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However, the Working Paper took a different view of the unlawful intercourse offence relating to those under 16.
In addition to supporting the retention of a "total prohibition" of sexual intercourse with female persons under the age of 14, the Law Reform Commission expressed the view that intercourse between adults and young persons under 16 should continue to be prohibited by the criminal law.
Nevertheless, the Commission recommended repeal of that offence on the grounds that the offence of contributing to juvenile delinquency was a better prohibition that accomplished the same thing in a gender-neutral way.
It must be noted that contributing to delinquency has not been a criminal offence since the Juvenile Delinquents Act was repealed and replaced by the Young Offenders Act in 1984.
The kind of scrutiny that a complainant might face in testing the proof of her chaste character no doubt also contributed to the fact that few charges were being laid under that provision prior to its repeal.
The Law Reform Commission of Canadas Working Paper 22 recommended the repeal of the seduction offences relating to young women over 18 and under 21 because they assumed "a general sexual immaturity among women" and attributed to men "the sole responsibility for making sexual decisions." The Commission said those were incorrect and unjust assumptions that should not be reflected in the criminal law.
To put it simply, our sons and grandsons must learn from a young age that when their intended sexual partners are not capable of saying the word, “yes” to sexual relations of any kind, it means “NO”.
This pamphlet discusses Canadian law on the age of consent.
Only girls under 12 were absolutely unable to consent to sexual intercourse until 1890, when the age limit was raised to 14.
In summary then, except for the offences of buggery and gross indecency, the age of consent for sexual activity has at no time been set higher than 14 in Canada, although prior laws did make men vulnerable to prosecution for sexual intercourse with a girl under 16, 18, or even 21 in certain qualified circumstances.
As noted above, the 1988 amendments to the Criminal Code repealing those provisions were contained in Bill C-15, which was introduced by the then Justice Minister, Ramon Hnatyshyn.
The offence was retained in the 1892 Criminal Code, in respect of girls between 14 and 16, and remained in force until 1920, when the offence was changed to prohibit "sexual intercourse." After 1920, the question of who was more to "blame" became an issue that could lead to acquittal but the offence remained in force until 1988.
In addition to those offences reviewed above, the "seduction" of a female under 18 "under promise of marriage" was made an offence in Canada in 1886 and amended in 1887 to apply to females under 21.