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Blupete's Weekly Commentary


September 17th, 2000.

"The Right To Be Left Alone."

It is found to be deeply rooted in the character of anyone raised with British traditions; it is a product of centuries of British history; it is a passion; it is -- the right to be left alone.

Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941), who had been a most respected public interest attorney and a judge of United States Supreme Court, in making reference to the makers of the American constitution, said that among the rights conferred therein, "as against the Government, the right to be let alone is the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men."1 This theme was heard to be echoed in the Canadian Supreme Court, -- the right of privacy "ranks high in the hierarchy of values meriting protection in a free and democratic society."2 And down through to our own Supreme Court, here in Nova Scotia, where Mr. Justice Davison made reference to its underpinnings, "the right of privacy and confidentiality is based on the need to preserve the integrity and dignity of the individual."3

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NOTES:

1 Olmstead v. United States (1928), 277 U.S. 438, 478.

2 R. v. Dyment, [1988], S.C.C. And more recently a person's right of confidentiality is "absolute unless there is some paramount reason that overrides it." (McInerney v. MacDonald, [1992] 2 S.C.R.)

3 The Queen v. G.C.W., 128 N.S.R.(2d) 254, a case where the court was balancing the right of the patient to keep his medical records private, versus the right of a person charged with a criminal offence to bring forward a full answer and defence (likely a more fundamental right in our democratic society).

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Peter Landry

September, 2000 (2011)