Mr. Speaker, the member has just mentioned that the government did not present any witnesses who were, outside of government, legal experts who would support the constitutionality of Bill C-36. I am happy to have the opportunity to stand and correct him.
The member said that he watched the House of Commons proceedings in the summer. I hope he had a chance to hear the testimony of Professor Benedet of the University of British Columbia, not a government lawyer, at both the House of Commons and the Senate committee hearings.
I would like to read for him the transcript from Professor Benedet's appearance before the Senate proceedings where she was asked a question by Senator Plett.
Senator Plett said:
My question is whether you believe that this proposed law is, in fact, in accordance with the Bedford ruling. If so, how? Do you believe that, in fact, it will stand the test of a challenge to the Supreme Court?
Professor Benedet answered:
Yes, I do. I do believe both that the law is a genuine attempt to respond to the restrictions put on Parliament by the decision in Bedford, and it does seem to me, that the law is crafted in a way that it meets the demands of the Charter.
She further went on to say:
Overall, I see here a bill that is largely attuned to the concerns that the court raised. If the argument that is being made is that criminalizing the purchase of sex is inherently unconstitutional, we have to recognize what is being asserted then is that there is a constitutional right to buy women in prostitution. My reading of the Charter of Rights, particularly in light of the equality provisions, doesn't support that conclusion.
Could the member comment on Professor Benedet's analysis and at least acknowledge that in fact there are legal experts who support the constitutionality of this bill?