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Age of consent changes defeated

Legal changes would have restricted teen sex

NINA GREWAL

Two attempts by individual Conservative MPs to rewrite the laws around sexual consent and age of consent went down in flames Sep 28.

First up to defeat was Conservative suburban British Columbia MP Nina Grewal’s Motion 221, which simply called on the government to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16. It was quickly put down in a 100-169 vote. If it had passed, it would have been nonbinding on the federal government. The Martin Liberals are on record as opposing raising the age of consent in the Criminal Code, saying they have achieved the same thing in Bill C-2, passed Jul 20, which narrowed the circumstances under which teens could consent to sex with partners over 18.

Before Bill C-2, teens could have sex with people over 18, so long as the older person was not in a position of trust or authority – like a coach or scout leader. Bill C-2 added a ban on “exploitative” relationships, but failed to define the word. Progressive gay lobby groups, including the Coalition For Lesbian And Gay Rights In Ontario and the Sex Laws Committee, opposed the change, arguing among other reasons that gay teens often seek out older people for sex and their choices must be respected.

Minutes later, Alberta MP Rick Casson’s private member’s Bill C-313 failed a motion to get second reading in a 99 to 167 vote. The NDP and Bloc MPs voted overwhelmingly against the bill, which would have raised the age of consent to 16 from 14. It would not have lowered the age of anal sexual consent from the 18 years now in the Criminal Code, nor would it have allowed teens under 16 to have sex with those near their own ages. And it clearly outlawed teens age 14 and over from having consensual sex with those above 18.

Rightwing and religious groups put on a last-minute lobbying campaign on behalf of Grewal and Casson’s initiatives.

Grewal, who has largely defined herself in Parliament by her stands for “family values,” rose in Question Period the day after her motion was defeated. “Parents and families need laws that protect children, not predators,” she said. “And now predators are coming to Canada from around the world to take advantage of our weak Liberal laws…. Could the Minister Of Justice explain why he is giving a pass to sexual predators instead of protecting young Canadians?”