The new Harper government will target sexual predators who prey on children by making a bill raising the age of consent to 16 from the current threshold of 14 one of its legislative priorities this spring.
Justice Minister Vic Toews yesterday said he believes there would be broad support within the minority parliament for a bill which included a “close-in-age exemption” so teenagers having sex would not be subject to the law.
“One of the issues that I would like to see brought forward as quickly as possible is the age of protection, raising that from 14 to 16 and looking at, of course, bringing in a close-in-age exemption,’’ said Toews (Provencher). “We don’t want to criminalize consenting sexual conduct between youth. We want to protect young people from adult sexual predators.”
The Tory campaign promise to raise the age of consent is part of an ambitious law and order platform which Prime Minister Stephen Harper has given Toews the job of implementing.
For years, the Tories along with others such as the Manitoba government had been pushing Ottawa to bring Canada’s law in line with other Western countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia where the minimum age of consent is 16. Currently, having sexual contact with someone under the age of 14 carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail.
Raising the age of consent from 14 to 16, and redefining it as an "age of protection" against sexual predators, is going to face vigorous opposition from lobby groups with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, or in even lowering the age. Even if the general public favours the change.
Yet who in the opposition parties is going to stake his political capital on opposing it?
Source: Brandon Sun