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Goertzen introduces own bill against bullying

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Progressive Conservative Education Critic Kelvin Goertzen today introduced his own bullying bill that would crack down on cyber bullies.

Goertzen's private member's bill would allow victims to obtain protection orders where they are the targets of cyber-bullies and would allow for the seizure of electronics that are being used to cyber-bully.

It would also create a separate civil tort of cyber-bullying and put an onus on parents to act where they are aware that their child is engaging in cyber-bullying.

"Cyber-bulling is a very real problem both inside schools and outside the school environment," Goertzen said in a statement. "There needs to be real action and real consequences for cyber-bulling because it not only impacts lives, it can result in the loss of life."

Goertzen noted that under the legislation, youth as young as 16 could apply for their own protection order when they are being cyber-bullied.

Goertzen also said he hopes the NDP government moves quickly to adopt his legislation as it has failed to produce tough anti-cyber-bullying legislation of its own.

Goertzen's bill is also in response to the NDP's own anti-bullying bill. Bill 18 would accommodate gay-straight alliances in publicly funded schools. The NDP hopes that the bill is passed in time for the start of the next school year, but mandatory public hearings have yet to be scheduled.

That's because Goertzen and the Tory opposition have mounted a vigorous campaign in the house to stall the NDP's legislative and fiscal agenda, mostly over the government's imposition of the one point tax provincial sales tax increase effective July 1 without holding a required public referendum.

Meanwhile, Manitoba Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard today said the government is ignoring school-aged children living in group homes, under Child and Family Services, in that many are not regularly attending school.

Gerrard said as a result the government is in contravention of the Public Schools Act.

"Nobody has been tracking the graduation rates for children in CFS care," Gerrard said.

Gerrard said in a statement the Public Schools Act defines the compulsory school age as 7 to 18 years old.

He said the law not only states that a parent or guardian of a child of compulsory school age is responsible for ensuring the child attends school, but provides a fine of up to $500 if they fail to do so.

"Child and Family Services is the guardian of the children that they have apprehended from their families," Gerrard said. "If CFS is not responsible then who is? Who does the law apply to?"

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