Langley MP Mark Warawa’s “Safe at Home” private member’s bill received support from all parties in the House of Commons on Tuesday, and is now one step closer to becoming law.
Bill C-489, called the “The Safe at Home Bill,” will amend the Criminal Code so that child sexual offenders will be prohibited from coming within two kilometres of a victim’s dwelling.
The bill also proposes that all criminal offenders subject to parole or conditional sentences be under strict conditions not to contact their victims, unless the victim consents or there are exceptional circumstances present.
“This bill was brought forward in response to residents in my riding =of Langley, and to other cases where young victims have lived in fear of their offenders,” said Warawa. “I am in awe of their continual bravery and courage to fight for the rights of future victims. Everyone should have the right to feel safe in their own home, and young victims of sexual assault are no exception.”
The bill came about as a result of a discussion with Langley parents whose daughter was the victim of a sex offender. The offender served a portion of his six-month sentence in jail and served the remainder at his home, next door to the victim. She felt she was the one sentenced to jail and feared seeing him.
The bill was introduced to replace a controversial private member’s motion to condemn the practice of aborting fetuses based on their gender. The motion never made it through committees, even after Warawa appealed the decision.
The motion gained Langley’s MP major media attention around Canada, with many wondering if he was opening up the abortion debate. The discussion also exposed the tight control Prime Minister Stephen Harper has over his caucus.
Warawa withdrew that motion, committing to continue discussions about gender selection in other public forums.
The Safe at Home Bill will be reviewed at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
“This is an important bill for violent crime survivors’ rights and it must be examined with the needs of survivors in mind,” said NDP MP for Surrey North, Jasbir Sandhu. Liberal MP from Lac-Saint-Louis, Francis Scarpaleggia, also voiced the support of his party.
“I agree with the honourable member that the interests of victims of sexual crimes have often been overlooked in our criminal justice system,” said Scarpaleggia.
“It is truly an honour to receive support from all sides of the House of Commons,” said Warawa.