Justice Minister Peter MacKay addresses a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday

Justice Minister Peter MacKay addresses a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday

New prostitution law to target customers

Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay unveils government's response to Supreme Court ruling on sex trade

New federal legislation on prostitution will bring the threat of jail time and steep fines for customers who buy sex as well as others who profit from the sex trade.

Known as the Nordic model that outlaws the buying but not the selling of sex, the Conservative government’s bill comes in response to the striking down of the existing law on prostitution late last year by the Supreme Court of Canada.

“We will criminalize those who are fueling and perpetrating the demand for this dangerous activity,” Justice Minister Peter MacKay said Wednesday.

Those to be targeted by police under the new law include pimps and others who exploit sex workers, including those who advertise the sale of sex in print or online.

MacKay said legitimate, non-exploitive service providers – such as doctors, pharmacists and taxi drivers – won’t be targeted, nor would spouses or family members of sex trade workers.

It’s not yet clear if that leniency will extend to bodyguards hired by sex workers for security.

MacKay pledged $20 million in support to help sex trade workers exit “a life of exploitation and danger.”

Fines might range from $1,000 to $4,000 and jail time could be up to five years in jail for an offender who pays for sex – double that if it involves a minor.

The bill would criminalize the act of selling sex in public places or where children could be expected to be present.

SFU criminology professor John Lowman said criminalizing customers and the public buying of sex will again drive the trade into out-of-sight places where women will be at greater risk of predators like serial killer Robert Pickton.

“It will force women into those dark, dangerous industrial areas,” he said.

“What you’re looking at here is a form of state-sponsored institutionalized entrapment,” Lowman said. “Can you think of any other law where it’s legal to sell something which is illegal to buy?”

He said the legislation recreates many of the problems that led the Supreme Court to strike down the old law on grounds it exposed women to too much danger.

A federal survey of Canadians released June 1 following government-led consultations found 56 per cent of respondents think it should be a crime to buy sexual services, but 66 per cent said it shouldn’t be illegal for sex workers to sell their services.

A study by UBC researchers released earlier in the week argued a Canadian move to the Nordic Model would force prostitutes to work in riskier conditions where they have less control over their health and safety.

Where clients continue to be targets of police, sex workers’ ability to protect themselves from violence and abuse or access police protections is severely limited,” said report author Dr. Kate Shannon.

 

Just Posted

Agassiz Agricultural Hall hosts COVID-19 vaccination clinics every Wednesday. District officials reported more than 300 doses are administered per week. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Walk-in COVID vaccine clinic scheduled for Wednesday

Walk-in appointments available while supplies last from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Migrating sockeye in the Fraser River August 7, 2007. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
First Nations, commercial, and recreational harvesters join forces to save Fraser River fish

‘We have to work together to rebuild these stocks while there is still time,’ says delegate

Dozens of demonstrators gathered in March at the Hope Station House, showing support for preserving the 1916 building. (Photo/Christian Ward)
New reports breathe life into efforts to save the Hope Station House

The documents were presented to District of Hope Council at a meeting June 14

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

.
Fraser Health monitors long-term care vaccination rates amid local COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19 transmission has largely been on the decline in Agassiz-Harrison

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

White Rock’s Marine Drive has been converted to one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Peace Arch News)
Province promotes permanent pub patios in B.C. post-pandemic plan

More than 2,000 temporary expansions from COVID-19 rules

Lake City Secondary School Williams Lake campus students Ethan Reid, from left, Brenden Higgins, Ty Oviatt, Kaleb Alphonse, Nathan Kendrick and Landon Brink with RCMP officers Const. Nicoll and Const. Stancec. (Photo submitted)
RCMP thank 6 teens for helping prevent forest fire in Williams Lake

The students came across fire in a wooded area and used the water they had to try and extinguish the flames

There is an emergency shelter near the Golden Ears peaks. (Facebook/Special to The News)
Hiker fogged in on Golden Ears, spends 2 nights

Talon Helicopters, Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue bring him home Monday

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada, speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul facing no-confidence motion from party brass

move follows months of internal strife and the defection of MP Jenica Atwin to the Liberals

Tulips bloom in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Day two of a full week of scheduled hearings will be heard in Federal Court today on a case involving Indigenous children unnecessarily taken into foster care by what all parties call Canada’s “broken child welfare system.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AFN slams Ottawa for ‘heartless’ legal challenge of First Nations child compensation

2019 decision awarded $40,000 to each Indigenous child removed before 2006

A 34-year-old man was arrested Monday after Transit Police found him riding a SkyTrain with a shotgun in the front of his sweatpants. (Transit Police)
SkyTrain passenger arrested, charged for concealing shotgun in his sweatpants

Codty-James Gray, 34, was found with ammunition, brass knuckles and knives

Most Read