December 1, 2014
DEBORAH GYAPONG
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS

OTTAWA – Canada's prostitution Bill C-36 passed the Senate Nov. 6 and will become law in early December, criminalizing the purchase of sex for the first time in Canadian history.

While groups representing some "sex trade" workers are not pleased with the legislation, pro-family groups and those opposed to human trafficking welcomed the new law.

Based on the so-called Nordic model, it treats prostitutes as victims, but prosecutes the "johns" and the pimps who exploit them.

"The [Catholic Civil Rights] League is pleased with the federal government's passage of the new bill," said League president Phil Horgan.

"It is our view that the criminalization of the purchase of sex services, and the sale of such services in vulnerable areas, accords with the views of the vast majority of Canadians. For example, we have yet to find a parent who hopes that their child will someday become a sex worker."

The league intervened in the courts up to the Supreme Court of Canada, which struck down sections of Canada's prostitution laws as unconstitutional last December but suspended the decision for a year to allow Parliament to draft a new law.

SEX CLUBS

But the league said the new law may create a new problem.

"We remain concerned that the absence of a specific restraint on bawdy houses may create a new set of problems, especially in border towns or larger urban centres, in that authorities may find it more difficult to curb sex clubs or other such houses of disrepute."

REAL Women of Canada also welcomed the new law.

In a news release, the pro-life, pro-family women's group said it would have preferred that prostitution be prohibited entirely.

PROTECTS CHILDREN

However, REAL Women acknowledged the bill "does provide more protection for prostitutes and protects children by prohibiting prostitution activities from taking place where children are present such as schools, playgrounds and daycare."

"This is a historic moment for equality and women's rights in Canada," said Conservative MP Joy Smith, whose work against human trafficking contributed to the government's taking this new approach to prostitution.

"Under Bill C-36, Canada is saying loud and clear, we do not accept that women, children and vulnerable individuals are commodities to be bought and sold," said Smith.