moved for leave to introduce Bill C-436, an act to amend the Wages Liability Act (definition of adult).
Madam Speaker, this is a bill to amend the Wages Liability Act. I am trying to harmonize this act with the definition of a child and to ensure that child means anyone under the age of 18.
This is part of a series of legislation I have proposed today. There is a lot more to come over the next few days. The intent is to bring to the forefront the whole notion of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the issues that were dealt with at that time.
We have started to see movement by the provincial governments. In particular the province of Alberta set up a task force to deal with the involvement of children in prostitution. The committee unanimously recommended to the federal government that it amend the relevant Criminal Code sections to reflect all provisions and all prostitution related offences perpetrated against youths as those involving persons under the age of 18.
The same task force said that at the provincial level Alberta should change all of its legislation in order to define a child as anyone under the age of 18. We are starting to see movement at the provincial level to harmonize legislation in terms of children.
There is one more important thing to put on the table. My colleague from the NDP tried to harass me earlier about why I am introducing so much legislation that deals with children. In the province of Ontario the NDP was in power for a number of years and had plenty of time to address the provincial legislation that dealt with the notion of children. It had plenty of time to harmonize its legislation to be in conformity with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. There are in excess of 75 pieces of provincial legislation that deal with the issue of children. In many cases the legislation is extremely contradictory.
I am proposing this legislation at the federal level with the hope that it will be considered. We have no authority over what the provincial governments do with their legislation. We have a moral authority and a moral obligation collectively as taxpayers and as elected officials across the land to collectively harmonize all of our legislation provincially and federally.
A committee was struck by the UN and in passing, I thank Senator Landon Pearson and her capable staff member, Yolande, who supplied me with a copy of a UN committee report. It praises Canada for what it has done in terms of its commitment to children. The committee took note of the effort made by Canada in participating in international projects relating to children in co-operation with UNICEF and other governmental and non-governmental organizations.
The same committee indicated its concern about the lack of conformity and the lack of uniformity when it comes to federal, provincial and territorial legislation in Canada. The committee has given Canada the deadline of 1999 to harmonize all federal, provincial and territorial legislation for consistency and conformity with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Unless we have that consistency we cannot take collective action, set priorities or take our proper responsibility. We cannot devise a national action plan to deal with the notion of children unless we agree on what constitutes a child. Parents must know when they legally stop being responsible for their children. When do children have rights? When does society as a whole have to take action? All those elements were addressed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
I want to conclude by saying that I agree with Mrs. Clinton when she said that it takes a village to raise a child.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)