May 10, 1918

UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

I am not wedded to subsection 2.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Permalink
L LIB

Emmanuel Berchmans Devlin

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEVLIN:

I feel moreover that the Minister of Justice had nothing to do with the drawing up or the dictating of this subsection. I know him too well for that. To my mind this is about the most damnable piece of legislation I have ever seen brought before this House. Subsection 2 simply gives to the young man up to the age of twenty-one license to go round the country committing a certain act which I will not mention, an act that is eyen too repugnant to mention here, and the Government will simply say to that young man: "Well done, go and do it again."

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Permalink
UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

Might I suggest then that if that be so all governments in the past have been saying to "all" men: "Well done, go and do it again."

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Permalink
L LIB

Emmanuel Berchmans Devlin

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEVLIN:

But governments have not been saying that, because 12 noon answering my hon. friend's remark, I will give him what all governments have been saying. Section 211 of the Criminal Code reads as follows:

Every one is guilty of an indictable offence and liable' to two years' imprisonment who seduces or has illicit connection with any girl of previously ohaste character, of or above the age of fourteen years and under the age of sixteen years.

It does not tell the man that he goes scot-free; it punishes the man. But by subsec-

tion 2 of this Bill you say to the young man:

No male person under the age of twenty-one years shall be prosecuted for any offence under the provisions of this section.

If I have a suggestion to make respecting this legislation, it is to strike out the whole of the proposed new section 211 and amend section 211 of the Code as follows:

Every one is guilty of an indictable offence and liable-

Not to two years but-

*-to - six years' imprisonment who seduces or has illicit connection with any girl of previously chaste character.

That is the first amendment I would make. And the second amendment I would make would be to leave out all words after the word "character." The words in the present Criminal Code which I propose to leave out are as follows:

Of or above the age of fourteen years and under the age of sixteen years.

The clause as I propose it would then

read:

Every one is guilty of an Indictable offence and liable to six years' imprisonment who seduces or has illicit connection with any girl of previously chaste character.

Mr. (McMASTER: How would you define " girl " ?

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Permalink
L LIB

Emmanuel Berchmans Devlin

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEVLIN:

I define a girl just as she is defined under the Criminal Code. I would not limit her age, provided she was of previously chaste character. I say that no man, especially the class of men the Minister of Justice referred to as most apt to show their passions and to commit this crime, would be entitled to have illicit connection with any girl of previously chaste character.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Permalink
?

An Hon. MEMBER:

Even if she were fifty years of age?

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Permalink
L LIB

Emmanuel Berchmans Devlin

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEVLIN:

I am not particular about the age. I (have know of cases where girls over that age were before the courts. If there are hon. gentlemen in this House so very particular as to limiting the girl's age, then they can suggest a limit to the age. But I have known cases such as this: a woman who was not in full possession of her faculties has been seduced by a young man of twenty years of 'age. By this proposed new legislation that woman would have no redress before the courts. We are dealing with a section of the code which gives a free hand to every young man up .So twenty-one years of age to commit a

crime. Such legislation ought not to be tolerated.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Permalink
UNION

Frank Bainard Stacey

Unionist

Mr. F. B. STACEY (Westminster District) :

I congratulate the Minister of Justice upon the general character of the amendments proposed in this Bill. I am sure it will be a cause of deep satisfaction to the rigM-thinking citizens of this country, comprising, I believe, the great majority of the population, that the minister has brought down such important .amendments to the Criminad Code. This Bill, perhaps more than ordinary Bills, lends itself to a discussion that is comparatively, if not entirely, free from all sectional considerations, and, therefore, in my remarks I shall try to speak as a man to men, irrespective of race, religion, or party. I have reason to believe that there are great numbers of our best Canadian citizens who would go even further than the minister has gone, and would favour raising both the .age of consent and the age of seduction higher than is provided for in his amendments. With this view I do not hesitate to declare myself in full sympathy, hut I do not intend. to suggest any further change at present. I mention it merely to. indicate to the minister .that he has not gone beyond the judgment of hundreds of thousands of the best people of our country. I do, however, ask that the minister will accept an amendment 'to clause 2 of section 211, and which I have drafted .as follows:

That the word, "twenty-one" be striken out of line 16 and the word "eighteen" be substituted therefor.

It will then read: ..

No male person under the age of eighteen years shall be .prosecuted for any offence under the provisions of this section.

.It will readily be acknowledged that the subject matter of this clause has a direct and vital bearing upon the domestic life of the people of Canada and I submit that any matter so closely related to the welfare and happiness of our Canadian homes is worthy of our most serious consideration. It is considered by some people that it is scarcely within the scope of Federal legislation to have very much to say or to do with family life. This idea is probably based on the assumption underlying the well-known phrase that an Englishman's house is his castle; but we have learned that if it is necessary to do .so to protect the interests of society, any man's castle may be invaded by the State. It is not necessary to argue to-dlay that what Canada needs is more homes; that the social and

economic conditions of society be so adjusted that early marriages may be encouraged and that the State should give some attention to and some instruction regarding the vital subject of child welfare. When it is remembered that more children under five years of age die in Canada every year than the total number of Canadian fatalities during the first three years of the war; when we remember also that great numbers of these children might, under proper conditions, have lived, we will' at once admit that every fact or consideration bearing upon the home life of our citizens is of supreme .importance. I fear that this clause granting exemption from prosecution to all offenders under twenty-one, will, instead of affording protection to our Canadian homes, tendi to lessen their number and destroy the happiness of many remaining. If a young man under twenty-one takes advantage of this clause and seduces a young girl, what follows? An unmarried motherhood, with one woman living under a cloud during the remainder of her life, and drawing other homes into the shadow; or, on the other hand, too often the beginning of a life of shame. So far as records are available I believe that a very small percentage of girls go wrong after twenty-one years of age, and consequently, so far as legislation touches this question at all, it should .seek to protect in every way possible the young women of our country.

Another reason for this amendment is found in the fact that as the clause .stands it appears at least to endorse a double standard of morals.

I am sure that this House only needs to be reminded that if there is any one thing in the whole realm of sociology which the beet manhood and the best womanhood of this country deprecates and is most anxious to eliminate, it is this two-fold standard of morals. I fear that this clause as it stands will tend to en-* courage, if not indeed1 actually to sanction, that very distinction which onr best citizenship is seeking to abolish. iMust I speak plainly to be understood? This clause seeks to protect girls np to 18 years of age from, seduction by men over 21 years of age, but it says to every young man under 21: 'Go to, yield to every passion, ruin every girl you desire of 16 years of age and upwards, and no prosecution will follow, we give you special permission until you are 21 years of age to live an unbridled sexual life, but after that you must settle dbwn and behave yourself; it is true we have tacitly encouraged you to start on

an evil road; nevertheless, if you keep on that road after you are 21, we will punish you severely. I am sure this committee will not endorse that policy. If any cynical critic either inside or outside the House should retort: Oh, you are only trying to make people virtuous by legislation; my answer is brief and direct: I am trying by legislation to make it difficult and as dangerous as possible for them to be vicious, especially when the life-long welfare of others is involved in such vicious self-indulgence.

One other reason only I shall briefly state. Our country is made up of a cosmopolitan population. From ocean to ocean, in every province of this Dominion, we have representatives of nearly every nation under Heaven. That simple statement is a warning in itself. We know that the morals of certain nationalities are exceedingly lax and that with many others of all races the animal passions are at a maximum between nineteen and twenty-one years of age. We must not consider this question merely from the viewpoint of our own households, but from the national viewpoint, and with the coming generations in sight. One thing I believe every man in this House wishes to escape and that is the accusation of an outraged public conscience, voiced too often by a broken hearted and spirit-crushed father or mother in the sad words; "My girl must suffer, but the man goes scot free."

I submit that the amendment which I suggest would help in some measure to save us from that awful indictment.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Permalink
L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

Does the member for Westminster District formally move an amendment, or does he merely offer it as a suggestion?

Mr. STACEY; I have submitted my amendment in the hope that the minister will incorporate it in the Bill.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Permalink
L LIB

Joseph Read

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JOSEPH READ:

If there is anything disgraceful in our modern civilization which has not been cured by the advance in sociality, it is the double system of morals. Any man who recognizes that system has not advanced far enough in the scale of sociality to vote to give women the franchise. I do not understand, and never could, why my sister should be tabooed for a breach of the social law while my brother for the same act should not. In bringing down a Bill, therefore, which introduces a double standard of morals for men-not as between men and women, but as between young men and older men- my hon, friend

is making a great mistake. The member for Westminster District (Mr. Stacey) points out that certain people think we have no right to pass legislation with regard to young girls. But this is not altogether a moral question: it is a physiological question as well. A man who indulges once is likely to do it again, whereas if he is kept chaste, he has no desire to do it. I speak with some authority with regard to this matter, because I have been an observer of men whom I have had under my control, men who have been closely associated with me, locked up with me, so to speak, for weeks and months. I have observed the practice of a vicious system of ignorance: some of these men teaching younger men that they would have to do certain things in order to be men. This is the greatest rot that was ever taught to young men. I repeat that the question is one of physiology as well as of morals. Young men may be and ought to be so educated that there would be no necessity for such a law, in the meantime let us protect them from their present ignorance. I certainly hope the minister will strike out subsection 2, and I would suggest that he raise the age of consent to twenty-one. A man has no right to take advantage of a woman at any time, at any rate, not until she is twenty-one.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Permalink
UNION

George Brecken Nicholson

Unionist

Mr. G. B. NICHOLSON:

I am in full and complete accord with the suggestion made by the hon. member for Wright (Mr. Devlin), and I believe the time is not very far distant, if it is not here now, when that principle will be incorporated into the Criminal Code of Canada. I believe, however, in being practical if I can, and I do not think there would be much use in pressing, at the present moment, an amendment quite so drastic as that, but I strongly urge on the minister that if he does not eliminate subsection 2 entirely, he will accept the suggestion of the hon. member for Westminster district (Mr. Stacey), and, at least, amend the subsection so as to make the ages similar. As regards what the minister said as to branding as a criminal a young man between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, let us just reverse the order and see what takes place with regard to the girl. Assuming that we set the age limit in each case at eighteen, assuming that the young man and the young woman are alike up to eighteen years of age and that they commit that offence, what happens? The young woman goes through life branded, if not as a criminal,

at least as an outcast, while the young man goes through life free. We proceed further along that line, and under subsection 2 we say to the young woman: You will be branded as an outcast, sinking possibly lower and lower in the social scale until you become a menace, not only to your own sex, but to the opposite sex, the younger boys, if you will, and we say to the young man between eighteen and twenty-one years of age, who brings the young woman into that position: You go scot-free, and we thus encourage that sort of thing to continue. I would like to see the clause struck out entirely, or if not, that the minister should accept the amendment suggested by the hon. member for Westminster district (Mr. Stacey).

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Permalink
L LIB

Edmond Proulx

Laurier Liberal

Mr. PROULX:

I approve the amendment suggested by the. hon. member for Westminster district (Mr. Stacey). In some of the provinces a young man is considered old enough at eighteen to be married without the consent of his parents, so, as my hon. friend from Wright (Mr. Devlin) has said, a young man of eighteen years of age can commit as much damage as a young man over the age of twenty-one. It would be conducive to morality if the age, so far as the young man is concerned, was reduced to eighteen.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Permalink
L LIB

Thomas Vien

Laurier Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

The only argument that has been brought forward against striking out subsection 2 is that the young man between eighteen and twen'ty-one years of age should be protected and not be branded1 as a criminal. I think, on the contrary; it will be a preventive to the young man of that age if he knows tha't his action constitutes a criminal offence. Moreover, while the maximum punishment provided for is imprisonment for two years, the sentence may be for imprisonment for from one day up to two years, and I think that, if a young man between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one committed the criminal offence which is foreseen by this amendment to the Criminal Code, the court before which he would have to appear would take into consideration the particular circumstances of the case and, instead of branding him with a sentence of imprisonment for two years, the court might sentence him to imprisonment for an hour, a day, a week, two weeks, or two months. It would be a good thing to strike out subsection 2 and leave subsection 1 alone, thus leaving it to the courts to decide in each case what punishment should be inflicted.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Permalink
L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

The Minister of Justice might also take this, into 'consideration, that since we call a young man of the age of nineteen or twenty to the colours, he should not be put above the law, as under subsection 2 he will be put. I agree with the hon. member for Westminster district as to the merits of the Bill. It is a good Bill and it should be passed by the House, but subsection 2 should be struck out.

Mr. E. LAPO'INTE: I am one of the few hon. members who agree with the Minister of Justice as to subsection 2. When I first read the Bill, I was going to ask for an explanation as to the age limit in subsection 2. The reasons given by the Minister of Justice have convinced me that subsection 2 should be retained in the Bill.

There are certainly cases where the responsibility should not fall entirely on the young man under twenty-one years of -age, and where the girl should be let go scot free. Surely my hon. friend from Wright and the hon. member for East Algoma are not serious when they say a young man under twenty-one years of age should be prosecuted for having seduced a maid of forty or forty-five years of age. The proposition is absolutely absurd. The reasons given by the Minister of Justice are sound, and I think the subsection should be kept as it is.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Permalink
?

Mr. OOWAN@

I think the case cited by my hon. friend is so exceptional that it should not be considered at all. The vast majority of these cases occur between the vonng man of twenty and girls of the same age. Instances of the kind cited by my hon. friend are very rare,- indeed!, and should not form the basis of our legislation. I would sooner trust a man at any period of his life than between eighteen and twenty-one years, when his passions are matured but he has not the wisdom of maturity. Our ordinary legislation recognizes that. I see no reason why we should make any distinction between the two sexes. The law of Canada provides that where the two parties agree to marry all criminal proceedings shall be stopped. If we remove the penalty from young men up to the age of twenty-one years he will certainly not be any the more likely to marry the girl; whereas when he is liable to a penalty ol two years he is more likely to do justice to her. I do- not believe in forced marriages, but I believe that is better than to turn a young woman out blighted for the rest of her life. I therefore support the suggestion of my hon. friend.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Permalink
L LIB
L LIB
L LIB

Emmanuel Berchmans Devlin

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEVLIN:

The hon. member for Kamouraska. has the advantage of representing one of the ideal constituencies of the Dominion. A,s a matter of fact, there is less crime in rural constituencies- than in cities.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

be given to young boys. If you 'eliminate this clause altogether, a girl of eighteen, of a passionate nature, might have illicit connection with a young lad of sixteen, and she would not be liable under the Criminal Code, while the boy would; and that is something we have to provide against. We do not want a double standard of morality, and we do not want a double standard that will punish the boy of sixteen and allow the girl of eighteen to go almost scot-free. I am in favour of retaining the clause, and while not prepared to go quite so far .perhaps as the hon.. .member for-Westminster, I -am prepared to go with him a considerable length. That a young man of almost twenty-one, with all the matured discretion of a grown man, should go scot-free is not right. At the same time there must be some protection to the mere lad-, who perhaps through ignorance is led astray by a young girl a little older. I cherish this view that where two young people have misconducted themselves, as a Tule the girl is just as much to blame as the boy, and I would suggest that as we -are all agreed on the principle, it might meet the views of the House if we substituted the word "nineteen" for the word "twenty-one."

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Permalink
UNION

George Brecken Nicholson

Unionist

Mr. G. B. NICHOLSON:

I should like to emphasize the point I have already tried to make. In the case just cited by my hon. friend, what does a thirty-day term in jail mean to a boy of sixteen compared with the stigma the girl of eighteen will carry for the rest of her life? The girl you say, goes scot free hut the girl who has wilfully got herself into that position, which is a most unusual thing to contemplate, or who has been brought into that condition by the wiles of a devilish young man, is branded for the rest of her life and no sentence you could impose on any young man could brand him to the same degree as the girl is branded before society by that very act. If the suggestion of the hon. member for Lotbiniere (Mr. Vien) was accepted by which .this clause would be stricken out and the determination of the punishment left to the courts you would eliminate the license you have given to the young man and place in the hands of men who are able to put a proper estimate upon the nature and extent of the offence, the opportunity to determine what the punishment should he. You will make the Bill clean and acceptable, and not hold out to any class of young men that liberty or license which has been spoken about during this discussion, if you simply strike [Mr. McMaster.l

out this paragraph as the hon. member for Lotbiniere has suggested.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Permalink

May 10, 1918