A Cambridge Progressive Conservative MPP wants the public to have access to Ontario’s Sex Offender Registry in order to protect children from sexual predators.
"Every resident of Ontario deserves to know if a sexual predator is living in their neighbourhood," Gerry Martiniuk said Wednesday after introducing a private member’s bill calling for the change to the five-year-old registry.
But Community Safety Minister Monte Kwinter said if that kind of sensitive information was made available it could result in vigilantism and or drive offenders underground.
“If you open up to the public you are going to get a much lower compliance rate. People are going to say `why should I comply if I am going to be subjected to all sorts of harassment, to vigilantism, things of that kind,” Kwinter said.
Anyone convicted of a sex crime in Ontario is required within 15 days of being released to sign onto the registry and if police feel there is a great enough threat they do have the power to publicize a convicted sex offender’s name.
Martiniuk said just recently in his own community residents became aware of a registered sex offender “and nothing happened other than he was kept good watch on by the police and the public and now he is back in jail because he breached his parole provision by getting too close to children in school yards.”
The father of four noted that in other jurisdictions in the United States with sex offender registries members of the public can retrieve information on pedophiles and other sex criminals living near them.
“That way the parents can take care of their children and feel secure. Otherwise I think there is a problem,” Martiniuk said, noting that his private member’s bill is to be debated next month.
His private member’s bill would also require offenders convicted by courts outside of Ontario and Canada to register.
“Our children’s safety is first and foremost in this bill. No parent should be left wondering if their children are safe to play in their own neighbourhood,” Martiniuk said in a statement.
Ontario’s Ontario Sex Offender Registry was sparked by the brutal 1988 murder of 11-year-old Christopher Stephenson by a convicted pedophile on federal statutory release.