The Toronto Sun
Friday, July 2, 1999

Fix the porn law

Okay, so the federal law against possession of child pornography obviously needs some work.

Instead of yelling at a few judges in British Columbia for being "pro kiddie porn" - which they haven't been - it's becoming clear that this law needs to be amended to make its prohibitions against the possession of child pornography constitutional.

The danger is that if we just keep yelling at a local judge in B.C., and now the B.C. Court of Appeal, for upholding the acquittal of one dirty old man, we'll miss the more fundamental issue here.

Which is that there are powerful forces - like criminal defence lawyers - who will now try to mount an argument that just because the law against possessing child porn has been found in B.C. to be too all-encompassing, there should be no law against possession.

And that's absolute nonsense given the huge harm done by the child pornography industry - which everyone, by the way, agrees should be illegal and which feeds off those who buy this garbage.

What's needed is a new law that takes into account the reality that the legal age of consent for sex in Canada is 14, as long as the sex isn't forced or coerced, as opposed to 18 years of age, which is what is referred to in the child pornography law. (Actually, we'd prefer increasing the age of consent, but that's another issue.)

Look, it's obvious that in passing this law, Parliament didn't intend to jail, say, two 15-year-olds who videotape themselves having consensual sex and then keep a copy of the tape for themselves.

(Their parents may want to "kill" them, but that's another matter.) Nor did it intend to jail a teen who writes in his or her diary about an imagined sexual encounter with a classmate.

Rather, this law was meant to jail adult pedophiles who fuel the multi-billion dollar child porn industry, who get their jollies buying this stuff, and who use it to feed their sick fantasies and perversions.

And that law is a good idea. So let's draft one that outlaws the possession of child porn when the children involved are under the age of 14, or over 14 but under 18 where the sex is forced or coerced.

In addition, the law should require that the Crown prove the person in possession of such material has it for an improper purpose.

Practically speaking, we're now going to have to wait for the Supreme Court of Canada to rule on our present law before deciding how to proceed. The point is, we must proceed. We owe it to our kids.

Copyright © 1999 by The Toronto Sun. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.