Mr. Speaker, just before question period the member for Elk Island asked me a question dealing with child pornography that is dealt with in some ways in Bill C-12, an act to amend the Criminal Code. He was quoting from subsection 7(7). This is dealing with pornography. It says:
For the purposes of subsection (6), acts or material that serve the public good include acts or material that are necessary or advantageous to the administration of justice or the pursuit of science, medicine, education or art.
The member asked what I thought about those categories. I agree with him that this material is necessary for science or medicine for treatment of people who have a disease of addiction to child pornography for example, or education where police officers have to be taught what it is they are looking for and so on.
The category we are wondering about is art, to have the idea of public good and use it in the category of art.
John Robin Sharpe is pleased with the bill. I think he is pleased in part because he sees this as a loophole. He will use it as he used the artistic merit argument in times past to try to get away with some of the filth that he thinks is worth having and sharing.
On the issue of art, I want to share a story that moved me years ago, if I can get through the story. It was a story related by Dr. James Dobson. James Dobson was the president of Focus on the Family, a well-respected psychologist who was appointed years ago to sit on the President's panel dealing with pornography in the United States. I heard him give a talk on this one time.
He told how he had to travel from town to town to do these investigations. Part of that involved looking at pornographic material in order to see just how bad it was. I cannot imagine doing that for weeks on end.
He said that the final blow came for him when there was a series of pictures that he was forced to look at. They started with a healthy, happy two year old child. The progression of pictures eventually ended with a picture of a two year old with a butcher knife through its chest.
He was at a meeting and I do not know in what city. He said he just gathered up his papers, went to the airport and took the first plane home. He said the pictures were so filthy and so incredibly evil that he just had to get home and hug his family.
I know there would be an argument that we cannot banish pornography because we have to have a way of judging it. There is a problem in the United States and here too, that when the picture, and they call it art, is reproduced, it is frequently seen as just that; it is just a picture, just a photograph.
A crime was committed but there is no crime in the circulation of the documents. There can be pictures of children being abused in the most heinous ways, graphic, awful and evil pictures, but the distribution of it, if it is considered artistic by somebody, in and of itself is not a crime. In the commission of the crime, if they could catch the guy perpetrating it, they would throw him in jail. But the circulation of it to people who somehow get their jollies from this should also be a crime.
I only relate that story. I do not want to go on a panel to look at this stuff for weeks on end. I do not want to look at any of it.
All I am urging is that the government consider that when there are loopholes, people will try to use them. My solution is to send the bill back to committee and come up with a better solution than the public good. I just do not think that this section, which leaves this as a loophole, is wise. It will be abused. Or if it is not abused, it will be seen as such a big loophole that law enforcement agencies will say that there is no use in prosecuting. We see that all the time with crime. Chief Fantino from Toronto would say, “What is the use of prosecuting?” If we bring forward something with a loophole, they get off almost every single time.
The police do not have the resources, the people and the perseverance to follow through. They have collected millions of photos. They have confiscated stuff. They try to ride herd on it, but the truth is that without tough and strict laws, they cannot really dig this evil out.
To answer my colleague from Elk Island, this clause is the worrisome one. That is why it should go back to committee. Most of this bill improves things for children and I am happy to support it. However, this part I am not convinced is the best way to address this particular evil. It is a bad and ugly evil that is pervasive in society. Police tell me that it is out of control.
I know the government takes this seriously but I would urge it to reconsider this and send it to committee. Let us get this fixed. Let us make the police happy, the courts happy and Parliament happy with the section that I think is crucial to the implementation of this bill.