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 22nd, 2014 / 1:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Pierre Jacob NDP Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-36, which amends the Criminal Code in order to create an offence that would prohibit purchasing sexual services or communicating in any place for that purpose.

I am very familiar with this bill because I am a member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. In July, our committee studied this bill for five consecutive days and heard from 75 witnesses.

We find that this bill does not comply with the Supreme Court ruling, and therefore we will oppose it. The government should have sent Bill C-36 to the Supreme Court to ensure that it is constitutional. The Minister of Justice said that he expected that Bill C-36 would face a legal challenge. As usual, the Conservatives' bills are designed to garner votes, not improve our society.

We consulted many legal experts, stakeholders and sex workers, as well as the authorities concerned by this legislation. Everyone agrees that Bill C-36 does not stand a good chance of getting by the Supreme Court.

There are many sex workers who choose this profession of their own free will. They must be protected from abuse. However, they are not the ones I am concerned about. What I do worry about is the government's lack of action on fighting poverty, which is the main factor that leads to sexual exploitation.

The measures announced by the Conservatives to help prostitutes exit the sex trade are inadequate. Sweden has adopted the model that criminalizes the buyer of services. Some wrongly claim that Bill C-36 is the Canadian version of the Swedish model. In Sweden, these legislative measures go hand in hand with extremely important social measures. The Swedish model cannot work if the authorities do not have the necessary resources to help people in need because, quite frankly, the main cause of prostitution is poverty.

Many women who have no way out turn to prostitution to survive. Those situations give rise to abuse and violence. What have the Conservative and Liberal government done to fight poverty? Nothing at all.

On the contrary, over the past five years, only 20% of Canadians have seen an increase in their incomes. The other 80% have seen their real income shrink. Households in Canada have the highest level of debt in the entire OECD. It is a disaster. Young people are paying more than ever for tuition and are incurring more debt than ever before. To make matters worse, for the past few years, the federal government has been refusing to invest in social housing. By 2030, $1.7 billion in federal funding for social housing will have been lost. This amounts to 85% of the federal housing budget.

In Canada, more than 620,000 social housing units were provided through long-term agreements, with a lifespan ranging from 25 to 50 years. These agreements allow social housing providers to financially support their tenants to ensure that only about 30% of their income is spent on rent.

In 2014, the federal government is still refusing to renew these agreements as they expire.

If we do not change course by 2030, over three-quarters of the federal education budget will have been cut. However, social housing is one way of getting people out of poverty and out of prostitution. For instance, by spending less than 30% of its income on housing, a needy family can invest more money in education. That is why we will continue to call on this government to renew federal funding for social housing, in order to preserve rent subsidies and provide funds for necessary renovations. Furthermore, to help women get out of prostitution, more needs to be done to treat substance abuse problems. Once again, we are up against this government's failure to act.

The Minister of Justice promised $20 million for treatment and prevention as part of Bill C-36's implementation. However, that amount is not even enough to meet the needs of existing organizations throughout Canada. At the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, witnesses criticized the cuts made to women's centres. This is on top of the funding cuts to mental health services and other medical services, as well as the absence of sufficient legal aid.

If the government is serious about fighting sexual exploitation, it has to allocate substantial resources. It has to provide these women with income support, as well as education, training and treatment for drug addiction. That is the only way to combat prostitution because criminalizing johns, which Bill C-36 would do, will not put an end to sex work. All that will do is further marginalize it. Marginalization is what leads to exploitation and violence. If johns are criminalized, they will be afraid. They will ask sex workers to meet them in out-of-the-way places. They will force them into different circumstances.

Bill C-36 will make life even more unsafe for many prostitutes. If they cannot advertise their services to persuade the johns to come to them, many more are likely to take to the streets in search of business. This bill will make it much more difficult for sex workers to safely assess and vet their clients and ensure they can meet them in relatively safe places on their own terms.

We believe that this bill is not consistent with the Supreme Court ruling or the charter. The measures announced by the Conservatives to help prostitutes exit the sex trade are inadequate. The government must refer the bill to the Supreme Court. We do not believe it is consistent with the Bedford decision.

Finally, concrete efforts must be made immediately to improve the safety of sex workers and help them exit the sex trade if they are not there by choice. The government must provide significant resources for income support, education and training, poverty alleviation and treatment for addictions for this group of people.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:35 a.m.
See context

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved:

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 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 said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:40 a.m.
See context

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, what a surprise. This is, what, the 72nd time? It is tempting to repeat the arguments we have been making since the first time the government moved a time allocation motion. This time, the motion is on Bill C-36, which was meant to be a response to the Supreme Court's ruling on certain sections of the Criminal Code.

However, I do not get the impression that this motion is meant to silence the opposition. It seems as though it is meant to hide the debate from the Conservatives' own base. That is what I would like to ask the minister.

Yesterday I read a rather interesting report after the Conservative caucus meeting. It appeared to be saying that the government's strategy was not clear. The Conservatives themselves are divided. Some support decriminalization, some support outright prohibition, and some are not happy with the government's decision because what it is doing is not clear. The government seems to want to hide things and speed up the debate, keep it under the radar and get the committee work done in the summer, when everyone is gone.

This is my question for the minister. Was this time allocation motion moved not to prevent the opposition from speaking, but to prevent his own colleagues from speaking to this bill?

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:40 a.m.
See context

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, that is an interesting idea for a sitcom, sort of like Fantasy Island. I was actually at that caucus meeting and I can assure members that the government's intention is to bring forward a bill that is principled, thoughtful, and intended to respond to a situation that was created by the Supreme Court of Canada when it struck down certain provisions of the Criminal Code in Bedford.

To enlighten my friend and anyone who may want to know what the bill is about, it proposes criminalizing those who are fueling the demand for a dangerous activity, mainly prostitution or the purchase of sexual services. It also continues to criminalize those who have received and would receive financial benefits from the prostitution of others and who procure others for the purposes of prostitution.

Further, it would criminalize those who advertise the sale of sexual services of others in print or online. It is all about protecting the victims of prostitution, and this is where quite a significant shift would occur in Canadian law, where we would treat the prostitutes themselves as victims, which predominantly they are; so it is about the protecting of prostitutes from criminal liability or for any part they may be playing in the purchasing, material benefit of procuring or advertising of offences, and ensuring at the same time that victims of prostitution are further protected so that persons who legitimately receive material benefit from prostitution of others would not be criminalized. This includes their spouses, roommates, children, or those who offer goods and services that the general public could also receive, such as accountants or taxi drivers.

The bill is quite clear. We have also added additional resources to help prostitutes exit the profession.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:45 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the government House leader, and it is 100% in regard to the use of time allocation.

It is important to recognize that the government, since it has acquired a majority, has used time allocation as a normal process. We need to recognize that the majority government has limited members of Parliament. By doing that, Conservatives are being disrespectful to all Canadians by not allowing for a natural flow of debate on legislation. Whether it is this or other pieces of legislation that come before the House, the government continues to use time allocation to prevent members of Parliament from representing their constituents on important issues.

One of the issues for me personally was in regard to the Wheat Board. There are so many bills, such as budget bills, for which time allocation is used. Why does the government choose to use time allocation time and time again, and why does it only use this since it acquired a majority government? It is the majority government that has been driving time allocation by the government.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:45 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, as a member of the majority government, I am going to suggest to my hon. friend that the use of time allocation is not some sort of new and innovative approach that has been taken by this government. I have been around here for some time, 17 years, much like the Chair, and I have seen this is very often used to keep the House moving and to keep legislation moving through the normal process.

In the case of the bill before the House, Bill C-36, the subject of this debate, the Supreme Court of Canada has specified a one-year period in which this legislation must respond to the gap in the Criminal Code that was created by the Bedford decision.

Therefore, there are expedited reasons to move this legislation forward, to get it through the second reading stage of the process and into committee so that we may have the ability, the somewhat unusual ability, for the justice committee to examine this legislation in greater detail and to hear from witnesses. We are looking at doing a similar process, a simultaneous process with the Senate, so that we can meet the deadline.

When we return in the fall, that good work will be done by members of the justice committee, members of the House from all sides, to provide rigorous examination of the legislation, to provide feedback, to improve upon the bill, to bring it back to Parliament for debate in the fall, and to see that it then finishes the regular process of proceeding through this chamber and through the Senate and passes into law well in advance of that December deadline set by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:45 a.m.
See context

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, just a few moments ago, I heard the minister say that the use of time allocation in debates is not something new, that it is a parliamentary tradition and part of the process. However, what is new is that it has been used 72 times in a very short period of time. This even breaks the Liberals' record. It seems to me that the government wants to be in the Guinness World Records. However, this is a record to be ashamed of, not proud of.

Let me read the title of the bill we are dealing with here. It is 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. I think the title alone shows the legal and technical complexity of the issue. This legislation can have life-or-death consequences for some people. Why are we being muzzled again when we are debating this bill? Why does the government not want to give us the time to do a good job? When will the government stop muzzling Parliament itself?

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:50 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question and some of the commentary with respect to the importance of the bill and the fact that it does have within its title the descriptive word “protecting”. In fact, that is very much what the subject of the bill is about. It is about protecting vulnerable Canadians, communities that sometimes are at risk, and in particular, a specific group of Canadians to whom we do have a fiduciary duty to protect, and that is mainly our children.

I would suggest that throughout the bill we find ample evidence of the intent and the purpose of the bill to protect that group of individuals, to protect those who, in the vast majority of cases, find themselves involved with prostitution because of coercion, because of violence, because of experience early in life, in many cases when they were children.

The empirical evidence and anecdotal evidence we have looked at indicates quite clearly that the vast majority of prostitutes today, men and women, were exploited, were victimized, often through violence and addiction, and brought into the life of prostitution, arguably through no fault of their own, at a vulnerable early age, at an early stage in their lives when those who were victimizing them should have been counted on to protect them.

Many of them were victimized by people in positions of trust—coaches, religious leaders—those who truly should have been there to protect them. Having prosecuted some of those cases, we find it is tragic in every sense of the word. However, with respect to the necessity to bring the legislation forward, I would suggest that we have a very set period of time.

There will be, I am told, some five hours to debate this legislation at this stage, which is only the second reading stage. It then would go to a committee where there will be opportunity not only to hear from members of Parliament and senators, if that process is duplicated over the summer, but perhaps most important, to hear from more Canadians in addition to the 31,000 who participated in the online consultation and the face-to-face round table consultations I took part in.

This is a broad, inclusive dialogue on a very important issue, one that we have to get right, one that is also informed by the Supreme Court's decision itself. It is certainly something that has to occur in an expedited fashion because of those timelines in place from the Supreme Court.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:50 a.m.
See context

Essex Ontario

Conservative

Jeff Watson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the matter immediately before the House is the use of time allocation, which I point out is routinely used by Liberal majority governments in this country, but also, as I understand it, is used writ large in the mother Parliament back in the U.K.

As the minister has rightly pointed out earlier, this is an efficiency tool in terms of ensuring that the House, in a timely fashion, not only considers issues but makes decisions on them, and it also ensures that these matters get to committee in a timely fashion, so that the detailed study can occur. Not only is debate in the House important, but the discussion and input of Canadians in the broader civil society is important as we deal with an issue that has a lot of diverse opinions among the Canadian public.

I wonder if the minister could comment on the participation of Canadians in terms of consultation before the drafting of this particular bill. I wonder if he could comment further on what he was hearing in terms of specifics from Canadians and stakeholders and how that was incorporated into this particular bill, Bill C-36, that is before the House.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:50 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I heard extensively from individuals within my own community. I also heard from individuals during the cross-country consultation regarding the victims bill of rights, which I did in advance of the Bedford decision.

The most instructive part of those consultations was the view that those involved in prostitution are victims, that they have, as I said previously, in large part been brought into the life of prostitution through a number of complex social factors, whether they be homelessness, poverty, addiction, violence, or mental health issues. They are arguably some of the most vulnerable people in the country.

We are attempting to do this not only through legislative measures but through programming in partnership with provinces and territories and compassionate groups that exist within all of our communities, those who run homeless shelters, those who work specifically with anti-violence initiatives, those who spend time speaking with school children.

One of the target areas of education I would suggest is teenage boys. That is the demographic that we really need to speak to when we are talking about how we can end violence in its many forms, including domestic violence, which is so associated with this issue.

The bill, as complex as it may appear, is a well-informed bill that attempts to go to some of the root causation, that attempts to put the emphasis, the criminal liability, on the perpetrators, the johns, the pimps, and those who drive the demand for the purchasing and the commoditization of sexual services. The bill attempts to answer some of those very complex issues that have been around almost since time immemorial.

We need to get on with the business of the nation. This is an issue that affects many communities. This bill is a comprehensive, compassionate Canadian response. It needs to proceed because of the timelines and the pressure we are under, placed on us by the Supreme Court. The House has already done much of the good work in preparation for the bill. We have known of the subject matter for over six months. We want to get on with that. That is in part why we brought forward this time allocation motion, to see that the good work continues.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:55 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, it was interesting to hear the minister use the words “root causation”. I have heard him use those words in a different context when talking about others who talked about root causes in the past.

This is over 70 times that the government has used time allocation. Seeing as it is speeding up the process, I am wondering if the government is gathering together the necessary information in preparation for the committee to have a proper discussion on this issue based on all the facts before it.

People are worried that this particular piece of legislation would not meet the Supreme Court requirements, and it is debatable whether it would or not.

Is the government preparing to provide the committee with the legal advice that the government obtained when it was in the drafting stages of this particular legislation—and who provided that legal advice?

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:55 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, we will always support the good work of committees. We will provide the committee with the relevant information it needs. The Department of Justice will be releasing further polling data. I have indicated quite clearly that is the case.

It is interesting to hear any sort of criticism of the use of closure coming from a member of the Liberal Party, the proverbial “wind sock” party of Canada, that simply turns and twists and adopts any particular position that would put it in a favourable light. The Liberal record of managing the finances of the country has been laid bare for all to see, going back to the sponsorship scandal, of which the member knows far more than I, as a member of the previous government.

We will continue to bring forward thoughtful legislation that responds to the need, and in this particular case, the task that was left to us by the Supreme Court when it struck down three provisions of the Criminal Code. This legislation would more than answer that particular task because it does have accompanying resources to help prostitutes find an off ramp into a better, healthier life that will help them deal with the causation that has led them to enter prostitution.

We are anxious to hear the position of members' opposite, their thoughtful suggestions as to how the bill could be improved. What we do get is just simply criticism and process. They want this sent back to the Supreme Court to let it do the good work.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / noon
See context

NDP

Marc-André Morin NDP Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government should perhaps do what any law-abiding Canadian citizen would do. When we must comply with a court ruling, we only have to do what we have been ordered to do. Every time the government is faced with this situation, that is, every time it introduces a bill, it twists itself into a pretzel to push its original idea through and try a second time to get around the court's orders. People are beginning to understand this strategy.

If it is truly urgent, I wonder why the bill is being introduced at the last minute, when we are about to adjourn for the summer. It may be because the government wants the debate to be held in the media only, in an emotional and somewhat irrational manner, so that it becomes impossible to have a debate, as is the case with the gun registry and abortion. There are many subjects that have become impossible to debate in our society.

The government is in large part responsible because it has allowed the debate to deteriorate and aired it in the media, instead of calmly discussing the issue in the House. It is becoming a sort of hysterical delusion that will last all summer. The government will certainly have time to think about it and perhaps will shred the bill during the summer. I hope it will be wise enough to do so.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / noon
See context

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I do not even know where to begin with that convoluted rambling and disjointed remark, other than to say that we are responding in a very comprehensive way. I would suggest that it is a compassionate way, with a particularly Canadian response to this age old issue of prostitution. Now the dilemma faced by having three major sections of the Criminal Code struck down in Bedford creates further vulnerability for prostitutes and communities.

Rather than the suggestion from the hon. member that this was somehow created by the government, this is directly responding to the Supreme Court's decision in Bedford. It is responding in a way that we believe would provide greater opportunities for prostitutes to leave that life. It is a life of inherently dangerous practice. They would be able to choose a better path for themselves and, potentially, their children. There is programming and specific resources to partner with the provinces and territories to help emphasize that there are, in fact, other opportunities.

We would be putting criminal liability squarely on the johns, the pimps, and those who benefit directly from those vulnerable individuals, who are predominantly victims and who, given the opportunity and the choice, would leave prostitution.

This is not to suggest that this would make prostitution disappear from the landscape of Canada or anywhere. It is what we believe to be a comprehensive response to a very difficult and complex social issue. It responds thoughtfully after great consultation with Canadians already, and will continue to do so following opportunity here in the House and later in committee. It will come back to the House in the fall.

It is a bit perplexing to hear from members opposite that they want more debate, but at the same time, they suggest that we are rushing it through. It is a bit like saying, “wash me, but do not make me wet”.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / noon
See context

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for his work on this important file. As he highlighted, the Bedford decision required Parliament to deal with this issue.

I would like to ask him what level of consultation there has been over the last number of months in preparing for today and for Parliament to now deal with it. I wonder if he could elaborate on the collaboration.

I wonder if he could also elaborate on why he thinks the opposition wants to delay this. We know that this is the theme song of the Liberals. Their motto is, “why did we not get it done?” Maybe he could elaborate on why the NDP would be so opposed to dealing with this important social issue. This responsibility has been passed on to Parliament by the Supreme Court, so why would the NDP want to dither and delay the passage of this bill?