(This column was published in the print edition of the North Shore News
on May 21, 2003)
Sex offender leniency puzzling
THE senseless and brutal slaying of 10-year-old Holly Jones in Toronto last week has brought to light a
significant failure of the federal government.
When Holly's dismembered body was found on the shores of Lake Ontario it was clear the police were dealing with a deviant offender of the worst kind. They went to the sex offender database
to look for suspects. They found more than 200 within the proximity of where little Holly lived.
It should be noted the sex offender registry used in this case is an Ontario-only affair. The federal Liberals have been talking and talking and talking about a national database but as yet, nothing. Ontario Minister of Public Safety and Security, Bob Runciman got fed up waiting for the glacial-like progress of the feds; he went ahead without them or the rest
of the country.
There is a piece of legislation currently before Parliament - a tepid attempt by the soft-on-crime Liberals to placate the provinces and the country's population who are screaming for action. The proposed legislation does absolutely nothing to deal with already convicted sex offenders. They have to re-offend to gain entry into the database of perverts,
deviants, psychopaths and the truly evil.
Canadian Alliance MP Grant Hill took on the former spud farmer, now solicitor general, Wayne Easter in the House on the issue:
"Why does this government expect every sex offender to re-offend before their name is put on the national sex offender registry?" said the outraged MP.
The solicitor general demonstrated his feet of red PEI clay when he said, "We want the legislation to withstand any challenges that may come forward by the courts."
With that logic this government may never pass another piece of legislation. Which, in most cases, given their spotty record, might not be a bad thing. But that would be an abdication of their duty to protect the public.
Remind me, do we elect a government to run the country or do the courts decide what we, the citizens of this country want? Not that "we" here in British Columbia had anything to do with the election of this government, but you get the drift.
This government has spent a billion dollars on the long barrel gun registry that does not do one thing to keep this country safe and certainly was done without a thought to constitutional
challenges. Yet, when it comes to getting tough on sex offenders, a database that will cost a fraction of the stupid gun registry, because the infrastructure is already in place and will actually help police keep the public safe, they drag their feet, worried about the privacy of perverts and what the ermine-clad wonders on the Supreme Court of Canada bench
might think of the legislation years down the road. Toronto police investigating Holly's brutal murder have asked for a DNA sample from a convicted child molester and a suspect in the case, whose name came up in the sex offender database.
He has refused.
The national DNA database came into being in June 2000.
But, in this case this man's offence occurred several months prior to that date. In order to force a sample to be given retroactively, the offender must commit two offences of the same variety. The legal loophole means the offender must have committed two sex-involved murders or two sex assaults as opposed to one sex assault and one murder.
I cannot figure out why this government is so lenient with sex offenders and most especially, pedophiles. In real terms, this could have been handled simply by amending the Identification of Criminals Act, a federal statute that allows police to fingerprint persons arrested for committing any indictable (more serious) offence.
When someone is arrested for any of the more serious Criminal Code offences the police have the right to fingerprint and photograph the individual. Not after conviction, but at the time of the arrest. Police can use as much force as is necessary to ensure compliance. These fingerprints and photographs are then kept in a database maintained by the RCMP
nationally. The taking of a DNA sample is no more intrusive than taking fingerprints; a swab is passed along the inside of a cheek of the individual. That's it. No blood sample or any such bodily intrusive action is required.
The swab is then placed into a sterile, sealed container, labelled and sent to the lab for analysis and classification. So, what's the big deal? This is nothing more than bringing the existing legislation into the 21st century. Yet, the federal Liberal government had to make this so overly complicated and unwieldy with loopholes and protections for the very
people we should be protected from - it defies logic.