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Unconscious person cannot consent; federal government updates sexual assault laws

Last Updated Jun 7, 2017 at 8:54 am EST

Visitors come and go as the Parliament Buildings are silhouetted at dusk in Ottawa on June 13, 2012. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Liberal government is changing sexual assault law to make it clear that an unconscious person cannot consent to sexual activity, part of an effort to bring legislation up to speed with the courts — and the times.

“I’m hopeful that these proposed changes will go a long way towards ensuring that victims of sexual assault are treated with compassion and with the respect that they deserve,” Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said Tuesday.

The proposed legislation, known as Bill C-51, would update the Criminal Code to reflect a 2011 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, which involved the case of a couple that engaged in erotic asphyxiation.