Thanks, Mr. Chair.
I want to reiterate. We've had several committee meetings on this already and have heard from a great panel of witnesses both today and in the past. Oftentimes the conversation turns around children's sexual rights, the rights of young people to engage in sex, mostly with other young people.
With respect to those who are raising that issue, I think this bill fully contemplates that. The bill we've brought forward has a close-in-age exemption that fully prevents any criminalization of activities between peers, with a five-year close-in-age exemption.
What this bill aims to get at—and we heard this in our previous panel, and I'd like some comment on it—is that we hear of those who actually treat Canada as a haven. They may come from a jurisdiction where the age of consent is 16. I'll use the example of a 50-year-old male, but we could use the example of a 40-year-old male or a 30-year-old male or a female.
I just read this morning about a case of a female where the age was reversed, but a significantly older person who wants to have sex with a 14-year-old or a 15-year-old. In their home jurisdiction it is completely prohibited, because the age of consent is 16. In Canada, the age of consent is 14. Now, there are categories whereby a 14-year-old would be protected if there were an exploitive relationship. That has to be proven.
What we have is a situation where society has said to us, and parents have said to us, they think this is already illegal. That's the evidence we heard. We've heard from witnesses who say that when they tell parents that a 40-year-old can have sex with your 14-year-old, they're shocked. They think this is already against the law.
What this bill aims to get at is to send a message to individuals who would like to come to Canada or are in Canada and want to have relationships with people who are significantly younger, 14 and 15 years old, that this is not going to happen, that it's against the law.
I'd like a general comment on how we've addressed the close-in-age. There may be some in this panel who think that “close in age” should be more than five years, and if that's the case, I'd like to hear arguments to support it.
I guess my question is—what this bill gets at is not about teens having sex with each other—whether you think it's ever appropriate for, as an example, a 40-year-old or a 45-year-old man to have sex with a 14-year-old. Is it ever appropriate in our society for someone who is 20 or 30 years older than a 14-year-old to have sex with them?