Nova Scotia needs to take action to protect our children and communities from sex offenders, says PC Justice Critic Kim Masland.
Later today, Masland will introduce legislation that will protect communities from sex offenders by preventing those who are convicted of an offence that requires registration on the national sex offender registry from legally changing their name.
“It is important that the Liberals take steps to protect our children and communities from sex offenders by preventing them from using loopholes to hide their history,” says Masland. “This is a common-sense bill that will make our communities safer. We can’t let people erase their dangerous histories.”
Currently in Nova Scotia, there are no real safeguards preventing people convicted of sex crimes from changing their names.
“The Bill is important because these perpetrators are very skilled and manipulative when grooming the children they victimize,” said Jeanne Sarson, Persons Against Non-State Torture.
In January 2020, it was revealed that a Canadian citizen who served 20 years in an American prison for 88 child sex offences had returned to Saskatchewan and legally changed his name. These types of incidents led governments in Saskatchewan and Ontario to explore modifications to name-change procedures. Saskatchewan recently became the first province in Canada to ban people from changing their names if they have been convicted of certain sexual offences.
“The Saskatchewan government recently became the first in Canada to ban sex offenders from changing their names,” says Masland. “The Liberal government shouldn’t wait for a disguised offender to strike before action is taken on their part as well.”
“The fact these predatory sexual offenders can currently change their name is an outrage. This necessary safeguard, of never being able to change their name, should be a given not something that needs to be explained and implemented”, stated Bernadette MacDonald a feminist advocate for women and children in rural NS.
The Protecting Communities Act will empower police, parents, and neighbourhood watch groups to be aware of the risks in their communities, and will help to prevent repeat offenders from hiding from the national sex offender registry.