On Aug 9th, the Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, accompanied by the Honourable Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, announced the coming into force of the protecting children from sexual predators component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10).
“The sexual exploitation of children is a heinous crime that causes irreparable harm to the youngest and the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Minister Nicholson. “Our Government is sending a clear message to dangerous pedophiles who prey on our children: from now on, you will serve jail time.”
The component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act coming into force today will:
- Establish mandatory prison sentences for seven existing Criminal Code offences such as luring a child, sexual assault, and aggravated assault. As a result, conditional sentences (i.e. house arrest) will no longer be available for any of these offences.
- Increase mandatory prison sentences for nine sexual offences involving child victims, such as possessing, making, accessing or distributing child pornography and sexual exploitation.
- Increase maximum penalties for four child sexual offences, including increasing the maximum penalty from five to 10 years for the indictable offence of a parent or guardian procuring their child for illegal sexual activity where the child is less than 16 years of age.
- Create two new offences with mandatory prison sentences that seek to prevent the sexual exploitation of children by making it illegal for anyone to:
- provide sexually explicit material to a child for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a sexual offence against a child (this process is often referred to as “grooming”); or
- use telecommunications, including the Internet, to communicate with another person to agree or make arrangements to commit a sexual offence against a child.
- Require judges to consider prohibiting suspected or convicted sexual predators from having any unsupervised contact with a child under the age of 16 or any unsupervised use of the Internet or other digital network.
Statistics Canada recently announced that the rate of police-reported sexual offences against children rose by 3 percent between 2010 and 2011. In addition, there was a 40-percent increase in the rate of police-reported child pornography incidents, the largest increase of any Criminal Code offence in 2011.