Justice minister rolls out tougher punishments for child sex assault - Macleans.ca

Justice minister rolls out tougher punishments for child sex assault


TORONTO – The federal government wants sex predators who prey on children to face tougher sentences.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and former victims of sex abuse are in Toronto today to also propose stiffer new court processes and a strategy to support young victims.

On hand for the announcement was former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy.

The Conservative government has been working with victims of sexual abuse to develop a strategy that goes beyond simply harsher punishments.

However, sentencing concerns have been highlighted since former hockey coach Graham James was jailed for two years last year for assaults on former NHL star Theoren Fleury and his cousin Todd Holt in the 1980s and 90s.

James had previously been convicted of assaulting Kennedy and another young hockey player and was sentenced to three and half years in 1997.

The Crown has appealed James’s latest sentence as being too lenient.

Kennedy and Greg Gilhooly, whose sexual-assault charges against James were stayed when James pleaded guilty to the charges involving Fleury and Holt, have been pushing for more help for victims of sexual abuse.

And the government appears to be listening.

Nicholson made a series of funding announcements in the last week of January geared toward child-assault victims.

In Calgary, the justice minister pledged $185,000 for the Canadian Society for the Investigation of Child Abuse, which is working on the creation of a national voluntary certification program for forensic child interviewers.

Ottawa also provided $1.2 million for three separate programs in Montreal that deal with young victims of sex abuse, committed $600,000 to victims of crime in Yukon and promoted a Children’s Advocacy Centre in Winnipeg.

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