Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 3, 2008
Groups applaud bill raising age of protection
Legislation raises age of consentual sex from 14 to 16
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Christian organizations are praising the passage of legislation that raises the age of protection for children to have consensual sex with adults from 14 to 16.
"This is a very welcome step in the right direction towards the stronger protection of children and young teens from sexual exploitation by adults," said Michele Boulva, director of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF).
Chat room danger
Boulva said the legislation helps address the rising vulnerability of children through the Internet, where child pornography is on the increase and adult predators try to lure young people through teen chat rooms and online friendship networks.
She welcomed the new law as an invitation to Canadian teens to think more deeply about the purpose and meaning of sexual activity.
"Sexual activity is not merely a recreational sport to be engaged in as soon as a youth has physically matured," she said. "This law now better recognizes that sexual activity also requires a certain emotional and psychological maturity, because it is an act with profound consequences on every level of our being."
Catholic Women's League (CWL) president Lorette Noble said she was pleased with the bill's final passage through the Senate in February.
Decade of struggle
The CWL has been campaigning for more than a decade to get the law changed. The CWL passed a national resolution in 1997, urging the age of consent be raised from 14 to 16.
When the Conservative government took power, it drafted the Age of Protection bill to better reflect its purpose. It got stalled in the Senate last July and died when the prime minister prorogued Parliament last summer.
The government reintroduced the legislation as part of an omnibus crime bill that included several justice measures such as mandatory sentences for some offences.
The Conservatives threatened to go to the polls if the Senate failed to pass the bill before March 1. The Senate passed it Feb. 27.
When a CWL delegation met with Justice Minister Rob Nicholson last fall, it expressed its support for the change from "age of consent" to "age of protection."
REAL Women of Canada's national vice president Gwendolyn Landolt had described Canada as a destination for sex tourists because it had one of the lowest ages of consent in the Western world.