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Justice Minister presses Craigslist to remove erotic-services ads

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson makes an announcement in Ottawa on Nov. 1, 2010.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson says he has asked the online classified giant Craigslist to remove any ads for erotic services.

"With respect to newspapers, there are editors, I am sure, who take precautions to make sure they're not getting into the business of child exploitation or human trafficking and so on" in their classified ads, Mr. Nicholson said after the Conservative caucus meeting on Wednesday. "It seems to me with Craigslist there's no regulation at all as to what goes on."

The federal Conservative government is not the first to make such a demand.

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In October, Alberta's Justice Minister and Solicitor-General sent a letter to Jim Buckmaster, Craigslist's CEO, to demand that the website stop ads for erotic services. In September, three Ontario cabinet ministers wrote a similar letter.

That same month, Craigslist replaced the heading of the adult-services section of its U.S. site with the word "censored," after demands from 17 U.S. state attorneys-general and advocacy groups who said the ads made it easier for people to engage in prostitution and human trafficking.

"It's not just me. It's other provincial governments. There are voices within the United States. And, again, I think they should consider this very carefully. They know that this is a priority with this government, the government with which I am a member. And they should listen to that," Mr. Nicholson said. "They have taken action in the United States and I think they should do the same with their Canadian websites."

The Justice Minister also said he would introduce legislation on Thursday that would create two new offences under the Criminal Code to close loopholes in Canada's laws against child pornography.

"There's a growing problem in Canada with child sexual abuse, particularly on the Internet. There are, at any given time, 750,000 pedophiles who are online. I am told that the number of images of children being sexually exploited has quadrupled since 2003," Mr. Nicholson said.

"I will be introducing legislation that will take aim at this particular problem. We will be increasing existing penalties. In addition, we will be covering off some loopholes that exits in the law."

One of the new offences will be directly related to Internet child pornography, he said. The other will be closely related to it.

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Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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