By Jonathon Van Maren
On May 17, Conservative MP Karen Vecchio of Elgin-Middlesex-London tabled Bill S-210, the “Protecting Young Persons from Exposure to Pornography Act” (long version: “An Act to restrict young persons’ online access to sexually explicit material.”)
The bill, introduced in the Senate in November 2021, passed unanimously last month. Vecchio, who is the Shadow Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, noted, “This is a very important Bill to ensure that pornography is not easily accessible to children – we know there is a strong correlation between intimate partner violence and pornography. We do not want children to think that what they see on the Internet is real life.”
MP Arnold Viersen of Peace River-Westlock, who has been working to battle the effects of pornography in Canada for years, posted a video of the moment to his Facebook page: “History in the making! Thousands of you have signed petitions over the past seven years calling for age verification for kids. MP Karen Vecchio has now tabled the Protecting Young Persons from Exposure to Pornography Act in the House of Commons after Sénatrice Julie Miville-Dechêne brilliantly steered it through the Senate. I am honoured to second this Bill and help champion it into law.” Viersen first put forward a motion to have the Standing Committee on Health research the connections between porn and sexual violence several years ago – in a rare moment of partisan unity, it passed unanimously.
For Canadians who support this incredibly important bill, Viersen has provided petitions on his website, noting that consumption of pornography is “associated with a range of serious harms, including the development of pornography addiction, the reinforcement of gender stereotypes and the development of attitudes favourable to harassment and violence – including sexual harassment and sexual violence, particularly against women” and that “online age verification was the primary recommendation made by the stakeholders during a 2017 study by the Standing Committee on Health.”