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Canada government introduces bill to raise age of consent

[JURIST] Canadian Justice Minister Vic Toews [official website] introduced a bill [text; legislative materials] in the Canadian House of Commons Thursday that would raise the age of sexual consent to 16 in a bid to crack down on Internet predators [CBC report]. If the legislation is passed, it would mark the first time Canada has changed the age of consent since it was set at 14 over 100 years ago [Library of Parliament background paper]. The bill includes a near-age exception, allowing a 14 or 15-year-old to consent to sexual activities if their partner is no more than five years older. Toews said [press release] Thursday that the bill is not meant to "criminalize teenage youth who may be involved in sexual activity with their peers," but rather that it seeks to protect "vulnerable young people from adult sexual predators."

The Canadian Federation for Sexual Health [advocacy website] has criticized the proposed legislation, saying that there is no proof that an older age of consent will protect youths from adult sexual predators, and expressing fear that young adults will be deterred from seeking consultation on safe sexual practices. Debate on the bill will not take place until Parliament resumes in the fall. Reuters has more. CTV has local coverage.

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