Tory MP wants age of consent raised to 16
CTV.ca News Staff
28 September 2005
Concerned that Canada has set the age of consent for sex too low, Conservative MP Rick Casson has tabled a private member's bill he hopes will protect the country's youth from sexual predators.
"We feel it is important," the Lethbridge, Alberta MP said of his Bill C-313. "We want to protect our children from adults who prey on children."
Under existing law, 14-year-olds can legally have sex in Canada. Casson wants the minimum age raised to 16, and beside his own Conservative caucus, he already has the backing of several Liberal MPs.
"I support it basically on the important principle that people need to be protected," Liberal MP Maurizo Bevilacqua told CTV News.
And Liberal MP Dan McTeague says the existing law does little to protect young teenagers from sexual exploitation.
"If two young people are engaged, that's fine, but my concern is when a 40-year-old and a 14-year-old is involved," McTeague said.
Federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler is among the proposed law's most outspoken critics. He says Casson's legislation — if it became the law of the land — would not only do little to stop predators, it would also criminalize so-called "puppy love."
And that's a step he's not prepared to take.
"We don't want to criminalize innocent sexual behaviour among teenagers and young people," Cotler said.
But Casson believes that hurdle can be overcome by close-in-age exemptions for young people born within three or four years of each other.
According to the Attorney General, however, the Criminal Code and the pending Bill C-2 already before Parliament offers adequate protection for children.
If passed, Casson's bill will be referred to a Commons committee for study before final passage.
Prepared with a report from CTV's Robert Fife in Ottawa
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