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Canada: Feds accused of backing off sex offender registry.

January 29, 2002

OTTAWA (CP) Liberals missed a self-imposed deadline on Wednesday to create a national sex offender registry that could save lives, says the Canadian Alliance.

Nothing has been done since an Alliance motion to build such a database was passed by all parties last March, Alliance MP Randy White charged in the Commons.

"Why is it no software has been developed? And why has the government not even drafted legislation, much less tabled it in this House?" he asked.

Solicitor General Lawrence MacAulay countered that $2 million is being spent to upgrade the Canadian Police Information Centre.

Known as CPIC, the national police computer system is to include by November the names, offences and addresses of convicted sex offenders.

"This was requested by the provinces and territories," said MacAulay. "We're working with (them) to make sure we continue to have the best database system in the world."

In fact, provincial justice ministers said last fall the CPIC upgrades won't go far enough. They want a more flexible search tool that would include offenders' photographs.

CPIC wasn't designed to be a sex offender registry, agrees Det. Staff Sgt. Charles Young of the Ontario Sex Offender Registry, which started last April.

"What use is an offender's name if you don't know who to query?" Young asked from his office in Orillia, Ont. "What good is knowing the offence or the address?"

The Ontario system, the only one of its kind in Canada, allows police to search by physical description using photos that will be updated each year. They can zero in using postal codes, police jurisdictions or radius searches to narrow the field of suspects.

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Source: 2002