The feds could have avoided Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s constitutional challenge of the new prostitution bill had the government heeded legal advice they received as the bill made its way through the House, say the NDP.
“If the justice minister had listened to any legal experts when crafting this legislation, Premier Wynne wouldn’t now be forced to sort through this mess,” NDP MP Peggy Nash said Monday.
Wynne has asked Ontario’s attorney general, Madeleine Meilleur, to investigate Bill C-36, out of concern the law won’t make sex workers safer.
The law criminalizes the purchase, rather than the sale of sex. It also limits advertising for prostitution.
Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay shrugged off the criticism as he has from the start, saying “prostitution is driven by those who buy other people for sex.”
“That is why C-36 targets the johns who fuel the demand for pimps who profit.”
More than 60 women’s and sex workers’ groups have demanded the feds repeal the law and have praised Wynne’s actions, citing concerns that the law limits sex workers’ ability to screen for dangerous clients.
Meanwhile, the Ontario government denies its sudden concern over the law is simply part of an ongoing battle of wills between Wynne and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“Absolutely not,” Meilleur said Monday.
“I act independently of cabinet and the premier.”
The provincial attorney general said she’ll review the legislation and make her findings public.