Dozens of MPs and senators penned an open letter calling on the Liberal government to act faster in introducing legislation to combat non-consensual and child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online.

They lament what they consider to be the slow pace the government is taking with cracking down on websites like Pornhub, which is owned by MindGeek. The Montreal-based company has been mired in controversy in recent years, facing allegations it knowingly hosted sexual abuse material — including abuse of minors — on its various websites and profited from the content.

"Survivors shouldn't have to wait years for justice," said Conservative MP Arnold Viersen in an interview with CTV News on Thursday.

"And every day that goes by without action from the government is another day that victims of child abuse or sex trafficking are exploited online."

Viersen co-signed the letter dated April 24 with 68 other MPs and senators from various political parties and affiliations who are putting mounting pressure on the Liberals to take more immediate action.

The lawmakers called on the government to provide support for survivors wanting to remove non-consensual videos of them online, implement the 14 recommendations from a House of Commons ethics committee report into Pornhub, and to support proposed legislation or table new bills aimed at combatting CSAM and other sexual abuse material.

The ethics committee's report, which was completed in June 2021, made several recommendations, including holding websites like Pornhub more accountable for not preventing illegal content from being uploaded online and requiring platforms to verify the age of people depicted in pornographic material before it is shared.

The Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics officially requested the government's response to the 57-page report. However, with the dissolution of parliament just before the 2021 general election, all committee work is terminated under parliamentary procedures, and the government is no longer required to provide a response to committee reports.

Viersen, who is not on the ethics committee, said he has been pushing members to retable the report but has so far been unsuccessful.


His letter was addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a trio of cabinet ministers: Justice Minister David Lametti, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, and Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez.

When reached for comment about the concerns raised in the letter, Rodriguez's press secretary, Laura Scaffidi, said in a written statement to CTV News that it's clear that the status quo is "unacceptable" and new legislation would be introduced "as soon as possible."

"We’ll propose our own 'made in Canada' approach to online safety. We can all agree that what happens online doesn’t stay online, and our government is committed to ensuring that social media platforms are safer for our children, and for all Canadians," the statement read.

The minister's office referred to the work of an expert advisory group on online safety, created in March 2022, whose goal was to advise the government in developing legislation to address various forms of harmful online content.

Viersen said the experts on the advisory group disagreed on multiple points, but did agree that the issue of child sexual abuse material requires specific measures

"These things are agreed upon by all parties and could easily be put into law," he said.

"And it could have been done two years ago."

Last March, an Ottawa-based private equity firm called Ethical Capital Partners purchased MindGeek for an undisclosed amount. Its new owners have vowed to take the company in a new direction and repair its reputation.

In previous statements to CTV News before the new owners took over, MindGeek has said that it has "zero tolerance for non-consensual content, child sexual abuse material (CSAM), and any other content that lack the consent of all parties depicted."