Il est uniquement disponible en anglais. When he lived in British Columbia, Peter Whitmore followed the rules. He didn't go anywhere near a pool or a playground. He didn't talk to children, online or otherwise. And he was back home at his aunt's house in Chilliwack every night by 10 o'clock.
For once in his life - for an entire year, in fact - Whitmore was a law-abiding pedophile. It was hard to believe. A notorious child molester, Whitmore's rap sheet is full of repulsive crimes and empty promises. In , he was convicted of sexually assaulting four boys. Eight days after his release, he abducted a young girl. In , Toronto residents tried to run him out of town, but he made an impassioned plea on national television: Detectives found him in a hotel with a year-old boy.
A year later, while back on probation, police discovered a "rape kit" in his possession: A judge shipped him back to jail. Yet by the summer of , it seemed as though the system finally had a firm grip on Peter Whitmore. After he served every last day of his three-year sentence, authorities slapped him with a Section , a court order that imposed a long list of strict living conditions.
He wasn't thrilled, but for 12 straight months, the infamous predator did as he was told. Until June , when Whitmore planned a trip to Morinville, Alta. The RCMP even issued a press release, warning that a "significant risk" to "male and female children" was coming to town for a three-day visit.
Whitmore never returned home. By the time police found him again, two more young boys - 14 and 10 - had been kidnapped and raped. How could authorities lose track of such a dangerous criminal? The answer is complicated, but one problem seemed obvious: Canada's national sex offender registry. Unveiled in by the federal Liberals, the NSOR was supposed to be a state-of-the-art investigative tool, a nationwide database that can tell police which rapists and pedophiles live in which neighbourhoods.
But Whitmore - a man so dangerous that the National Parole Board considered him a " per cent" guarantee to reoffend - was not listed on the system. The manhunt finally ended on Aug. A few days later, far away from the cameras and the talk shows, the RCMP wrote a series of confidential memos to Stockwell Day, Stephen Harper 's minister of public safety and emergency preparedness.
The Mounties wanted to make sure the new Conservative government, elected six months earlier, understood exactly what it inherited: Pointing to "a number of weaknesses and gaps," the RCMP urged "an immediate review" of the Sex Offender Information Registration Act , the legislation that created the database.
Sixteen months after those memos were written - and three years after the system was introduced - Canada's sex offender registry remains a dysfunctional mess. Registration isn't even mandatory. A prosecutor must ask a judge to add a defendant to the database, and since the law took effect, barely half of all convicted sex offenders have been ordered to sign up.
The rest - thousands of molesters, child pornographers and other loathsome criminals - are under no obligation to tell police where they live. The registry can barely keep track of sex offenders who are ordered to comply.
At last count, 16, names appear on the system; 1, are considered non-compliant. Some of those people never registered at all. Others have failed to check in as required - in Ontario, in Alberta, in British Columbia.
Quebec is the worst, by far. The province is home to 2, registered sex offenders. One in five are missing. According to internal government documents obtained by Maclean's under the Access to Information Act, the registry is crippled by one major problem: Ottawa's obsession with privacy.
The feds are so determined to protect the rights of convicted sex offenders that most police officers are not allowed to access the system. Forget the general public. The database can only be used to help solve a crime, not prevent one. If a young girl notices a strange man loitering around her school, authorities are not allowed to search the registry for a matching description.
If she is sexually assaulted, then it's okay. But even then, local police forces can't conduct the search themselves. They must phone the RCMP. A registered offender has to inform police if he or she is taking a vacation, but only if it's longer than two weeks. Anything less than that a day visit to Thailand, perhaps doesn't need to be reported.
Even worse, if an offender does admit he's going to Thailand - a hub of child prostitution - the cops are not allowed to warn Thai authorities. Agencies within Canada are no better at sharing information. Amazingly, the Correctional Service of Canada refuses to tell registry officials when federal inmates, the most dangerous of the bunch, are set free. In other words, the RCMP has no idea when hundreds of sex offenders are supposed to register. The system is so poorly designed that the RCMP should be thrilled that even a single person is compliant.
It's like a typewriter in the Internet age. The computer does not even record an offender's next reporting date. In Canada, agriculture officials know the location of every single cow. The department of motor vehicles knows when your driver's licence is set to expire. But the national sex offender registry cannot tell the RCMP the most basic fact of all: To compensate, the RCMP has been forced to create separate, hard-copy tracking systems - a Rolodex, for example, or an Excel spreadsheet.
Successive governments, both Liberal and Conservative, have repeatedly ignored the alarm bells. When the registry went live, the law included a mandatory two-year review, a chance for Parliament to hear from stakeholders and make any necessary improvements. That process should have happened at the end of A year later, there is still no sign of a review on Prime Minister Harper's agenda. Police found Christopher Stephenson's year-old body on Father's Day afternoon, The boy's killer, a paroled pedophile named Joseph Fredericks, led the cops to the crime scene.
He told the detectives who knocked on his door that he spotted his victim at a nearby mall, sitting on a bench while his mom and sister browsed through a store.
Armed with a knife, Fredericks dragged the boy to his apartment, molested him repeatedly, then slit his throat and left him to die near a set of train tracks in Brampton, Ont.
Jim Stephenson spent that Father's Day at the morgue, identifying his only son. Two weeks later he was back at the baseball diamond, coaching Christopher's Little League team again. Instead, his family has spent two decades coping with a loss that no parent can comprehend. Jim and his wife, Anna, could do nothing but watch as a judge ordered Fredericks to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
They relived the horror three years later, when their son's killer was stabbed to death by a fellow inmate. Then came weeks of excruciating testimony at an inquest that picked apart every aspect of Christopher's murder. When it ended, the coroner's jury released 71 recommendations. One item - number 44 - urged Ottawa to create an electronic registry of high-risk sex offenders.
Fredericks's life was a long list of repugnant crimes. The jury believed that if a registry existed the day Christopher disappeared, police could have obtained an immediate list of suspects living in the neighbourhood. Maybe those detectives would have knocked on Fredericks's door while the boy was still alive.
It was , and every U. Some European countries were also on board. By , six years after the coroner's inquest, Canada was no closer to having a sex offender registry. The Conservatives, led by Mike Harris , were studying the idea of a provincial registry. The Harris team asked the Stephensons for input, and as the legislation evolved, they asked the family something else: I won't be reminded of Christopher every time I hear somebody talk about this legislation,' " Jim recalls.
She thought that naming the legislation in Christopher's memory would mean that something positive would come out of what he had suffered. On April 23, , "Christopher's Law" took effect, making Ontario the first jurisdiction in Canada to boast a sex offender registry. On a strictly technical level, the Ontario registry is undeniably impressive.
Inclusion is mandatory, and sex crimes investigators anywhere in the province can see exactly how many people in their region are compliant offenders must sign in every year and every time they move. If a person is one second overdue, the system automatically issues a red flag. It also records dozens of different descriptive features, such as height, weight, nicknames and tattoos.
Based on a single clue - a scar on the left cheek, for instance - investigators can scan for suspects. They can also search by geographic area, generating a map and a list of all offenders who live within, say, two square kilometres of a crime scene.
Harris was so impressed with his government's creation that he offered the software to the feds, free of charge.
The Liberals insisted that CPIC - the central computer that contains criminal records, and is available in all police cruisers - was more than adequate this, despite the fact that no one, including sex offenders, are compelled to update their contact information on CPIC.
Undeterred, Harris shifted the offer to his fellow premiers.