Cyr on Bill 202: Protecting Private Images

How a father-daughter conversation lead to MLA Cyr putting forward Bill 202.

As your MLA I have a private members bill going through the Legislature.  It is important to note that only about 4 to 6 private members bills go through the house in any given year.  This means that there is a very low chance of being chosen to put forward a bill and it is very limiting what bills you can put forward.  Those 4 to 6 random bills are drawn from a pool of MLAs (including the NDP MLAs who are not cabinet ministers) who get to create any private member bill with one important restriction; the private members bill cannot create additional spending or withhold government spending.

I am sure that almost everyone in our riding would love to see me put forward a bill to axe the carbon tax or kill the bill 6 the farming bill, however, both those would affect government spending and unfortunately I am unable to move it forward.  Others are calling for MLA recall legislation so that we can remove the NDP and this would also be a good way to use my bill.  I have had 2 colleagues put this forward already in the last 2 years, Wildrose MLA Mark Smith and Wildrose MLA Leela Aheer.

Wildrose Policy: Wildrose members believe the Government of Alberta should institute the right of recall of elected officials if 20% of the electorate (25% if the electorate is less than 1,000) sign a petition calling for such an action.

The NDP wouldn’t have it and used their majority in the house to make sure our Recall Bills didn’t move forward.  It could be third times the charm, but I wouldn’t I wouldn’t count on it.  Even though the NDP have a majority in the house and ensure that MLA recall legislation will never pass through the house we will look for other pieces of legislation that will lead to a better Alberta.

A good example is Leader Brian Jean who put forward Bill 201 – Justice System Accountability Act that if passed would track the length of investigations and trials, sources of adjournments, mistrials, and the number of charges withdrawn, reduced, or stayed.  The goal of this bill is to mandate the transparent reporting of measures within the justice system, highlighting the number of delays, mistrials and plea bargains, to ensure there is a greater focus on resolving these backlogs and bottlenecks so victims get justice in a timely manner.

Wildrose Policy: Wildrose members believe the Government of Alberta should ensure that all Albertans have access to legal representation and justice.

My Wildrose MLA colleagues have set a high bar for the bill that brings pride to all the Wildrose members, making my private member bill all that much more important.  This is my responsibility too and I am taking it very seriously.  I needed to come up with a bill that doesn’t spend money, fits into Wildrose Party member policy and bring Alberta forward.

Challenge accepted.

It was a conversation with my oldest daughter that brought forward the idea of the bill I will bringing to the house.  Our youth have infinitely more unfiltered information at their fingertips and while it allows for great learning opportunities it also leads to our youth having access to information that they aren’t ready for or unable to fully understand.  To be honest, it is unbelievable that I would need to broach topics with an 11 year old like premarital sex, danger of drugs, risks of smoking and how men should treat women.  But if I don’t she could end up a victim and no parent wants to see that for their child.

For me it was the discussion last fall that rang the loudest.  It was a discussion on how men should treat women.  One of our talks moved onto people taking of nude pictures of their body and sharing them with others.  First and foremost, I explained to her that a true friend or loved-one wouldn’t and shouldn’t ever ask for naked images of her and that our bodies are our temple and we need to protect our privacy.  Sadly, this is now becoming a widely accepted as the norm.  This is unfortunate, but it is a reality for many within Alberta.

I explained to her that people are out there taking pictures of their friends and loved ones and those they trusted with their most intimate images are sharing those pictures on the internet.  There are a multitude of reasons that intimate images are shared, like revenge, anger and accidental just to list a few.  Once these images are on the internet it is almost impossible to remove or “scrub” those intimate images from the internet.  The act of sharing an intimate image just can’t be undone.  In many cases those who share these images don’t fully understand the repercussions of their actions.  I went on to explain that those who violate our trust usually see no consequences for their actions and that they never really could never understand the pain that they have inflicted on their victim.

My daughter asked a very simple question.  How is that ok?

It hit me that she was right.  How could this be ok?  Like many I had just accepted that there is nothing that could be done.  It was what it was and the victim needed come to terms with this injustice in their own way.  It is remarkable that it took an eleven year old to jolt me into wondering how this injustice has never been dealt with.  Why has nobody done anything provincially to help prevent those from actively victimizing people through the sharing intimate images not being held to account for their transgressions?

Therefore, the bill that I am proposing before the Alberta Legislature is Bill 202 – Protecting Victims of Non-consensual Distribution of Intimate Images Act.  This act allow the victims to sue an individual over the distribution of intimate images and would also create protections for youth who have been victims of non-consensual image sharing.  This legislation if passed would raise awareness of this issue and provide recourse for those who have been affected.

Wildrose Policy: Wildrose members believe the Government of Alberta should support the right of compensation from convicted persons to the victims of their crimes.

This fits into our Wildrose Party member policy and it is my hope that the Minister of Education will consider integrating an education component into our school curriculum as a prevention measure.  This bill should be seen as a being proactive vs reactive to help empower our teachers, principals, students and victims.  With that in mind I am a parent first and will state for the record that this bill is inspired by my 2 beautiful daughters Amelia and Charlotte Cyr in the hopes that we can prevent further victimization going forward.