Volume 93, Issue 76

Tuesday, February 15, 2000


Students hop on bus once again

Highest voter turnout in years

Guelph hit with series of sexual assaults

Investigation of Ottawa prof delayed

Play hopes to raise awareness

Fantino's remarks cause controversy

Campus on alert for suspicious activity


Caught on campus

Fantino's remarks cause controversy

By Joel Brown
Gazette Staff

Remarks made Sunday about Canada's justice system by Toronto's future police chief have stirred up a bit of controversy in the London area.

Julian Fantino, who will take over as Toronto's head of police in April, said he believed Canada's system of handling pedophiles has undermined its court system. In a speech to the province's Conservative party, Fantino called for reforms to the court system and a creation of a national crime-fighting strategy.

Nathalie DesRosiers, associate professor of law at Western, said many of Fantino's comments were inaccurate. She disagreed with his remark that Canada has fostered an environment where children are at great risk to be sexually abused.

"It's not a fair representation of Canadian society," she said. "The statistics show this kind of thing happening less and less."

DesRosiers also refuted Fantino's claim that the Supreme Court's decision to re-examine child-pornography laws is a sign Canada's court system is too tolerant of pedophiles.

"The court has the right to evaluate if a person's gone too far in exercising their right to freedom of expression," she said. "He's blasted the court systems for having too much power, but that's not a fair representation of what the charter does. Judges have the right to examine the charter and make their decisions based on that."

She added the law's re-examination was a positive step for Canadians since it had brought the issue to the forefront. "Everyone has been talking about it and the government has had to explain what exactly the existing laws entail."

London's Deputy Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco was supportive of Fantino's plea to protect the nation's children. "We all have to be extremely vigilant and do whatever we can to dissuade people to perform [sexually abusive] acts on our children.

"I can't see why a person would want to keep child pornography," DeCicco said. "There's something wrong with that."

London Police Chief Al Gramolini agreed with the former London boss, Fantino. "We can't do enough to protect our children. Any police officer would say that," he said.

Gramolini added he did not think Fantino over-stepped any boundaries by making his comments. "Given the circumstances, I don't think it was inappropriate."

Still, DesRosiers said she believed Canadians needed to look at a broad range of prevention strategies. "We need to give our children a voice in order to protect themselves. You can't say this is just a law and order issue."

To Contact The News Department:

Copyright The Gazette 2000