The Senate passed Bill C-2, the Tackling Violent Crime Act, an omnibus crime bill that included a provision for raising Canada’s age of sexual consent from 14 to 16. At 14, Canada had one of the lowest ages of consent for sexual activity, but is now in line with most of the Western world, where ages of consent typically range from 16 to 18 years of age.

The House of Commons passed the act in November last year, after the Harper government reintroduced previously passed crime laws that had not been approved in the Senate. On Feb. 28, the Senate voted 19-16 with 31 abstentions (all Liberals) to pass the law. Prime Minister Stephen Harper threatened to call an election if C-2 was not passed by March 1.

Roz Prober, co-founder of the Winnipeg-based children’s rights group Beyond Borders, told the Winnipeg Free Press, “Common sense has prevailed. Raising the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16 is a huge protection for children. People were stunned to see Canada was so far behind the eight-ball on the age of consent.”

Gwen Landolt, national vice-president of REAL Women of Canada, told she was delighted the legislation passed, although she would have preferred to see the age of consent raised to 18, rather than 16, to bring it in line with other legal standards in the criminal justice system, such as the legal age for sodomy.

Brian Rushfeldt, executive director of the Canadian Family Action Coalition, said that 750,000 Canadians signed petitions calling for the age of consent to be raised. He said the passing of C-2 is proof “that individuals can make a difference and right the wrongs perpetrated by insensitive legislators acting on behalf of special interests.”

He also said Canada’s global image will be rehabilitated by the move. “We may no longer be the child-sex destination we were for those perverts who abuse children.”