Janine Benedet & Alice Lee on Canada’s proposed prostitution legislation, Bill C-36

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In 2007, lawyer, Alan Young, initiated a case challenging Canada’s prostitution laws as unconstitutional. After the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the laws criminalizing pimping, communicating for the purposes of prostitution, and running a brothel, the federal government was given a year to come up with new laws.

Bill C-36, The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, was unveiled on June 4th. Justice Minister Peter MacKay called it a “uniquely Canadian response.” The Bill explicitly targets demand and exploitation, criminalizing those who buy sex and those who profit from the exploitation of prostitutes. It also prohibits advertising sexual services unless a person is advertising their own services. One provision that is concerning to many advocates is that the proposed legislation would criminalize communicating for the purposes of prostitution in a public place “where persons under the age of 18 can reasonably be expected to be present.”

In this episode, I speak with Janine Benedet, lawyer for the Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution, and Alice Lee, a member of Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution (AWCEP), about the bill. We also hear a short clip from an interview with Justice Minister Peter MacKay, by Cormac MacSweeney for Maclean’s on the Hill podcast.

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