Friday, September 30th, 2005
And they called it puppy love. She was only 14. Most people would hope the unspoken next line in this classic ballad wasn’t "… while I was 23." But judging by the actions of three of Canada’s four major political parties, maybe it was and the rest of us missed something.
A majority of Liberals, Bloc Quebecois and New Democrat MPs all voted in the House of Commons Thursday against a bill that would have raised the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16. The bill, sponsored by Alberta Conservative MP Rick Casson, was supposed to protect underage girls from the leering advances of dirty older men. Ninety-nine MPs voted for the change — mostly Tories but also a few Liberals — while 167 were against it.
The whole issue seems pretty simple and straightforward, except that the majority of parliamentarians followed Justice Minister Irwin Cotler’s logic and voted against it because, as CTV quoted Cotler, they didn’t want to criminalize "puppy love." Casson was willing to put in a three- to four-year allowable limit to make sure young lovers wouldn’t get in trouble with the law, but that apparently wasn’t enough for Canada’s chief lawmaker, who was one of those most outspoken against changing the law.
"We don’t want to criminalize innocent sexual behaviour among teenagers and young people," Cotler said.
What’s sweet and innocent about a 21 year old, who has legally been able to make his own decisions for three years, dating a 14-year-old Grade 9 student who still lives under her parents’ roof? Even that example is relatively innocuous. How about a 32 year old and a 15 year old? Or worse still, a 50 year old with someone who is 14? Should society accept that sort of relationship as legitimate?
We — and we assume most people would feel the same way — say no.
How that escapes Cotler and our elected officials is an absolute mystery.
© Brandon Sun 2005