Prostitution Bill C-36 passes second reading vote

By 
  • June 16, 2014

OTTAWA - After only five hours of debate, Bill C-36, the federal government's new prostitution bill passed second reading June 16 by a 139-117 vote.

The bill drew no support from the New Democratic, Liberal or Green parties.

Opposition parties expressed dismay at the time allocation imposed on the debate, arguing the vote was rushed. But Justice Minister Peter MacKay defended the decision, noting the importance of having a new law in place by the end of the year the Supreme Court of Canada had given in which the existing prostitution laws would remain in effect after being struck down as unconstitutional last December.

MP Joy Smith, an expert on human trafficking who prepared the ground for the bill through building widespread civil society support for abolition, spoke passionately about the bill during debate. 

“Over the past few weeks, survivors and frontline agencies have sent a clear message calling on Members of Parliament to support a ‘Made in Canada’ model that criminally targets pimps and johns and not vulnerable women and youth, encourages the exit from prostitution and reflects the exploitation inherent in prostitution,” said Smith.

“For the first time in Canadian history, Bill C-36 will amend the Criminal Code and shift the burden of criminality from the sellers to the buyers,” said Smith in a statement. “Johns arrested for purchasing or attempting to purchase sex will face stiff fines and/or jail time.” 

The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights will review the bill before it comes back for Third Reading before the House of Commons in the fall.

In her June 12 speech during debate on the bill, Smith blasted the way newspapers and other media have been telling Canadians “prostitution is a legitimate occupation for women and that it is entirely separate from sex trafficking and exploitation.”

“This is a lie,” she said. “Prostitution exploits women, youth and vulnerable populations,” she said. “It escalates gender inequalities by turning women's bodies into a commodity to be bought, sold, rented and exploited by men. In short, prostitution provides an avenue for abuse and violence.”

Smith also stressed the clear link between human trafficking and prostitution.

“It has been appalling to hear from pro-legalization lobbyists over the past weeks that criminalizing the demand would make things more unsafe for women in prostitution and that it would have devastating consequences,” she said. “This argument is absolutely absurd.

“One study that interviewed 100 prostitutes in Vancouver found that violence is the norm for women in prostitution,” she said. “Sexual harassment, verbal abuse, stalking, rape, battering and torture are the points on a continuum of violence, all of which occur regularly in prostitution. This violence is perpetrated by johns and pimps.” 

She called for a paradigm shift. 

“Canada's approach must recognize that prostitution itself, not just violence, is a form of violence,” she said.

Smith outlined the problems faced by the countries that have legalized or decriminalized prostitution — ranging from increased human trafficking to more violence against women.

“Let us look at another implication of the policies of the NDP and the Green Party, and now we have heard from the Liberal Party as well,” Smith said. “If prostitution were to be legalized and treated as an industry, women would be expected to apply for all job openings before being eligible for EI, so if our daughters have just been laid off, they would be expected to apply at the local brothel before being eligible for EI.

“That is not the future I want for my daughters and it is not the future that Canadian parents want for their children.”

On June 12, during debate on the bill, NDP Justice Critic Francoise Boivin pointed out the Criminal Code already prohibits exploitation of minors and human trafficking. The Supreme Court “is not precluding the government from imposing limits on where and how prostitution may be conducted, as long as it does so in a way that does not infringe the constitutional rights of prostitutes.”

Other Opposition MPs criticized the bill for inadequately addressing the safety concerns of prostitutes.

Comments (5)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

A wife lies, and pretends she's committed to a guy, but then files for divorce, and child support (free money). At least with a prostitute a john 'knows upfront' that she only cares about the money. A call girl is not a victim, she's a business...

A wife lies, and pretends she's committed to a guy, but then files for divorce, and child support (free money). At least with a prostitute a john 'knows upfront' that she only cares about the money. A call girl is not a victim, she's a business woman, and it's called fee for service.

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Haywood Jablowme
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

If these morons think they can eliminate demand for prostitutes they won't. Not all Johns are low life murderers. It's a lot cheaper for me to hire/rent/use a call girl, and treat her well, than it is to pay for a divorce. I've used the same...

If these morons think they can eliminate demand for prostitutes they won't. Not all Johns are low life murderers. It's a lot cheaper for me to hire/rent/use a call girl, and treat her well, than it is to pay for a divorce. I've used the same hooker for 8 years now........ she likes my money.

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Haywood Jablowme
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I TOTALLY agree with everything she said... I also feel she has more of an idea considering she in an expert. I always find it funny how ppl who know nothing about something personally always have such convinced opinions.. Sweden has...

I TOTALLY agree with everything she said... I also feel she has more of an idea considering she in an expert. I always find it funny how ppl who know nothing about something personally always have such convinced opinions.. Sweden has prostitution..girls travel from canada to work there...

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Sarah
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Canadas rate of rape has been declining for the last few years while sweden's rate of incidences of rape are on the increase, and have been for the last good number of years, (see wikipedia) the number of reported rape cases in Sweden is 3 times...

Canadas rate of rape has been declining for the last few years while sweden's rate of incidences of rape are on the increase, and have been for the last good number of years, (see wikipedia) the number of reported rape cases in Sweden is 3 times what it is in canada. This law will kill people

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This Law Will Kill People
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Prohibition is the water of Mafia fish and it is better to avoid it where it is possible as the paying sex among adult and consentient people. Moreover, prostitutes' customers are not in a little number, so politics must pay attention to the...

Prohibition is the water of Mafia fish and it is better to avoid it where it is possible as the paying sex among adult and consentient people. Moreover, prostitutes' customers are not in a little number, so politics must pay attention to the votes!
It is also better to legalize and tax prostitution.

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Francostars
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