John Ivison: Provinces could kill new prostitution law by refusing to enforce it

Dec 10, 2014
Legal
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Could Ottawa’s new law on prostitution be dead on arrival? It is highly possible that opposition from provincial governments could see its provisions to prosecute johns and pimps, rather than sellers of sex, wither from lack of use.

John Ivison: Provinces could kill new prostitution law by refusing to enforce it

Opponents of the new prostitution law argue that, by targeting buyers of sexual services, prostitutes will be driven outdoors and into remote locations, ensuring they are still at risk.

The federal government has constitutional authority for creating criminal law, while the provinces implement and administer those laws, Alan Young, an associate professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, pointed out. “The provinces can decide to nullify a new enactment simply by refusing to prosecute cases brought under this law,” he said.

As the National Post revealed on Saturday, the day the new law came into force, there are serious misgivings inside Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario government about whether it enhances the safety of sex workers, the key ingredient to make any prostitution legislation constitutional in the eyes of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On Sunday, Ms. Wynne issued a statement saying she has asked her Attorney-General, Madeleine Meilleur, to investigate whether the new law is constitutionally valid.

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