Canada a Sex Tourism Destination?

Thu Mar 10, 2005 - 12:15 pm EST

OTTAWA, March 10, 2005 ( – A recent case involving a 31-year-old Texas man who lured a 14-year-old boy into an Ottawa hotel for sex has reignited debate about Canada’s age-of-consent law. Currently, the legal age for so-called consensual sex between two persons in Canada is 14 years old – one of the world’s youngest. 

Police charged the man, Dale Eric Beckham, for abduction and luring of the boy. Police claimed, however, that the sex itself was consensual. In Texas, the man would face an indecency charge, with a two to 20 year sentence, or a sexual assault charge, carrying a five to 99 year sentence. In Canada, the abduction charge carries a maximum penalty of five years. 

“We have these sex tourism laws for Cambodia and Thailand ... when, in fact, we’re becoming a sex tourism destination for Americans because of our low age-of-consent laws,” said Conservative justice critic Vic Toews in comments to the Ottawa Sun. He would like to see the law altered to increase the age of consent to 16. 

“It’s important to realize that, developmentally, these are still children,” said executive director Lianna McDonald. “They have a higher propensity to be victimized.” 

The boy’s mother, meanwhile, expressed her disappointment with the justice system. “It concerns me that people from the U.S. are maybe preying on children in Canada because they know the laws are more lax,” she stated. 


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