We thank you all for your testimony. We listened attentively.
I think, with fairness, we have to realize that we're in a context here where in the world, age limits are set; we're in a spectrum. Every community is different. In some places in the United States, there are age limits of 18 years, with no close-in-age exception. In Mexico, it's 12 years. So we're in that spectrum. We know that in Europe it's essentially a mixed bag between 14 and 16, some with close-in-age exception, some not. I think that's one of the contexts.
The other context that is very important to remember is that this is a committee that has a legislative and political aspect to it. And while I myself will support this bill, what made it palatable, despite the rhetoric of the continual efforts to get laws like this, is that this is the first time that a close-in-age exception of five years has been tabled by way of legislation. That makes it palatable.
Perhaps I could be further persuaded, through the eloquence of Mr. Trudell and others, of a presumption. I think that's a good suggestion.
But this is what we've been presented. We're happy with it, to some degree, but we must underline, as the official opposition, that it's piecemeal, that it doesn't take into account the glaring paucity of any reference to anal intercourse. This is a glaring hole, and it should have been addressed.
If this act were not purely political there would have been more of an omnibus nature about it. But we're here, and this is what we have, and frankly, I support it.
I heard some very interesting testimony. I have two questions. One is to the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, and the other is to the Elizabeth Fry Society—and it picks up on your comments. It's the whole aspect of minors—people under 18 in the provinces like Ontario, and 19 in the province of New Brunswick. It's a hodge-podge. To quote our neighbours to the south, you can be old enough to go to war and lose your life, but not to drink in the state of Texas. We know that everything from Texas, politically, doesn't make sense. But in this country, looking in the mirror, we see we have some problems in terms of age discrepancy with respect to certain rights. I know the Civil Liberties Association would be very interested in those anomalies. Frankly, because I don't follow it that closely, I've yet to have a lot of information from what work you're doing either in B.C. or across Canada with respect to those anomalies.
I'd like to hear a little bit about that, because we're under time constraints, keeping in mind that you have to share your time with the second question, which I'm putting to Ms. Pate.
Ms. Pate, you said, and this is as close to a quote as I can get, “There is a political and practical reluctance to enforce existing laws.” You went into one example. I'm very much interested in that, because as you know, we believe that police forces are under-resourced and that they have to cherry-pick what laws they are going to enforce. Sometimes judges do this. Sometimes prosecutors do this. Rather than throwing legislation and letting it stick on the wall—most of it poorly written, like on the back of a napkin in the parliamentary secretary's office, perhaps—we need a more comprehensive enforcement policy and to resource that.
Those are my two brief questions. I would ask you to respect the time in answering those.