By Peter J. Smith

MONTREAL, November 7, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A professor at Montreal’s McGill University has come out publicly against a bill designed to raise Canada’s age of consent to protect children from pedophiles and sexual predators. Robert Leckey, a Professor of Family Law at McGill stated his opposition to raising the age of consent from 14 to 16 during a panel discussion on C-22 last Wednesday, arguing the Conservative bill would disproportionately effect “straight people and sexual minorities” according to a story by Nora Mulloy published in the McGill Daily.

“I’m not really convinced there is a problem here,” said Leckey, who derided the Prime Minister’s bill as “an inexpensive way for Conservatives to send a message to certain constituencies that they care about children.”

The Daily reports that Leckey argued C-22 perpetuated the notion of young people as “helpless children needing to be protected by the state.” Leckey also based his opposition to the bill on the grounds that homosexuals were more likely to be prosecuted than heterosexuals for violating the law, saying, “There’s no reason to think the law would be applied equally across straight people and sexual minorities.”

However, the language of the Conservative bill clearly intends to protect children from advances made by adult pedophiles to engage in sexual relationships. The bill incorporates a close-in-age exception, which would exempt sexual relationships between partners within five years of each other’s age (e.g. a 14 year-old in a sexual relationship with a 19 year-old, etc.), but eliminate the loopholes under the current law used by sexual predators to protect their abuse of children.

C-22 would otherwise eliminate sexual relationships between adults and children over 14, which the current law permits provided the adults have not abused “a postion of trust.” According to Justice Minister Vic Toews, the “trust provisions” are a fundamental weak point in the current law, and “very rarely” used because of the difficulty of getting the child to prove a violation of trust.

Justice Minister Toews defended the merits of C-22 to Parliament saying that the higher age of consent would make Canada’s children safer from aggressive pedophiles taking advantage of the law’s current weaknesses. “Police point out that this low age is often known by sexual predators and encourages them to target Canada in search of younger victims who would not be able to consent in countries with a higher age of consent.”

The Department of Justice has statistics that a subset of 94 police departments in Canada reported 8800 sexual assaults perpetrated against youth and children - Leckey’s “helpless children” - in 2002. Statistics Canada reports that of the 15,000 sexual assaults reported by police, 61% of victims were aged 17 and under, nearly four-fifths of these victims were girls, and more than two-thirds of these girls were aged between 11 and 17.

C-22 would also change the “Age of Consent” to the “Age of Protection” and has achieved nearly unanimous approval in Parliament after its second reading with the exception of two openly homosexual MPs, Libby Davies and Bill Siksay, both of the New Democrat Party. The bill will leave unchanged the Criminal Code’s age of consent for anal sex and pornography at 18 years.

The law is under review by the justice committee and is expected to eventually pass Parliament after the third reading.

Readers who wish to respectfully express their disappointment may contact the McGill Faculty of Law at:
  Faculty of Law

Chancellor Day Hall, 3644 Peel Street
  Montreal, Quebec H3A 1W9
  Tel.: 514-398-6666 | Fax.: 514-398-4659 |
info.law@mcgill.ca