CENTRAL NOVA REPORT BY PETER MACKAY
Last week, our government tabled legislation that will address the significant harms that flow from prostitution and ensure that Canadian communities are protected.
Bill C-36 was prompted in response to a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of Canada v. Bedford, which required that new legislation around prostitution needed to be brought forward by December 19, 2014.
From the time of that decision, our government committed to consult broadly and seek input from Canadians in an effort to ensure that new legislation protects those most vulnerable and at risk of the exploitation inherent in prostitution as soon as possible, while ensuring Canadian streets and communities remain safe.
The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act is a “made in Canada” model, which directly targets the demand for this dangerous activity and takes tough action to crack down on pimps and johns. It makes prostitution illegal for the first time, meaning the impact will be borne by those who purchase sex and persons who exploit others.
In short, prostitution hurts our communities and the most vulnerable among us. The proposed legislation would protect our communities – in particular women, children, and those who are at risk of being drawn into prostitution – from the dangers associated with prostitution, including violence, drug-related crime, and organized crime.
This Canadian model involves a significant overhaul of the Criminal Code’s treatment of prostitution and related activities. It would:
– Criminalize those who fuel the demand for prostitution (purchasers of sexual services);
– Continue to criminalize those who financially benefit from the exploitation of prostitutes, such as pimps and those who procure others for the purpose of prostitution;
– Prohibit advertising for the sale of others’ sexual services in print or online;
Immunize prostitutes from criminal liability for any part they play in the purchasing, material benefit, procuring or advertising offences;
– Protect our communities by criminalizing communicating for the purpose of selling sexual services in public places where a child could reasonably be present;
Increase existing penalties relating to child prostitution.
These measures will be supported by $20 million in new funding, including to support grassroots organizations dealing with the most vulnerable prostitutes. Recognizing that the overwhelming majority of prostitutes are looking to leave this dangerous and harmful line of work, there will be an emphasis on funding programs with a proven record of helping prostitutes exit the sex trade.
Through this Bill, our government is once again ensuring that victims of crime are protected and our streets and communities remain safe.
Peter MacKay is MP for Central Nova and federal Justice Minister.