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Cyberbullying, city development and Liberal support: A snapshot of Nova Scotia politics

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An innovative anti-cyberbullying law that seemed to its framers like justice in the heat of an emotional moment has turned out to be a "colossal failure." It not only couldn't stand the test of a Charter challenge but must also, immediately, be struck from the law books.

That's the problem with creating legislation in the heat of an emotional moment -- whether that moment is the tragic death of 17-year-old Rehteah Parsons after months of online harassment, or last year's violent act of random homegrown terrorism/mental derangement on Parliament Hill.

Nova Scotia's cyberbullying legislation was written so broadly, says David Fraser, the lawyer who successfully challenged it, the law meant "thou shalt not hurt anyone's feelings online."

One hopes this government will take some time before trying again.

***

It was shocking, but not surprising, to learn last week that there were no provisions in Halifax Chief Administrative Officer Richard Butts' contract to prevent him from leaping from overseeing the development of our city to becoming the president of one of those developers. Or that Butts himself doesn't see a conflict. "I'm going to a place where I think the interests of [Clayton Developments Ltd.] and the interests of Halifax are very much aligned and that's great city building."

This, after all, is a city where one-third of all campaign donations in the last municipal election came from the "development community."

We're one just happy developing family.

***

What to make of the surge in support for Stephen McNeil's Liberal party? The latest poll shows the government with an incredible 64 per cent support among voters.

Some are making the case McNeil's tough stance on public sector workers is responsible.

Perhaps, but it's worth noting polling ended the day Nova Scotia teachers voted "no" to the province's take-it-or-take-this contract, triggering what could be a winter of labour discontent.

It's also worth noting McNeil currently has the political field to himself. Tory leader Jamie Baillie, for whatever reason, has failed to gain traction with voters, and the NDP is just now gearing up to elect a new leader.

The next election is still two years and a political lifetime away.

This article first appeared in Stephen Kimber's Halifax Metro column.

Photo: Tom Flemming/flickr

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