Letters were sent to all provincial MPPs in Ontario, and in 2006 it was recorded in Hansard that by unanimous vote, the white ribbon from the White Ribbon Against Pornography campaign was to be worn for one day of that week. We also sent 8,000 letters from Barrie constituents to the judges of the Supreme Court, pleading for the age of consent to be raised, as the John Robin Sharpe case was debated.
Why are we doing this? In 1995 a judge ruled in Toronto that a man who had sexually abused a 14-year-old boy received minimal punishment. There was no concept of the agony of the victim. As well, 1999 brought the scourge of child pornography right to our door in Barrie, when Ivan Cohen was found guilty of possessing and producing child pornography. A jail sentence was ruled, but on being sent to the Ontario Court of Appeal, the sentence was commuted to house arrest, causing great anger locally. Then the case of John Robin Sharpe, with all its twists and turns, emerged before the public eye.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was and is being abused here in Canada. In exercising rights and freedoms, there must be accountability for the corrupt uses of personal rights that harm other people, especially children, and that abuse of all our rights. The rights of the individual have to be seen in the context of the ultimate good of the nation. The rights of the victim have to be considered against the rights of the offender. Without this, we lose our freedoms. We disintegrate into a justice system that has lost its way, that has lost sight of what real justice is.
The linchpin of the increase in child pornography centres on the age of consent. Canada has an age of consent to sex that is lower than in any other country in the world. Adults can legally engage in sexual activity with children 14 and older. The age of consent creates a large loophole in the law. Case: at 14, Canada's consent is lower than most western nations. There are no other western countries that have legalized sex as low as the age of 14. The National Post reports that a growing number of foreign men have used the Internet to lure Canadian children. And according to Concerned Citizens Against Child Pornography, reducing the age of consent is the key to the rise in Canada's pedophile crime, including Internet luring.
On asking my former MP about this, she replied that it was ancient law. So how many other ancient laws has Canada retained? The U.S.A., the U.K., and other countries have updated their medieval laws on marriage and sex. Why hasn't Canada?
The age of consent continues to be a legal loophole by which pedophiles are abusing our children. Action must be taken, and quickly, in order to protect and ensure the innocence of our children. Police Chief Fantino has said that even third world countries are more civilized and conscientious than ours is about our duty as adults to protect the most vulnerable component of our society, our children. According to Focus on the Family, a clear and present danger is facing our children. And Manitoba Premier Gary Doer has said that we believe the rights of children should be superior rights, in our country, to the rights of perverts.
In terms of development, a 14-year-old is not prepared for the responsibility of sex. Emotional, physiological, physical, mental, psychological, and spiritual maturity—all are factors over the next two to four years. A 14-year-old cannot understand or appreciate the danger of STDs, some of which are fatal, all of which play havoc with the lives of people who have been impacted by them.
Children abused in child pornography demonstrate multiple symptoms: emotional withdrawal, anti-social behaviour, mood swings, depression, fear, anxiety, a high risk of becoming perpetrators in later life, and destructive feelings of guilt and shame. Pornography desensitizes children.
Canada has cumbersome, outdated, time-consuming, ineffective, and expensive pornography investigation and laws. As the WRAP campaign flyer puts it, outdated disclosure rules force police to examine every computer file they seize before a charge is laid. Other western countries examine two or three files and then arrest the pedophile. The work of Project P and other similar groundbreaking endeavours are making clear progress in this very difficult and stressful protective work for Canada and Canadian children.
Finally, the “name and shame” move in England held a very apposite point, as this headline illustrates: “Named and Shamed: The MPs who won't back Sarah's Law”. This is with reference to the offenders' registry. It's similar to Christopher's law in Ontario and Megan's law in the U.S.A.
I call on the federal Parliament of Canada to bring in vital legislation necessary to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16 in order to protect the children of Canada, who are the future generation for this country.