Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address this topic on one more occasion.
I do not disagree with a lot of the philosophy behind the thinking that goes with the bill. I do not care to get into those kind of philosophical debates as to whether we should have a law indicating it is not a smart thing for a 40 year old, for example, to convince a 14 year old to have an activity at that age. There should be a stringent law to deter people from that possibility, but that is not a major part of my concern in regard to the bill.
Many in here know from the past where my concern comes lies, and that with the protection of children through the elimination and absolute ban of child pornography. We recently voted on a motion I put forward in the House of Commons. It asked for the creation of legislation that would eliminate all defences for people using child pornography for the purpose of exploiting children. That motion was unanimously accepted.
The problem I have with Bill C-12 is it does not do that, and therein lies the debate. Many Liberals will say the words “artistic merit” have been removed from the bill, but the words “public good” have been replaced them. Therein lies the topic of my debate, child pornography.
I would like to point out something for all members of the House and for the Canadian public at large. As a member of Parliament and the opposition critic, I have been working on child pornography. This is not a sporadic incident or something that comes up occasionally or seldom.
Before I came here today, I did some research. I have examples showing that this is not an occasional incident. Cases of child exploitation through the use of child pornography happen every day across Canada. They are not reported, or printed in big headlines in newspapers or not talked about on television. This is going on in a huge way, and we are unable to recognize that fact.
I have recent article from the last few days which appeared in the Calgary Sun . The headline reads, “No Jail Time in Kiddie Porn Case”. This is a small article not a big article like we read on the front pages. A guy was convicted of kiddie porn, but he was not put in jail. He was considered treatable, and he would stop this nasty business. He received no punishment except house arrest. Just recently a former Saskatchewan RCMP officer was found guilty of child sex offences, and he too received house arrest as punishment.
These cases illustrate to all Canadians, particularly members in the House, that individuals in Canada who are charged and arrested or being investigated for the offence of using child pornography come from all walks of life. People sometimes think only bums or whoever might be doing this, but that is not so. Bankers, teachers, preachers, officers of the law and others are being charged with this offence. It is widespread, and it is a huge industry.
I have another case in which a Alberta man ran a child porn ring, an international group distributing child pornography on the Internet. They were making huge profits. Lots of big, grown-up men are making money from absolutely evil pictures that come across the Internet. They are exploiting our young children across the nation. More than 1,000 images and 250 video clips were on the computers of this individual. That is astounding. There were videos of the most awful stuff one could imagine, children as young as two years old having sexual acts with adults. If that is not evil, I do not know what else one would call it.
A 78 year old man from the Waterloo region faces child pornography charges. Good grief, a 78 year old man. Then a London child porn offender, and I am talking just this week, got house arrest. A huge amount of material and images which he had brought back with him from a business trip to some other parts of the world were found on his computer. It is unbelievable. This guy is a successful businessman, making big bucks off the avails of child pornography, involving very young children.
Another headline states that an ex-Children's Aid Society worker was busted again. This was in Windsor. He is 27 years old. He is back in custody. He was busted once again because he had all this filth in his possession which exploited young children. Another headline says that porn charges were laid in Niagara Falls. He is to appear in court in St. Catherines next week.
I could go on and on. I have a whole pile of these. I could give example after example. Any police force or anybody engaged in trying to do something about this serious problem will tell us that these are everyday occurrences and they are running rampant. We only hear about the sensational cases. I do not know if it is fair to call them that. We do not hear about all of them because I guess it has become unimportant to the media. It does not talk much about it.
Governments are not responding very well. I look at the Toronto police department. It has only a handful of officers to deal with millions and millions of items that they have taken from people in the Toronto area who are under investigation for breaking the laws using child pornography. I know there are members sitting in the House right now who have seen some of the material that the Toronto police officers have confiscated. They are trying to illustrate to all of us how serious this is. There are images of babies in diapers all the way to young teenagers who are absolutely abused to no end. It is unbelievable that it is happening.
We also know that through the hard and dedicated efforts of five or six police officers in the Toronto region, a six year old girl from North Carolina was rescued. They were able to determine from the images who this child was, locate her and get her out of that situation. As far as I am concerned, these Toronto police officers are national heroes for having done that.
However, it saddens me when I read their reports. They can only estimate, but they tell me there could be up to 100,000 children being used to produce child pornography, which is being distributed and used throughout the world. Out of that, a few of those, a great many of those or several hundred of those could be here in Canada. They could be right next door to us, but we do not know where they are. However, through their hard effort, hours and hours of going through this material and doing the best they could with it, these people were absolutely successful in finding this one.
I really think we should listen to the police departments when they call for the government to provide them with some funding to help them set up a national strategy across the land and connecting with international agencies. Then they could really go after this in full force and defeat this evil enemy that is child pornography, the enemy of our children. Lord knows we would not have any trouble finding the funding when we look at where some of our funding goes.
Obviously, every member in the House agrees that needs to happen. They expressed that in the vote which I spoke about earlier. They said that they wanted to get rid of it. The only way we can do this is by first passing legislation that removes the possibility for anybody in this land to have possession of, distribute or make a fortune out of any child pornography that exploits the children.
We ran into a little problem recently. A fellow by the name of Sharpe ended up in court and some judge declared that some of the material he had in his possession had some artistic merit. Because of that decision, artistic merit was written into the law as a defence. There was an outcry from the public, and I was really pleased to be part of that, saying that we had to remove artistic merit. There is no defence for people exploiting children through child pornography. Everybody agrees on that. Then the government comes down with Bill C-12, and there is the problem. What has it done? It has replaced artistic merit with the words “public good”.
How long will it be before some child pornographer, who is brought to court and charged, pleads innocent under this law, Bill C-12, of public good? We do not even know what that public good might be. Will it be because a particular piece of stuff has some artistic value to it or some other value to it and the person will fight for the right to produce or use it for his or her own personal purpose, whatever they might be? We do not know what that public good definition will be, but one day we will know. Some judge, somewhere, in some court will have to define it because this legislation does not.
My suggestion to every member in the House is let us live up to the vote we recently had to eliminate all defences. Let us do that by protecting those individuals who may have a purpose for having this child pornography material in their possession.
I tried, to no avail, to convince a number of people from the governing party in this place, the Liberals, that all we need to do is cover all the possibilities we could think of and include them in the act if they happened to be missing. They have not done that. They continue to leave “public good” in place.
Therefore, I have a suggestion for this bill and this particular section. I have put together a private member's bill, which I have introduced. The clause in this private member's bill is going to say that when the accused is charged with an offence under the child pornography section-and I will not go into all the numbers--“the court shall find the accused not guilty if the [visual] representation or written material that is alleged to constitute child pornography has an educational, scientific, or medical purpose”. I want to add to that: “or if the acts that are alleged to constitute the offence were carried out for the purposes of law enforcement”.
What that does is protect bona fide doctors, psychiatrists and scientists who might be using this material for scientific, medical or educational purposes. Also, it protects the police who are investigating when they take this material into their possession. We need to protect those bona fide individuals who are working hard to stamp out child pornography. We can do that by including them in this clause.
Therefore, we could eliminate the items of “public good”. The undefined “public good” could be removed. Then we could send a message to the courts that they are to protect the bona fide doctors, scientists, psychologists, investigators, police forces or whatever agency it might be as long as it is for those medical, scientific, educational or law enforcement purposes. We do not want anybody who has a legitimate reason for having this in their possession to be arrested and charged.
However, more than anything else, I do not want to subject one more police officer in this country--and I am sure every member in here would agree with me--to having to sit in a chair day after day and hour after hour determining whether any of this filth that they have confiscated has any public good or artistic merit or any of that to it. We must not do that.
We must quit exposing our enforcers of the law to that, because it is driving them up the wall. And so it would if we had nothing else to do but go through all of these millions and millions of pieces of material that they have in the Toronto police department alone. It would have to drive someone around the deep bend. I know that there are members in here who know what I am talking about because they have seen those examples that were confiscated.
Let us put an end to it and get a strong message out to those who would perpetrate it upon our children. We are not going to look at this idea that the right to freedom of expression of a person who is going to exploit children through child pornography is going to override the rights of a child in this land to be safe from this kind of enemy.
We can do it. This government could do it. Bill C-12 does not do it because those two words, “public good”, are still in the bill. Let us get rid of it. Let us protect all those guys who are doing their work. Let us do the right thing. Let us all do what we as members of the House of Commons did when we unanimously agreed that we would eliminate all defences. Let us do it and do it now.