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(Apr 02, 2008) A member of the ruling Liberal party in Ontario who is not a member of the government has introduced a bill in the Legislative Assembly that would require anyone who suspects that they have seen child pornography to report it to the police, the child services agency, or another organization designated by regulation. (Child Pornography Reporting Act, 2008, Bill 37, 39th Leg. Ass. 1st Sess.) This bill would amend the Child and Family Services Act (R.S.O. c. C.11 (1990), as amended (official source). It would require the reporting of sexual molestation and sexual exploitation of children, in addition to the discovery of images on the Internet and elsewhere. The sponsor of the bill has stated that the proposed law only requires persons who have a reasonable belief that material or images constitute child pornography to report what they have seen and that it contains provisions to protect the identity of informants and to prohibit retaliation against informants.

The proposed penalties for failing to comply with the bill if it is enacted are a fine of approximately US$50,000 and two years of imprisonment. The two opposition parties in the Legislative Assembly have already indicated that they expect to support the bill. (Keith Leslie, Liberal Wants Ontario Law to Require Reporting of Suspected Child Pornography, CANADIAN PRESS, Mar. 18, 2008.)

At present, the federal government prohibits the making, distributing, possessing, and accessing of child pornography under its Criminal Code. (R.S.C. c. C-46, s. 163 (1985), as amended, available at http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/C-46?noCookie.) The proposed Ontario law would supplement the federal legislation by adding a reporting requirement. Since Canada's Constitution gives the federal government exclusive jurisdiction to enact criminal laws, questions may be raised about the legality of Ontario's addressing child pornography. However, Canada's provinces do have jurisdiction to pass laws to promote and protect child welfare, and the courts could find that the proposed law can legally coexist with the federal legislation.

Author: Stephen Clarke More by this author
Topic: Crimes against children More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Canada More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 04/02/2008