An excellent essay by criminal defense counsel Michael Spratt —
In December 2013 the Supreme Court of Canada – in the case of Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford – found many of Canada’s prostitution laws unconstitutional.
The old laws violated the constitutionally protected right to life, liberty or security of the person.
The Court struck down sections of the Criminal Code pertaining to keeping a common bawdy-house, living on the avails of prostitution, and communicating in a public place.
The Court found that these laws endangered and negatively impacted the lives of sex workers.
A unanimous Court was clear – “parliament has the power to regulate against nuisances, but not at the cost of the health, safety and lives of prostitutes”.
It was in response to this decision that the Conservatives tabled their long awaited prostitution legislation – bill C-36.
Given the findings in Bedford it is in the context of health and safety that C-36 must be evaluated.
The government has made it clear that C-36 is not about ‘nuisances’ but about stopping the victimization of women.
This is a laudable goal – unfortunately the new law does not seem much better than the old – sex trade workers’ life, liberty and security will still be negatively affected.
Quite simply the bill is a disaster.