2nd Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 149, Issue 68

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
The Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin, Speaker pro tempore


Sex Trade Industry

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Leader, everybody knows the harmful effects of prostitution, but I had understood that we were not going to prosecute the prostitute, the victim, the person who was exploited.

Now this bill says we are not going to, but yes, we are going to if it’s in a public place. If there are two young women standing to sell their services and one is under 18 and one is 19, we will prosecute the 19-year-old because she’s next to an underage person. Is that the kind of law we will have? We will prosecute some victims and we won’t prosecute others. Is that the Canadian model?


Senator Carignan: I think you will agree with us that it is important to ensure that children under 18 are not exposed to the scourge of prostitution or drawn into this practice. I see that you are eager to debate Bill C-36 —

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Order, please

Senator Carignan: In the fall, when this bill comes to us, we will have the opportunity to study it in committee and see all its ins and outs. I hope the bill will convince you to take a non-partisan approach, as you seem to have wanted to do for a long time. I hope you will vote in favour of this bill that was welcomed by the Conseil du statut de la femme, which, and I quote:

. . .favourably [received] the federal government’s bill on prostitution that punishes pimps and johns and decriminalizes prostitutes. . .


Senator Jaffer: Leader, I don’t know what you mean by “status of women.” Do you mean the Minister of Status of Women? There isn’t a group like “status of women.”

Leader, I want to go to another part of what you said, which was that $20 million has been set aside to help women who are vulnerable. In this Canadian model, are there criteria set up to help women who are most vulnerable?


Senator Carignan: The Conseil du statut de la femme is a provincial organization that was created in Quebec and whose objective is to promote and defend the rights of women in particular.


This is an important advisory body that was created and provides opinions on issues affecting women in particular. This organization is chaired by Julie Miville-Dechêne, a former journalist and Radio-Canada ombudsman.

As far as the $20 million envelope is concerned, we allocated it to support community organizations that help the most vulnerable prostitutes. It is a question of ensuring that the money goes directly where the services are provided by the community organizations that are best qualified to help people, and that these funds do not get lost in red tape.

Senator Jaffer: I thank the Leader of the Government for his clarification on the Conseil du statut de la femme in Quebec.


Leader, we are saying this is a Canadian model. For months and months, we have been asking for a national inquiry of the most vulnerable of the most vulnerable in Canada — Aboriginal women. What will be done under this $20 million? What criteria will be set up to help the most vulnerable women? So far we haven’t done much. What will we do to protect those women?


Senator Carignan: We will continue to work on the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women precisely as we said we would in our previous answers to these questions. What is more, the Native Women’s Association publicly supported the bill and invited Canada’s parliamentarians to vote in favour of it.

I would like to add to the answer I gave earlier to Senator Jaffer’s question on the Native Women’s Association.

On June 4, 2014, the Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution — a pan-Canadian coalition seeking equality for women — which includes the Native Women’s Association of Canada, said that it was, and I quote:

. . .hopeful seeing the new law addresses the core harm of prostitution — the buying, the commodification and the pimping of women’s bodies.

That was the organization I was referring to.