All artists and writers should be nervous. Don Smith (right) has gone down (even before this legislation was introduced) and if you think Christine Bartlett-Hughes
won't seize this precedent to come after you, think again! The
way has been cleared for prosecutions reminiscent of the war
on drugs. The misleading headline of the Globe and Mail article
should read "Ottawa targets everyone." Search
and Seizure ♦♦ Pornography Busts
Ottawa targets child predators
By KIM LUNMAN, Globe and Mail, December 2, 2002
OTTAWA - The federal government will
unveil a sweeping child-protection bill this week that aims to
close loopholes in child-pornography laws, outlaw "criminal
voyeurism" by electronic peeping Toms and make divorce laws
The proposed legislation contains measures
that would prevent the sexual exploitation of younger teenagers
who are old enough to consent to sex but vulnerable to abuse
by older adults, sources said.
Justice Minister Martin Cauchon, who
has said he wants to make the protection of children from sexual
predators a priority, will outline the omnibus bill in the House
of Commons this week, government sources said.
The legislation is designed to protect
children and other vulnerable members of society. Child-pornography
laws would be rewritten to ensure limits are placed on the defence
of artistic merit.
Ottawa has vowed to close a loophole
made apparent when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled there are
exceptions to the child-pornography law. In a decision that sparked
a national uproar last year, the Supreme Court ruled that graphic
stories of child sex written by John Robin Sharpe of Vancouver
have artistic merit that fall within the realm of freedom of
The bill calls for tightening the provisions
in the child-pornography section of the Criminal Code, while
balancing constitutional rights.
The legislation is expected to call for
the elimination of the terms "access" and "custody"
in the Divorce Act, replacing them with "parenting orders,"
to do away with the connotations of winning and losing custody
of children and access rights to them.
Mr. Cauchon has said he wants a less
adversarial divorce system and he is leaning away from existing
laws on shared parenting to embrace parental responsibility.
"We want to address issues of access and custody and make
it less confrontational," he said this year.
Sources said the legislation would not
raise the age of legal consent to sex but would create a prohibited
category of sexual exploitation of young people.
Under pressure to raise the age of consent
to prevent teens from being exploited by older adults, the Justice
Minister has examined ways to broaden the section of the Criminal
Code addressing sexually exploitative relationships.
The age of consent is 14, except where
a relationship of trust or authority exists or if the relationship
is deemed exploitative, such as in child pornography and prostitution.
Opposition critics have called on the
government to increase the age of consent to 16. This year, a
Canadian Alliance motion calling for the measure was defeated.
In the United States, the age of consent ranges from 16 to 18.
Mr. Cauchon and Liberal MPs argued that
the Alliance motion was simplistic and could result in the criminalization
of sexual acts by teenagers of the same age or close to it.
The proposed legislation would create
an offence called criminal voyeurism, to deal with modern-day
peeping Toms who rely on tiny cameras and other technological
tools for sexual spying. In drafting the legislation, the government
had to consider how to frame the legislation in such a way that
criminal conduct could be prohibited while allowing freedom of
More than a dozen U.S. states have taken
steps to outlaw non-consensual voyeurism, but no such offence
exists in Canada. Police can charge video voyeurs only with mischief
or trespass by night, century-old Criminal Code offences that
cannot cope with electronic invasions of privacy.
Police have complained that the Criminal
Code's provisions are not well tailored to cope with video voyeurs
who conceal pinhole cameras and disseminate images on the Internet
and elsewhere. The voyeurs - - " typically men - - "
have spied on victims - - " usually women - - " in
bedrooms, locker rooms, toilet cubicles and store dressing rooms.
The omnibus bill follows a model the
Liberal government has used in recent years in which a number
of bills are rolled into one piece of legislation.
One of these, Bill C-10, which called
for stiffer penalties for cruelty to animals and proposals to
streamline the national firearms registry, stalled in the Senate.
Senators voted to split the bill into
Bill C-10 (a) and Bill C-10 (b), saying the issues are unrelated.