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House of Commons Hansard #145 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was pornography.

Topics

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague from British Columbia for her comments. I also thank the hon. member for Wild Rose for bringing this very important motion to the floor for debate, exactly where it should be.

A former member of Parliament named Mr. Chris Axworthy, a former attorney general of Saskatchewan, brought forward an Internet child pornography bill which was very extensive and widely supported by various members of the House, as well as the Canadian Police Association, the RCMP, the OPP, et cetera. The premise of that bill is that we must do everything to protect our children from the ills of child pornography. One of those is something called cyberspace. Many young people are being sucked into the world and aura of the Internet.

The Internet pornography bill, which I have now assumed and am hoping to have debated in the House at some time, states that the Internet providers themselves, the ones who provide the service, would have to bear some sort of responsibility for monitoring their sites. They would have to ensure that they did everything possible to stop child pornography from appearing on their sites.

Would hon. member for South Surrey—White Rock—Langley support that type of initiative? When she says we must do everything possible to protect our children, I fundamentally agree with her on that.

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3:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith Canadian Alliance South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it sounds like a reasonable approach. As the hon. member said, a lot of children now are using the Internet.

It is also the responsibility of the parents to ensure they know what their children are watching or doing on the Internet. It is also incumbent upon the parents to put those kinds of things into the system which blocks out that kind of material.

However, I think we will have to expand our imagination as to how we control the use of cyberspace, as my hon. colleague called it. We have been able to do some of it. We have been able to control the promotion of hate material, so I certainly think the same can be done for promoting child pornography.

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3:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to commend the speaker on her comments. I understand where she is coming from as a mother and a grandmother and why it is so important this issue be addressed in the way it is.

The member has been here 10 years and she knows pretty well what has been going on with the justice system of the country. She has been involved in it a lot. I would like her opinion on some comments that I have heard today.

I do not know how many times I have heard the comment, but it is something the Liberals like to espouse a lot. “We are leading the world in this fight”. “We are leading the charge in all of these issues”. “We have the best criminal justice system in the world”. “We are leading the charge in a penitentiary system”. Old Ingstrup used to say, “We are the envy of the world”. Yet I look at the facts and I see that all the free democratic countries have the age of consent at 16 and we are still at 14.

I see some other things that really look strange when I hear those kinds of words. I think we are sitting on the side or we are trailing desperately.

Based on the member's experience in this place, what does she feel about that?

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3:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith Canadian Alliance South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his questions and comments.

It does not take too much to realize that someone can be crawling along the ground and still be leading. I do not think the government can take any credit for leading anybody in issues such as this.

If the government feels that what it is doing is leading, then I would hate to think what it would do if it was following. My response to that is one is judged by their actions, not by their words.

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3:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to partake in this debate sponsored by the Canadian Alliance regarding the elimination of all defences for the possession of child pornography.

I am confident that members on all sides of the House and all parties would agree that there is probably nothing more important in their lives than their children or grandchildren. Therefore, the debate today is very important. It is urgent, given that the House, as rumoured, may recess fairly soon and motions such as this will no longer be able to be debated or discussed.

The period of time available to the House to pass necessary pieces of legislation such as Bill C-20 or Bill C-23, the national sex offender registry, is rapidly running out.

We have less than two weeks to ensure that important bills, bills aimed at protecting our children, are enacted before the business of this country is put on hold because we have one Prime Minister who is on his way out to make room for another Prime Minister who is on his way in. Basically, the House will recess early because of the turmoil and disarray in which the government finds itself in the middle of this shuffle.

Bill C-20 has yet to be reported on by the committee. It falls far short of the official opposition's expectations. It fails to adequately protect our children from sexual exploitation, abuse, neglect, and falling victim to child pornography or pornographers. In fact, it falls short of almost everyone's expectations, including those who are on the opposite side of the issue dealing with Bill C-20.

In a submission to the justice committee, the Canadian Bar Association stated that the wording was vague and could be challenged on constitutional grounds. The Canadian Bar Association suggested that Bill C-20 be sent back to the drawing board.

Bill C-20 deals with child pornography, voyeurism and exploitation. It deals with all those issues that we are debating here today.

Meanwhile, those of us on the other side of the issue are concerned about the justice minister's failure to eliminate all legal loopholes that wrongfully justify the criminal possession of child pornography.

Instead, the Minister of Justice has devised a catch-all defence. The Liberal minister has effectively combined a number of defences, including artistic merit in the broadly interpreted defence of public good. This was in direct response to the Supreme Court's consideration of public good in the decision of Regina v. Sharpe.

If Bill C-20 passes, anyone arrested for the possession of child pornography may use what the government considers a narrower defence: the defence within the public good. This replaces the defence of the possessing of child pornography for reasons of artistic merit, educational, scientific or medical reasons and the public good. It has taken that and shrunk it down, but in reality it has become much more broader.

In Regina v. Sharpe, the Supreme Court of Canada found that public good could be interpreted to be necessary or advantageous to the pursuit of science, literature, or art, or other objects of general interest. Here, the court was saying that there is a place for it in literature or in art.

Quite obviously, for all intents and purposes, the defence of public good can and will be interpreted to still include the defence of artistic merit. Therefore, nothing really changes in this bill. Nothing really changes from the current status, except that our courts now will become even further inundated with trials and cases.

These cases will only serve to add to the backlog that is currently clogging our courts, while defence lawyers argue about what does and what does not constitute public good or artistic merit or any of the above.

The Ontario Office for Victims of Crime pointed out the following in its brief to the justice committee only a couple of weeks ago:

Clearly, in order to prevent the expanded legality of possession of child porn, Parliament must craft precise legislation supported by an explicit description of its rationale for doing so in the preamble of the bill. The legislation should attempt to respond to all of the potential “defences” generated by the Supreme Court of Canada or Canadians can look forward to an ever-increasing legalization of child porn possession and use. As expert evidence accepted by the Supreme Court makes clear, that translates directly to increased threat to children.

Bill C-20 is coming forward. There are different groups. One group is in favour of maintaining artistic merit. Many groups, civil liberties and those types of groups, say that the bill would open the door and it is not what they want because it is vague.

We have those who deal specifically with victims who stand back and say that Bill C-20 would not help combat child pornography. The threat would increase and the use and the legalization of child porn would increase.

I implore the government to listen to the victims groups. I implore the government to do everything within its power to stop the proliferation of child pornography, especially as we have seen it unfold over the Internet.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, I have been privy to the debates, presentations, opinions, testimonies and to the witnesses on both sides of the issue. Regrettably, I have also been privy to police files that contained literally thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of absolutely degrading and sickening pictures of child pornography.

Pictures were shown by Sergeant Detective Paul Gillespie to a group of members of Parliament but also by the RCMP. Paul Gillespie gave a presentation about the need to help solve the epidemic problem of child pornography. He is with the Toronto sex crime unit. These pictures were unimaginable. They were so horrible and so revolting that a number of members of Parliament left the room. Others looked away not wanting to be privy to seeing the pictures that were put on the screen.

I felt absolutely nauseated thinking about the innocent and vulnerable children all across this country who were being criminally exploited by society's most perverse and sadistic criminals who, under Bill C-20, will not be subjected to sentences that fit the crime because the legislation does not seek to increase maximum sentences for child related offences, nor does it impose any minimum sentences.

When was the last time we saw a judge impose the maximum sentence on any type of criminal offence dealing with pornography? We do not see it. To increase maximum sentences is not the answer to anything. When we are dealing with child pornography, Bill C-20 does not impose minimum sentences.

It effectively means that pedophiles can and will continue to receive fines and conditional sentences, and no jail time. Sadistic types of pornography are being passed on the Internet and the perpetrators get a slap on the wrist. They are told not to do it again and to stay home. It is unacceptable.

Nothing within Bill C-20 would prevent judges from handing out conditional sentences or fines to offenders convicted of possessing or distributing child pornography.

In my opinion, those who possess and seek to possess child pornography are every bit as guilty of committing a crime against a child as those who take the pictures. Therefore, they should be sentenced to minimum terms in prison for committing the offence of aiding and abetting the abuse, torture or sexual exploitation. This opinion is shared by police officers throughout the country.

It was my pleasure today to stand with Staff Inspector Bruce Smollet, the officer in charge of Toronto's sex crime unit, during today's press conference commending him and the entire Toronto police force for their outstanding work and their commitment to public protection.

Under the excellent leadership of Police Chief Julian Fantino, the entire Toronto police force has done an exemplary job of fighting a crime that is becoming much more prevalent in this nation. It is not only in urban areas but in rural areas as well because it can be ushered straight into homes via the Internet.

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3:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, we had to endure the sound and fury of the justice minister this morning. He cannot understand why his proposal, Bill C-20, falls so far short of what the country needs.

I think that our tough questions are an affront to his career and leadership aspirations. We saw him twist himself into a pretzel to justify Liberal ideology under which the country endures, perhaps even suffers.

The pathetic minister bleats virtue while under the same Liberal administration, in their years of power, crime and tragedies have continued for families. In fact, it has expanded. In view of these poor results, it would look like the Liberal government in some sections is secretly compromised.

I would talk specifically about the child porn situation. It worsens and this is the Liberal legacy of inaction. Divorce and family law is a national tragedy for families. Liberals could not deliver upon the masterful work For the Sake of the Children report and the hurt for children continues.

Street prostitution is a stain on our communities. For years now the laws allow easy access for juveniles to get into the whole exploitive sex trade process. This is the Liberal record of inaction for our children.

Last, there is sexual relations with children, the age of consent and the legal problem, and the Liberal record of failure to protect the vulnerable in our neighbourhoods.

I am talking about what the minister said. He hires Department of Justice officials and seeks their advice. Unfortunately, he gets very poor advice. We are saying that Canada needs moral and administrative leadership.

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3:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the eloquence with which the member brought forward some of the concerns that he had with the justice minister. He passionately talked about Bill C-20 and how the minister felt that it will solve all the problems. Bill C-20 will not solve the problems; it may become a massive problem.

One of the worst things we could believe in is a sense of security when there is nothing there. We have a sense that something is being looked after and Canadians believe that child pornography will be addressed in Bill C-20. That may be all that the average “Joe Lunchbucket” understands; however, in reality, it is not being addressed one bit.

Every bit of expert advice tells us that child pornography is a risk to children. There is no one who can say that child pornography does not pose a risk.

I believe that Canadians place a higher priority on the protection of children from risk of harm than they place on any defence dealing with artistic merit or public good. If we were to ask Canadians who go to work eight hours a day what they believe is most important, whether to protect children from this type of filth that is on the Internet and this type of pornography or to allow the defence of artistic merit, I think the answer would be very clear.

Defence counsel thrive on inconsistencies, technicalities, holding things up in court, and playing out whether or not this is a legitimate public good.

The justice minister was arguing about the public good and how it would be the protection of what is needed in Bill C-20. I think some of the ways that we can solve the problem with public good is to make it very clear. Does this questionable piece of so-called art or pornography, or whatever it may be deemed, serve a greater public good or is it more pornographic and dealing with illegal types of sexual activities? Is it descriptive of that?

What is best? We have to do the balance sooner or later. Is it more public good or is it more sexually pornographic material?

Those who would argue for public good or artistic merit do not want that type of standard set. They want the small little question placed, is there any artistic merit? And on would go the court cases. The best thing the government could do is to say that it will not be tolerant of child pornography and of those who prey on our innocent.

As a father of a young daughter, 11 years old and a son, eight, it absolutely turns my stomach to see those individuals who would prey on young people. We need a government that will have the courage and boldness to stand up and say that it is intolerable and it will not allow it.

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3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this very important motion. We have heard it during the debate and it goes without saying that the issue of child pornography is a concern for all members of the House and indeed for all Canadians.

All child pornography exploits children. Any defence that would allow for the further exploitation of children should not be tolerated. I believe that the House is unanimous on this issue. We as parliamentarians must do everything within our power to eliminate child pornography in our society.

We are also dealing with some very challenging and complex matters on the whole issue of child pornography. We are dealing with the Internet. We are dealing with emerging technologies. It takes tremendous resources just to keep up with what is going on in society. We are also dealing with the interjurisdictional transfer of pictures and images which makes law enforcement that much more difficult to deal with.

The priority of the government, as was reflected in the Speech from the Throne, is child pornography. Despite what sometimes appears to be a divergence of opinion, which the last speaker talked about and we are going to get that every day here, on the best way to protect children against sexual exploitation, I think all hon. members share the common concern and objective that we all want to better protect our children against this form of sexual exploitation.

The child is exploited when the picture or image is taken and the child is exploited each and every time that picture or image is transmitted wherever. There is no question this is of great harm to our children and it is of great harm to our society.

As I understand today's motion it seeks to respond to the issues that flow from the R. versus Sharpe decision. Similarly Bill C-20, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act, which the Minister of Justice tabled on December 5 last year also responds directly to the issues flowing from the Sharpe decision.

It is my view that Bill C-20 directly responds to the issues raised by today's motion. It is appropriate to consider Bill C-20 and this motion together, which is being done. They are parallel situations.

We want to protect children against sexual exploitation. We are seeking sentence reforms. Bill C-20 facilitates the testimony of children and it creates a new offence of voyeurism.

As hon. members will recall, John Robin Sharpe was convicted. A lot of people forget that. He was convicted on two counts of possession of pornographic photographs of children. Unfortunately he was acquitted on charges of possessing written child pornography for the purpose of distribution or sale on the basis that these writings did not advocate or counsel unlawful sexual activity with children as required by the existing definition of written child pornography.

In the alternative, the court went on and found that Mr. Sharpe could avail himself of the defence of artistic merit. Quite correctly and quite rightly there was a public outcry over that decision. Like many of the members who have spoken on debate today, I found the decision disgusting. It certainly was not in accord with Canadian values as we know them.

Bill C-20 was introduced last December. It proposes a number of criminal law reforms that will provide children with increased protection against all forms of exploitation, including against sexual exploitation through child pornography. Two child pornography amendments are proposed that directly respond to concerns flowing from the Sharpe decision.

First, Bill C-20 proposes to broaden the existing definition of written child pornography to include not only material that advocates or counsels sexual crimes against children under 18 years, but also written material that describes prohibited sexual activity with a child where the written description of this activity is the dominant characteristic of the material and the description is written for a sexual purpose. In this way the proposed amendment to broaden the existing definition of written child pornography recognizes the very real risk of harm that such material can pose to children and to society by portraying children as a class of objects for sexual exploitation.

Second, Bill C-20 proposes to narrow the available defences. As has been stated here this afternoon, we currently have two defences, one for material that has artistic merit or serves an educational, scientific or medical purpose, and another for material that serves the public good.

I would suggest that there may be some misunderstanding of what the public good defence does, what it means and what it does not mean. Its meaning may not be immediately obvious to some, particularly for those less familiar with criminal law. It is nonetheless a defence that is known to courts in Canada. It is also a defence that has recently been considered by the Supreme Court of Canada in the specific context of child pornography.

This defence certainly does not mean that child pornography is good. I do not think any of us would ever say that. It does mean that in certain circumstances a person should not be convicted of a child pornography offence where the act or material in question serves the public good and, this is important, the benefit of that actual material to society outweighs any associated risk of harm.

The last speaker talked about being at a meeting with police officers and I understand there was another meeting held in the House and there was obviously possession of child pornography. Pictures were shown which were repulsive and disgusting, but it was obviously in the public good. They were just trying to show how disgusting this material was and how we as parliamentarians should do something. If the public good defence were not available, I submit that the police officers could have been charged and put in jail, as could the members who were present at the meeting. It would create a strict liability offence. Hon. members should think about it. What is their defence?

It will benefit Canadian society to enable police to possess the child pornography for these purposes which, and I come back to my second test, clearly outweigh the risk of harm that such possession possesses. The law must take into account all possibilities. Bill C-20 does exactly that.

While this again has been debated this afternoon, it still may be possible, although I cannot visualize it myself, for art to be considered under Bill C-20's public good defence. Bill C-20 proposes a different test from the existing test for artistic merit which was talked about in the Sharpe case. Under the existing artistic merit defence, material that is objectively shown to have artistic merit benefits from the defence of artistic merit. That is under the existing Sharpe decision. Nothing further must be shown.

However, under Bill C-20 such material must also undergo a second level of analysis such that even if the material in question can objectively be shown to have some artistic value, it will not have a defence where the risk of harm that such material poses to society outweighs any potential benefit that it offers. I cannot visualize how anyone like Robin Sharpe or a similar offender would benefit from this defence. No defence will be available for any material or act that does not satisfy both branches of the public good defence.

Bill C-20 is not perfect. We do not live in a perfect world, but I submit that it responds effectively to real concerns about child pornography. There appears to be no dispute in the House about the need to deal with this issue and Bill C-20 is a vehicle to make the necessary reforms.

Bill C-20's proposed child pornography reforms directly respond to concerns that were expressed following the Sharpe decision. As I said at the outset of my remarks, I believe this is what today's motion seeks to do. As well, like the other speakers, I want to congratulate the member for Wild Rose for bringing this motion forward and having this debate today because this is a very important and significant issue for all Canadians.

The timing of this motion is opportune as I understand that Bill C-20 is presently before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

In closing, I want to suggest that our support for Bill C-20 will in effect help us realize our support for today's motion.

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4 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Peter Goldring Canadian Alliance Edmonton Centre-East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a question and a general comment on the member's speech. My feeling is that the member's support and encouragement for Bill C-20, based on a broader definition and narrow offences, is not supportable on this side. It still is very confusing. This has been recognized by most all authorities.

The question I want to ask the member more specifically is on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It appears that the rights of the criminals to be free and the rights to somehow clarify and save from litigation freedoms of expression and artistic merit seem to carry much more weight in the expression of the speech he has just made, but what about the right of our children to be secure and the right to be protected from harm? We seemingly are decreasing continually the rights of our children to safety and security while the criminals seem to have more and more rights and weaker and weaker penalties. Whose rights are more important?

How does Bill C-20 alter the provisions in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to better protect our children at the end of the day? Perhaps the member could answer that question.

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4 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, there is no priority to rights or freedoms expressed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These rights and freedoms are for all Canadians. There is no priority in it at all.

I will be the first to admit that Bill C-20 is not perfect. If we could do it, we as parliamentarians would like to enact legislation that would stamp out child pornography today, but unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world. We are dealing with all sorts of technology, devices and difficulties in prosecution. I believe that Bill C-20 is effective and it is certainly a big improvement over what is presently there.

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4:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would hope that the hon. member for Hillsborough is not saying that the mover of this motion is being opportunistic in bringing forward this issue while we are debating Bill C-20 in another forum. I am not in that party, but I know the member for Wild Rose has been raising this issue time and time again. Any time we can talk about this issue in the House of Commons to bring light to this very serious illness that faces our country, it is a wonderful way to go.

The hon. member for Hillsborough indicated that we should do all we can to stamp out child pornography. I have a private member's bill on Internet pornography that would make providers of Internet services partially responsible for what they provide in terms of Internet services. It means that they themselves would also have to take part in monitoring the sites to ensure that any child pornography that they picked up was immediately sent to the RCMP or local police forces for investigation. Would the member support that type of initiative?

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4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, I certainly did not suggest nor did I intend to suggest that the hon. member for Wild Rose is being opportunistic. It just happens that this supply day motion is being debated at the same time.

As the learned member has pointed out and as everyone in the House is aware, the hon. member for Wild Rose has been working on this issue for a number of years. He is committed to the cause. I congratulate him on behalf of Canadians and I thank him. We are not dealing with a perfect world, but I believe it is up to all parliamentarians to do everything we can on this issue.

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4:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to clarify one thing. I hope I did not hear the hon. member correctly. He can correct me if I am wrong. I heard him say that public good ought to stay in as a defence. He must not have heard the opening comments on the motion and he must not have read it carefully, because there is one key word in it, and that word is exploitation. There is no public good in exploiting children through pornography. That is the whole point of the motion. It simply means that public good would not be a defence for anyone who chooses to exploit children.

Surely he does not believe that the police who would have possession of these items would exploit children. Surely he does not believe that psychiatrists or psychologists who have these items would exploit children. They are not included in this. We are talking about individuals in possession of this material and who dare to exploit those children through that. That is the clarity, but it did not come across that way in his speech.

Lastly, let me say that I appreciate the member's support, but Bill C-20 must immediately react to the motion today if his party is going to support this motion. It must happen immediately.

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4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, I did not intend to say that at all. I agree with the gist of this motion and with the last three words. Exploitation is there. There has been some debate about eliminating all defences, but we cannot do that. Murder is just as disgusting, but some defences are available.

As for the motion as worded by the member for Wild Rose, I support it 100% and I certainly will be standing here in the House voting for it.

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4:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, again I go back to the hon. member and my question regarding Internet providers.

Would he support any kind of motion or bill which indicates that the providers of Internet services themselves have to take some responsibility in terms of child pornography for what they provide throughout this country, and that if they find something on the services they provide they indeed would inform the proper authorities in order to meet what everyone here is saying today, that is, we must do everything in our power to stamp out child pornography?

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4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, I prefer to keep my comments to this particular motion. I have not seen the bill. I have not studied it. I have not analyzed it. Certainly I would agree with the speaker's last words, “We must do everything in our power to stamp out child pornography”. I agree with him on that.

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4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's speech. I know he is a lawyer. When we went through some of the debates on Bill C-20, the issues of artistic merit and public good, these nebulous ideas, came up. I wonder if the member could give us his comments about balancing the interests of two parties, that is, the need to protect the public good and the need to protect those who might argue artistic merit. If there is no rehabilitative progress demonstrated by people who have a preponderance or propensity to be possessors of pornography or to be pedophiles or whatever, is there in our system a bias which would say that if we are going to err, then we should err on the side of protecting the children before the rights of another?

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4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, the difficulty we sometimes get into with these arguments is that we argue the law based upon the case we are talking about. I can go right back to the Sharpe case for that matter, but other factual examples have been illustrated here this afternoon, which everyone in the House and everyone in this country find disgusting. Any talk or suggestion of or any lawyer getting up on his hind legs and talking about artistic merit is ridiculous and should not be countenanced by the judge or by society.

There would be a certain element of artistic merit, but we must not forget that there are two tests now and the benefit has to outweigh the harm. I do not see how it could ever come to be, in the situations we are talking about, in regard to the offenders we are talking about, or what is going on out there, that artistic merit would enter into the equation at all.

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4:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Larry Spencer Canadian Alliance Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is not always a privilege to have to stand in these kinds of debates, but it is a privilege to stand on behalf of the children of our nation. I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Edmonton North.

First of all, I want to talk a little bit about the reality of child pornography. There was a headline story on CTV News on January 16 about a global pornography investigation covering more than 2,300 people in Canada. That is only one investigation and that is how many people they found connected in our country, so we cannot dismiss this problem as being somewhere else in the world.

As a part of the conference entitled “Rethinking The Line: The Canada-U.S. Border”, Dr. Max Taylor of the University College, Cork, Ireland, said that each week his team collects about a thousand child pornography images from 60 different Internet news groups and that there is quite a number of children being added to these sites every week as time goes on. It is a growing problem and we need to remember that.

Bill C-20 has its weaknesses. The bill does not address sufficiently how to get the convictions and how to cut down on this international problem.

We sometimes forget about the plans of the pornographers. We pass over that and we talk about things such as community good or artistic merit.

However, the plans of the pornographers are these. Number one is to familiarize, to familiarize the community and familiarize children with these kinds of scenes because that leads to desensitizing them. The children become less sensitive to those kinds of things. They begin to accept them as normal. In other words, they sanitize. They familiarize and desensitize and then they sanitize it until it seems like that is what everyone else is doing, which then makes it more normal.

So the guard comes down. The red flags are buried. The pornographers can then move on to tantalize and actually tempt people to move into sexual experiences with other kids, with adults and in all kinds of situations that are set out. There is no reason for this kind of pornography to be made other than to use it as a tool to recruit and enlist other victims.

The results of sexual abuse on children are so awful and so terrible that we are very hesitant many times to speak about that. I want to make that the major part of what I want to say today.

I will read a quote for members, the source of which is a book by Tsai and Wagner, 1984:

Sexual victimization may profoundly interfere with and alter the development of attitudes toward self, sexuality, and trusting relationships during the critical early years of development.

It interrupts the development of a child.

Then, from Whitlock and Gillman, in 1989, there is this quote:

Sexuality is regarded not simply as a part of the self limited to genitals, discrete behaviours, or biological aspects of reproduction, but is more properly understood as one component of the total personality that affects one's concept of personal identity and self-esteem.

There is a great impact, in other words, on the life of a child who has experienced sexual abuse.

I asked Kathy Broady, the clinical director of AbuseConsultants.com, for a quick, short list of consequences observable in children who are suffering from sexual abuse. Let me give part of that list and then follow with a quote from Ms. Broady.

She wrote as number one: fear, mistrust, abandonment issues, intense clinginess to the safe person, and no trust in people. Number two: withdrawal from friends or no friends, no normal play, not smiling, and not happy, and the withdrawal from society continues in comparison to how serious the abuse is. Number three: depression, suicidal thoughts and behaviour, anger, acting out, and serious misbehaviour. Number four: eating disorders, self-injuries, and addiction to drugs, alcohol and other substances.

I have heard of how some of these children act when they are being sexually abused; they can be very young and do this. Sometimes we might see a child sitting alone, sitting in a corner or sitting in a private place, and we might see that child rocking. We might see that child displaying nervous symptoms or slapping itself, hitting itself on the head or pulling its own hair. Sometimes that is what happens when children are being subjected to sexual abuse, and that abuse does not even have to be severe.

Ms. Broady has given me this quote:

Severe childhood sexual abuse literally steals a lifetime of productivity, happiness, fulfillment, and peace from its victims.

The Internet and child pornography on the Internet and in other forms is a recruiting tool to reach children and to bring them in to the sex trade on many occasions.

Children who have been severely sexually abused and sold into the sex slave industry experience a great number of negative impacts. I am going to give members only a few of those listed by survivors in a survey that was done by AbuseConsultants.com, a survey, by the way, in which those impacts cover 50 pages in a book. I will give members less than one page.

The first category was “constant fear and no sense of safety or security anywhere, any time”. The survivors listed these points:

One: Constant fear about something, anything, always. Two: No peace, no ability to relax, constant hyper-vigilance. Three: Inappropriate or extreme responses to problems. Four: Always waiting and anticipating the next bad thing that will happen. Five: Very fatalistic thinking, preparing for doomsday--because “bad stuff” did happen so frequently, repeatedly, it was the one constant that could be expected, therefore, “it's best to always be prepared for and expecting the worst”.

Those were comments made by abuse survivors. There is one more category: self-harm. It may come as a surprise to some as to what actually can happen. It is as follows:

One: Cutting--wrists, arms, legs, stomachs, breasts, genitalia, face, absolutely anywhere. Two: Burning--by cigarettes, fire, stoves, scalding water. Three: Stabbing--legs, stomachs, vagina, abdomen.

Mr. Speaker, I remind you, these are the things these victims are doing to themselves. It is not the abuse; it is what they do to themselves because of the abuse.

Also included are:

Five: Slapping face, legs, private areas, anything anywhere. Six: Mutilation of any sort in any place by any means. Seven: Scraping layers of skin off the entire face or genitalia. Eight: Strangulation, hangings. Nine: Overdoses of drugs and alcohol. Ten: Jumping off bridges or throwing themselves in front of traffic.

This problem creates some horrendous repercussions. I will quote from a book by about five authors, not all of whom I will list:

Early identification of sexual abuse victims appears to be crucial to the reduction of suffering of abused youth and to the establishment of support systems for assistance in pursuing appropriate psychological development and healthier adult functioning. As long as disclosure continues to be a problem for young victims, then fear, suffering, and psychological distress will, like the secret, remain forever with the victim

I say that because there is something that resides there and so many people deny the awfulness of this.

What is the responsibility of Parliament? It is the protection of the citizens, protection of the vulnerable; it is to deal with the truth and make value judgments, making sure that the laws of this country are the very best possible.

We cannot allow Bill C-20 or any other bill that would address child pornography to fall so far short of dealing entirely with the situation and that would be to do. In the words of my colleague from Wild Rose, let us stamp out child pornography.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among all parties in the House through the House leaders regarding Bill C-36. I am very pleased to announce that an agreement has been arrived at. It will take me a couple of minutes to read it into the record and to seek the unanimous consent for which it has already been agreed. A copy of what I am going to say has already been served to the desks across the way and the table also has a copy. I move:

That Bill C-36, in Clause 21, be amended by replacing lines 33 to 40 on page 9 and lines 1 to 26 on page 10, with the following:

Works not public before December 31, 1998

(3) Where

(a) a work has not, before December 31, 1998, been published or performed in public or communicated to the public by telecommunication,

(b) subsection (1) would apply to that work if it had been published or performed in public or communicated to the public by telecommunication before December 31, 1998, and

(c) the relevant death referred to in subsection (1) occurred after December 30, 1948 and before December 31, 1998, copyright shall subsist in the work until the end of 2048, whether or not the work is published or performed in public or communicated to the public by telecommunication after December 30, 1998.

Works not public before December 31, 1998

(4) Where

(a) a work has not, before December 31, 1998, been published or performed in public or communicated to the public by telecommunication,

(b) subsection (1) would apply to that work if it had been published or performed in public or communicated to the public by telecommunication before December 31, 1998, and

(c) the relevant death referred to in subsection (1) occurred before December 31, 1948, copyright shall subsist in the work until the end of 2006, whether or not the work is published or performed in public or communicated to the public by telecommunication after December 30, 1998.

Those are the changes unanimously agreed to and I submit them to the House for unanimous consent.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is there unanimous consent to adopt the motion?

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Bill C-36. On the Order: Government Orders

October 28, 2003--the Minister of Canadian Heritage--Third reading of Bill C-36, an act to establish the Library and Archives of Canada, and to amend the Copyright Act and to amend certain acts in consequence.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

October 28th, 2003 / 4:25 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that Bill C-36, as amended, be deemed to have been now read a third time and passed on division.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is that agreed?

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Bill, as amended, read the third time and passed)