Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (Bill C-36)

Sean Casey: Mr. Speaker, I was a participant in the justice committee hearings on the bill over the summer, when we heard from over 60 witnesses.

There was a consensus on three points. One was that the $20 million that has been set aside for an exit program was inadequate. The second was that all of those who were trained in the law, except for the Minister of Justice and those in his employ, felt that all or some of the bill was unconstitutional. The third point was that those involved in the sex trade should not be criminalized. Probably the best suggestion we heard during the course of the testimony was that those who are carrying a criminal record as a result of the unconstitutional law should be given an immunity.

My question for the member is this: what does she think of that immunity suggestion, which was rejected by the Conservatives? Also, does she have any comments with respect to the stigmatization associated with a criminal record as a result of being in the sex trade?

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, first I want to commend the hon. member for Charlottetown. I thought his speech at second reading on this bill was the best that anyone delivered in comparing the Canadian laws on prostitution with a made-in-Moscow version for Canada.

I agree that when the law is unconstitutional, we need to look at immunity. As much as all of us have our own personal views that come from our own religious or moral context or backgrounds, the bottom line is that people’s lives are at risk. Who are we as Canadians to turn our backs on them?