C-36 and the prostitution debate

The Liberals oppose the bill


While Independent MP Brent Rathgeber has his doubts and Conservative MP Brad Trost considers the government’s prostitution legislation to be “illogical,” the Liberal caucus has apparently deemed the bill unsupportable. Here is the statement issued just now by the Liberal leader’s office.

The Liberal Party of Canada is opposing C-36. We have serious concerns that this legislation fails to comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the requirements outlined by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Bedford decision. We are also concerned that this legislation fails to adequately protect the health and safety of vulnerable people, particularly women.

We have called on the government to produce evidence of the legal opinions they sought in drafting this legislation; the Conservatives continue to refuse to release this information.

We also note that the government has refused to submit this legislation as a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada in order to determine its constitutional validity.

Alan Young, the Osgoode law professor and lawyer who represented the sex workers involved in the successful Bedford challenge, wrote last week to Justice Minister Peter MacKay to request both that the bill be referred to the Court and that the minister provide any opinion that was prepared by the justice department.

Letter by Prof. Alan Young – Prostitution Legislation

As of yesterday, the minister had not yet seen the letter. But he seemed to ignore the suggestion that any legal opinions be released when the NDP’s Francoise Boivin suggested as much during the first hour of debate on the bill (though he had earlier assured the House that there was a section of the department that reviews each bill before it is introduced, which is at least nice to know).


C-36 and the prostitution debate

  1. Seems that Professsor Young calls for MP MacKay to release, not just any legal opinion prepared for the gov’t from the Justice Dept. on their proposed legislation, but “pursuant to s.4.1 of the Dept of Justice Act”. In other words, there is a statute compelling MacKay for a very specific document to be produced. Not just any opinion from the Dept. of Justice lawyers. PURSUANT to s.4.1 OF THE DEPT. OF JUSTICE ACT. That’s what the public and Parliament needs to see if we’re to debate this with transparency. The legal opinion by Justice dept lawyers pursuant to that act. Specifically.

    And referring to the Supreme Court for an opinion? That’s not calling for a legal challenge. This is different. The evidence was already before the court, accumulated by many Canadian researchers, ruled on by all levels of court and took years for the courts to read over and weigh. Now Harper can, out of respect for Canadians and our court system, ask the Supreme Court for their opinion on whether his/MacKay’s legislation has a rational connection to the evidence that was before them which prompted them to strike down the previous law. And Harper can do this PURSUANT to s.53 of the SUPREME COURT OF CANADA ACT. If he had respect for Canadians. If he had respect for the rule of law.