STOP SEX OFFENDERS | Canada: Ontario and Alberta succeed in achieving national sex offender registry
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Canada: Ontario and Alberta succeed in achieving national sex offender registry.

February 13, 2002

MONCTON, NB, Feb. 13 /CNW/ - The provinces of Ontario and Alberta today were successful in obtaining a commitment from the federal government to establish a national sex offender registry that will protect vulnerable Canadians and make our communities safer.

"For years, our government has been calling on Ottawa to heed the call of police services and a coroner's jury recommendation for a national registry," Ontario Solicitor General David Turnbull said. "I am pleased that federal Solicitor General Lawrence MacAulay has recognized the strengths of Ontario's registry, and is now ready to implement a similar system nation-wide. This will provide an invaluable and seamless investigative tool for police services across Canada."

Alberta Solicitor General Heather Forsyth said she was pleased the federal government is taking action, but expressed concern about the lack of clear timelines.

"Finally, the federal government is taking responsibility for the safety and well-being of Canadians and is making a common-sense commitment to mandatory registration," Forsyth said. "I am pleased that the federal minister said he would act as quickly as possible on these changes. Until they are put into effect, Canadians will continue to be at risk from convicted sex offenders."

In 1992, Turnbull introduced sex offender registry legislation as a member of the opposition. The Harris government established the country's first sex offender registry in April 2001. The registry includes mandatory registration, up-to-date photographs and addresses of offenders, tracking and mapping capabilities and is backed up by stiff penalties for non-compliance.

"While we welcome the federal government's decision, we are urging Solicitor General MacAulay to move quickly to implement a national registry," Turnbull said. "Police and communities across the country need this registry now to protect children and vulnerable adults."

Last fall, Ontario's Premier, Mike Harris, had offered the province's software -- a $2 million investment -- to other Canadian governments free of charge. Turnbull said that he is hopeful the federal government will use the successful Ontario registry as a model for a national system.

Forsyth noted that Ontario's offer of its innovative sex offender registry software is still welcome by Alberta.

"Until we have a true national sex offender registry in place, we will continue to look into safeguards in Alberta to ensure children and in fact all Albertans are protected from convicted sexual offenders," Forsyth said.

The Ontario Sex Offender Registry was sparked by the brutal murder of 11-year-old Christopher Stephenson at the hands of a convicted pedophile on federal statutory release. Turnbull said much of the credit for obtaining Ottawa's commitment to a national registry is the result of the tireless work of Christopher's father, Jim Stephenson.

Turnbull and Forsyth were in Moncton for the Federal-Provincial- Territorial Justice Ministers' meeting, which concludes tomorrow.

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Source: © 2002 Canada NewsWire