PM Stephen Harper talks child protection, terrorism in Winnipeg speech

Prime Minister Stephen Harper promoted his government's anti-crime agenda Friday night while speaking to a non-profit group that fights crimes against children.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, with his wife Laureen are presented with a painting from Lianna McDonald, executive director of Canadian Centre for Child Protection, at an event in Winnipeg to mark the centre's 30th anniversary on Friday evening. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper promoted his government's anti-crime agenda Friday night while speaking to a non-profit group that fights sexual exploitation and other crimes against children.

But Harper also focused on international terrorism in his 20-minute speech. He spent almost one-third of his time on the subject.

"I'm going to change topic just a little bit. I think it's just a little bit," he said to a gala honouring the 30th anniversary of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

"I think it would be impossible for a prime minister today to speak about protecting children — protecting Canadians — without also addressing the threat of terrorism."

Harper noted several tragedies that have occurred over the past year, including the attack on Parliament Hill last October by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau and the Charlie Hebdo killings in France.

"I think most Canadians now understand these acts cannot be dismissed just as random deeds by a few disturbed individuals. We cannot, ladies and gentlemen, avoid the stark reality of jihadist terrorism. It will not go away if we close our eyes."

It was not the first time Harper brought up terrorism during his two-day trip to Winnipeg. He repeated a warning he issued at a Conservative rally Thursday night — that terrorism "seeks to harm us here in Canada."

Harper and his wife, Laureen, were honoured by the non-profit centre Friday. They were given a painting and applauded by organizers for introducing a host of legislation — a law that raised the age for sexual consent and a bill to ban the sharing of intimate images without the subject's permission, among others.

Harper gave his own government very high marks on the issue.

"I think I can safely venture to say that in the almost 150 years since Confederation, no other federal government has taken more legislative and other action to address the safety of Canadians in our community, none has cared as much about the protection of our children or about victims of crime."


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