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Industry Canada needs to fine Port Hardy Secondary School

March 31, 2009 @ 21:14 By: gordon Category: Amateur radio, Current affairs, In the news

The Globe and Mail had a story this morning that caught my eye. To combat the use of cell phones by students in his school, Steve Gray, the principal of Port Hardy Secondary School, purchased a cell phone jamming device. The students figured out within a couple of days that something was interfering with their cell phones and quickly organized a demonstration. The principal eventually gave in and turned off the device.

At first pass, jamming cell phones in the school might seem like a not unreasonable solution to the problem. Students shouldn’t be using their cell phones in class, so if their phones are jammed it shouldn’t affect them.

The problem is that cell phone jamming devices are illegal in Canada under sections 4 and 9 of the Radiocommunication Act. Specifically, Section 4(2) states:

(2) No person shall manufacture, import, distribute, lease, offer for sale or sell any radio apparatus, interference-causing equipment or radio-sensitive equipment for which a technical acceptance certificate is required under this Act, otherwise than in accordance with such a certificate.

Section 9(1)(b) states:

9. (1) No person shall

(b) without lawful excuse, interfere with or obstruct any radiocommunication;

Anyone who violates either section 4 or 9(1)(a) or (b) or who “without lawful excuse, manufactures, imports, distributes, leases, offers for sale, sells, installs, modifies, operates or possesses any equipment or device, or any component thereof, under circumstances that give rise to a reasonable inference that the equipment, device or component has been used, or is or was intended to be used, for the purpose of contravening section 9” is …

guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and is liable, in the case of an individual, to a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or to both, or, in the case of a corporation, to a fine not exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars.

The principal claims that he didn’t think it was illegal to operate the jammer. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.  He now knows that it is illegal to operate or even possess a cell phone jammer, but he’s quoted in the article as stating “I’m going to hold onto it and hope the regulations follow reality.”

Industry Canada needs to immediately confiscate the device and fine the school board for breaking the law by both having operated the device and possessing it.

And the students need to respect the rules established by their school and turn their phones off when they’re in class.

7 Responses to “Industry Canada needs to fine Port Hardy Secondary School”


  1. He could have the whole school covered in grounded copper mesh though…

    • gordon says:

      Absolutely! I don’t believe there’s anything in the Act that says you can’t do that.

      In the picture on the PHSS website, it looks like the school is partially clad in corrugated metal siding, so they’re party there already.

  2. Ken says:

    The wording there is very important: “without lawful excuse”, which means to me that there could be lawful reasons for doing what was done – which in turn means that it’s not illegal to operate the jammer.

    The problem here is “without lawful excuse”. I doubt the authorities would buy his excuse of “I just want students to pay more attention”.

    I’ll bet as well this won’t be the last time you’ll hear of situations like this.

    • gordon says:

      There are some licensed applications of cell phone jammers in Canada. Police forces dealing with hostage situations are sometimes licensed to use a jammer to isolate the bad guys.

      The “without lawful excuse” is there to cover unforeseen situations — basically giving Industry Canada and the courts some discretion when it’s appropriate, but unlicensed.

      The principal’s application is almost certainly not a “lawful excuse”.

  3. raino says:

    yeah. why is that anyhow, that the kids couldn’t just do what they’re told and not use their phones?

  4. PHSS STUDENT says:

    Its funny how mr.grey said he didnt know it was illegal, but all that a few students did was easily search it up on the internet and find out,
    when we had our protest, we gave out papers containing all the info about jammers and how there illegal in canada, and the principles took them away? HMMMM…
    also even after knowing they were illegal, he still kept it on, and was refusing to turn it off until we all returned to class.
    Principle kept the cell phone jammer, a secret didnt let anyone know about it, he payed 100$ or more for it, from our school money, which couldve been used on better things like equipment, new computers for the library, PAPER TOWEL IN THE BATHROOMS?
    port hardy secondary school is slowly detoriating, and we have barely any courses to choose from, and the ones we have aren’t gonna help us that much. I just want people to open there eyes, and like come down and see how low our school is. THIS SCHOOL NEEDS MAJOR CHANGES, BETTER PRINCIPLES,

  5. Apparently, they need to teach PHSS students the difference between the words “principle” and “principal”.

    Evidently the principal was correct – the phones need to be jammed so that the students pay attention.



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