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Caputo’s private member’s bill one step closer to becoming law

Second reading has been given to bill that would change “child pornography” to “child sex abuse material” in Criminal Code of Canada
Frank Caputo
Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo (Conservative) MP Frank Caputo.

Kamloops’ member of Parliament is one step closer to eliminating the term “child pornography” in Canada’s court system.

The House of Commons has voted unanimously to give second reading to private member’s bill C-291, which was drafted by Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo (Conservative) MP Frank Caputo.

If adopted, the bill would change the words “child pornography” wherever the term appears in the Criminal Code of Canada to “child sex abuse material” and would be referred to as such in court proceedings, Caputo told KTW. He said the wording change would better reflect that the crime constitutes the sexual abuse of children.

The bill will now be reviewed by the standing committee on justice and human rights, on which Caputo sit, before coming back before the House for third reading. If it passes third reading, the bill would then go to the Senate for review before receiving Royal Assent.

At the committee stage, proposed amendments to the bill will be discussed, Caputo said, adding he doesn’t anticipate discussion will take more than an hour at that stage. He said he is “cautiously optimistic” that if the bill passes third reading, it will receive Royal Assent by early 2023, if not the by the end of this year.

While the bill would entail only a name change to the offence, Caputo said the alteration is part of better reflecting the serious nature of the crime.

“We are reflecting the fact that children aren’t taking part in pornography. This is reflective of child sexual abuse,” Caputo said. “To be able to contribute to that dialogue, awareness and understanding is very important to me.”

He noted children cannot give consent and child pornography is a repeated victimization of a child from the act to every dissemination of the material.

Caputo said it felt “pretty amazing” to see the bill get one step closer to becoming law.

Caputo partnered with fellow Conservative MP Mel Arnold of North Okanagan-Shuswap, who sponsored the bill to get it to the floor.

Private member’s bills are those proposed by MPs who are not part of the ruling government and are proposed based on a lottery system. Caputo said if it weren’t for Arnold’s sponsorship. the bill likely never would have been debated in the House for years as Caputo’s bill number was about 160 in the queue, while Arnold was sitting at roughly 40th.

“I thought, I want to get this passed … even if that means I’ve got to give this bill to someone else, I was prepared to do that,” Caputo said, adding he acted as seconder on the bill.