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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating Mackenzie Courchene, a Langford teenager.
MISSING: Mackenzie Courchene last seen in Langford on March 2

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating the Langford teenager

Rendering of the proposed Esquimalt public safety building. (Courtesy Township of Esquimalt)
Esquimalt blazes new trail toward modern public safety building

Township using alternative approval process for first time to gauge public support for proposal

Landmarks such as Howard the giant gnome at Galey's Farm in Saanich make a stunning backdrop for celebratory dance in the Greater Victoria Festival Society trailer for its coming Dance Victoria campaign. (Screeshot/Greater Victoria Festival Society)
Residents’ videos help campaign Dance Across Victoria

Celebratory dance clips to be compiled into Greater Victoria Festival Society video

Reynolds Secondary School’s spring musical Freaky Friday features Grace Fouracre as teen Ellie Blake (left) who swaps bodies with her overworked mother, Katherine, played by Nadia Lurie. (Photo courtesy Reynolds Secondary School)
Saanich high school goes virtual with Freaky Friday musical

Reynolds Secondary theatre program to livestream performances March 9-12

Saanich Fire Department. Black Press Media File Photo
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Most Read