Canada

Martin statements on child porn 'untrue,' Harper says

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper continued his attacks on Paul Martin over child pornography, calling the Liberal Leader's statements on the issue "untrue."

Martin claimed child pornography was his top priority and that he had a zero-tolerance policy, Harper said on Saturday.

"Neither of those things is true. They are factually untrue," the Conservative Leader argued.

"It is a very serious political error. Mr. Martin has not taken the opportunity to outlaw child pornography," Harper said while campaigning in New Brunswick.

The party-political pornography spat followed a public outcry on Thursday over the admission by the murderer of ten-year old Toronto girl Holly Jones, that his child sex fantasies had been fuelled by an internet child porn habit.

On Friday, the Conservatives issued a media release saying the Liberals and NDP had not backed Conservative proposals to toughen child pornography legislation.

Martin, NDP Leader Jack Layton and Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe all called on Harper to apologize. But instead, he returned to the attack, criticizing Martin for voting against opposition motions to strengthen anti-pornography legislation.

"Paul Martin stood in his place and voted against both motions. I say to Paul Martin: you should have voted to protect our children," Harper said.

The motions were aimed at closing a loophole which exempts some art from anti-pornography legislation on the grounds of artistic merit.

Duceppe said the Conservatives approach is unreasonable, and would outlaw Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel because of the nude figures of child-angels on the ceiling.

Government members routinely reject opposition motions as a matter of political policy.

The House of Commons had passed a Liberal child pornography bill, but it died because the election was called before the senate voted on it.

And the Conservatives have voted against Liberal child pornography legislation, saying it didn't go far enough.

Martin, who was campaigning in Quebec, called Harper's attack inappropriate and and completely unacceptable. "He should have apologized and he didn't," he said.

Layton, campaigning in Thunder Bay, Ont., said Harper's comments showed "a real failure of judgment in my view."