Reforms target sex offenders

Convicted sex offenders who want to travel outside the country will have to alert Canadian authorities before they leave and Canadian officials will, in turn, warn the destination countries if new legislation proposed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper is passed. Harper made the announcement in Vancouver as part of a package of reforms targeting convicted sex offenders.

RICHMOND, B.C. — Convicted sex offenders who want to travel outside the country will have to alert Canadian authorities before they leave and Canadian officials will, in turn, warn the destination countries if new legislation proposed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper is passed.

Harper made the announcement in Vancouver as part of a package of reforms targeting convicted sex offenders.

“Just as we must protect Canadian children, we should do what we can to protect children abroad,” Harper said.

The plan would also step up information sharing between police and border officials to keep track of sex offenders.

Harper promised a national, publicly accessible database of high-risk child sex offenders who have been the subject of public notifications.

“Gaps in information sharing and collection, as well as gaps in enforcement, mean child predators can slip over our borders unmonitored,” Harper said. “That is going to change.”

As an example, he noted the case of Howard Cotterman, a registered American sex offender who had been returning to the U.S. after a vacation in Mexico.

Border agents had been alerted by authorities in his home state, California, that his travel pattern suggested he might be involved in child sex tourism.

At the border, Cotterman’s laptop and camera were searched. Hundreds of images of Cotterman molesting a girl under 10 years old were found and Cotterman was arrested.

Harper said in Canada, this may have not happened.

Harper has been in British Columbia for the past several days as Ottawa prepares for a federal review panel report on the Northern Gateway pipeline.

The panel will report to the federal minister by the end of the year.

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