Bill would increase penalties for sex offences; feds ask Craigslist to pull ads
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, November 3, 2010 4:55PM EDT
OTTAWA - The federal government will table legislation Thursday to boost penalties and close loopholes for sexual offences against children.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Wednesday the bill would create two new offences aimed at better protecting children from sexual predators, including those who post graphic photos of their crimes on the Internet.
"We'll be increasing existing penalties. In addition, we'll be covering off some loopholes that exist in the law," Nicholson said Wednesday.
"While a certain amount of activity is covered, it's been brought to our attention that there is some activity that is not covered by the Criminal Code."
Conservative MP Shelly Glover, a former Winnipeg policewoman who used to investigate sex offences involving children, said current laws don't pose a strong enough deterrent.
"New media has really become something that is a focus of this government, because the Criminal Code has not addressed this before," she said.
"So our government is committed to making sure that the Criminal Code catches up to the technology and makes the message very clear: We will not allow this to happen and you will be accountable if you commit sexual crimes against our children."
Nicholson's office says it's estimated there are over five million different child sexual abuse images on the Internet and that the number is rising. Many involve victims 12 years old or younger.
The minister also said he has also asked a U.S.-based online advertising service to pull its Canadian notices for erotic services.
The minister sent a letter to Craigslist, saying he's concerned the service encourages child exploitation and human trafficking.
Some point out that many weekly newspapers carry similarly explicit ads. But Nicholson argued there's a difference.
"It seems to me with Craigslist there's no regulation at all as to what goes on," he said.
"With respect to newspapers, there are editors who, I'm sure, take the precautions to make sure they're not getting into the business of child exploitation or human trafficking."
Nicholson's letter to Craigslist chief executive Jim Buckmaster follows the lead of politicians from Manitoba and Ontario, who have also objected to the ads. In addition, the RCMP has raised concerns.
"I think there's a growing list of groups and individuals that are concerned about what's taking place, and I've added my name to that list," Nicholson said.
California-based Craigslist recently deleted erotic services advertisements from its U.S. site.
Nicholson's letter commends the company for the move but the minister says the problem is just as pressing in Canada.