Justice Minister Peter MacKay addresses a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday

New prostitution law to target customers

Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay unveils government's response to Supreme Court ruling on sex trade

New federal legislation on prostitution will bring the threat of jail time and steep fines for customers who buy sex as well as others who profit from the sex trade.

Known as the Nordic model that outlaws the buying but not the selling of sex, the Conservative government’s bill comes in response to the striking down of the existing law on prostitution late last year by the Supreme Court of Canada.

“We will criminalize those who are fueling and perpetrating the demand for this dangerous activity,” Justice Minister Peter MacKay said Wednesday.

Those to be targeted by police under the new law include pimps and others who exploit sex workers, including those who advertise the sale of sex in print or online.

MacKay said legitimate, non-exploitive service providers – such as doctors, pharmacists and taxi drivers – won’t be targeted, nor would spouses or family members of sex trade workers.

It’s not yet clear if that leniency will extend to bodyguards hired by sex workers for security.

MacKay pledged $20 million in support to help sex trade workers exit “a life of exploitation and danger.”

Fines might range from $1,000 to $4,000 and jail time could be up to five years in jail for an offender who pays for sex – double that if it involves a minor.

The bill would criminalize the act of selling sex in public places or where children could be expected to be present.

SFU criminology professor John Lowman said criminalizing customers and the public buying of sex will again drive the trade into out-of-sight places where women will be at greater risk of predators like serial killer Robert Pickton.

“It will force women into those dark, dangerous industrial areas,” he said.

“What you’re looking at here is a form of state-sponsored institutionalized entrapment,” Lowman said. “Can you think of any other law where it’s legal to sell something which is illegal to buy?”

He said the legislation recreates many of the problems that led the Supreme Court to strike down the old law on grounds it exposed women to too much danger.

A federal survey of Canadians released June 1 following government-led consultations found 56 per cent of respondents think it should be a crime to buy sexual services, but 66 per cent said it shouldn’t be illegal for sex workers to sell their services.

A study by UBC researchers released earlier in the week argued a Canadian move to the Nordic Model would force prostitutes to work in riskier conditions where they have less control over their health and safety.

Where clients continue to be targets of police, sex workers’ ability to protect themselves from violence and abuse or access police protections is severely limited,” said report author Dr. Kate Shannon.

 

Just Posted

Hope’s Wheeled Wild Women hit the road for cancer research

Group of friends ready for the 200-km bike trek that ends in Hope

Comedy, chicken poop and dancing at Lytton Festival

This year’s festival will honour longtime supporter Shirley James

Hope women save man from potential train incident

Man was standing on 6th Avenue tracks as train approached crossing with horn blasting

PHOTOS: Paintings return to Kilby for fifth annual festival

The Plein Air Festival will be taking place at the historic site all weekend

Cougar spotted in Seabird Island

Residents are asked to report all sightings to conservation

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Environment groups warned saying climate change is real could be seen as partisan

Talk of climate change could be viewed as advocating against Maxime Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada

Scheer repeats call on RCMP to investigate Trudeau’s actions in SNC affair

Ethics watchdog Mario Dion found that Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act

Maxime Bernier tells party faithful he will make it into the leaders’ debates

The People’s Party of Canada does not meet the current requirements

15-year-old boy drowns after midnight jump into Okanagan Lake

The RCMP and BC Coroners Service are investigating the drowning.

Most Read