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Updated: Thu, 29 Aug 2013 12:23:05 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Child sex crimes to draw stronger penalties, PM Harper vows

Child sex crimes to draw stronger penalties, PM Harper vows

The Conservative government will bring in stronger penalties for people who commit sexual offences against children, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said today in Toronto.

It's not clear when the legislation will be introduced. Harper said last week that he plans to ask Gov. Gen. David Johnston to prorogue Parliament and then return for a throne speech in October. Legislation can't be introduced until Parliament returns.

Former justice minister Rob Nicholson said in February the government would bring legislation later in the year to strengthen penalties for child sexual offences, including addressing "the risks posed by known sex offenders."

Justice Minister Peter MacKay was with Harper to make the announcement, pledging to offer help to victims and their families.

The new measures being proposed would:

- Require those convicted of child pornography and related offences to serve their sentences consecutively. A press release from Harper's office notes that would "apply particularly to offenders who have victimized multiple children."

- Increase maximum and minimum penalties for child sexual offences.

- Increase penalties for violation of conditions of supervision orders.

- Ensure that if a crime was committed while on parole or statutory release, it would be a mandatory factor to be considered in sentencing.

- Ensure that the spouse of a person charged with child pornography offences could be obliged to testify in court.

"I cannot even begin to comprehend why those who sexually prey on children do the heinous things they do," Harper said, noting there are "truly evil people out there."

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