Hallowe’en as a “blind man”: The legal perils of carrying a white cane and Canadian Legislation, White Cane Week 2018

Hallowe’en as a “blind man”: The legal perils of carrying a white cane

 

To commemorate White Cane Week in 2018 I will post daily articles giving readers some insight as to the types, history and importance of this vital tool used for mobility by blind citizens of the world.  Albert A. Ruel

 

*Note: Some of the legislation listed in this article may have changed or been updated since this article was posted on October 25, 2012.  I re-post this article as an example of Canadian legislation relative to the use of the White Cane.

Please find the original article in its entirety on the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians site at:

http://www.blindcanadians.ca/participate/blog/2012/10/halloween-blind-man-legal-perils-carrying-white-cane

 

posted in: Advocacy, Law & Policy

Posted by

Anthony Tibbs

on 25 October 2012 – 12:08pm

 

Yesterday, the AEBC released a press release in protest of the selling of “blind person” Hallowe’en costumes.

I agree that the sale of such costumes is wholly inappropriate or at the very least insensitive. Media portrayals of blindness are often, at a minimum, misguided. The public’s conception of what it means to be blind, and what people who are blind or who have low vision can do, is typically a far cry from reality. Dressing up and acting as a blind person can only further these misconceptions.

 

It should be noted, however, that not only is this activity insensitive and inappropriate from the point of view of the blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted community, but impersonating a blind person has already been decried by society. It is, in fact, against the law to do so in many jurisdictions. (See below for the various applicable legislative provisions.)

 

The gist of all this legislation is that, in these jurisdictions, it is against the law for a person who is not in fact legally blind, to carry a white cane (or, for that matter, any stick that is predominantly white and might be mistaken for such). If prosecuted, the sentence could include fines of up to $2000 and/or six months in prison!

 

It is, of course, highly unlikely that the police would take any interest whatsoever in a child dressing up as a blind person. An adult, particularly if he or she was in a public place and pretending to be blind, might be subject to greater scrutiny. I am not aware of any cases of these laws actually having been applied and a conviction entered, but isn’t to say that it hasn’t happened or would never happen, particularly if someone complained about the activity to the police.

 

This is not, in any case, a game, and people who are blind should not be made the subject of costumes and play, and there are potential legal consequences to doing so. Buyer beware!

 

British Columbia

 

Guide Animal Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 177

 

[1] In this Act:

“white cane” means a cane or walking stick at least the upper 2/3 of which is white.

 

[5] A person who is not a blind person according to accepted medical standards must not carry or use a white cane.

 

[6] In a prosecution for contravention of section 5, the onus is on the defendant to prove that he or she is blind according to accepted medical standards.

 

[9] (1) A person who contravenes this Act commits an offence.

(2) A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is liable on conviction to a fine of not more than $200.

 

Alberta

 

Blind Persons’ Rights Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. B-3

 

[1] In this Act,

(c) “white cane” means a cane or walking stick, the whole or the upper 2/3 of which is painted white.

 

[3] No person other than a blind person shall carry or use a white cane in a public place or public conveyance or other place to which the public is permitted to have access.

 

[4] A person who contravenes section 3 is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding $250.

 

Saskatchewan

 

The White Cane Act, R.S.S. 1978, c. W-13

 

[2] In this Act …

(b) white cane means a cane or walking stick the major portion of which is white.

 

[3] No person other than a blind person shall carry or use a white cane in any public thoroughfare, public conveyance or public place.

 

[5] A person who violates section 3 is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $25.

 

Ontario

 

Blind Persons’ Rights Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. B.7

 

[3] No person, other than a blind person, shall carry or use a cane or walking stick, the major part of which is white, in any public place, public thoroughfare or public conveyance.

 

[6] (2). Every person who is in contravention of section 3 or of subsection 4(3) or who, not being a blind person, purports to be a blind person for the purpose of claiming the benefit of this Act is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine not exceeding $500.

 

Quebec

 

An Act to Secure Handicapped Persons in the Exercise of their Rights with a View to Achieving Social, school and Workplace Integration, R.S.Q., c. E-20.1

 

[75] The following are guilty of an offence and are liable to a fine of $500 to $1,500 in the case of a natural person and to a fine of $1,500 to $7,000 in the case of a legal person: … (subsections (a)-(d) irrelevant and omitted)

 

[76] Every person utilizing a white cane or a dog guide while not being a visually impaired person is guilty of an offence and is liable to the penalties provided in section 75.

 

In this section,

 

(a) “white cane” means a cane the surface of which is at least two-thirds white; …

 

Nova Scotia

 

Blind Persons’ Rights Act, R.S.N.S. 1989, c. 40

 

[5] No person, other than a blind person, shall carry or use a cane or walking stick, the major part of which is white, in any public place, public thoroughfare or public conveyance.

 

[7] Every person who, not being a blind person, purports to be a blind person for the purposes of obtaining or attempting to obtain the benefit of this Act is guilty of an offence.

 

[8] Every person who violates this Act shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to the penalty provided by the Summary Proceedings Act.

Summary Proceedings Act, R.S.N.S. 1989, c. 450

 

[4] Every one who, without lawful excuse, contravenes an enactment by wilfully doing anything that it forbids or by wilfully omitting to do anything that it requires to be done is, unless some penalty or punishment is expressly provided by law, guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine of not more than two thousand dollars or to imprisonment for six months or to both.

 

Newfoundland & Labrador

 

Service Animal Act, S.N.L. 2012, c. S-13.02

 

[2] In this Act

(d) “white cane” means a cane or walking stick the major portion of which is white.

 

[8] A person other than a blind person shall not carry or use a white cane in a public thoroughfare, public conveyance or public place.

 

[10] A person who contravenes this Act or the regulations is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction

(a) in the case of an individual, to a fine of not more than $500 or to imprisonment for not more than 30 days or to both a fine and imprisonment; and

(b) in the case of a corporation, to a fine of not more than $1,000.

 

Prince Edward Island

 

White Cane Act, R.S.P.E.I. 1988, c. W-4

 

[1] In this Act…

(b) “white cane” means a cane or walking stick the major portion of which is white.

 

[3] No person not being a blind person shall carry or use a white cane in any public thoroughfare, public conveyance or public place.

 

[4] Any person who violates this Act is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of $25.

 

Disclaimer:

This blog is curated by the AEBC, but welcomes contributions from members and non-members alike. The thoughts, views, and opinions expressed in the Blind Canadians Blog are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the AEBC, its members, or any of its donors and partners.

 

Re-Posted by CCB for White Cane Week 2018:

CCB Backgrounder:

 

The CCB was founded in 1944 by a coalition of blind war veterans, schools of the blind and local chapters to create a national self-governing organization. The CCB was incorporated by Letters Patent on May 10, 1950 and is a registered charity under the provisions of the Income Tax Act (Canada).

The purpose of the CCB is to give people with vision loss a distinctive and unique perspective before governments.  CCB deals with the ongoing effects of vision loss by encouraging active living and rehabilitation through peer support and social and recreational activities.

CCB promotes measures to conserve sight, create a close relationship with the sighted community and provide employment opportunities.

 

The CCB recognizes that vision loss has no boundaries with respect to gender, income, ethnicity, culture, other disabilities or age.

The CCB understands in many instances vision loss is preventable and sometimes is symptomatic of other health issues.  For the 21st century, the CCB is committed to an integrated proactive health approach for early detection to improve the quality of life for all Canadians.

As the largest membership organization of the blind and partially sighted in Canada the CCB is the “Voice of the Blind™”.

 

 

CCB National Office

100-20 James Street Ottawa ON  K2P 0T6

Toll Free: 1-877-304-0968 Email: info@ccbnational.net URL: www.ccbnational.net