Ontario court ruling Monday could set new legal precedents for prostitution laws - Macleans.ca

Ontario court ruling Monday could set new legal precedents for prostitution laws

A ruling on prostitution is expected to set a legal precedent in Ontario


On Monday, the Ontario Court of Appeal will reveal its decision on the legality of Canadian prostitution laws, reports the Globe and Mail. The court must say whether it upholds a decision by Ontario Superior Court Judge Susan Himel, who struck down the laws governing pimping, keeping a brothel and communicating for the purposes of prostitution. If the Court of Appeal agrees with this view, certain aspects of prostitution would become legal.

From the Globe:

“By increasing the risk of harm to street prostitutes, the communicating law is simply too high a price to pay for the alleviation of social nuisance,” Judge Himel said. “I find that the danger faced by prostitutes greatly outweighs any harm which may be faced by the public.” (…)

Should the Court of Appeal uphold Judge Himel’s judgment, it will almost certainly lead to the creation of brothels, legalized pimping and open communication between prostitutes and prospective clients.

Monday’s ruling, whatever it is, is expected to set legal precedent in Ontario and will certainly influence an eventual decision by the Canadian Supreme Court on the matter.

An Angus Reid poll last year showed Canadians are deeply divided on how to deal with prostitution laws:  36 per cent believe the Criminal Code provisions related to communication and brothels are fair to the purpose of protecting the public good. But 47 per cent think the rules are unfair and force prostitutes into unsafe situations.


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Ontario court ruling Monday could set new legal precedents for prostitution laws

  1. Legalizing prostitution might, oddly, lessen it.

    If it’s legalized, prices will probably drop (less risk) making it less enticing for some to get into.
    Additionally, if it’s legalized, women who are being forced into it will have less reason to fear police, so may be able to make complaints to help them get out of the situation.
    If legalized, we can also impose licence restrictions including mandatory health checkups every few years.. this alone might force some folks out of it (and save a lot of others)

    Of course, the best argument for legalizing it is Pickton. If cops had to give a damn about prostitutes, maybe he would have been picked up before a few of his victims were. 

    • Well said!

      • They are points but I don’t they are good points.  Until the demand for it changes, why would the supply lessen?  As long as there are people who would sell their dignity and self-respect for cash I don’t see the numbers going down. 

          The morals of our nation need to return to an honorable standard.  The respect for (and wisdom to see the need for) healthy families seems to be at an all time low as opposed to the value to have pleasure at what ever cost.  Just becasue you can make money doing something means you should be doing it?  And not only that but also the government should be making your job more safe?  Maybe we should offer this to hitmen too :)  And as to keeping it a healthy profession, there’s a reason there’s a bunch of STIs around, one man to be with one woman for life and the consequence of breaking that model for a healthy family is destruction on our bodies and emotions.

          I think the disease and violence gravitate to this profession because it’s a profession of equal vileness.

          Let’s keep our nation strong by manning up to our responsibilities ladies and gentlemen; make your vows to your husband/wife and keep them, enjoying them and keeping your kids in a healthy family ’til death do you part. 

  2. Deeply divided? In a country that is almost equally split on so many questions lately, an 11-point advantage for one side seems to suggest a significant tilt in that direction. Considering that 17% must not have had a strong opinion (which means they don’t much care one way or another) it looks to me that only roughly 1/3rd of people support the law as it stands. Considering most laws are likely strongly supported (exception = marijuana), I don’t find this to be a deeply divided issue. Canadians are clearly tilting towards moving on from these old, out-of-date laws.

    • There was a poll on this issue? I did not know that… Anyways, as a proud Canadian Citizen, I am strongly supportive of Court Judge Susan Himel’s ruling!

      Alright… time for work, have a nice day.

  3. If its legalized, then would groups of prostitutes be able to join together to form unions? Forming unions might keep them free of pimp control and allow them to argue for certain workers benefits(like in Germany). If we allow prositution to be just another legal occupation can a school refuse the request of a sex trade worker to come in on career day and talk about the pluses and minuses of the job to the students?Would we see NDP candiates attempting to win the endorsement of prostitute unions at election time just like they suck up to every other union? Would prostitutes be allowed to put up posters advertising their services and if yes how close to schools and playgrounds is allowed? If a parent is working as a prostitute would child services now allow the child to remain in the home? Would we set asidecertain city streets for “sex window shopping” like in Amsterdam? Would we offer some sort of tax breaks to the people and businesses that live in that area? If we are going to legalize it can we try answering these kind of questions at the same time? Make any new law legalizing it detailed and thorough.

  4. Tacoo: Sorry to say but it’s a myth that the prostitutes in Germany and Netherland are members of Unions and free of pimps. Most of the women in prostitution in Germany and Netherlands are trafficked from Easteurope, Asian countries and South America and they are all controlled by pimps who are part of organised criminal gangs. None of them has joined the Unions.
    Today it’s the organised criminal gangs who owns the brothels and the women (incl. minor girls) and the police has very big difficulties in getting access to the brothels. The police can not distinguish between legal and illegal sex trade because the legal prostitution trade is a cover for the illegal trade.

    The Dutch newspapers says directly that the legalisation was a big mistake and the European countries tend to ban buying sex. France probably in may just after the election and Ireland shortly after within this year. Israel too.

     The Nordic model has proven to be the only model that works.

  5. Making prostitution illegal will not work in Canada. Prostitution’s illegality dates from a time that Canada was a devout Christian country. Canada is no longer a Christian or even religious country. It is increasingly a country where libertarianism dominates. The Canadian people have elected a government that calls for less government spending, free trade, ending the wheat board,  and lower taxes(libertarian economics 101). Yet, Canadians also take an increasingly libertarian position on social issues. We take left-libertarian positions on abortion, same sex marriage, and prostitution. Yet, we take increasingly right-libertarian positions on topics like gun control(long gun registry), homeschooling, and human rights commissions(recently passed  legislation to limit commissions’ ability to prosecute free speech rather popular in recent poll). The only possibly non-libertarian position is the strong Canadian support for the death penalty for murder by a 71%-23% margin in the Angus Reid Poll. What does all this mean? It means tha Canadians are not left-wing progressives like the Liberals and CBC would have you believe. Nor are we the Northern cousins of the Republican Party. We want less government interference in our economic and social lives(anti-gun control, pro-abortion, and pro-marijuana legalization). The Heritage Foundation has the Canadian economy as the 6th most free(behind Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong). If Harper carries out his expected reforms we might move up to number 4 or 5. We want government to stick to the few things it does best. The main one being maintaining law and order which is why Canadians support tough sentencing of criminals(including the death penalty and Hudak’s chain gang idea). The truth is that Canada should follow no model but its own. We are too right-wing to be western europeans. We are too left-wing to be U.S. style Republicans(though our economic policies now put us to the right of the U.S. Democrat Party). We are becoming the world’s first truly libertarian country that is the the Canadian model.

  6. The Swedish model is great to deter street prostitution but does not stop indoor prostitution. If you go onto the internet, you will find many escort agencies out of Sweden.  Criminalize men buying sex move the sex trade indoors and undercover. No country eliminates prostitution by criminalizing it. In Saudi Arabia, the Saudis go to United Arab Emirate for prostitution services.  The war on prostitution is a losing battle. In New York City, and other cities in United States, there are hundreds of escorts and modeling agencies that send women to hotel rooms. In the hotel rooms prostitution goes on even when it is illegal.  The enforcement of the prostitution laws are targeting the poor and middle class. Many times police departments refuse to sting high class escort agencies because they serve the wealthy.  There are human trafficking victims hidden in high class escort agencies. Many times human trafficking victims are not rescue by police. Many of the escorts and modeling agencies are not registered with any government in United States so the government cannot monitor their activities. If Canada criminalizes the selling of sex or the buying of sex, then Canada will become like the US where prostitution business goes unregulated.  If Canada criminalizes prostitution, there still will be escort agencies that offer prostitution services to the wealthy and the rich. Remember, prostitution will always be decriminalized for the wealthy and the politicians. When you criminalize prostitution, it is enforced against the poor and the middle class. This is the situation we have in the United States. Is Canada ready for the unregulated prostitution trade like US? What Canada needs is licensing in the prostitution businesses. If you going to hire body guards or other workers to assist you in the prostitution business, you should be required to register with the government. The government should send inspectors to make sure the business is operating legally and no one is held against their will. Also remember that Sweden is a small country so it is easiler to crack down on human trafficking than a large country like Canada and United States.

    • Not according to the Swedish Detective Superintendent Kajsa Wahlberg who was one of the speakers at a conference held in Copenhagen last Friday. I talked with her under and after the conference about the Swedish situation, and it is quite clear, that Sweden is one of the only countries in the world who knows what is going on in their sexindustry. Their sexindustry has moved to the internet as everywhere else in the world. There is nothing hidden in that.

      The sextrade in Sweden is not more hidden than the sextrade elsewhere and it is still a myth that it is more underground or more violent than before the criminalization.  The police knows exactly what is going on at the internet.
      If you wants to see hidden prostitution then go to Netherland, New Zealand, Germany or Australia. They have hidden underground and illegal prostitution.

      I don’t understand why people aren’t a bit more critical about where and what they read about the Swedish legislation. And no, Sweden is not a small country – the population is approx. 9,5 million people but they have less than 1/3 prostitutes than for instance Denmark, whose last survey last year showed at least 3500 prostitutes in Denmark and who constantly has new trafficking cases in the media.
      “If you going to hire body guards …….”  a bodyguard also known as a pimp wants money – who is going to pay him? The prostitute? And how is she going to earn that money? More customers?  Do you really think, that the the prostitutes wants to work even harder for less money because a legalisation will – as it has done in all the other countries with legalised prostitution – dump the prizes, so that the women has to take even more customers just to make the same amount of money as before. 
      The only winners of a legalisation is the pimps, brothel owners and of course the customers, who is still violent and abusive.

      By the way – why is it so, that when we speaks about prostitution – for or against a legalisation – the only successcriteria is zero prostitution, no prostitutes at all if the law should be considered as a success? As far as I know, there is no law in the world that ever has been a 100% success – not even the law against theft, rape or murder. But noone is talking about making theft, rape or murder legal.

      Of course its the rich and welthy who buy sex – and its the poor who sells it – like the aboriginal women (AWAN) – who wants to ban the sexbuyers.