Department of Justice


NEWS RELEASE




MINISTER OF JUSTICE TABLES BILL RESPECTING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

OTTAWA, May 13, 1993 -- The Honourable Pierre Blais, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today tabled in the House of Commons amendments to the Criminal Code, which will offer better protection to children from the harmful effects of pornography.

Under the proposed amendments, child pornography would include photographic, film, video, or other visual representations showing a person under the age of 18 engaged in explicit sexual activity. The Criminal Code would also be amended to include new offences prohibiting the possession, production, sale and distribution of child pornography.

"Children are vulnerable and need to be protected from the harmful effects of child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation", said Minister Blais. "Conduct which fosters and exploits the harm and humiliation to which children are exposed must be pubished", added Minister Blais.

Written material involving the sexual use and exploitation of children will continue to be dealt with as part of the current definition of obscenity found in subsection 163(8) of the Criminal Code, upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in its Butler decision (see backgrounder [below]).

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Ref.:

Brigitte Desmeules
Minister's Office
(613) 992-4621

Elissa Lieff
Department of Justice
(613) 957-4737
(Version française disponible)



Government of Canada Gouvernment du Canada


Amendments to the Criminal Code respecting Child Pornography

Background

Since 1986, there have been two attempts by the federal government to change the law respecting pornography. While the issue of pornography is contentious, there is clear agreement from most commentators that the Criminal Code should be amended to address child pornography.

As well, the Badgley Committee (1984), the Fraser Committee (1985) and Rix Rogers, Special Advisor to the Minister of Health and Welfare on Child Sexual Abuse (1990), recommended that the federal government amend the Criminal Code to specifically address the use of children in the production of pornographic materials.

The current laws respecting pornography

Federal jurisdiction with respect to pornography is mainly dealt with under the obscenity provisions of the Criminal Code and the Customns Tariff, which prohibits the importation into Canada of obscene books and materials.

The present obscenity provisions in the Criminal Code (sections 163, 167 and 168) make it illegal to produce, deal in, or mail obscene materials and also to produce obscene performances. Possession of obscene materials is prohibited if it is for the purpose of producing or dealing in these materials.

The Criminal Code does not address the possession of any kind of child pornography, nor does it specifically cover the use of children in the production of pornography.

For work to be "obscene" under the Criminal Code, it must either involve the "undue exploitation of sex" or the "undue exploitation" of sex combined with one or more of the [following] subjects of crime, horror, cruelty or violence. "Undue exploitation" is based on the community standard of tolerance test, as defined by the courts.

The Supreme Court of Canada decision affecting pornography

On February 27, 1992, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in R. v. Butler in which it upheld the definition of obscenity found in subsection 163(8) of the Criminal Code. The court stated that the current definition provides an exhaustive test of obscenity with respect to publications and objects which exploit sex as a dominant characteristic and is justified in view of the associated harm to society from exposure to such materials. The judgement clearly stated that pornography which employs children in its production qualifies as the undue exploitation of sex, and is, therefore, obscene.

The proposed law

The federal government recognizes that children are vulnerable and is committed to protecting children from the harmful effects of pornography.

In support of the Brighter Futures intiative Criminal Code specifically address the sexual use and exploitation of children.

The proposed definition

Under the proposed amendments, child pornography would refer to a "photographic, film, video or other visual representation, whther or not it was made by electronic or mechanical means, that shows a person who is or is depicted as being under the age of 18 years and is engaged in or is depicted as engaged in explicit sexual activity". This definition would serve to include portrayals of adult models who are presented to appear as children.

New offences

The proposed legislation also creates new offences for possession, production, distribution and sale of child pornography.

Written material

Written material involving the sexual use and exploitation of children will continue to be dealt with under section 163 of the Criminal Code, as upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Butler decision.



Communications and Consultation Branch
May, 1993


SECRET
UNTIL INTRODUCED IN PARLIAMENT
C-


Third Session, Thirty-fourth Parliament,
40-41-42 Elizabeth II, 1991-92-93


THE HOUSE OF COMMONS OF CANADA


BILL C-


An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Customs
Tariff (child pornography and corrupting morals)



First reading, , 1993


THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE


22176--23-4-93


3rd Session, Thirty-fourth Parliament,
40-41-42 Elizabeth II, 1991-92-93


THE HOUSE OF COMMONS OF CANADA


BILL C-


An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the
Customs Tariff (child pornography and
corrupting morals)


Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

CRIMINAL CODE


CUSTOMS TARIFF

COMING INTO FORCE



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* The above text has been reproduced as faithfully as humanly possible from the original document. However, this reproduction is not, nor intended to be, the official version of the original.