Canadian Justice Minister Targets Craigslist Sex Ads

CANADA—Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has called on Craigslist to remove all erotic services ads from its website. He is not the first Canadian official to make such a request, however.

“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,” reported The Globe and Mail.

Nicholson is well aware that his efforts are building upon previous ones, including those from the United States.

“It’s not just me,” he said. “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. They have taken action in the United States and I think they should do the same with their Canadian websites.”

Following a Conservative caucus meeting this week, the minister said he planned to undertake action intended to deal directly with sites such as Craigslist, which he said appears to undertake no regulation of such content. Thursday, he followed through on that promise.

The new offenses, according to the Toronto Sun, prohibit the use of telecommunications to plan a sex offense as well as providing sexually explicit material to a child to “groom” them for sexual purposes—and would close loopholes in current legislation, the minister said.

He added that one of the new offenses will be directly related to internet child pornography, and the other will be closely related to it, reported The Globe and Mail.

“There’s a growing problem in Canada with child sexual abuse, particularly on the internet,” he said. “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.”

Though news reports and comments by Nicholson continue to conflate his criticisms of Craigslist sex ads with the sex trafficking of minors and child pornography, no direct connection between the popular web-based classified service and the illegal activity has been made.