The Green Party of Canada condemns the Conservatives’ new prostitution legislation, calling it a threat to the safety and wellbeing of sex workers and a clear violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Bill C-36, the so-called “Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act”, was unveiled yesterday by Justice Minister Peter MacKay. Containing controversial new measures to criminalize the purchasing and advertising of sexual services, the bill comes barely 6 months after the Supreme Court of Canada struck down existing laws criminalizing some aspects of the sex trade on the grounds that they put workers’ lives and safety in jeopardy.
“It appears that Peter MacKay hasn’t bothered to read the Supreme Court’s ruling. This bill is a blatant attempt to repackage unconstitutional laws under a new name,” said Camille Labchuk, a Toronto criminal defence lawyer and the Green Party candidate in the Trinity–Spadina by-election. “The Conservatives have an appalling lack of respect for the Charter, the rule of law, and the safety of sex workers. It’s time to discuss decriminalizing prostitution and developing sensible regulations to protect sex workers.”
“This law will only serve to make life more difficult and more dangerous for some of the most marginalized people in our society,” said Green Leader Elizabeth May. “The Supreme Court ruling was a clear message that forcing sex work further into the shadows is not a solution. Bill C-36 is a disturbing step backward from that decision.”
The Green Party of Canada has long advocated for comprehensive Criminal Code reforms that would remove criminal sanctions and develop regulations for legal prostitution between consenting adults, along with enhanced counselling and educational services to assist people trapped in the sex trade through poverty or addiction.