Liberal government looks to update Canada's laws against sexual assault

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.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould also wants to expand rape shield provisions to include text messages and other communications of a sexual nature or for a sexual purpose, either from before or after the sexual activity in question.

The proposed changes would also make it clear that a complainant has the right to a lawyer during rape shield proceedings, which are designed to prevent keep a complainant's sexual history from being used against them.

It would also set up a regime to clarify whether an accused can introduce in court any private records of a complainant, such as diary entries or notes from therapy sessions.

The proposed changes would also remove unconstitutional or obsolete sections from the Criminal Code, including bans on challenging someone to a duel, pretending to practice witchcraft or publishing, selling or owning comic books about crime.

The bill would also require the justice minister to explain publicly why any newly proposed laws _ including those outside her portfolio -- are compliant with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.