Mr. Speaker, as someone has mentioned, it is a sad day when we have to stand to debate this kind of issue in this nation of ours. It is sad because there are the defenders of pornography and child pornography. We as legislators need to have the starch in our bones to make a strong stand against it.
I want to talk for a minute about what pornography really is. I have not heard that discussed and the definition is not in the legislation. In fact, what I am going to talk about is not a legal definition, and I do not suggest that it should be considered as a legal definition, but I want to talk about what it really is because we sometimes fail to recognize that.
Pornography is visual or verbal exploitation of the decency, privacy and well-being of a human body, soul, mind and spirit. It is exploitation of a human being, whether it be a child or an adult.
What is child pornography? I have here a quote from Hansard , in which the member for Palliser said earlier in the debate at another time that:
--the position that I take, and I believe would be shared by a majority if not all of my caucus colleagues, is that if it has not specifically hurt a minor in the production of it, if it is created by people's visual imaginations and if the main purpose of it is not simply about pornography and sexual exploitation, then under the laws people do have a right to their own imaginations and thoughts, however perverse the member and I might think they are.
Let me say one more thing in addition to that. Every crime and every action starts in the mind but is not contained or ended there.
I am concerned that this is the extent to which many people will look at pornography, as in fact has happened in the John Robin Sharpe case. The right to produce and to have was defended, but that is because they do not understand that it is never ever the case with child pornography.
Child pornography is the most hideous form of pornography. It is usually a graphic product produced primarily by an adult, with an innocent child as its primary victim. Indirect child abuse happens because of child pornography. I would define indirect child abuse as that which is used to desensitize other children and of course recruit them. It is used to excite other pedophiles.
If we talk to those who have counselled, worked with and dedicated their lives to helping people who have lived through child pornography and child sexual abuse because of this, we will then understand that it is never produced to keep private. It might be the thought for the moment that it would remain private, but it does not end up that way. Those pictures and stories have to be passed to someone else in exchange for others because we have to keep changing the pictures in our mind to remain excited. That is the way human beings are built. They are not going to sit and look at the same catalogue of old pictures all their lives and never share them with others. That fallacy has to be shot down. It has to be understood.
It is indirect child abuse because it is used to excite those who prey on children. It is indirect child abuse because it is used to perpetuate abuse and pornography. It is indirect child abuse because it is used for the recruitment for further pornography, drugs and the sex trade. It is even direct child abuse when a child is used in its production. It is the worst form of child abuse.
There are many kinds of child abuse. There of course is the lack of providing the necessities of life and that is sort of mentioned in some of the legislation. There is abusive discipline, whether it be physical, verbal, emotional or psychological. They are abuses of a child and certainly we would speak against them. There is even, I submit to the House, what is probably one the largest categories of child abuse going on in this nation in this day and age, and that is simply the lack of discipline, when we do not teach our children how to grow up and how to mature.
Bill C-20 is about child protection at all these levels, but it is still so woefully inadequate. It is inadequate because there is no adequate definition of pornography. So without an adequate definition of pornography, I am told, there have to be certain defences put in there. What has happened here is that the government has taken the old artistic merit clause, has sort of done away with those two words and simply has replaced them with the words “the public good”.
I have a hard time imagining at any time that drawings such as those John Robin Sharpe was allowed to retain in his possession could ever be for the public good or even ever be considered to have any kind of artistic merit.
There have to be ways in which we can define what would constitute a medical use of illustrations, et cetera. If we are so worried about not being able to have educational materials, we can describe that and we can define that. We do not have to leave it to some nebulous decision on a liberal judge's bench as to whether or not it has educational, artistic or public good to it at all. We are not doing that in the bill. I think we are missing the mark by a long way.
We are missing it when we come to dealing with the sentences. The sentences have been mentioned many times, but it must be said over and over again that it does not matter if we put in maximum sentence of 100 years for child pornography, child abuse or sexual exploitation of a six month old baby. It does not matter. What really matters is what the minimum sentence is, because in this day and age, a day of full prisons and liberal wishy-washy thinking in our country, we do not give sentences worth handing out. We do not enforce what we give. We turn offenders loose. It would have been much more effective if in fact the sentences had been raised on the minimum rather than the maximum.
Then there is the refusal to address the age of consent. We have in the bill the protection in regard to an exploitative relationship by an adult, but we all know, if we are honest with ourselves at all, that there is room for both approaches and that the age of consent should have been raised to 16 so that we do not continue to allow the sexual activity between children and adults to be legal and then have to go to court to prove whether or not there was some sort of exploitive or trust relationship. This is woefully inadequate and we in the Canadian Alliance have been calling over and over for this change.
Another very major shortcoming is that the bill did not address at all the need to change the requirements for how a case is presented in court. In this day and age when a computer is filled with hundreds of thousands of images and we have to process every one of them to present them in court, how ridiculous can we get? We do not do this in any other kind of law. The bill did not address that. I will just say that the legislation needs to go back to the drawing board for some common sense and to have some teeth put into it.