Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague from Lethbridge for bringing forward the legislation. Bill C-321 is important to complete a process that has been under way in terms of dealing with child pornography. As he has indicated in his presentation, it fills a void which the last piece of legislation overlooked, I suspect inadvertently.
I also want to recognize that the initiative brought forward by the hon. member for Lethbridge was previously brought forward by the hon. member for Saskatoon—Clark's Crossing and also the hon. member for Sydney—Victoria. I am sure the hon. member is aware of their initiatives along a similar line. Today we have an opportunity to round out the legislation.
I want to address the concerns raised about the legislation by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice. I think his concerns are inappropriate. I do not think he actually read the bill, because had he read it he would not have said what he did in the House of Commons. My friend from Lethbridge said he was open to suggestions and that we could amend the legislation if that is what is required if we need to improve it, but just to toss it out because somebody has some concern about some wording is inappropriate.
The parliamentary secretary said that this bill could penalize the employers of those weird people who use the Internet to download child pornography while they are at work. The legislation says:
Where a person is convicted of an offence under subsection 163.1(2), (3) or (4), the court that convicts the person may, in addition to any other punishment imposed on the person, order that anything by means of which or in relation to which the offence was committed be forfeited to Her Majesty in right of the province—
I emphasize that it uses the word may. In other words, the court may do this. No court in its right mind would say that if an employee of the House of Commons downloads child pornography the computers of the House of Commons will be forfeited. It is insanity. Give the judge some credit for making a reasonable decision.
The parliamentary secretary went on to say that perhaps the server could be forfeited. Imagine any judge saying that because a person was using a particular server on their computer while they were downloading pornographic pictures of children, the server on their computer system would be forfeited. It is just insanity.
I would ask the parliamentary secretary to at least read the legislation before he suggests that changes are required and notice that the word may is used and not the word shall. I see my friend the parliamentary secretary is back in the House of Commons. Perhaps he will have a chance to clarify his error on a point of order.
Colleagues in the New Democratic Party have been calling for this for a number of years. We will inevitably and undoubtedly endorse the bill when it comes up for a vote after another two hours of debate.
From a personal perspective I have received many representations, not only about this legislation but about the whole issue before us. I have had representations from the RCMP and other law enforcement agencies, from a variety of churches in my constituency, from the legal aid office and women's groups. I have heard from lawyers who see this abuse on a regular basis in their courtroom work. I have heard from a variety of unions, from the Kamloops and District Labour Council, from the chamber of commerce, from the regional district, from our mayor and council in Kamloops, and from a variety of non-profit agencies and associations. Of course many citizens have written to members. I suspect all of us have received a lot of mail on this issue.
We should endorse this bill enthusiastically. It should not be some serious debate, because who is in favour of child pornography? Obviously no one in the House is. We are dealing with some pretty unusual people to start with.
As the member for Lethbridge pointed out, this has come to us from the Internet. Internet abuse as he terms it is almost like a red light use of the Internet and the world wide web whereby a variety of pornography can be seen.
I suspect there is hardly anybody in here who has actually used a computer who has not come across a pornographic site. Often they show up when we do not expect them. A person may be interested in deer, for example, and may decide to look up Bambi. If the person looks up Bambi, a pornographic site comes up.
I suspect that kids all over the place are now being confronted with pornography by accident, let alone all the people we are talking about here, the child predators and people who prey on children. Everyone now has easy access to this.
I encourage the parliamentary secretary to talk to his colleagues. I suspect, from what I have heard on this side of the House, that we are supporting this private member's initiative. I would like to think that he and his colleagues in the Liberal Party would also support it. My goodness, what better way for the House to do something meaningful than to have every political party and the independents getting onside to discourage, in every way possible, people from using child pornography via the Internet.
If the parliamentary secretary has a concern about wording he should bring forward an amendment. That is what these debates are all about. I know he is a thoughtful individual and I would encourage him to do just that.
I think the case has been made. My hon. friend from Lethbridge, who pointed out from his research that 53% of all traffic on Internet deals with sex in some way or another, opens up some pretty interesting questions. Today we are focusing on the abuse of the Internet when it comes to child pornography. I think we need to do everything possible to deal with this, and this legislation takes us in that right direction.
My friend from Lethbridge also reminded us that this does not deal with the root cause, the individuals themselves who, because of their physiological and psychological makeup, are people who prey on children, who are pedophiles, people who are using the national and international sexual chat line to consciously victimize young people. We have to do whatever we possibly can to stop this.
Today my friend from Lethbridge brings forward a private member's bill that will close the gap somewhat. I hear from parliamentary secretary that the Liberals have some concerns, but I hope we can rectify those concerns by a simple amendment to the legislation or perhaps through regulation. After all, the legislation simply provides the overall umbrella. It is the regulations that flow from that which would be helpful. It is fair to say that no judge will suggest that we confiscate someone's computer because some individual in his or her employ decided to download some child pornography.
We in the New Democratic Party are pleased with anything we can do to stop the victimization of children in our society, whether it is the issue of child poverty and the suffering that causes children or the issue we are talking about today, the misuse of the Internet for child exploitation. We are very strongly behind any initiative to that extent.