2nd Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 149, Issue 87

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Second Reading

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Batters, seconded by the Honourable Senator Beyak, for the second reading of Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise to speak at second reading of Bill C-36, an Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, better known by the short name, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. As honourable senators are aware, the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs did a pre-study of Bill C-36, and I would like to thank Senator Batters, the sponsor of the bill, for the extensive work she has already done on it.

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I have always believed that the House of Commons votes on bills with consideration of the rights of the majority and that the Senate was created to protect the rights of minorities. I believe that our role is to protect the most marginalized and the rights of minorities.

Honourable senators, I would first like to outline the fundamental changes that Bill C-36 brings forward. The Minister of Justice stated explicitly that this bill will make prostitution illegal in Canada. For the first time, prostitution will be illegal in Canada under Bill C-36.

Bill C-36 is rooted in the belief that all sex workers are victims. Justice Minister Peter MacKay stated that the bill “treats sellers as victims of sexual exploitation, victims who need assistance in leaving prostitution.” This is the foundation of Bill C-36. Its value rests in treating this assumption as fact, yet this is inconsistent with what we heard over the past few months at the House Justice Committee hearings, at the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee pre-study and in the respective discussions that followed.

We heard that some sex workers choose to be in this industry. In fact, that is the primary reason that Terri-Jean Bedford, Valerie Scott and Amy Lebovich took their case to the Supreme Court in the first place in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford. As active sex workers, in that they choose sex work as their profession, they found their Charter protections being violated by the existing laws in Canada.

The Supreme Court of Canada, our highest court, ruled in their favour. The court found that those who actively choose to pursue sex work are also entitled to the same Charter protections as the rest of our citizens. Thus, the existing laws that violated these rights will cease to be in effect this December. By ruling that these laws violate the rights of these active sex workers, the Supreme Court implicitly acknowledges that there are people in this industry by their own intention; but the foundation of Bill C-36 rejects this claim.

I would like to pause and reflect on this concept in a more detail because I believe that this is the fundamental issue at play with this proposed legislation, especially given the conversations that have surrounded it. The Minister of Justice, his officials and supporters of this bill in its current form all believe that sex workers, in every circumstance, are victims.

Honourable senators, I understand the misperception made by these individuals. In fact, I can greatly empathize with their point of view because I believed that as well until last September. For the whole summer and into the fall, I have talked to many people in Vancouver and Ontario about this bill. I learned many things that I wasn’t aware of before, and that is why I have changed my position and now believe that sex workers should be protected; and this bill will not protect them.

Honourable senators, when I walk on the streets with outreach workers and see what the effect of this bill will be, it has really troubled me. I have to say it took me a long time to come to the realization that sex work can be an active choice. My life, my experiences and my society had framed all sex work around the victimization of predominantly women.

After countless meetings with sex workers and sex worker advocacy groups, and over the duration of the pre-study in the Senate Legal and Constitution Affairs Committee, I now understand that there are two types of people in sex work: those who are victims — people who are exploited or coerced — and those who are there by their own active, conscious intention. How do I know this? I asked that very question to a panel of sex workers. I asked them to tell me if they identified as victims. Some sex workers said they did not feel like victims. There was a resounding “no” from a panel of sex workers, who worked in the industry by choice, at the pre-study by the Senate Legal Committee. They refuted this claim and rejected identifying themselves as victims.

Honourable senators, I would like to dispel a few myths that this victimization of sex workers rests upon. No one in this chamber or in any legislative capacity is saying that we should condone the exploitation of any member of our society. But this bill has been masquerading as something it is not. It is not there to protect the victims of the sex trade. We already have legislation in place for that. This is not an anti-trafficking bill or a sexual assault bill.

For example, there was a lot of testimony over the span of the hearings before the House Justice Committee and the Senate Legal Committee about the exploitation of girls under the age of 18 to be trafficked into the sex trade. Honourable senators, it is already illegal in Canada to do this. It is illegal to traffic any person, including an underage person. It is also illegal to exploit any person, including an underage person.

The concerns of human trafficking are real. It is a cruel industry. The most trafficked commodity in the world today is people. This is a brutal and dehumanizing industry that needs to be stopped; but this bill does not legislate against that. Anti-trafficking laws are engrained already in our Criminal Code.

Supporters of Bill C-36 also claim that it will protect the most vulnerable members of society, especially those vulnerable to sex trafficking. We know that Aboriginal women are disproportionately targeted in the forced-sex trade; but this bill will not increase the safeguards for these Aboriginal women.

When I walked on the streets in Vancouver and spoke to the women who are in this business, they told me there was nothing in the bill that would protect them and, in fact, it would hurt them. To be clear, allow me to restate my point: this is not a bill about sex trafficking; this is a bill about sex work — consensual sex work between consensual adults, not forced-sex labour. All of the issues I just outlined are of incredible importance and deserve to be given more attention.

Honourable senators, I firmly believe, after hearing witnesses’ testimonies, that we need to allocate more resources to protecting these vulnerable members of our society. This bill will not achieve this, because that is not its purpose and those groups are not its primary focus. That is another conversation for another day that I firmly believe we need to have.

The legislation in place combating these atrocities, such as trafficking, should be bolstered, or initiatives supporting those important laws should be given more attention. The government should demonstrate that they are serious about supporting them. I believe that a good place to start would be for the government to call an inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women in our country to demonstrate they are serious about targeting abusers in our communities and to show we are seriously concerned for the welfare of our women.

Making consensual sex work illegal is not going to stop these acts of exploitation from happening — they are already happening underground. These are not legal acts. Sexual exploitation, underage exploitation, human trafficking — none of these are legal in Canada and they will remain illegal, with or without this bill. I strongly support that.

As honourable senators know, I am a dedicated advocate against human trafficking and have worked closely for many years with organizations doing wonderful work around the world to stop trafficking and help trafficked victims regain their freedom. One such organization is the International Justice Mission. It is no secret that one of the primary reasons humans are trafficked is for forced sexual labour. I, like everyone in this chamber, reject that repulsive activity and will continue to fight against it in every way I am able to do so.

The distinction between real victims of the sex trade and sex workers who choose to be there by their own intention is a distinction that I cannot emphasize enough.

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Victims of underage abuse, sex trafficking and any other form of sexual or human exploitation are protected under already existing legislation in Canada. To say that we are now, with Bill C-36, going to be protecting those victims is a false claim. It is misleading and it is attempting to change the conversation around the legislation to something else. It is hiding behind the rhetoric while at the same time making it more difficult for the individuals who choose to be sex workers to be safe.

Ms. Valerie Scott, the legal coordinator at Sex Professionals of Canada, and also one the people who took the Bedford case to the Supreme Court of Canada, testified before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs at the pre-study of Bill C-36 in early September. Testifying before my colleagues and myself, she put it quite bluntly:

The debate about Bill C-36 has been hijacked by individuals and groups who have focused on the evils of human trafficking and child exploitation. However, none of those laws were challenged and none were affected by the Supreme Court decision [in Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford]. This deliberate misdirection has taken the focus off what we should be discussing, which is how the proposed law will affect consensual adult sex work.

I would like to spend the remainder of my time speaking to how these individuals will be affected by the proposed legislation.

Honourable senators, these are the individuals that the Supreme Court called on us to better protect when it ruled in Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford. Bill C-36 in its current form does not improve their security. In fact, it threatens to worsen their security.

Honourable senators will remember that the Bedford decision was ruled in December 2013. The case was brought by Terri Jean Bedford, Valerie Scott and Amy Lebovich. The act of trading sex for money is currently not illegal in Canada, but certain activities surrounding this trade are. These women brought forward three sections that they found violated their constitutional rights: Section 210, which makes it illegal to be an inmate of a bawdy house or be an owner/ landlord, et cetera; section 212(1)(j) which makes it illegal to live on the avails of another person’s prostitution; and section 213(1)(c), which makes it illegal to stop, attempt to stop or communicate with someone in a public place for the purpose of engaging in prostitution or hiring a prostitute.

The Supreme Court ruled in their favour. They stated that these women are entitled to their own security while functioning in their role as a sex worker. Those are the three provisions that will be suspended in December this year.

In the Supreme Court decision of Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, the Supreme Court was clear in its principle of the protection of women. Within the context of Bedford and Bill C-36, ensuring the protection of women includes creating laws around prostitution that do not render the trade of sex for money more dangerous for the vulnerable women or persons involved. In the other words, within this context, the way in which the government will protect women is to not exacerbate that already dangerous act of prostitution through law. To borrow from the Supreme Court ruling itself, it states:

The applicants are not asking the government to put into place measures making prostitution safe. Rather, they are asking this Court to strike down legislative provisions that aggravate the risk of disease, violence and death.

For me, honourable senators, all summer when I worked on this issue and when I studied the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada, the most important paragraph for me, the kernel of the judgment, was paragraph 89. It states:

It makes no difference that the conduct of pimps and johns is the immediate source of the harms suffered by prostitutes. The impugned laws deprive people engaged in a risky, but legal, activity of the means to protect themselves against those risks. The violence of a john does not diminish the role of the state in making a prostitute more vulnerable to that violence.

Honourable senators, Bill C-36 does not satisfy this role. Instead it is attempting to mirage as a bill that protects vulnerable members of our society. No one is suggesting that we remove any legislation that exists to work against these societal evils, but criminalizing consensual sex workers will not achieve the goal. Making it harder for sex workers to execute their job will not reduce the demand or the supply of sex work. Instead, it will force it underground and worsen the conditions of these individuals.

We have heard from many sex workers that they have said this bill will only make their safety conditions worse. This is the exact opposite of what the Supreme Court decision in Bedford attempted to achieve.

Honourable senators, I want to be clear: The government has a responsibility to protect the safety of sex workers, those that are there by choice. Bill C-36 does not address this, to ensure the protection of these women. In fact, it will reduce their safety.

Honourable senators, I would like to take a closer look at what Bill C-36 seeks to achieve. Minister MacKay has stated that Bill C-36 will reduce prostitution. I am in support of this goal. I believe that sex work should be reduced so there are no victims in this industry. If the sex industry is reduced to only women and men who are choosing to be in sex work, then that is the ideal. No one should be exploited for their bodies. But even Department of Justice officials acknowledged that people who continue to engage in prostitution need to be protected by the government. I quote Mr. Piragoff at the House of Commons hearings. He said:

The overall objective of Bill C-36 is to reduce prostitution, discourage entry into prostitution, and to deter participation. It also recognizes that the process of trying to deter prostitution is not an easy avenue, and that in the course of that people who engage in prostitution and selling sexual services need to be protected.

I entirely agree and support him on this point.

I would like to point out that by striking down the existing laws that violated the constitutional rights of sex workers, the Supreme Court indicated the rights of these individuals. We have a duty and obligation to protect these rights, and Department of Justice officials who drafted Bill C-36 are aware of this fact.

While Bill C-36 states the aim of reducing prostitution, there are no clear provisions for how this will be achieved. How will it create more economic options for the individuals who use this to financially support themselves or their families? Where are the support systems that will actually do this, and where is the funding for this support?

Imagine being a woman or a man trying to provide for your family and your chosen profession provides you with a reasonable income, but it is a job reliant on clients. Suppose your client base was cut dramatically and all that remained were the clients that you turned down to work for because they would harass you, make you uncomfortable, or even harm you. By criminalizing the client, we will not be making it safer for women to screen clients or create sufficiently secure working conditions. By criminalizing the client — the purchaser of the services — the government is putting the onus on the sex worker to protect the identity of the client in order to still have work.

There is no evidence that reducing the client base will reduce demand or that it will result in an end to prostitution. We all know that prostitution has been with us since time immemorial. The only thing guaranteed is that the clients who remain will be dominated by those who are comfortable with the criminal world. I am functioning on an assumption here, but I believe it is safe to say that these clients will pose more of a risk to sex workers than clients who are not comfortable in engaging in a criminal behaviour.

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Again, I would like to borrow from Ms. Scott’s testimony:

In 2001, the City of Montreal adopted a version of the Nordic model.

This is basically what Bill C-36 is doing. This model relies on criminalizing the act of purchasing sex, not selling it.

Police exclusively targeted clients for arrest. During the three-month period following the crackdown, Stella, a Montreal sex worker rights organization, documented a threefold increase in violent attacks against sex workers and a fivefold increase in attacks with a deadly weapon.

She went on to describe a case in my home province of British Columbia:

In 2013, the City of Vancouver made the Nordic model their official policy, although it had been their practice for five years. Last June, the BMJ Open reported that the result of this Canadian experiment to criminalize clients was to expose sex workers to health and safety risks. This happened because, to avoid police detection, sex work was displaced into isolated areas. Time for screening and negotiation was practically eliminated and workers were unable to access police protections.

She concluded this line of thought with a powerful message:

It is clear that it doesn’t matter whether you criminalize the sex worker or the client, the results are the same.

We need to look at this situation under any other circumstance. Making the purchasers of this industry the ones willing to break the law is not an effective way of ensuring the safety of sex workers.

Honourable senators, I fear that sex workers will be further deterred to go to the police to disclose any abuse that happens behind closed doors, because they know their clients will be charged and they will likely lose a client base, making their selection even smaller and higher risk. I will again remind you that government’s role is to reduce the risk for sex workers and to ensure their safety.

A pivotal component of ensuring the safety of Canadians is ensuring a healthy relationship between citizens and our law enforcement officials. Yet, at this point, we know that this type of criminalization will only foster a lack of trust between the two parties. A healthy relationship between these two groups will not be cultivated with the implementation of Bill C-36, and that in itself threatens the safety of sex workers.

Now I come to what I believe is the biggest problem with Bill C-36. The minister has said that sex workers are not going to be made vulnerable to being criminalized — yet section 213 of Bill C-36 does that explicitly. Section 213(1) of Bill C-36 maintains that:

Everyone is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction who, in a public place or in any place open to public view, for the purpose of offering, providing or obtaining sexual services for consideration . . . .

This restriction prevents sex workers from procuring safety measures. As outlined in Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford in paragraph 69:

The application judge found that face-to-face communication is an “essential tool” in enhancing street prostitutes’ safety.

Section 213(1)(c) goes further. It places restrictions on communication in a public place to provide sexual services. As outlined in paragraph 70 of Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford:

The application judge also found that the communicating law has had the effect of displacing prostitutes from familiar areas, where they may be supported by friends and regular customers, to more isolated areas, thereby making them more vulnerable.

Bill C-36 would continue to make sex workers susceptible to this vulnerability.

While the House of Commons Justice Committee amended the section from a restriction that banned discussing the sale of sex anywhere children could “reasonably” be expected to be, to the newly amended form which states it cannot be discussed at or near a “playground, school, or daycare,” the restriction placed here is still relevant. The implications of this wording are the same as the initial provision that was struck down by the Supreme Court.

Additionally, Bill C-36 criminalizes the purchaser of sex but not the seller. But as the provider is intrinsically linked to the relationship with the purchaser, it seems that this will not actually immunize the sex worker. And a close reading of section 213 further confirms that the sex worker will not be immune from criminalization.

Honourable senators, I will attempt to make an amendment at third reading. I am just bringing this to your attention as we have had a pre-study of this bill.

To this end, I would like to propose one simple amendment: the complete removal of section 213 of Bill C-36. Based on the decision in Bedford, this section will not hold, and until it has the chance to be challenged again in court, it will subject too many to the harmful effects of this legislation. This is my primary concern with this bill, and many others agree with me.

Honourable senators, I live in Vancouver. Over the summer I had many dealings with women who had been at the Pickton farm, women whose friends and relatives were killed at the Pickton farm. The women tell me that this will again send them to the Pickton farm. Honourable senators, we in this chamber have to protect these women.

This section has been repeatedly addressed by both supporters and explicit opponents of the bill as something that needs to be at minimum amended, and ideally removed. Sex workers cannot be criminalized under any circumstances if we want to adequately protect them.

We have a responsibility to protect these individuals, as made clear in the Bedford decision. The men and women who choose to be sex workers have made it clear — criminalizing the sex worker under any circumstance would do more harm than good. If the minister is serious about the protection of these women, he will remove this section.

The Minister of Justice himself has acknowledged that government has a responsibility to the safety of those who choose to remain in sex work. Criminalizing the sex worker, under any circumstance of the transaction, would prevent us from delivering our responsibility to the Canadian people.

Ms. Scott outlined what the work behind Bedford was for. As a result of the tireless work done by these three women to fight for their rights, I would like to share with you what she said:

After the Supreme Court ruling, we were hoping to be able to implement occupational health and safety rules, labour law protections, work with the Canada Revenue Agency and develop pension plans. We can all forget that under Bill C-36, because Bill C-36 is based on legal moralism and the politics of disgust. An entire group of Canadians who are working in what is still a legal occupation will once again be forced to work on the run and under the gun, simply because we have consensual adult sex outside of proscribed family value settings.

Honourable senators, we have a responsibly to think critically as we consider the legislation before us. As I have stated many times, we in this chamber have a responsibility to protect the rights of all minorities. We have a responsibility to think beyond our personal biases, our narrow understandings of matters in our society; to look at the reality of the situation in front of us; to use reason over emotion.

We all know that sex work exists. We all know that after Bill C-36, sex work will exist. Sex work is not going to disappear. Therefore, we cannot ignore the voices of Valerie Scott, Terri Jean Bedford, Maxime Durocher and other sex workers that appeared before us at the Senate pre-study that stated very clearly that they do not identify themselves as victims. We cannot ignore the voices of the other Canadians who have chosen sex work as their profession. The reality is that consensual sex work exists. As a result, we have a duty to protect their safety, to make sure that their constitutional rights are upheld.

This bill is going to have a profound effect on the lives of these Canadians, and their safety matters to us. Every citizen has a right to security of life. If we pass Bill C-36 as it currently exists, we will be threatening this security for consensual sex workers in Canada.

Honourable senators, I ask you, is this really what we want the impact of our legislation to be?

I urge you to carefully consider the implications of this bill. I am aware that this bill will now be sent to committee, and I urge you to take all the time possible to really study this bill. That is our responsibility. Thank you.

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Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Hon. Denise Batters: Will the Honourable Senator Jaffer take a question? You quoted extensively in your speech from Valerie Scott, who testified before our Senate committee, and you referenced her as delivering a powerful message. To me, when she testified before us, I thought one of the most potent messages she relayed was how she wanted to be a prostitute from the time she was little girl. I found that statement extremely shocking.

She referred to the old western saloon girls she used to watch on television. I told her when I questioned her that I thought that was very offensive. This is not Pretty Woman, and Richard Gere is not coming to sweep you off your feet. I come from Saskatchewan, a place where the average prostitute is probably a 14-year-old Aboriginal girl who has been beat up by her pimp that morning and is likely drug-addicted.

I also referenced the Supreme Court of Canada judgment where Valerie Scott admitted, as well at our committee, that she wanted to open a brothel after the successful completion of the Bedford judgment.

When I spoke to this bill on the Thursday before we broke, I indicated that if Bill C-36 means that the tiny minority of people who claim to freely choose prostitution as their profession cannot do so, then that is the necessary result of protecting the vast majority of vulnerable people exploited by prostitution.

Senator Jaffer, you have an extensive background in human rights, and to me prostitution is an inherently gendered, racist and unequal practice. I wonder how you can support the position that you’ve just enunciated.

When Trisha Baptie was before our committee, a former prostitute, she was talking about whether prostitution was consensual, and she stated:

Money does not equal consent. . . . Whatever the reason we found ourselves out there, men took advantage of that inequality, that desperation, for their own sexual gratification, and they used their money to appease their guilt.

How can you support that particular position in light of all of that?

Senator Jaffer: Senator Batters, you were not in the chamber when I thanked you for the work you have done, and I know you’ve worked really hard on this issue. I understand what you’re saying.

When I started in June, when I knew I was going to be the critic of the bill, in talking to people the first thing I said was that I’m an activist on this issue. When the Nordic model was being set up I went to Sweden and worked with many women on the Nordic model. I was a fan of that model. Immediately I would say that I am in favour of this bill because I believe it will protect women.

Throughout the summer, I met with many women. It has been a very difficult summer for me because — since you asked, I wasn’t going to say it — I’ve had to examine my personal beliefs. I’m a Muslim woman brought up in a very conservative manner with certain specific ideas. For me, this was a world I had never visited before, and I did not know of the existence of many things I saw this summer.

By the time September came I had a very tough decision to make. As a human rights activist, I cannot decide whose human rights I protect. That is not my job. My job as a senator is to protect everybody’s human rights.

I’ve had to do a lot of personal growth, because this is not something that my biases are open to. But I have realized that if I am to look at myself in the mirror, I cannot say that I will wake up today and protect the rights of women who are like me, who look like me and who need protection. I have to protect the rights of all women of Canada.

Hon. Linda Frum: Just a follow-up point on Senator Jaffer’s last statement, because we all respect and admire her work on human rights.

I appreciate that this has probably not been an easy bill for you to be critic on. Do I extrapolate from what you just said that it is a human right for men to buy women’s bodies, or it is a human right for a woman to be able to sell her body? Is that a human right?

Senator Jaffer: That’s a very difficult thing, because I’ve always worked on issues of exploitation of women. That’s why, first, I believed that there shouldn’t be any prostitution, but that was when I was younger and didn’t know enough. I realized that we will never be rid of prostitution. Then I worked with Swedish female parliamentarians. Just as a matter of interest, the reason the Nordic model came through is because they had a lot of female parliamentarians in Sweden who were able to bring in the Nordic model.

Now, when I’ve been reading all the studies of how the Nordic model is not working and is harming women, I have been re-examining my own values.

Senator Frum, Senator Batters, we sat through those hearings. It has absolutely torn me apart. That’s probably one reason I have become sick. It has absolutely torn me apart, because my whole belief system is that women should not be exploited for money. That’s my belief system.

But after talking to hundreds of sex workers, especially in Vancouver, I have also come to understand that I have to rise above my belief system and that sex work will not disappear.

Then what is my job as a senator? My job as a senator, as a human rights activist, is to make sure those women — I’m not talking about trafficking or exploitation, but those women and men who choose to be in the trade — I, as a senator who is supposed to protect the rights of minorities, must also find a way to protect the rights of those people.

Hon. David Tkachuk: I know part of the rationale that you used in your speech was that this will not eradicate prostitution. All the law does is say this is what society says about this particular act. It could be a speeding car or the thievery of a 7-Eleven. We don’t eradicate any of those things from society totally. They all exist; it’s just that society has said that we don’t approve of this behaviour and therefore we want to discourage it in every way we can. There is no law on the books that eradicates a criminal act. We don’t have any of those. I keep hearing that argument and I don’t quite understand it.

Senator Jaffer: Senator Tkachuk, thank you for giving me this opportunity.

I have often said when I’ve been working on bills that a bill alone will not eradicate prostitution; it has to be a comprehensive approach. I agree with you.

Let me give you an example. When I came to this country 40 years ago, I would attend parties where there would be drinking and then we would drive. I’m sorry to say this and I’m not very proud of this behaviour, but we would ignore a person who would drink and drive. Then laws were set up to stop that behaviour, but it didn’t stop there. Then we had education programs; we had comprehensive ways to deal with this behaviour.

Over the 40 years that I’ve been in this country we have changed our attitude. We have changed the way we look at drinking and driving. So it is not just the law. It’s a comprehensive way of educating and providing resources to change people’s attitudes.

What I find most offensive about this bill is the way the minister gets up and says that Bill C-36 will eradicate prostitution. It will not. We have to have a comprehensive approach.

Tomorrow I will get on another bill and have an opportunity to explain what I mean by a “comprehensive effort” that I’ve seen in other parts of the world to eradicate this kind of behaviour.

What I’m saying is that this bill alone is not enough. Just providing $4 million a year is not enough.

Manitoba on its own spent $8 million to deal with this problem. Canada-wide we are going to provide $4 million. If we are serious about changing people’s attitudes about prostitution, we have to, yes, have the bill, and we have to provide comprehensive ways in which we can help women get out of the trade.

I work in Calcutta, India. There, we recruit women who are in sex work. We have set up garment factories. Canadian church groups have set up garment factories that will enable the women in the sex trade to go and work in the garment factories.

We have to have a comprehensive approach. Bill C-36 will not do it.

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Hon. George Baker: Would Senator Jaffer agree that the bill itself is very confusing? There is now a preamble. You don’t normally see a preamble in criminal law, but there’s a preamble that says that prostitution should not be taking place and here is the reason that it shouldn’t take place. Then, when you look at the bill, as the minister pointed out, because of the Supreme Court of Canada decision, we’re now going to allow prostitutes to carry on their business in their homes. The minister said we are now going to allow prostitutes to carry on their business in their apartments. They can hire a receptionist now. They can hire a guard now. They can hire a driver now. They are now free because they’re all excepted. There’s an exception at the end of each clause that excepts those who are prostituting themselves.

You have a preamble against. You have the content of the bill allowing prostitutes to carry on their business. Then you have a speech by the minister saying that, for the first time in Canadian history, the act of prostitution will be made illegal and unlawful.

Would you agree that most Canadians would say, “Look, if you’re going to make it illegal, make it illegal. If you’re going to make it legal, make it legal. But don’t give us such a confusing bill as the one we have before us?” Would you agree with that?

Senator Jaffer: Senator Baker, you are the dean of this committee. I can’t say it any better than you have. I will give you one example.

Last week, I was talking to women in a number of massage parlours, saying, “Look, you will still be able to do what you are doing, but now you can do it from your home.” One of the things that I heard from woman after woman is, “Are you kidding? If we worked in our homes, we would be evicted. We’re not going to be able to work in our homes, and we’re not going to be able to work in the massage parlour, because that may become illegal. We are working in a safe place, protected. If there are any issues, we have a bell to get support. From all that, now we will be thrown out on the street because this bill will destroy the security under which we are working.”

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: There are two more minutes in the time allotted to Senator Jaffer.

Hon. Jacques Demers: Honourable senators, we have to start somewhere. I am a father of three daughters and have a granddaughter who is going to be 14. I had the opportunity last year to spend a night with a police officer in some of the toughest places in the city of Montreal. For those who know Montreal, it was at the corner of Sainte-Catherine and Saint-Laurent. There was also a woman police officer.

We are starting something, or hoping to start something, because street gangs are totally controlling these young girls. Their parents are divorced, or the mother and father are both on drugs. They’re on the street. There’s nobody to protect them. They don’t want to do that. That’s not something they want to do.

We have to start somewhere. When you start to build a house, you start with the basement, and it takes time. Eventually, you close the roof and you move in. We have to start somewhere and be very specific and precise, and we have to save our young kids.

If a woman of 35 years decides to be a prostitute, I have no control over that. I’m worried about the young kids in our society. The baby boomers are moving on, and there are more young girls in school, 14, and street gangs are following them home after school, because their parents are not there, and they give them drugs and the next thing you know — that’s my biggest concern. A lot of us should be concerned about that. Thank you very much.

Senator Jaffer: Senator Demers, I agree 100 per cent with what you have said. I have spent my life working on those issues. Even now, I am working on these issues, and tomorrow, on another bill, I will speak about that. I don’t have the time now.

I’m talking about what you just mentioned: the 35-year-old woman who is making the choice. I don’t want her to be thrown out on the street and have no security. That’s the person I’m speaking about.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Seeing no senators rising, are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

An Hon. Senator: On division.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: On division.

(Motion agreed to and bill read second time, on division.)

Referred to Committee

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: When shall this bill be read the third time?

(On motion of Senator Batters, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.)

Honourable senators, being an Ismaili is more than just a religion I follow, and a Jamatkhana is more than just a place of worship. Both are very important pieces of my identity, which I would be lost without.

Canada is the only country in the world where His Highness has built two high-profile Jamatkhanas. I would like to once again thank His Highness the Aga Khan for choosing Canada to build the two Ismaili Centres and the Aga Khan Museum.

Your Highness, you have enriched Canada, and we thank you for your largess.

 

One Response to October 21 2014 Second Reading Bill C-36

  1. […] leader Elizabeth May who has called for decriminalization; in the Senate of Canada, where Senator Mobina Jaffer actually listened to and spoke with sex workers, changing her mind in the process from being a […]

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