Government to Consult Canadians’ Online on Prostitution Laws

The Government of Canada has officially launched an online consultation service to seek Canadians’ opinion on the Criminal Code for prostitution-related offences. The period during which online consultation will take place is announced to be from February 17 to March 17, 2014. The online questionnaire is prompted by the Supreme Court of Canada decision in the Bedford v. Attorney General of Canada case.

According to the December 2013 court ruling, it found three Criminal Code prostitution offences to be unconstitutional and of no force or effect. The first was ‘the bawdy house offence’ in reference to the practice of prostitution (specifically its section 210 that prohibits keeping and being an inmate of or found in a bawdy house). Secondly, the court also highlighted the area that prohibits living in whole or in part on the earnings of prostitutes, along with the part that prohibits communicating in a public place for the purpose of engaging in prostitution or obtaining the sexual services of a prostitute.

Elaborating on why the government felt the need to undertake an online questionnaire, Justice Minister Peter MacKay explained that “our Government is concerned about the significant harms that flow from prostitution to communities, those engaged in prostitution and other vulnerable persons. Doing nothing is not an option – we are therefore asking Canadians right across the country, to provide their input, through an on-line consultation, to ensure a legislative response to prostitution that reflects our country’s values. We will be taking action to maintain the safety of our streets and communities, for the benefit of all Canadians.”

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