Guarding Canada’s Most Valuable National Asset

I have had the privilege of visiting our nation’s capital on numerous occasions over the years. Ottawa is an incredible place. A stroll down Confederation Boulevard is an experience in itself. Within a very short distance you can be introduced to some of Canada’s most valuable assets: the National Gallery, eight National Museums, the Royal Canadian Mint, or the National Library and its archives.

As I have walked the halls of these huge complexes, one is aware of their importance to Canada’s past, present and future. Police stand guard. Security cameras abound. Access in and out is monitored. One is constantly aware of the value Canada’s government places upon what is contained within their walls.

However, as valuable as these assets are, they do not, and never will, compare to the worth, the welfare or the potential of Canada’s children. Who is standing guard over this national treasure? What security is in place that would make our children truly safe within our borders? Who is monitoring the potential threats to their welfare?

The Canadian government introduced Bill C-22, “Age of Protection” on June 22nd, 2006. The intent was clear: protect Canada’s children from sexual exploitation of adults. The Bill was debated in the fall of 2006, and then sent to the Justice Committee for consideration. That sounded all fine and dandy until I read that the Bill was created to raise the age of consent to engage in sexual activity to 16 years of age.

I thought, “If it has to be raised, where is the age of consent at now?” I was shocked to hear that it currently stood at 14 years of age, one of the lowest ages of consent on the planet, and well below the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child standard of 18 years of age. Did you hear that? 18!

As of this writing, Canadian law permits a child of 14 to consent to sexual activity with someone older than him or her, no matter the age of their partner. The new law raises the age to 16, with a close in age exception of five years regarding consensual intercourse with 14-15 year olds. This means that, under the new law, no one over the age of 19 or 20 will be allowed to have sex with young teenagers.

I am blessed with seven grandchildren, three of whom are beautiful young granddaughters. The law, even at the new levels, makes “children who are facing an emerging sexuality” called puberty vulnerable to child prostitution, child pornography and child abuse. “Consensual” sex between minors does not necessarily mean that they are responsible and well-informed, or even aware of the long-term ramifications of their actions.

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, an organization representing 40 denominations, wrote in a submission to the Justice Committee, “Many rights and responsibilities accrue to Canadians at the age of 18. Lifestyle choices which entail some risk, such as purchasing cigarettes or alcohol, are regulated according to age and prohibited for those in their early to mid-teens. Other activities, which require mature forethought and responsibility, such as operating a motor vehicle, are similarly prohibited for those considered too young.”

Where was the logic behind 14? Who postulated this for our kids?

It is amazing – no, astounding – to me that three other groups (Egale, Canadian Federation for Sexual Health (Planned Parenthood), and the Canadian Aids Society) all lobbied against the bill to raise the age of consent. They also lobbied that the government lower the age of consent for anal sex from 18 to 16.

Had that amendment been added (which it wasn’t – it was thrown out), and if the bill had passed (it is still in process), then not only would this Bill have increased the age of sexual consent to 16 (good) but it would have decreased the age of consent for anal sex to 16. A Bill focusing on protecting our nation’s youth from exploitation could quickly have become a Bill advocating anal sex with minors. Go figure!

Who are these people? What is going on in their minds? Where is responsible thinking here? What health physical, sexual or medical stats do they have to support their argument? Everything – and I mean everything – that I have read tells me that premature sexual involvement in young teens leads to many unhealthy life and lifestyle consequences. These organizations are certainly not the ones I want to be guarding over my grandchildren’s mental, emotional and sexual futures.

Bill C-22 was debated in the House on May 3rd and was passed unanimously in the House on May 4th, 2007. That is great news. Someone up there is standing guard. It now goes to the Senate. Maybe they will do their duty and stand on guard for our children too. Here’s hoping!

Canadians need to step up to the plate, and be looked up to as a world leader in protecting its greatest national asset, its children, from sexual exploitation. Canada must not allow legal loopholes to exist that permit our nation to become a haven for pedophiles, child pornographers, and Internet sexual predators.

We will have our children to answer to!

 

Castanet Article
Thursday May 17th, 2007
Oh! Canada! Column

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