The case of a Nova Scotia man fighting for the legal right to make his own decisions has prompted the province’s justice minister to review the law.
Landon Webb, 25, says he will challenge the Incompetent Persons Act after being declared legally incompetent.
Webb has been the subject to several missing person incidents after leaving Kings Regional Rehabilitation Centre in Waterville. He was reported missing on Oct. 15 and later found in Edmonton.
His parents say he has an intellectual disability and cannot make his own decisions.
Dalhousie law professor Sheila Wildeman says it's time for the province to take a look at its Incompetent Persons Act.
“It's retaining its roots in 18th century English guardianship law and in not having really moved too far from its roots,” said Wildeman. “The standard is an overbroad, vague, global, sort of all or nothing statement of incapacity.”
A person who's been declared incompetent is legally unable to make the most basic decisions, including where they live and who they work with.
Justice Minister Diana Whalen says her department will look at the legislation.
“We do want to modernize and improve acts,” she said. “We're committing to having a closer look and examining it and seeing what's needed.”
Wildeman says Nova Scotia's law is unlikely to survive a legal challenge, but that people who have been declared incompetent are unlikely to file such a challenge in the first place.
“It really speaks to the lack of voice and political power and the wherewithal that one can attribute to people who've been declared incompetent under this act,” said Wildeman.
The law professor commends Webb for speaking out and sparking the debate
“It's extremely rare to have a public political statement made by a person in his situation,” said Wildeman.
Wildeman says she hopes the case will force Nova Scotians to reconsider decisions to institutionalize people with intellectual disabilities.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie.