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Talking smack in Saskatoon could soon get you slapped with a fine.

The Saskatchewan city will review a proposed bylaw today that seeks to outlaw bullying in all of its forms, from gossiping, to name calling to outright violence. While nobody under the age of 12 would be able to be convicted, anyone older could face a fine of up to $300 if caught. A second offence will see that cost rise to anywhere between $300 and $2,500, although some cases will allow for alternative punishments, like participation in an anti-bullying course.

For the record, the proposed bylaw defines “bullying” as an unprovoked, repeated and inappropriate comment or action that is intended to cause harm or fear. Applicable behaviour would be outlawed in both public and private areas. But Brian Trainor, a retired police sergeant who now delivers anti-bullying presentations in schools around Saskatchewan, says he wants to make it clear that police will not actively be looking for people doing things like gossiping on the street.

“We have noise bylaws, we have spitting on the sidewalk bylaws,” he said. “Well, I can guarantee you that there are not cops running around downtown Saskatoon looking for people spitting on the sidewalk.”

Trainor said that like most bylaws, this one would be complaint driven. Police would respond to individuals who say they had been name-called, for example, and then officers would use their discretion to determine whether or not the behaviour qualified as bullying or was simply inappropriate.

If the bylaw passes, it could come into effect by this September, just in time for the new school year. For more information on the anti-bullying legislation, check out the video above.

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