02/28/2014 10:18 EST | Updated 04/30/2014 05:59 EDT

Public sex offender registry coming soon, says Peter MacKay

Names and addresses for some sex offenders could soon become public as the federal government announced a new bill Friday aimed at combating sexual predators.

A public, high-risk child sex offender registry is just one of the nine proposals highlighted in the proposed "tougher penalties for sexual predators act."

Justice Minister Peter MacKay made the announcement at the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre in Calgary Friday. He said a child's right to safety trumps an offender's right to privacy.

"This isn't to encourage vigilantism," MacKay said. "It's to encourage protecting children from past proven behaviours."

Canada does currently have a sex offender registry but the names and personal information of those on the list are not public. 

Under the new proposal, personal information about high-risk child sex offenders for whom a public notification was issued will be available to the public.

Among the other proposals in the bill — which was formally introduced in the House of Commons Feb. 26 — are plans to share more information about offenders with the United States.

It's not clear what the criteria would be for that information-sharing to take place but MacKay says the decision would likely be made on a case-by-case basis and in consultation with police.

As well, the legislation proposes making it legal for spouses of those facing child pornography charges to be compelled to testify against their partner.

'It's our job,' says advocate Sheldon Kennedy

The changes represent a step in the right direction for hockey icon and sexual abuse survivor Sheldon Kennedy.

"These kids are vulnerable," he said. "It's our job as adults and as systems and as people that have influence over children to make a difference."

Kennedy was abused by his coach during his junior hockey career and received accolades for speaking out about it and working to end the negative stigma surrounding abuse victims.

A child advocacy centre in Calgary was named after him last year. It is a not-for-profit organization located on the University of Calgary campus that helps victims of child abuse.

He went on to co-found an organization called the Respect Group, which has created a range of programs to combat bullying and abuse in sports organizations, schools and workplaces.

Kennedy, who briefly played for the Calgary Flames in the 1990s, makes public and media appearances across Canada and regularly expresses his support for the Harper government's criminal justice agenda.

The one-time NHL player brought to light the sex crimes of his former junior hockey coach Graham James in 1997.

James has been convicted for sex assaults against four junior hockey players.

He was recently convicted on a second set of charges and sentenced to five years behind bars. James will get out of prison under statutory release in the summer of 2015.