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Archived - Statement by the Minister of Justice Regarding Legislation in Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Ruling in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford et al

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June 4, 2014 - Ottawa, ON - Department of Justice Canada

Today, the Honourable Peter MacKay, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Central Nova, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, issued the following statement:

"Our Government remains committed to keeping our streets and communities safe by cracking down on those who fuel demand for prostitution. Today, our Government is responding to the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling in Canada v. Bedford to ensure that Canada's laws and the criminal justice system continue to address the significant harms that flow from prostitution to those engaged in prostitution and to other vulnerable persons, while protecting Canadian communities.

"The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act is a "made-in-Canada" model, which directly targets the demand for this dangerous activity. The Act would introduce tough action to crack down on pimps and johns. For the first time, the purchase of sexual services would be criminalized, with tough penalties for those who exploit others through prostitution. The proposed legislation would also protect and safeguard our communities-in particular women, children, and those who are at risk of being drawn into prostitution-from the dangers associated with prostitution, including violence, drug-related crime, and organized crime.

"This model involves a significant overhaul of the Criminal Code's treatment of prostitution and related activities. It would:

  • Criminalize those who fuel the demand for prostitution, i.e. purchasers of sexual services;
  • Continue to criminalize those who financially benefit from the exploitation of others through prostitution, such as pimps, and those who procure others for the purpose of prostitution;
  • Prohibit advertising for the sale of others' sexual services in print or online;
  • Immunize those who sell their own sexual services from criminal liability for any part they play in the purchasing, material benefit, procuring or advertising offences;
  • Protect our communities by criminalizing communicating for the purpose of selling sexual services in public places where a child could reasonably be expected to be present; and
  • Increase existing penalties relating to child prostitution.

"These measures will be supported by $20 million in new funding, including to support grassroots organizations dealing with the most vulnerable. Assistance will be provided to those who want to leave this dangerous and harmful activity; therefore, there will be an emphasis on funding programs that can help individuals exit prostitution.

"Today our Government is making prostitution illegal for the first time; the impact of the new prohibitions will be borne by those who purchase sex and persons who exploit others through prostitution. Prostitution hurts Canadian communities and the most vulnerable Canadians. We are committed to protecting Canadian communities by making it illegal to communicate for the purpose of selling sexual services in or near any public place where children could be present."

"In the Bedford ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada suspended its declaration of invalidity of three prostitution-related provisions of the Criminal Code for 12 months, or until December 19, 2014. We have introduced this legislation today, well ahead of that date, in an effort to ensure that it is adopted and starts protecting those who are most vulnerable and at risk of the exploitation inherent in prostitution as soon as possible, while ensuring that Canadian streets and communities remain safe."

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