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Protection of Youth Delayed with Government Omnibus Bill
The Age of Protection legislation has not been reinstated in Parliament.  Quick passage of the Bill now becomes more difficult.

A Bill that could provide significant protection for children and youth in Canada received a major setback just one day into the new session of Parliament. Bill C-22, Age of Protection, died in the Senate after the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament, ending its first session. Bill C-22 would have raised the age of consent for sexual activity with an adult from age 14 to age 16, helping protect children from sexual exploitation by adults and from sexual predators who use the Internet to lure children and youth.

...this legislation has been combined with four other pieces of legislation...

Many had hoped that the Bill would have been reinstated and fast-tracked through the House of Commons to resume its hearings in the Senate. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada wrote to the Prime Minister and to each Member of Parliament requesting that they reinstate Bill C-22 Age of Protection, but it didn’t happen.

Instead of reinstating Bill C-22 so that it could pass quickly in the House, the government combined it with four other pieces of justice legislation, creating omnibus Bill C-2, The Tackling Violent Crime Act. Quick passage of age of protection legislation now becomes more difficult. C-2 combines legislation from the previous session of Parliament which had majority support in the House, with other legislation that had received significant opposition.

Omnibus Bills are bills that combine a number of different, often unrelated provisions, into one bill. This is done either for housekeeping purposes to pass a wide-range of legislation under the heading of one bill, or as might be the reason in this case, to combine popular legislation with unpopular legislation for political purposes.

Rather than fast-tracking a bill that would help protect youth, this legislation has been combined with four other pieces of legislation that also died on the Order Paper. C-2 is a combination of five Bills that died on the Order Paper when Parliament prorogued:

  • C-10, Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Firearms Offences;
  • C-35, Reverse Onus on Bail for Firearm Offences;
  • C-27, Dangerous Offenders;
  • C-22, Age of Protection; and,
  • C-32, Drug Impaired Driving.
  • These bills were at various stages of debate in both the House of Commons and the Senate and received varying degrees of support from the political parties.

    Bill C-22, Age of Protection, received unanimous consent and was in the Senate when it died. However, Bill C-27, Dangerous Offenders, did not have the support of the Opposition and was stalled in Committee Hearings in the House. With the introduction of the Omnibus Bill, Prime Minister Harper indicated he is ready to face a showdown and is unwilling to allow amendments to the bill. So, by combining bills that received all-party support with bills that received opposition, the Prime Minister is setting the stage for a battleground.

    If there is not all-party agreement on Bill C-2, the provisions to protect children could become bogged down with the other legislation. The Prime Minister has warned that the Bill C-2 is a confidence bill, meaning that if the bill does not pass, it would trigger an election -- further delaying passage of legislation to protect children.

    Age of Protection legislation should have been fast-tracked through the House and brought immediately before the Senate. Delaying its passage by combining it into an omnibus bill, has the potential of bringing about an election. Unfortunately, it also comes at the price of further delaying the protection of our children and youth.

    Douglas Cryer is the Director of Public Policy for The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

     

     
     
     
     

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