Canada’s age of consent will now be in line with other countries, such as Britain and Australia, and most American states.
The intent of the new law is not to criminalize teenage sex, but to crackdown on adults who prey on youth, former justice minister Vic Toews said when the bill making the change was introduced.
As pointed out in the 1984 Badgley Report on Sexual Offences Against Children, Canada has a long history of prohibiting sexual intercourse with young females, regardless of their consent.
Only girls under 12 were absolutely unable to consent to sexual intercourse until 1890, when the age limit was raised to 14.
The law includes a “close-in-age” provision of five years, which means it would be legal for a 15-year-old to have relations with a 19-year-old provided the relationship is not exploitive and the older party is not in a position of authority or trust.