Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
My name is Paul Gillespie. I was previously employed by the Toronto Police Service, where I was lucky enough to serve for 28 years. For the last six years of my duties, I was the officer in charge of the child exploitation section of the sex crimes unit, and I was very fortunate to be working with a tremendous group of individuals. The team did some great work in pioneering some of the efforts that are being used around the world today in regard to the online sexual exploitation of children.
Since I left the police service last June, I have been working with a not-for-profit group in Toronto that I helped to start, called the Kids' Internet Safety Alliance, or kinsa.net. Our mission statement is simple. We're simply dedicated to the elimination of the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet and in all related issues.
In my time as a law enforcement officer, and certainly in the child exploitation section of the sex crimes unit, we had a very talented group of young officers who were very sophisticated with technology. This allowed us to conduct intelligence investigations in very deep, dark areas of the Internet. Some of those areas are known as the “freenet” or the “undernet”. They are the bowels of the Internet and are basically impossible to trace. It is down there that we found the worst of the worst. Pedophiles would operate and conduct intelligence, refer members, pass on information, and teach each other. It was through these areas that the most vile of the pictures and movies that we are unfortunate enough to all now be aware of would enter the Internet.
We had officers specifically assigned to monitor chat rooms and news groups in this area, and to take the temperature of what was occurring around the world. On numerous occasions, members and pedophiles around the world would openly advocate coming to Canada and would explain to each other that one might be allowed to have sex with a 14-year-old child because it's legal. They did so often not to the dismay, but the wonderment and surprise of others around the world.
I have had the opportunity to conduct hundreds of presentations on safety issues, children's sexual issues, and sexual exploitation issues, to school groups, church groups, and public meetings, including one yesterday in Brantford. At some point in the meeting, I typically just ask everybody to raise their hand if they're aware it is legal for 50-year-old men to have sex with a 14-year-old child. To this day, most Canadians just don't understand it. When you lay out the facts, they're just most often horrified, understanding that if it happened to them, they would be mortified. They feel that the fact is, it can't be right. Luckily enough, and hopefully, if this legislation passes, I think it will be very good.
For the last four years, I've been working with Microsoft in relation to software that we developed, called the child exploitation tracking system. This takes me around the world as I work to have other countries accept this software, which will someday be a global network. In the last two years, I've been on six different continents and have spoken to officers in different areas. I'm keenly aware of what's occurring in those areas in regard to the computer-facilitated sexual exploitation of children, and this is first and foremost on everyone's minds.
The one common theme that I deal with, certainly from my peers in law enforcement and in government, is the fact that grown men truthfully should not be allowed to have sex with children. That's something I hope this legislation fixes.