Rehtaeh Parsons is shown in a handout photo from the Facebook tribute page "Angel Rehtaeh."
Nova Scotia’s premier says he will meet with the Prime Minister this week to press for new laws related to the harassment and death of Cole Harbour teen Rehtaeh Parsons.
“Our world is changing and things which were not possible just 10 or five years ago are now becoming considerable concerns,” said Premier Darrell Dexter on Sunday.
Also Sunday, the mother and stepfather of Rehtaeh said they would also be meeting with the prime minister Tuesday to discuss similar details.
“The meeting is specifically revolving around one aspect. It’s revolving around changes to the criminal code,” Leah Parsons said in a telephone interview.
She said she and her partner Jason Barnes received an invitation from the prime minister’s office on Sunday and have been hurrying to make arrangements to fly to Ottawa to discuss her daughter’s death with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Rehtaeh, 17, took her own life earlier this month, two years after being allegedly gang-raped and then harassed by schoolmates when a photo of the incident was circulated via social media.
Dexter said in his meeting with Harper on Tuesday he is planning to press for changes to the Criminal Code that will make the circulation of intimate images without consent a crime.
“We all know that social media and technology has given rise to many beneficial things … but the simple fact of the matter is that this same technology has a very dark side,” said Dexter. “That deserves to be reflected through sanctions that are serious enough to make people understand that as a society, we won’t tolerate it.”
Though several other teens have committed suicide in Nova Scotia and across Canada in recent years due to cyberbullying, Dexter said Rehtaeh’s case garnered widespread international attention.
“This is not the first case, this is sadly not the only events that have occurred in our community … but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be taking this space and time to push for the kinds of changes that we would expect,” he said. “Surely this is a good point of departure for us to start that conversation and look to the kind of sanctions we need to have in place.”
Justice Minister Ross Landry has begun gathering support from his provincial counterparts for the new laws, and will meet with federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson on Wednesday. – with files from The Canadian Press
Ruth Davenport - Metro Halifax