Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act

An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

Sponsor

Peter MacKay  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to, among other things,

(a) create an offence that prohibits purchasing sexual services or communicating in any place for that purpose;

(b) create an offence that prohibits receiving a material benefit that derived from the commission of an offence referred to in paragraph (a);

(c) create an offence that prohibits the advertisement of sexual services offered for sale and to authorize the courts to order the seizure of materials containing such advertisements and their removal from the Internet;

(d) modernize the offence that prohibits the procurement of persons for the purpose of prostitution;

(e) create an offence that prohibits communicating — for the purpose of selling sexual services — in a public place, or in any place open to public view, that is or is next to a school ground, playground or daycare centre;

(f) ensure consistency between prostitution offences and the existing human trafficking offences; and

(g) specify that, for the purposes of certain offences, a weapon includes any thing used, designed to be use or intended for use in binding or tying up a person against their will.

The enactment also makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Oct. 6, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
Sept. 29, 2014 Passed That Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, as amended, be concurred in at report stage.
Sept. 29, 2014 Failed That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting the long title.
Sept. 25, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and that, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
June 16, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
June 12, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and That, at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised that she missed it.

What is new and exciting about this bill is that for the first time in Canadian history it makes the purchase of sexual services of another person illegal. It would allow us to reduce the demand for the prostitution of other people, which reduces the demand for human trafficking. If there are less people trying to buy those services, there will be less young girls trafficked.

We do not have to wait until they are trafficked, harmed, or abused; we can reduce the demand and make sure it does not happen in the first place. That is what is so very important about this bill, and that is why it is important that we pass it as soon as possible.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:10 a.m.
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Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Conservative

Robert Goguen ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to voice my support for Bill C-36, the protection of communities and exploited persons act.

Bill C-36 would fill the gap created by the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in the Bedford decision, which would result in the decriminalization of most adult prostitution-related activities if Bill C-36 is not in force before the expiry of the court's one-year suspension. I know with deep appreciation that the House of Commons justice committee and the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs studied the bill during the summer recess in recognition of the Supreme Court's one-year time limit.

We have heard numerous criticisms of Bill C-36 from those people who oppose its approach, an approach that reflects a fundamental paradigm shift toward the treatment of prostitution as a form of sexual exploitation by criminalizing those who fuel the demand for prostitution and continuing to criminalize those who capitalize on that demand.

These criticisms include that the bill does not respect the Bedford decision, assertion one; that it should be referred to the Supreme Court of Canada for determination of its constitutionality, assertion two; and ultimately that the Bedford decision requires decriminalization of adult prostitution, assertion three. I propose to address each of these three assertions in turn.

With respect to the first assertion, that the bill does not respect the Bedford decision, the Supreme Court of Canada defined in Bedford the objectives of the three impugned prostitution offences narrowly as addressing primarily the nuisance aspect of prostitution rather than its harms. In doing so, it came to the conclusion that the effect of these offences was either grossly disproportionate or overbroad with respect to its objectives because they prevented sellers of sexual services from taking steps to protect themselves when engaging in a risky but legal activity. Specifically, existing provisions do not permit selling sexual services from fixed indoor locations, which was found to be the safest way to sell sex; hiring legitimate bodyguards; or negotiating safer conditions for the sale of sexual services in public places.

Bill C-36 comprehensively responds to these concerns. First, it articulates its new elevated objectives in its preamble. No longer would the law focus on addressing the nuisance aspects of prostitution. Bill C-36 is clearly targeted at addressing the exploitation involved in the practice and the harms it causes to those involved, to communities and to society at large by normalizing a practice that targets those who are disadvantaged, including because of gender, race, youth, poverty or a history of abuse.

Second, the scope of Bill C-36's proposed new and modernized offences is consistent with its objectives. Bill C-36 primarily targets the purchasers, those who fuel the demand for prostitution, and third parties, those who capitalize on that demand. Moreover, the proposed purchasing offence would make the prostitution transaction illegal. No longer would prostitution be a legal activity.

Bill C-36 would also immunize from prosecution those who are viewed as the vulnerable party to that illegal transaction, the sellers. Only in certain narrow circumstances would that group be held criminally liable, where their actions harm other vulnerable members of society, our children.

The justice committee narrowed the proposed “communicating offence” to apply only where communications for the purpose of selling sexual services occur in public places that are next to locations designated for use by children, namely, school grounds, playgrounds and daycare centres. The Senate committee heard that this narrowed offence clearly delineates the parameters of criminal liability and strikes the right balance between the protection of sellers and the protection of children who could be drawn into prostitution through exposure to the practice or harmed by dangerous refuse left behind, such as condoms and syringes. Furthermore, Bill C-36 would not prevent the implementation of certain safety measures noted in Bedford.

Specifically, Bill C-36 would not prevent selling sexual services from a fixed indoor location, hiring legitimate bodyguards or negotiating safer conditions for the sale of sexual services in public places, other than in those three child-specific locations I have already mentioned. This does not mean that Bill C-36 would facilitate or authorize the sale of sexual services. On the contrary, just as the bill seeks to reduce the purchase of sexual services, so it also seeks to reduce the sale of those services. While we work toward achieving the bill's objectives, those who remain subjected to prostitution should not be prevented from taking the measures that the Supreme Court of Canada found to be the most safety-enhancing.

Some witnesses before the two committees found this approach contradictory and therefore constitutionally suspect. I cannot agree. In my view, this approach recognizes the power imbalance that often accompanies the prostitution transaction. In too many cases this transaction does not involve two consenting autonomous individuals

Asymmetry in the application of the criminal law to the prostitution transaction recognizes that so often prostitution involves the purchase of sexual acts by those with money and power from those with little money and less power. In particular, prostitution allows men, who are primarily the purchasers of sexual services, paid access to female bodies, thereby demeaning and degrading the human dignity of all women and girls by entrenching a clearly gendered practice in Canadian society.

This brings me to the second assertion, that Bill C-36 should be referred to the Supreme Court of Canada for constitutional analysis. I stress that the Bedford case constitutes a constitutional analysis on these very issues and I have just referred to the many ways in which the decision influenced the development of the bill. Moreover, we have heard academics tell the two committees that constitutional cases need a solid evidentiary foundation as to the effects of the legislation. The evidence adduced in Bedford does not provide that record in respect to Bill C-36, which has different objectives and proposes new prostitution offences. In short, it would be premature to ask the Supreme Court of Canada for its constitutional analysis at this stage.

I note, however, that the Minister of Justice tabled a technical paper with both parliamentary committees that summarizes the evidence relied upon in the development of Bill C-36. The technical paper is also available on the department's website.

The third assertion is that Bedford requires decriminalization. There are those who claim that Bedford stands for the proposition that the law must allow the purchase and sale of sexual services in fixed indoor locations; the employment of bodyguards, receptionists and others who may enhance safety; and all public communications for the purpose of selling or purchasing sexual services. However, this reading of the Bedford case ignores the fact that the court analyzed the three impugned provisions in their existing legal context. This context makes adult prostitution a legal activity and as held in Bedford, reduces the objectives of existing prostitution-related offences to combatting primarily the nuisance effects of prostitution. Moreover, this interpretation of Bedford ignores the Supreme Court of Canada's clear statement that Parliament is not precluded from imposing limits on where and how prostitution may be conducted.

Those who read Bedford as requiring decriminalization appear to have forgotten the premise of the Supreme Court of Canada's analysis, that prostitution is currently a legal activity. In that context, the court found that sellers cannot be prevented from implementing safety measures. However, Bedford does not stand for the proposition that prostitution must be recognized as work like any other and those involved in the trade, be they sellers, so-called managers, or other third parties.

Bill C-36 fundamentally alters the premise on which the Supreme Court of Canada's constitutional analysis was based. It makes prostitution illegal because it is too dangerous and poses too great a harm to those involved, the communities in which it is practised, and society at large to entrench it as a form of work recognized by law. Bill C-36 posits that doing so would increase the sex trade, and concomitantly, increase the risk of vulnerable persons being drawn into it. The Bedford case does not preclude such an approach, rather it opens the door to it.

Bill C-36 is a welcome change to the criminal law's approach to prostitution. It recognizes that entrenching prostitution as a legitimate profession by facilitating it through decriminalization would result in more vulnerable persons being drawn into it. I do not think this is the type of society to which we should aspire.

I implore my fellow parliamentarians to stand with those who have been subjected to prostitution by force or through lack of meaningful options, some of whom courageously testified before the two committees and were silenced by prostitution's oppression. I ask all members to stand with me in support of the bill, which was specifically developed to protect vulnerable persons from oppression.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is certainly a subject that has captured the interest of many people across Canada. I remember near the end of the summer having a number of ladies visit me in my office and urge me to support the bill. They are very concerned about the protection, especially of women and girls.

One of the things that many constituents have also suggested is that we should just legalize it and that would end the problem. I was wondering if my colleague, the parliamentary secretary, could give some feedback from other jurisdictions that have used various models. We have sometimes heard in the House about the so-called Swedish model. We have heard about legalization. I would be interested in helping myself and my constituents understand better what the implications are and have been for those jurisdictions that have gone ahead with legalization.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Robert Goguen Conservative Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for that very relevant question.

Studies that have been conducted on other countries that have legalized or decriminalized prostitution—New Zealand, Australia, Holland, Germany—have found that in cases where it has been legalized, there has been a direct increase in human trafficking. There has also been a huge increase in the number of very violent crimes against the sex workers, so those who are vulnerable, because of legalization, have become increasingly more vulnerable.

However, in the case of Sweden, which is the Nordic model, from which we drew some of the best parts and of course formed our own Canadian model, what was found was that the number of sex offences decreased, the number of workers withdrew, there were social programs put in place to help those who wanted to withdraw, and there was notably a decrease in the sex trade, which is what we are trying to do with this very bill.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, one of the criticisms of this government has been its general attitude in dealing with some of the social issues in communities. In Winnipeg North, for example, there are many entry points where individuals get involved, whether it is with prostitution, drugs or other issues. These are very strong social concerns.

Could the member explain why it is that the Conservatives seem, despite talking about $20 million over x number of years, to have really fallen short? Why not support our communities by being more proactive, by looking at ways in which we can prevent our young people in particular from getting into activities such as prostitution, selling drugs and some of those minor crimes, and invest in our young people? Why is that not happening with the government?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Robert Goguen Conservative Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, certainly on the topic of prostitution this government is committed to initially, and I do say initially, invest $20 million over five years to develop programs to withdraw those who willingly want to withdraw from the area of prostitution.

When it comes to protecting the most vulnerable, obviously our children, we have struck a balance and made it an offence to sell sexual services in areas where children could be available, because we do not want to expose them to used condoms or to an otherwise unacceptable social activity.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:20 a.m.
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NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

In December 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that the Criminal Code imposes dangerous conditions on sex workers, which contravenes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The sections prohibiting brothels, living on the avails of prostitution and communicating in public with clients threaten sex workers’ right to security of the person.

This bill is meant to respond to the Bedford decision. However, the exact opposite is happening. The NDP consulted many legal experts, stakeholder groups, sex workers and authorities who are affected by this bill, and that is in addition to the 75 witnesses who appeared in committee. The vast majority of them said that they do not believe the bill is going in the right direction.

Unfortunately, there are many problems with the bill. In short, it forces sex trade workers to work in even more dangerous conditions. They are putting themselves in danger because they have to be more isolated. They will be on the streets and in alleys. The bill perpetuates and exacerbates stigmatization. It does not take into account the opinions of experts, education and advocacy groups or sex trade workers. It will have a negative impact on the important process of negotiating the parameters of the transaction, safety, the client's choice and the consent of the parties involved. What is more, for these reasons and in light of the 2013 Bedford decision, experts have found that the bill is unconstitutional.

In short, the Conservatives want a model where sex trade workers are only approached in the street late at night, where they are unable to ask questions or take safety precautions to protect their bodies and their lives.

I would like to read an open letter signed by more than 200 legal experts from across Canada. They are calling on the federal government to examine the harmful and unconstitutional impact of this bill. The letter reads:

Bill C-36...proposes a legal regime that criminalizes many aspects of adult prostitution, including the purchase of sexual services, the advertisement of sexual services, and most communication in public for the purpose of prostitution.

As the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously held in Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford (“Bedford”), three of Canada’s current adult prostitution laws are an unjustifiable infringement of sex workers’ right to security of the person, pursuant to s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (“the Charter”). These laws were found to create and exacerbate dangerous conditions and prevent sex workers from taking action to reduce or mitigate the risks they face. We are concerned that, for the very same reasons that caused the Court to strike down these prostitution laws, the criminal regime proposed by Bill C-36 is likely to offend the Charter as well.

The prohibition on purchasing sexual services (and communicating anywhere for that purpose) will have much the same effect as existing adult prostitution laws. Targeting clients will displace sex workers to isolated areas where prospective customers are less likely to be detected by police. Such criminalization will continue to limit the practical ability of sex workers to screen their clients or negotiate the terms of the transaction, as there will be pressure from clients to proceed as quickly as possible. Sex workers will continue to face barriers to police protection and will be prevented from operating in a safe indoor space, as clients face the potential of being arrested if they attend such spaces.

As a result, while criminalizing the purchase of sexual services is said to be aimed at protecting sex workers, this type of criminal prohibition will in fact do what the current adult prostitution laws do, which is to subject sex workers to a greater risk to their safety. This constitutes the reason why such laws were invalidated in the Bedford judgment.

Bill C-36 also proposes a law that will prohibit the sex industry from advertising. This type of prohibition will significantly limit sex workers’ ability to work safely indoors, as it restricts their ability to communicate their services to potential clients. This is concerning considering that the Court in Bedford clearly found that the ability to operate in indoor venues is a key measure for sex workers to reduce the risk of violence.

We would also like to address the proposed prohibition on communication to offer sexual services in a public place.... This provision continues to criminalize street-based sex workers, who are among the most marginalized segment of the industry, and is only marginally narrower than what the Court struck down in Bedford. The law will have the same effect of displacing sex workers to isolated areas where they are more likely to work alone in order to avoid police detection, and where they will continue to rush into vehicles without taking the time to screen clients and negotiate the terms of the transaction.

The letter has been signed by over 200 legal experts, and I think it explains very clearly why we, as legislators, cannot support this bill. The letter is readily accessible to all online; it can be found among the press releases on the Pivot Legal Society website. That organization, one of the signatories to the letter, works to address the root causes of poverty and social exclusion through legislation and policy, exploring what forces people to live on the fringes of society and what keeps them in difficult situations.

Whatever my hon. colleagues' personal beliefs are on the matter, we are going to have find a way to agree on how to respond to the requirements set out in the Bedford decision. This letter shows that the measures proposed in the bill go against those requirements.

We also need to guarantee the safety of sex workers, as directed by the court in the Bedford decision. However, this bill does the opposite by treating sex workers like criminals and putting their safety and their lives at risk.

Furthermore, this bill is unconstitutional, like many bills this government introduces, and too often they put the safety of the most marginalized people in Canada at risk. This includes aboriginal populations, women, transgendered people, refugees, people in the LGBTT community, and so on.

Again and again, the Conservatives try to protect the people they judge to be victims. However, in doing so, they marginalize them more. The government takes away their capacity for self-determination, which is just as important to human dignity as it is to protecting oneself, being safe and living a full life.

Everyone in Canada has a right to live free from violence and the risk of violence. As legislators, it is our duty to think about at-risk populations and help them reduce that risk. Bill C-36 flies in the face of this duty by increasing the risk of violence and death for a population working in an extremely dangerous profession.

Almost all experts agree. Not only did the Conservative government fail in its attempt to draft a proper bill, but because of it, we are also faced with the very disturbing possibility that the lives of sex workers will be deliberately and intentionally put in danger.

I therefore ask all of my colleagues in the House to vote against this bill.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague with interest. She recently heard the response of the parliamentary secretary in response to a question I posed regarding the experience of other jurisdictions that have implemented some form of what we sometimes refer to as the Nordic model. It is clear that the bill we have before us is crafted after that but is a huge improvement.

I am wondering how she can ignore the lived experience of communities, jurisdictions, and other nations that have gone a different route and experienced a rise in prostitution. Those who have implemented a variation of the Nordic model have seen an increase in safety for women and girls who are vulnerable to trafficking.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:35 a.m.
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NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed that my colleague did not really listen to my speech.

He thinks it is the Nordic model, but that is not true in the least. This bill actually criminalizes women by taking away the means to do their job. Our priority is the safety of sex workers. It is obvious that this is not the Conservative government's priority with Bill C-36. The bill flies in the face of the Supreme Court's ruling in the Bedford case, which struck down three provisions of the law that put sex workers at even greater risk.

This bill criminalizes these men and women even more and puts them in greater danger. It runs completely counter to what the government claims to be doing, which is helping the people in this trade. It is awful to see this government constantly contradicting the Supreme Court and marginalizing Canadians.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:35 a.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is because of the Supreme Court ruling in Bedford that we have legislation before us today.

One of the challenges that the government has failed to meet is the whole issue of future constitutional challenges with regard to the current legislation if it were to become law. When we have asked for legal opinions to support that the legislation being provided is constitutionally sound and would pass, our understanding is that the response has been very negative.

In presentations at the committee stage, from what I understand there was lawyer after lawyer suggesting that the current legislation will not pass constitutional scrutiny. I am wondering if the member wants to provide some thoughts on the fact that when the House of Commons passes legislation there should be some sense that it will meet constitutional requirements.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:35 a.m.
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NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, we should not have to read in the House letters signed by 200 legal experts stating that a bill is contrary to a Supreme Court decision. This government clearly does not know how to govern on behalf of Canadians or how to work with the Supreme Court and respect Canadian law. By contradicting Supreme Court decisions, the Conservatives show that they have no respect for law and order, even though they claim to champion these ideals.

The NDP wants to work in a progressive manner to develop a comprehensive strategy to protect and support the men and women who do this work and to empower them. That is what needs to be done in order to take them out of dangerous situations.

Once again, this government is doing the opposite. It is marginalizing Canadians, our permanent residents, our refugees and members of our trans community. It constantly flies in the face of Canadian law and puts Canadians in danger. That is really appalling. This government has got to go.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to join third reading debate on Bill C-36, the protection of communities and exploited persons act. This bill would ensure that the Supreme Court of Canada's Bedford decision does not result in the decriminalization of most prostitution-related activities when the Supreme Court's one-year suspension expires on December 20.

Both the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs studied Bill C-36 this summer and heard from numerous witnesses, many of whom agree that decriminalization of prostitution would result in an increase in the exploitation of some of the most vulnerable groups in our society.

We have heard much about the proposed prostitution reforms of Bill C-36. These reforms reflect a fundamental paradigm shift toward treatment of prostitution for what it is: a form of sexual exploitation of, primarily, women and girls. We know that those who suffer socio-economic disadvantage are targeted by prostitution. We know that prostitution involves high rates of violence and trauma.

The committees have heard those stories from courageous survivors who came forth to tell their stories, stories that are supported by relevant research. This bill responds to this evidence. Its objectives are to reduce the incidence of prostitution, discourage entry into it, deter participation in it and ultimately abolish it to the greatest extent possible.

Bill C-36 contains other related amendments as well. I would like to focus on these aspects of the bill.

The bill recognizes that prostitution is linked to human trafficking. In fact, research shows that jurisdictions that have decriminalized or legalized prostitution have larger sex industries and experience higher rates of human trafficking for sexual exploitation. This is not surprising. Allowing the purchase and sale of sexual services results in an increase in demand for those services, and an increase in demand results in an increase in supply.

Research tells us who is at risk of meeting that demand: society's most vulnerable, those who are disadvantaged by sex, youth, poverty, race, drug addiction, a history of abuse. This group is equally vulnerable to the coercive practices of those who would exploit them for their own gain.

Prostitution and human trafficking exist along a continuum. For example, a person may decide to sell their own sexual services to pay rent, feed their children or just survive.

That person may be recruited or forced to work for those who would exploit her, or she may seek out the protective services of those same people, thinking that they will protect her when engaged in an inherently dangerous activity.

The concern is that it is in the economic interests of those so-called protectors to exploit the prostitution of those they claim to protect. What may have been originally conceived of as a mutually beneficial relationship can quickly become exploitative and abusive.

Traffickers use all manner of practices to keep their victims providing the services from which they profit. They threaten their victims and their victims' families, they assault, they sexually assault and they forcibly confine them. They leave their victims with no choice other than to provide the services demanded of them.

Bill C-36’s reforms would assist in preventing this trajectory by criminalizing those who fuel the demand for sexual services and those who capitalize on that demand.

When prostitution-related conduct becomes human trafficking-related conduct, the bill would increase the penalties to ensure that traffickers would be held to account for the horrific human rights abuses in which they engaged.

Specifically, Bill C-36 would impose mandatory minimum penalties, or MMPs, any time a person commits any of the human trafficking offences against a child.

Although the Criminal Code currently imposes mandatory minimum penalties for trafficking children, it does not impose MMPs for receiving a material benefit from child trafficking or for withholding or destroying documents to facilitate child trafficking. Bill C-36 would fill this gap. MMPs of two years and one year respectively would apply to this conduct, which is consistent with the MMPs proposed for child prostitution.

The bill would also impose MMPs for the offence that prohibits human trafficking. Individuals convicted of human trafficking would receive a minimum sentence of five years if they committed kidnapping, aggravated assault or aggravated sexual assault or if they caused the death of the victim, and four years in all other cases.

This is consistent with existing penalties for child trafficking of six and five years in these same circumstances. Bill C-36 properly addresses the continuum of criminal behaviour associated with the provision of sexual services for consideration.

The fact that prostitution may, and does, result in human trafficking for sexual exploitation underscores the importance of prohibiting prostitution. The bill would ensure that the penalties for all of these related offences would be commensurate with the harmful conduct they censure.

Bill C-36 would also amend the definition of weapon in section 2 of the Criminal Code.

This amendment would ensure that offenders who possessed weapons of restraint, such as handcuffs, rope or duct tape, with the intent to commit an offence or to use such weapons to commit a violent offence would be held to account. Specifically, the amendment would clarify that.

First, possession of a weapon of restraint with intent to commit an offence constitutes criminal conduct under the offence prohibiting possession of weapon with intent to commit an offence.

Second, using a weapon of restraint to commit an assault or sexual assault would constitute criminal conduct under the offence prohibiting assault with a weapon or the offence prohibiting sexual assault with a weapon, depending on the facts of the case.

This approach would provide greater protection to all victims of these offences, including those who would sell their own sexual services. We know that sexual assault and assault are offences to which sellers of sexual services are particularly vulnerable.

Bill C-36 is more than just a response to the Bedford decision. It is also a response to the complex web of criminal conduct associated with prostitution.

It would provide law enforcement with powerful tools to address the many safety and societal concerns posed by prostitution.

Most importantly, it sends a strong message that Canada does not tolerate a practice that targets the most vulnerable in our society and places them at risk of suffering unspeakable and unimaginable human rights abuses.

Bill C-36 would clarify that it would not acceptable for those with money and power to buy sexual services from those without money and power.

I stand in support of this message and of a society that does not tolerate the many harms and abuses associated with prostitution. It will come at no surprise that I stand in support of Bill C-36.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:45 a.m.
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NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank our colleague from Ottawa—Orléans for his speech. I do not agree with him, but his speech was well thought out.

Unfortunately, the bill before us does not seem to reflect the Supreme Court's ruling, which dealt with the safety of women and not with criminalizing prostitution. As the parliamentary secretary and member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe said, this does not prevent women from engaging in prostitution in a protected area away from the street.

As pointed out in the Supreme Court ruling and the testimony, a safe and secure place is not necessarily a place where women can engage in prostitution.

Does the member agree with the leader of the NDP, who says that the bill should better reflect the Supreme Court's ruling and not just focus on criminalization?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, this bill clearly does not criminalize sex workers. The bill criminalizes the pimps—the people who profit off of these vulnerable people.

I have been here for nearly nine years. In everything I do here I try to help the most vulnerable people. I do not understand why members of the official opposition cannot recognize that the most vulnerable members of society are those who are forced to sell their bodies. These people will not be criminalized by this bill. This bill will criminalize those who abuse these vulnerable people and who mistreat them with impunity.

When I was a municipal councillor, I was against objectifying women. I did the same as a library trustee, and I will do the same here, in Parliament.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I shake my head at the member's comments. He talks about the fact that this does not criminalized those individuals who are involved in the sex trade, and that is true. However, the end result of this legislation would certainly put their safety and security at extreme risk. This is the reality.

The Minister of Justice, when he was announcing the bill, said something along the lines of “prostitution ends here”. Are the Conservatives dreaming in Technicolor? This legislation would drive the trade underground and put at risk the safety and security of those individuals. The government has failed to look at that point.