Runnymede Fellowship | Student Stories | Spring & Summer 2021 | NEXUS Magazine | The Faculty of Law | UNB

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Chelsey Buggie named a 2020-21 Runnymede Fellow

Chelsey Buggie was named a 2020-21 Runnymede Fellow after her paper, Talking to Strangers: A Critical Analysis of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Decision in R v Mills, was chosen as one of two winning submissions by the Runnymede Society.

The society is a national student membership organization dedicated to the ideas and ideals of constitutionalism, liberty and the rule of law. The Runnymede Fellows Program seeks papers relating to themes of the rule of law, constitutionalism, and individual liberty, and is open to Canadian undergraduate law students and articling/clerking students. In addition to a cash prize of $4000, Chelsey has a chance to have her paper published in the Supreme Court Law Review and the Dicey Law Review

Her winning submission examines the Charter implications of R v Mills, 2019 SCC 22. In Mills, an undercover officer acting without a warrant posed as a fourteen-year-old girl online and communicated with Mr. Mills through Facebook messages. The officer eventually arranged a meeting with, and arrested Mr. Mills who sought to have the message evidence excluded. 

“The Supreme Court unanimously ruled to allow the evidence,” said Buggie. “However, only Justice Martin agreed that Mr. Mills’ s. 8 rights were engaged and infringed. I take the position that the Mills decision is inconsistent with prior s. 8 jurisprudence regarding content neutrality and expectation of privacy in digital conversations. The type of sting operation used in Mills should have been classified as participant surveillance requiring a warrant.”

According to Buggie, the Supreme Court unduly adjusted the balance of power to favour law enforcement. The result of the Mills decision is that law enforcement may continue to use this investigative technique unregulated, and unencumbered. In her view, such an adjustment in favour of law enforcement is not justified. She argued that other investigative techniques are available to law enforcement and obtaining a warrant would not unduly hinder child luring investigations. Buggie says that failure to oversee these operations could have a potential chilling effect on legitimate online relationships and reinforce stereotypes about hypersexualized youth online.

A lesson in determination

Graduating on the dean’s list and being recognized as a national constitutional law scholar has special meaning for Buggie. During her time at UNB Law, Chelsey was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos, a rare genetic connective tissue disorder that causes joint pain and instability, nervous system dysfunction, and frequent allergic reactions. After working collaboratively with her health team to manage the condition, she managed to turn a C+ in first-year Constitutional Law into an A+ in third-year Advanced Constitutional Law.

“Constitutional Law in 1L was one of my worst marks. I think this award shows others the opportunity we all have to grow; it's proof that your 1L marks are not everything, they're just letters on a transcript and do not speak to your academic potential.” 

Buggie attributes much of her success to the guidance of Professor Kerri Froc.

“I am so lucky to have had the guidance of Prof. Froc throughout law school. She helped me to expand on my writing skills, challenged me to learn more about the constitution, and has been a support system through difficult times. Her help and encouragement have been invaluable.”

Chelsey will begin her articles this summer with the Newfoundland and Labrador Government’s Civil Division focussing on constitutional law and policy. She will also be pursuing a Master's in Technology Management at Memorial University where she is excited to continue to study the intersections of technology and the law.

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