharged because of this reason, 'cause I didn't want to be locked up. I was promised by my mother that I would be coming home. The main reason that I left is because I was very disappointed that I wasn't taken home. I just wanted to be able to spend a few days with my son. It was very disappointing what they did that night because they had my son there. They told me that I wouldn't be coming home with them. [My son] started bawling his eyes out. I'll never, ever forget that. I still have an image in my mind and it'll never leave me. Every time I think about or even talk about it I almost get tears to my eyes. It's just unfair to me and it's unfair to my son because he doesn't know what's going on. He's like four and a half and he'll remember that night. I know he will.

CO: We spoke with your mother and she said the reason why she wanted you back, the reason why she wants you to be kept where you are or in some facility, is that you can't make choices for yourself. That if you do, you get into trouble. That it's dangerous for you. What do you say to your mother?

LW: I don't believe that's true. I have made a lot of good choices on my own. For instance, up in Edmonton. I know the right people and wrong people to not associate with up there. Say for instance, at the Edmonton bus terminal. It was pretty bad there. Maybe a person would come up to you and say, "Hey, do want to go for a walk?," go to Timmy's or something like that. That's a pretty bad idea to go for a walk with somebody you don't even know or maybe they're being all nice. A mind of a 10 to 12-year-old or somebody that's very naive would just just go for a walk with them.
Landon Webb (Brenda Webb)

CO: So what is your dream? How do you see yourself? If you could now just set yourself up as you want to be, describe where that would be, how that would be, where you would live?

LW: I'd like to be in an apartment. Working at a [car] dealership. Just living a normal life. Working 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. Coming home, playing with my kids and sitting around watching television at night when they go to bed with my girlfriend. Then, go to bed and do it all over again.

CO: Is that possible? Do you think that you can make that happen?

LW: I've worked from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It was working out perfectly, that [car dealership] job for me. I loved it. I did well at it and the only reason why it stopped was it was sabotaged by my mother. The RCMP showed up plenty of times. There was a complaint against a man, and yeah...

CO: When I spoke with your mother, I got the impression that she really loves you and what she's trying to do is what she believes to be in your best interest. She's trying to protect you from people who might take advantage of you and hurt you and that she wants to help you.

LW: No one can take advantage of me. I am my own person. I have my own mind set. I know if somebody would be taking advantage of me. I can't be controlled or manipulated. It just sounds… ahh… I don't know...I'll get back to you on that one.

CO: Do you believe that your mother loves you and she's trying to help you? Do you trust her?

LW: It's hard to say what love is. When I came back from out west and when I called her up on the phone when I was out there and they never heard from me in over a month, she never shed a tear on the phone. When I came back she never even cried and my father never even shook my hand. That's something else.

CO: Do you agree with the medical assessments?

LW: I don't agree with the assessments. But I agree with some of  the intellectual disability I have. I do have weaknesses and everybody has weaknesses.

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)

CO: When we spoke to your mother she said that no one on the outside can judge. No one who hasn't been with her or walked in her shoes can understand what she has done to try and help you. She resents that there's so much publicity. That this is all out in the open. She doesn't think anyone can really understand what she has gone through. Would you agree with that?

LW: No, I would not. I should be able to have my voice heard and everyone has the right to freedom of speech and the right to choose where they should live. There's people out there living on their own and maybe people can take their meds or can't do financial (sic) on their own but there's people that get support in those areas to be able to live on their own. That's how the act of this legislation needs to be changed because it's just so outdated. It makes a person deemed incompetent globally and it's not just by spectrums of their life - it's all over.

CO: But you would need help. You do acknowledge you would need some support if you were to live on your own -- is that fair?

LW: No, I don't really acknowledge that. But we don't really know until I get an assessment, a multi-modal assessment for sure, until I find out what my strengths are and my weaknesses are. I would really love to get that assessment. I've been trying for the last five years.

CO: Just one last question about your parents. Do you love them? Do you think deep down that they do want to help you even if it's not the way you want to be helped?

LW: Deep down somewhere, maybe yes. They cause a lot of grief in my life. Really, I'm not really sure because taking away their son's rights, all of them, and I'd like to quote you on what my mother said about how she sits down and talks to me about how we make decisions together. Well, my mother said to me on a number of occasions that I don't have the right to make decisions. We make the decisions for you.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

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


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