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

September 26th, 2014 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would not support such a model. As I said in my speech, I am much more in favour of harm reduction than repression. I do not believe that repression can work in a society, either from a safety perspective or from a perspective of preventing the marginalization of the most vulnerable individuals.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciated my colleague's speech. I think that her conclusions are of particular interest. We often hear from the other side of the House that the bill before us is based on the Nordic model. Quite frankly, that is far from the truth. It is outright criminalization of prostitution. Unfortunately, the bill does not in any way respond to the Supreme Court ruling.

I was wondering whether my colleague could comment on the fact that the Conservatives are not listening to the Supreme Court. The NDP has said many times that we should respect Supreme Court rulings and rely on them in order to take the right approach when drafting our bills.

Does my colleague agree that the bill before us does not reflect the Supreme Court ruling and requires drastic changes to gain the support of Canadians?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. The bill needs to be greatly improved. As my colleague mentioned, it does not really follow the Nordic model. That model is not ideal either.

As I was saying, there has to be real consultation. We must listen to the people involved in this situation and consider what they say. That is very important. We must also work with the Supreme Court, which does a great job. As legislators, I find that we are really in no position to disregard the Supreme Court and say that we are going to move forward nonetheless. That is not the ideal way to go about this.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:45 p.m.
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Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and for Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, I have listened to the debate with great interest. We know the Supreme Court has struck down our existing rules and we know we need new rules. We have come up with what we believe is a solution that would deal with this.

However, from what I hear from the New Democrats, is their position that we should legalize it? They speak very nice words and have very generic kinds of comments, but I have not heard what they believe we should do. Is the hon. member saying legalization?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, we need a regulated system and consultation. I have said this over and over again. I am almost tired of hearing myself say that. We must consult the people to know what they need, and we have to regulate this profession to protect the health and safety of the men and women who make their living from prostitution.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:50 p.m.
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Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar Saskatchewan

Conservative

Kelly Block ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to join the report stage debate in support of Bill C-36, the protection of communities and exploited persons act.

Bill C-36 was studied by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in July 2014, and pre-studied by the Senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs in September.

The bill is well on its way toward enactment before the expiry of the Supreme Court of Canada's one-year suspension of its December 20, 2013 Bedford decision, which would otherwise result in decriminalization of most adult prostitution-related activities in Canada.

Bill C-36 places Canada among other like-minded jurisdictions that have taken, or are considering taking, an approach that treats prostitution as a form of sexual exploitation that targets the victims, primarily women and girls, including those disadvantaged by socio-economic factors, such as youth, poverty, drug addiction or a history of abuse. Such an approach aspires to abolish prostitution as a harmful gendered practice. It has been garnering widespread international support, and not just in those countries that have implemented it.

For example, in March 2014, an all-party parliamentary report in the United Kingdom recommended implementation of a version of this approach. Both the Council of Europe and the European parliament have endorsed it. This is not just because the approach has been effective in achieving its objectives, it is also because it avoids the negative effects of the alternative: decriminalization or legalization.

Research shows that decriminalization and legalization lead to growth of the sex industry. Demand increases in a decriminalized or legalized regime, as does the supply required to meet that demand, which is disproportionately drawn from vulnerable populations. The result is an increase in the exploitation of vulnerable groups.

Facilitating prostitution for those who claim to freely choose it results in a greater number of those who do not freely choose it being subjected to prostitution. This is what would happen in Canada if we failed to respond to the Bedford decision.

Research also shows that decriminalization and legalization are linked to higher rates of human trafficking for sexual exploitation.

There is significant profit to be made from prostituting the disempowered who are so often unable to enforce their rights, and the unscrupulous stop at nothing to maximize their profits. They may tout themselves as a helper or legitimate bodyguard, but it is in their interest to encourage and even coerce the prostitution of those they claim to protect. This is another reason why a regime that treats sex work as a legitimate profession results in higher rates of exploitative conducts. Exploiters can hide behind a veneer of legitimacy.

Some who disagree with the approach of Bill C-36 have said that it is bad policy to work toward abolishing prostitution when some freely choose to sell their own sexual services and are content with that choice. The two committees that studied Bill C-36 heard from some individuals who said that they chose sex work as their profession and that they should not be prevented from earning a living in the manner of their choosing.

I accept that some support decriminalization and condone the trade in sexual services between consenting adults, but I do not accept that such a policy choice is better for everyone implicated in the prostitution industry, including the communities in which it is practised and society as large.

All agree that those subjected to prostitution disproportionately come from marginalized backgrounds, and all agree that high levels of violence and trauma are associated with involvement in prostitution. The disagreement lies in how the law should address these serious concerns.

Why does Bill C-36 reject decriminalization in favour of an approach that treats prostitution as a form of sexual exploitation? The research on jurisdictions that have decriminalized or legalized prostitution provides one answer to this question.

As I have already outlined, research shows that decriminalization is linked to growth in the sex industry and higher rates of human trafficking for sexual exploitation. That means an increase in vulnerable people being drawn into prostitution, an increase in abuse of those in positions of vulnerability, an increase in use of coercive practices to draw the vulnerable in and keep them in, and at the end of that continuum of exploitative conduct, an increase in human trafficking. Bill C-36 would prevent the harmful effects of decriminalization.

Those individuals who claim to freely choose prostitution also say that they do not need its proposed prostitution offences. They say that offences such as human trafficking, forcible confinement, assault and sexual assault provide them with sufficient protection against abuse while involved in a trade that is well known for that abuse. That may be so for those who have some control over the sale of their own sexual services, but what about those who do not?

We know from the committee hearings that many do not choose prostitution. Many are subjected to it by force meted out by those who would profit from this trade or because of seriously constrained options from which to choose. Should we afford this group the law's protection only once someone has committed a violent offence against them and how do we ensure they are sufficiently empowered to report such abuse when it occurs?

It has been well recognized, including by the Supreme Court of Canada in its 1992 Downey decision, that the fear of reprisal from exploitative third parties too often keeps the exploited silent. They are afraid, and understandably so. Exploiters have an obvious incentive to keep the vulnerable in prostitution and many do so through horrific forms of abuse.

How do we stop this trajectory? The answer is simple. We say “no” to prostitution by targeting those who fuel the demand for it and those who profit from the trade. Bill C-36 would do that. It prioritizes those who do not choose prostitution.

Prostitution targets the vulnerable, so Bill C-36 targets those who buy their sexual services and those who capitalize on the sale of those services. This means that law enforcement has the tools required to intervene before any member of that vulnerable group is assaulted, sexually assaulted, forcibly confined or trafficked and can prevent the more serious crimes associated with prostitution from happening in the first place.

These are the reasons why Bill C-36 says “no” to decriminalization. These are the reasons why Bill C-36 says “no” to prostitution. Put simply, there are too many risks associated with this practice. A burgeoning sex industry means: an increase in vulnerable persons selling their own sexual services because of lack of meaningful options, or through force; a corresponding increase in the violence and trauma caused by subjection to prostitution; an increase in associated crime, such as drug related offences and human trafficking; and the normalization of a gendered practice that implicates the equality rights of those vulnerable groups so at risk of subjection to it.

I stand with those survivors, some of whom courageously testified before both committees and detailed the horrific abuse they suffered in prostitution. They have told their stories again and again to ensure that this type of abuse stops. They also told the committee that Bill C-36 would send a message. The message is that we are all deserving of dignity, equality and respect. The law should not allow the powerful to use and abuse the less powerful.

I ask my colleagues to stand with me and the brave women who shared their stories of pain and suffering to improve Canadian society. I ask my colleagues to join me in support of Bill C-36.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech. Of course, we have rather different views on the approach, but there is one thing we might agree on, and that is the support that could be given to the women who want to get out of this industry.

Does my colleague not believe that the proposal to allocate $20 million, which would have to be shared among 10 provinces and three territories, is completely ridiculous? That could well have been the cornerstone for a bill that would bring about real change.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, the $20 million in new funding to assist sellers of sexual services is in addition to other related federal initiatives, including the national action plan to combat human trafficking, the national crime prevention strategy, the victims' fund, the aboriginal justice strategy and funding to address the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women.

The provinces and territories, which are primarily responsible for the delivery of many of the services needed by persons seeking to exit prostitution, such as housing, social and medical services, occupational training and victim services, also provide significant resources.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP highlighted that it wanted regulations and harm reduction regarding prostitution. It sounds to me that those members want legalization with harm reduction.

What has my colleague heard from her constituents and from Canadians, particularly with respect to consultation that went on prior to Bill C-36? I heard that Canadians do not want prostitution to be legalized. They want to follow the Nordic model. What has my colleague heard? What does she think of the NDP's position of legalization?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, the debate about the harmful effects of prostitution has been long-standing, long before the Bedford decision was handed down and the one-year suspension. I have heard from community organizations, individuals and communities. They are calling for a change to our prostitution laws as the awareness of their harmful effects continues to grow.

Bill C-36 would put Canada squarely among other jurisdictions that have taken, or are considering taking, an approach that would treat prostitution as a form of sexual exploitation that targets the victims, primarily women and girls, including those disadvantaged by socio-economic factors such as youth, poverty, drug addiction or a history of abuse. This approach aspires to abolish prostitution as a harmful gendered practice and avoids the negative effects of decriminalization or legalization.

I call upon all members of the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party to support this important piece of legislation.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the parliamentary secretary's views and concerns for those who are affected by prostitution. I take her on her word that she is concerned about these things. One would assume then that the bill that the government has brought forward would be a charter-proof bill, a bill that would pass a charter challenge, in order to come into law and then affect those that she is concerned about. We have sought evidence that the government knows and has good confidence that the bill would pass through a Supreme Court challenge. Otherwise, this is all for naught. All her words, all the gestures within the act are meaningless if the bill can never be enacted into law and maintained in law.

Would the member be able to provide the House with some evidence, some advice given to her by the justice department and counsel, that the bill is constitutional and thereby will change the lives of the people we are talking about today?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is important to remember that Bill C-36 is a made-in-Canada approach that has two essential parts. The first part is criminal law reform. The second part addresses support for vulnerable persons to help them leave prostitution. This two-pronged approach aims to criminalize those who fuel and perpetuate the demand for prostitution through the purchase of sexual services and to protect those who sell their own sexual services, vulnerable persons and communities from the harm associated with prostitution.

The legislation is our government's comprehensive approach toward addressing prostitution. I encourage that member to support it.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 1:05 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak against Bill C-36 at report stage. I am really glad to have an opportunity to do so despite the Conservatives' use of time allocation once again.

I remain opposed to the government's rush to recriminalize sex work in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's decision in the Bedford case. Once again with Bill C-36, the government has refused to listen to the Supreme Court, which sent a clear message in the Bedford decision that sex workers have the right to safety and should not have their situation made more dangerous by having new prescriptions put in the Criminal Code.

Like most Canadians, I could not tune in to all this summer's justice committee hearings, but I did hear and see a great deal of testimony, and I read much more of it. I was struck by two things. The first was the selective nature of the government's witnesses, most of whom had experienced a great tragedy concerning a family member who had been involved in sex work or who themselves had been victims of crime while involved in sex work.

Each of these stories, for me, had a common theme. I do not in any way wish to diminish the extent of the harm suffered by those individuals who testified. In each of these cases, the harm done was the result of a criminal act that was and would remain a criminal act whether or not there are restrictions placed on sex work in the Criminal Code. Murder remains illegal. Assault remains illegal. Human trafficking and coercion remain illegal.

I draw a different conclusion from these tragic stories than members of the government side. What these stories tell me is that we ought to do everything we can to make sure that sex work is safer. That is the theme of the Bedford decision from the Supreme Court.

The second theme I noticed coming from both government witnesses and from government members themselves was the tendency to label all sex workers as victims, to see them as poor, unfortunate people who need to be saved.

Most of the sex workers, themselves, who testified rejected this label of victim. Many asserted that they chose sex work, some entirely freely and some as a result of the limited choices they had in front of them, but the vast majority of sex workers emphasized their own choice, their own autonomy, their own control over their lives, and they have been very clear that they wish to retain or enhance that freedom to choose for themselves.

Just this week, we had an important research study released, which had been funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Researchers interviewed 218 sex workers in six communities across the country, plus 1,252 clients and 80 police officers. This is actual evidence with regard to sex work. The researchers found that sex workers, in general, overwhelmingly rejected this characterization as victims, with more than 80% of both sex workers and clients saying that sex workers control the terms of these transactions.

There was one other thing I noted in these hearings, though perhaps even more in the Senate pre-study hearings. I must say at times I felt that sex workers who appeared were shown an astonishing lack of respect by Conservative committee members. This has been communicated back to me as a member of Parliament directly by more than one witness who appeared.

As I said in debate at second reading, I have long had contact with sex workers in my riding, stretching back to my days as a city councillor. In my community, we are fortunate to have a sex worker-run self-help organization called PEERS. PEERS is an acronym that probably still means something formal but in our community it has simply come to mean an organization that cares for and helps those involved in sex work.

PEERS has offered everything from bad date lists to a drop-in centre to education and housing assistance. Unfortunately, like many valuable organizations in the community, PEERS is now struggling with severe funding issues. The amount the government has allocated, $20 million, will do little to help out these organizations in their very important work.

As a result of my contact with PEERS, I have had several opportunities to meet with sex workers to discuss the Bedford decision, both before it came out and then after it came down, as well as this legislation before it came to second reading. Before speaking today, I was fortunate to be able to participate, last Friday, in a community forum organized by PEERS, called “Decriminalizing the Sex Industry: Beyond the Myths and Misconceptions”. The format was a diverse panel of eight members responding to audience questions after some brief opening statements. The panel was moderated by Jody Paterson, one of the founding sisters of PEERS, and someone I much admire for taking her journalism and turning it into advocacy for sex workers.

I have to say I was surprised to find more than 120 people in attendance at a panel on a very sunny Friday afternoon. I was privileged to be one of the panel members as it gave me a chance to interact with seven real experts on sex work, and to learn from their experience. There were three sex workers, or former sex workers, on the panel: Catherine Healy, the national coordinator of the New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective; Natasha Potvin, a PEERS board member; and Lisa Ordell, a Métis woman and registered massage therapist. The panel also included Staff Sergeant Todd Wellman, head of the Victoria Police Department's special victims unit; and Gillian Calder, a professor of family and constitutional law at the University of Victoria.

It also included two scientific researchers on sex work: Dr. Sarah Hunt, a Kwagiulth researcher who has done work with first nations women involved in sex work for more than 20 years; and Chris Atchison from the University of Victoria Department of Sociology, one of the researchers on the study that was published this week.

I spent a lot of time describing this panel in the House today because this panel, and indeed virtually every person attending the forum, agreed on some common themes and a common conclusion. Their conclusion was that Bill C-36 would make the lives of sex workers even more dangerous.

Professor Calder made it clear that the Supreme Court sent us in the House a clear message that it was our responsibility not to re-criminalize sex work, but to legislate it in a way that makes sex work safer and provides greater protection for the rights of sex workers.

I have already spoken of Chris Atchison's study and its rejection of the argument that sex workers are ipso facto victims. He also spoke eloquently of the direct connection between sex workers being able to communicate openly with their clients and the safety of their work. His research shows how criminalizing johns would make that communication inevitably more furtive, more hurried and therefore make sex work more dangerous.

Staff Sergeant Wellman spoke eloquently from his perspective as a 27-year veteran police officer and his five years as the head of a special victims unit. He identified the importance of sex workers feeling able to communicate freely with police. If that is not the case, he stressed, investigating things like violence and exploitation of sex workers becomes even more difficult for the police; and preventing the kinds of tragedies that many government witnesses spoke about becomes nearly impossible. Clearly those provisions in Bill C-36 that criminalize sex workers would make police work harder.

Dr. Sarah Hunt challenged us to ask those national first nations organizations that have expressed support for this bill to demonstrate that they have actually spoken to first nations women involved in sex work or in sex work research and support roles. She challenged their right to speak for first nations without doing this work. The very presence of two first nations women on this panel spoke volumes about whether those claims to speak for all first nations women should be accepted.

Catherine Healy, in turn, challenged us to ask those who cite New Zealand as a negative example of the impacts of legalizing sex work to present their evidence. She clearly showed that the evidence in fact shows a reduction in violence against women in the sex industry in New Zealand. She challenged the assertions made before us in this House that there has been an increase in underage women in sex work in New Zealand or an increase in trafficking of women to New Zealand as entirely without foundation, as simply false.

Let me begin to close by citing just two more things from the forum. One was the importance of a safe space it created for sex workers, like Natasha Potvin and Lisa Ordell and members of the audience, to tell their stories. There was moving testimony in the form of Lisa Ordell's mother simply showing up and identifying herself as “Lisa's mother” in order to support her daughter. There was moving testimony from audience members about the stigma attached to being a sex worker, and the resulting social isolation, making their struggles to escape alcoholism, addiction and violence even more difficult.

My conclusion is that our decision on Bill C-36 should not be about whether any of us like or do not like sex work. Instead, it should be based on what would make these women, men and transgendered Canadians who are already involved in sex work safer, whatever their story, however they arrived there.

I want to close with some questions we must ask ourselves as members of Parliament before we vote on this bill.

As a result of Bill C-36, would sex workers be able to conduct negotiations with potential clients in ways that allow them to be sure of who they are dealing with and in ways that help them avoid bad dates? This would help keep them safe.

As a result of Bill C-36, would sex workers be able to communicate openly with police when they need protection against violence, coercion and exploitation? This would help keep them safe.

As a result of Bill C-36, would sex workers be able to participate in society without the stigma attached to their work denying them access to services and rights that the rest of us enjoy without a thought? This would help keep them safe.

As a result of Bill C-36, would there be less violence against women in Canada?

For me, Bill C-36 clearly fails on all these counts. I am sorry that this bill will pass this Parliament. I am even sorrier for the harm that will result in the time it will take to challenge it in court, and the time it will take for the Supreme Court to rule it unconstitutional, just as the Criminal Code provisions that preceded it were invalidated in the Bedford decision.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 12:15 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting the long title.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting the preamble.

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 1.

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 2.

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 3.

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 4.

Motion No. 7

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 5.

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 6.

Motion No. 9

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 7.

Motion No. 10

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 8.

Motion No. 11

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 9.

Motion No. 12

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 10.

Motion No. 13

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 11.

Motion No. 14

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 12.

Motion No. 15

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 13.

Motion No. 16

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 14.

Motion No. 17

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 15.

Motion No. 18

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 16.

Motion No. 19

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 17.

Motion No. 20

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 18.

Motion No. 21

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 19.

Motion No. 22

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 20.

Motion No. 23

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 21.

Motion No. 24

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 22.

Motion No. 25

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 23.

Motion No. 26

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 24.

Motion No. 27

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 25.

Motion No. 28

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 26.

Motion No. 29

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 27.

Motion No. 30

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 28.

Motion No. 31

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 29.

Motion No. 32

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 30.

Motion No. 33

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 31.

Motion No. 34

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 32.

Motion No. 35

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 33.

Motion No. 36

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 34.

Motion No. 37

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 35.

Motion No. 38

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 36.

Motion No. 39

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 37.

Motion No. 40

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 38.

Motion No. 41

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 39.

Motion No. 42

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 40.

Motion No. 43

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 41.

Motion No. 44

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 42.

Motion No. 45

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 43.

Motion No. 46

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 44.

Motion No. 47

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 45.

Motion No. 48

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 45.1.

Motion No. 49

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 46.

Motion No. 50

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 47.

Motion No. 51

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 48.

Motion No. 52

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 49.

Mr. Speaker, it is rare, and members of the House will know it, standing as the leader of the Green Party of Canada and member of Parliament for Saanich—Gulf Islands, that I have not availed myself of the opportunity to present amendments at committee stage under new rules that were adopted last fall. I have objected to the opportunity because it has not amounted to a real chance to amend legislation.

Nevertheless, on bills that I find disturbing, I have gone to every committee with amendments of a substantive nature. In the case of Bill C-36, I found I could not find a way to amend the bill in a way that would actually fix it. That is why, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that you have now read out attempts to delete the entire bill based on it being unfixable.

How do we find ourselves here? As we all know, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the Bedford decision that our existing laws relating to prostitution were unconstitutional as they violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is an important sentence that constitutes a fundamental principle for all Canadians: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

In the Bedford case, the Supreme Court determined that Canadian laws and the Criminal Code are inconsistent with this section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms with respect to sex workers who are threatened by current Canadian laws.

With the Supreme Court saying that our laws relating to prostitution did not adequately protect the rights of security of the person for people who found themselves in this very marginalized and difficult place in their lives and that they were even more marginalized, even more stigmatized and driven into the shadows by the status of laws over prostitution in Canada, it was up to us, as Parliament, to come up with an approach that would respect, would protect and would ensure that people in the sex trade industry were not driven into the shadows.

After Bedford, I thought we would see a response from Parliament, a response from the Minister of Justice, that took into account the message from the Supreme Court of Canada.

Ironically, earlier this morning, I attended an international symposium on the subject of gender violence and health. The symposium is taking place a few blocks from here, at the Novotel, on Nicholas Street. Researchers from across Canada are presenting research on this topic, with people from around the world. It is a collaborative social science project in Canada on gender violence and health. It was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

I was able to stay long enough, before coming here to debate Bill C-36, to hear the preliminary findings of that work being done across Canada. I was pleased to see that members from my own part of the world, from University of Victoria and from the city of Victoria Police Department had all participated in this work.

Their area of research was restricted to people in the sex trade industry who were over 19 and who were not part of the quite horrific trafficking in people who did not have rights. I want to make it really clear that in the Green Party's stance against Bill C-36, we believe the full measure of the law should be used to crack down on anyone who is exploiting minors and people in sex trafficking. We believe laws in that area must be strengthened and that the laws are adequate, even as they now stand, to differentiate the situations between prostitution, in general, and this group of exploited workers under 19 who are trafficked internationally and lack the rights they should have under the law.

Research has been done that is being reported on just today, as I mentioned. It was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. It was collaborative work done in six different cities across Canada by some of our best social science researchers, who examined the lives of sex trade workers who were not under the age of 19 or involved in human trafficking.

What the institute found as a foundational piece of information in early research is intuitive and is what the Supreme Court of Canada understood. It is that any laws that are punitive in nature, anything that in our social context that would further stigmatize sex trade work, means that the people conducting themselves in that work are more vulnerable and are less able to access the supports and protections found in our society.

The Supreme Court of Canada decision made it clear what Parliament needed to do: Parliament needed to find a way to ensure that people in the sex trade industry were not driven into the shadows and were not further stigmatized.

This is a tragedy, because we are talking about people's lives. We are not just talking about slogans for election campaigns or going for some sort of core vote from Conservative Party supporters. This issue transcends partisanship. This is about Parliament being asked by the Supreme Court of Canada to ensure that section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is respected when we bring forth laws that deal with prostitution.

On that fundamental requirement for our laws, Bill C-36 stands as a singular failure. It would absolutely not make the life of sex trade workers more secure. It goes in the wrong direction. As numerous legal commentators have noted, this law would make the sex trade more dangerous.

Just to give a sense of why that is, I would like to quote comments made by the Minister of Justice at a press conference on the day that Bill C-36 was tabled back in June. I am going to quote from an exchange that he had with a reporter.

The Minister of Justice said:

Some prostitutes we know are younger than 18 years of age. If they are in the presence of one another at 3:00 in the morning and are selling sexual services, they would be subject to arrest.

A reporter then asked:

That would still be considered a criminal offence?

The response from the Minister of Justice was:

That’s correct. They’re selling it in the presence of a minor.

The reporter said:

Okay, so if two 17-year-old prostitutes are standing side by side in the middle of the night in what is considered a public place, they will be committing an offence.

The response by the Minister of Justice:

And selling sex, yes.

A reporter said:

That’s effectively making them stay on their own and endangering furthering their own security.

The Minister of Justice:

Not at all. We’re not making them do anything. We’re not forcing them to sell sex.

That is a response in the absence of reality. If we are to take the Supreme Court's decision in the Bedford case seriously, then we should do everything possible to allow people in the sex trade industry to be with each other, to be near each other, to be protecting each other. There is a distinction between being on the street and indoor sex work. Anything that drives people in the sex trade industry onto the street and into the shadows is going to make their lives more dangerous.

This goes to the next piece of Bill C-36, which is likely unconstitutional: banning advertisement for sexual services and banning communicating for the purchasing of sex in particular.

Bill C-36 states that all of it would be illegal unless the sex trade workers are communicating directly. In other words, publishing their ads would be illegal. This again would force a prostitute to lose the intermediary. It would force the sex trade worker to lose the possibility of some form of screening, some way of ensuring they are not face-to-face in the shadows negotiating their situation. It would make their lives much more dangerous.

The decision in Bedford gave us guidance on this issue. The court said in Bedford:

By prohibiting communicating in public for the purpose of prostitution, the law prevents prostitutes from screening clients and setting terms for the use of condoms or safe houses. In these ways, it significantly increases the risks they face.

Bill C-36 is written as though the Supreme Court of Canada has given us no guidance, as though we are blundering around not imagining the narrowness of the ways in which communicating or advertising would remain legal in Canada.

It is as though the Bedford decision gave us no guidance, because what they have come up with is aimed at a new offence of advertising sexual services and is undoubtedly going to make life more dangerous for sex trade workers.

I could go on and on, but I know my time is at an end.

I just want to say that this law will only make the lives of hundreds of sex workers more difficult and more dangerous.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, the member went on at some length to talk about specific provisions in the bill what would restrict prostitutes from communicating in a public place for the purpose of prostitution. Apparently she does not know that there was an amendment proposed and passed at the House justice committee on that very point that would restrict the communication in a public place provision to the schoolyard, the playground, and the daycare centre. I wonder if she could tell the House if she thinks it is a good idea that prostitutes be allowed, and perhaps encouraged, to communicate for the purposes of prostitution in those three places?