This past month Parliament has been debating Bill C-26, Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act. If anything demonstrates the need for this legislation, it is the recent report that after being charged last December, a Canadian has been sentenced to 7 years in prison for molesting a child in a third-world country. In 2013, this individual had 17 child sex offence convictions rejected after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled his case took too long to go to trial. Closer to home, is the case of the former Ontario deputy Minister of Education being convicted of child pornography offences after being identified in an international child pornography probe by investigators from New Zealand.
Constituents have been telling me they believe the courts are too slow to deliver justice, and judges are handing out sentences that are too lenient for these heinous crimes.
Bill C-26 amends the provisions of the Criminal Code that deal with sexual offences committed against children and young persons by increasing the mandatory minimum penalties and maximum penalties for such offences. Bill C-26 also makes the following changes to the law:
- It increases maximum penalties for violations of prohibition orders, probation orders and peace bonds.
- It sets out rules for the imposition of consecutive and concurrent sentences.
- It requires courts to impose consecutive sentences on offenders who commit sexual offences against more than one child.
- It amends the Canada Evidence Act to ensure that spouses of accused persons can be called as witnesses for the prosecution in child pornography cases.
- It amends the Sex Offender Information Registration Act to increase the reporting obligations of sex offenders who travel outside Canada.
- It enacts the High Risk Child Sex Offender Database Act to establish a publicly accessible database that contains information with respect to persons who are found guilty of sexual offences against children and who pose a high risk of committing crimes of a sexual nature.
Bill C-26 reflects the ongoing efforts by our Conservative government to combat all forms of child sexual exploitation and denounce the grave and reprehensible nature of such heinous crimes. The bill is another concrete example of our commitment to protect Canadian families, communities and, above all, to protect the most vulnerable and valuable members of our society, our children.