*Update: the mainstream media is sharing many of the talking points we use on this issue as well. Check out excellent commentary from Calgary Herald, National Post, Globe & Mail, and The Catholic Register.
As many ARPA readers know, the issue of prostitution has been a big one on our policy plate for the past few years. In the fall of 2011, ARPA Canada published its first Respectfully Submitted report on this issue, calling on the federal government to give serious consideration to rewriting our laws on prostitution to pre-empt the Supreme Court from striking down our current laws. The government did not act at that time, and the Supreme Court, in December 2013, did strike down our prostitution laws as we predicted. Thankfully, the Court gave Parliament one year to draft new laws. Today, they tabled the draft law titled, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. The preamble sets the tone of the document and is quite impressive. It’s worth reproducing here. Note how it doesn’t shy away from the public harm that prostitution is and how the commercialization of prostitution is so detrimental:
- Whereas the Parliament of Canada has grave concerns about the exploitation that is inherent in prostitution and the risks of violence posed to those who engage in it;
- Whereas the Parliament of Canada recognizes the social harm caused by the objectification of the human body and the commodification of sexual activity;
- Whereas it is important to protect human dignity and the equality of all Canadians by discouraging prostitution, which has a disproportionate impact on women and children;
- Whereas it is important to denounce and prohibit the purchase of sexual services because it creates a demand for prostitution;
- Whereas it is important to continue to denounce and prohibit the procurement of persons for the purpose of prostitution and the development of economic interests in the exploitation of the prostitution of others as well as the commercialization and institutionalization of prostitution;
- Whereas the Parliament of Canada wishes to encourage those who engage in prostitution to report incidents of violence and to leave prostitution;
- And whereas the Parliament of Canada is committed to protecting communities from the harms associated with prostitution…
Although not perfect, this legislation is an improvement on the laws we had before, and is a huge improvement over decriminalized prostitution. We can be thankful that the federal government stepped up to the plate, showed leadership and quickly introduced this legislation. For a summary of what’s all in the new law, check out this backgrounder here.
We want to thank you for adding your voice to this public discussion. In fact, many of you took the time to fill out the public consultation form (the results of which you can see here). That helped shape the direction the government went with this new law. Thank you! For another thoughtful policy report on this issue, check out the McDonald-Laurier Institute’s paper here. To read the minister of justice’s statement on the tabling of this new bill, click here.
Now it’s your turn! Using our totally redesigned and even easier to use EasyMail technology, send your MP a note expressing your support for this new legislation and asking them to support it. Just use the form below and please do customize the text so that it truly is from you.