In December, the Supreme Court of Canada handed down a landmark ruling that could end up giving Canadians more freedom, and make life much safer for sex workers.
But even before the ink had dried on the decision that upheld an Ontario Superior Court ruling, which struck down many of this country’s prostitution laws, Peter MacKay released a statement asserting that the government was “exploring all possible options to ensure the criminal law continues to address the significant harms that flow from prostitution to communities, those engaged in prostitution and vulnerable persons.”
Since then, the government has been consulting with Canadians about how to craft a new prostitution law (the court gave the government until December 2014 before sections of the current law become invalid). But as the National Post’s John Ivison recently reported, “the submission that is likely to carry most weight comes from the Conservative party itself.”
Indeed, the Conservatives look likely to adopt the model advocated by anti-pornography, anti-prostitution and anti-free-speech advocate — and arguably the Parliamentarian who represents the biggest threat to freedom in this country — Joy Smith. Her deeply flawed report on the subject argues that Canada should adopt the Nordic model — which has been championed by the government of Sweden — whereby prostitution is completely legal, but the purchasing of sex is criminalized.
Before we go down this road, it is worth looking at how well the law has worked in Sweden, and whether it could be applied here at home, without violating the same constitutional protections that doomed the current regime.