May 25, 1921 (13th Parliament, 5th Session)


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



The section itself dealt with the age of consent and likewise made it a criminal offence for an employer in a factory or business establishment of that kind to seduce a girl or woman occupying the position of servant. The amendment extended the provision so as to cover, among other classes, domestic servants, who were not previously covered. The Senate passed the amendment but added a proviso to the effect that in cases of seducing girls between 16 and 18 or seducing female employees or carnally knowing girls between 14 and 16, the judge might instruct the jury to the effect that if they thought it was more the fault of the girl than of the person accused they might acquit him. Now, that provision strikes at the principle of the thing. The principle of the law is that the girl below the age of consent is incapable of consenting and under this proviso made by the Senate, if the jury is told that this girl whom the law assumes to be incapable of consenting may have been more at fault than the party charged, he may thereupon be acquitted. As I say, it is a proviso that goes far toward destroying the effect of the provision itself, and as the House has already come to the conclusion that the law ought to stand without that proviso, it is only logical that we should adhere to the legislation as we enacted it. Of course, it is within the power of the Senate to adhere to what they enacted, in which event our amendment will prove ineffective.

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