FIN IN THE NEWS: Child luring must be stopped

MP takes aim at legal loopholes

By Theresa McManus, The Record May 14, 2010

New Westminster-Coquitlam MP Fin Donnelly is hopeful the federal government will support legislation that will close loopholes in the Criminal Code regarding children's safety.

Donnelly has introduced two private members bills in the House of Commons that he believes would strengthen laws to protect children against child luring and abuse. The bills bring forward bills proposed by the riding's former MP Dawn Black.

"They are very, very similar," Donnelly said of the proposals he introduced Thursday. "They cover two loopholes we are trying to get closed."

Donnelly's first bill expands the definition of child luring to include all forms of electronic communication, whether it's done by computer, cellular phone, Blackberry or other means. Legislation currently addresses computers but doesn't mention other technologies.

"That is where the legislation is weak," he said of the need to address changing technologies. "Currently it is just a computer right now."

Donnelly cited the case of a 13-year-old girl from Prince Edward Island who was lured into sexually explicit conversations with a 21-year-old man through e-mail and MSN Messenger.

According to Donnelly, the judge hearing the case is reviewing the matter, but can only do so within the framework of existing law.

"I personally think this would get cross-party support...," he said. "There are a number of private members bills that receive unanimous consent. It's an issue of timing."

Donnelly believes the legislation needs to be addressed to give courts the tools needed to address cases of child luring and abuse.

"You know this is happening," he said. "We need to give our police and judges tools to prevent it."

Donnelly's second bill would make it illegal for any Canadian citizen or permanent resident to lure a child outside the borders of Canada, and would make prosecution possible here at home.

"I believe, as Dawn Black did, that these changes to the law are long overdue," Donnelly said.

Black introduced a private members bill relating to these Criminal Code amendments in February 2009.

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