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‘Consent isn’t age related at all’: doctor

Raising the age of consent is a veiled attempt to assert conservative moral values on youth, senators heard Feb 22.

The Senate’s legal affairs committee is studying the Harper government’s omnibus crime bill that would, among other things, raise the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16. The Senate has until Mar 1 to pass the bill or risk a non-confidence vote, which could trigger a federal election.

“I’m here today to tell you that this is not what youth want,” Nick Dodds, 19, told senators, adding that more proactive attempts should have been made to hear from youth.

“The ability to give informed consent isn’t age related at all,” Dr John Lamont, president of the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health, told the committee Feb 20. “In my clinical practice, I’ve met 12-year-olds that are capable of giving informed consent and I’ve met 20- and 30-year-olds who I’ve struggled with their ability to give informed consent.”

Liberal Senator Sharon Carstairs also questioned the bill, Feb 13. “The minister of justice would have you believe that this [bill] is going to save young women and young men from sexual exploitation. But this is about saying to a 15-year-old that you cannot have consensual sex, you cannot have touching, you cannot have a kiss — anything with anyone that is more than five years older — or you’re going to find yourself being charged.”

Carstairs says the rush to get the bill through the Senate may prevent a thorough debate. “Witnesses are being contacted but I suspect that we won’t hear from all of the witnesses we want to hear from, simply because we won’t have time.”