Mr. Speaker, I suspect if those government programs had had the impact of their intent we would not be here today and we would not see so many Canadian Alliance MPs supporting the NDP. Frankly, we probably would not have seen the election results that we saw in the City of Vancouver only a couple of days ago.
This is an issue that requires action. All the motion asks for is for the House to study possible action. We cannot get the government to even consider doing that.
It is a pleasure to rise and speak on Motion No. 192 put forward by my colleague for Vancouver East. Before I go to my prepared comments, I want to compliment the member.
As a member of parliament from an adjacent constituency who loves and grew up in Vancouver, it has been a tragedy to watch the steady erosion of the downtown east side of the city.
I remember shopping at the downtown Woodward's building with my mom while growing up, feeding pigeons in Pigeon Park and visiting shops in the area. It is stunning today to see how one area of Vancouver has suffered so much.
I greatly respect the genuine sense of compassion and the genuine search for answers to problems of the downtown east side by the member for Vancouver East. I congratulate her for her efforts to raise what is clearly among the most important issues, not only for her riding, but for many areas of Canada.
My riding of Port Moody--Coquitlam--Port Coquitlam is among the most beautiful in Canada and one of the best places on earth to live. The city of Port Coquitlam is home to over 52,000 people and is one of the youngest cities in British Columbia, which maybe explains why this city elected a 24-year old member of parliament to serve them in Ottawa, myself, and a 24-year old MLA named Karn Manhas to represent them in Victoria in the B.C. legislature.
Port Coquitlam is one of the great places to live. It came as a real shock to our community when a Port Coquitlam resident, Robert William Pickton, was arrested and charged with murder on February 22 in the deaths of Mona Wilson and Sereena Abotsway.
On April 2 he was charged with killing Jacqueline McDonell, Diane Rock and Heather Bottomley. These women disappeared between January 21, 1999 and October 19, 2001. On April 10 he was charged with the murder of Andrea Joesbury who disappeared last June.
To date, Pickton has been charged with killing 15 women who were on the list of 63 missing women from Vancouver's downtown east side. Police are still to this day searching his farm looking for more evidence of evil acts done against women.
I raise this point to show that the problems of Vancouver's downtown east side have not been created in isolation, nor are the impacts of the problems felt in isolation. Prostitution is dangerous, ugly and it is not victimless. It is not victimless to the unknowing wives and girlfriends of johns who come home to them after having been with prostitutes. It is not victimless to the women, and by women I am including girls who should be in girl guides or in middle school, who are abused by johns. It is not victimless to the families of prostitutes who worry endlessly about the health and welfare of their daughters. It is not victimless to my constituents in a quiet Port Coquitlam neighbourhood around the corner from the Pickton pig farm who have been traumatized and shocked that such evil may have occurred so close to home.
Overwhelmingly, prostitution is about the subjugation of women for profit. Overwhelmingly that subjugation is driven by financial need. Financial need is driven by substance abuse, homelessness, exploitation by pimps, forms of personal corruption and a lack of life alternatives due to all of the above.
The motion we are debating this morning, Motion No. 192, reads as follows:
That a special committee of the House be appointed to review the solicitation laws in order to improve the safety of sex-trade workers and communities overall, and to recommend changes that will reduce the exploitation of and violence against sex-trade workers.
On the motion the Canadian Alliance will, as usual, have a free vote. I will be voting in favour of the motion. In my view, any changes or alterations to Canada's laws with regard to solicitation and prostitution must have as their first goal the intent of getting women out of prostitution.
There are simply no young girls who want to be prostitutes when they grow up. There are no reasons to allow women to be beaten and brutalized through prostitution.
Overwhelmingly, prostitution is not the rosy fairy tale of high priced escorts or the experience of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman . It is ugly, cruel, vile and beneath the interests of our collective future.
Some argue that prostitution is the oldest profession and, as such, will always be with us and therefore should be tolerated. This argument is as dumb as it is simplistic. Perhaps the former explains the latter.
Murder has always been with us, but we do not tolerate it in law. Rape has always been with us, but we do not tolerate it in law.
The argument, by the way, that we should tolerate something because it has existed for a long time is also the same argument that was used by those who opposed ending slavery in the United States. It was argued that slavery has always existed, therefore it should exist forevermore. Thank God those who have a moral compass, a drive to raise the value of human life and a sense that we should sacrifice the economic knocks of losing cheap labour have stepped up and have said that there is a greater good and a greater responsibility to not allow the exploitation of people for profit; and so it is with prostitution.
In this the 21st century, surely by now we can agree that we should not buy, sell or trade human beings and we should protect those who have been victimized by this process.