Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights Wednesday, July 9, 2014 Chair

Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights Wednesday, July 9, 2014 Chair
Standing Committee on Justice and Human
Rights
JUST
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NUMBER 039
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2nd SESSION
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EVIDENCE
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Chair
Mr. Mike Wallace
41st PARLIAMENT
1
Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
● (1305)
[English]
The Chair (Mr. Mike Wallace (Burlington, CPC)): I'm going to
call this meeting to order.
Because of the men, I cannot have a child normally, because of
trauma towards my cervix. Also, still to this day I have nightmares,
and sometimes I sleep with the lights on. My trauma is deep, and I
sometimes feel as though I'm frozen—or even worse, I feel damaged
and not worthy.
This is the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
We're at meeting 39, and this meeting is being televised.
Our order of reference of Monday, June 16, 2014, is the
examination 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.
In this panel we have from Sextrade101, Mrs. Perrier, a cofounding member. We have Professor Atchinson—I think I can call
you professor—from the department of sociology at the University
of Victoria. And by video conference we have three people: Michelle
Miller from Resist Exploitation, Embrace Dignity, from British
Columbia; Ms. Lang, as an individual, also from British Columbia;
and Madam Dussault, a member from Prostitutes Involved,
Empowered, Cogent—Edmonton.
I was traded in legal establishments, street corners, and strip clubs.
I even had a few trips across the Great Lakes servicing shipmen at
the age of 13. The scariest thing that happened to me was being held
captive for a period of 43 hours and raped and tortured repeatedly at
14 years of age by a sexual predator who preyed on exploited girls.
My exploiters made a lot of money and tried to break me, but I
fought for my life. My first pimp was a woman who owned a legal
brothel, where I was groomed to say that I was her daughter's friend,
if the police ever asked. My second pimp was introduced to me when
I was in Toronto. I had to prostitute for money. He was supposed to
be a bodyguard, but that turned out to be one big lie.
Each group gets approximately 10 minutes.
First to start is Madam Perrier.
The time is yours.
Ms. Bridget Perrier (Co-Founding Member, Sextrade101):
Aanii. First I'd like to acknowledge my standing here on the unceded
traditional territory of the Algonquin First Nation.
I represent Sextrade101 and the many first nations women and
girls who are enslaved in prostitution or trafficked.
My name is Wasayakwe. My English name is Bridget Perrier. I
was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario and placed up for adoption. I was
adopted by a good family who tried to raise me the best way
possible, but as I got older the effects of colonialism, intergenerational trauma, and child sexual abuse made me a perfect candidate
for prostitution.
I was lured and debased into prostitution at the age of 12 from a
child welfare-run group home. I remained enslaved for 10 years in
prostitution. I was sold to men who felt privileged to steal my
innocence and invade my body. I was paraded like cattle in front of
men who were able to purchase me, and the acts that I did were
something no little girl should ever have to endure here in Canada,
the land of the free.
Both are out there still, doing the same thing to more little girls
somewhere here in Canada.
I was able to exit prostitution and rebuild my life, and with that
my education became a tool. I was recognized for my tenacity and
my strength and have been able now to be an asset to my community
and to my people. I am a mother, activist, and warrior woman, and
now my experience may be sacrificial at times, but I am doing it for
Canada's first nations women and girls who are being bought sold
and are disappearing or murdered.
We must look at who is doing this. It's the men.
I have a letter, because my 19-year-old daughter's mom was
murdered by Robert Pickton, and she asked me to read this to you.
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JUST-39
Dear Standing Committee,
My name is Angel Wolfe. My birth mom's name is Brenda Wolfe. My mom was
murdered by Robert Pickton.
Her murder was one of the first six that he was charged with. I was six years old
when she was murdered and nine years old when her jaw bone was found in a pig
trough. I am one of the 98 orphans who were left behind because of that monster.
I do blame the Vancouver Police Department and the RCMP. I believe that Bill
C-36 will save vulnerable women like my mom. I'm sickened that my mom's
death has been used to legalize such indignity and sadness.
I'm also sickened by the term “the Pickton bill”. It's insulting and a slap in the face
to the 98 orphans, and the organizations and the pro-lobby movement should be
really ashamed for speaking on behalf of the families who lost their loved ones.
I blame prostitution and addiction for my mother's death, and on behalf of the 98
orphans, we do not want our mothers' deaths to be the reason prostitution is
legitimized.
July 9, 2014
a victory for survivors and those who are stuck in the vicious cycle
of indignity and pain.
As a sex trade survivor, I thank you so much for giving me the
honour of speaking on behalf of the survivors of Sextrade101 and all
the survivors across Canada, whether they are still in or have exited.
Chi-miigwetch.
Voices: Hear, hear!
The Chair: I'm sorry, this is a place of work. We don't allow
outbursts on either side of the issue.
● (1310)
I will make it my mission in life to carry her story and educate people about
addictions, prostitution and the murdered and the missing.
Sincerely,
Angel Wolfe
Bill C-36 will protect my daughters and the other young girls from
predator johns who have the nerve to solicit in public. Just last week,
my 15-year old niece was propositioned right outside my door.
If prostitution were such a healthy path, then why are the johns not
telling their wives, girlfriends, and families that they use or have
used sexual services from prostitutes?
Sextrade101 believes that prostitution is not a choice, but that it's
lack of choice that keeps women and girls enslaved. We believe
everyone should be shown a viable way out of the sex trade and not
be encouraged to stay in it. We believe in helping people understand
the full price of life in prostitution before they become involved and
in helping women get out alive with their minds, bodies, and lives
intact. We have been collectively afraid, raped, beaten, sold,
discarded. Most of us were also children who were forgotten,
neglected, abused, used, led astray, abandoned, and not protected.
Sextrade101 members and advocates are current and former
prostituted women. We have a huge concern with the criminalization
of prostituted women and girls. We have seen that diversion
programs for prostituted women are not the only solution for
everyone. There needs to be an understanding that supports must be
there when exiting. Forcing support on women who are not ready to
exit can set them up for failure.
Some 85% of Sextrade101 advocates and members have
experienced pimp violence. This is pretty far from the picture
painted by the Supreme Court of Canada, that pimps are nice guys,
These pimps and johns are the problem. They're the ones who abuse
and in some cases kill.
I supported my daughter throughout the missing women inquiry,
and the outcome of it was this: our mothers, sisters, and daughters
are not born to be used and sold for men's sexual needs. We are not
commodities. Our women are sacred. They are valued and loved,
and as life givers and nurturers, we are equal. Let's not forget
equality in this bill.
I applaud Minister MacKay and MP Ms. Joy Smith in recognizing
the inherent dangers and abuses for those who are prostituted. This is
Thank you, Ms. Perrier, for that presentation.
Now, as an individual we will hear from Professor Atchison.
The floor is yours for 10 minutes.
Mr. Chris Atchison (Research Associate, Department of
Sociology, University of Victoria, As an Individual): Thank you.
Thank you for having me here today.
I would like to begin by stating that I am not here as an advocate
for any individual group, organization, or moral position on the sex
industry. I believe the sex industry is incredibly complex, and that in
order to understand it and develop outreach programs and policy to
address the very real issues faced by some people who are in it, we
must listen to the people directly involved, and we must pay
attention to the wealth of rigorous empirical evidence from Canada
and internationally.
It is this empirical evidence that I wish to focus my presentation
on today.
I would also like to be clear from the start that I study and do
research with adults who are involved in the purchase of sexual
services. I do not do research with or study individuals involved in
trafficking or with individuals who are involved with child sexual
exploitation. I will reserve my comments for the study of adult
consensual sexual services today.
I have been researching adults who purchase sexual services, or
clients, and working in a supportive capacity with sex worker
researchers and outreach organizations since 1995. During this time,
I have been a principal investigator on three major studies of clients,
two of which are the largest and most comprehensive investigations
of people who purchase sexual services ever conducted anywhere.
I have also been a co-investigator on three additional studies of
health, safety of off-street sex industry, and provided research,
consult, or advice on six other sex industry projects.
July 9, 2014
JUST-39
Today I want to draw upon the results of my almost 20 years of
research on adults who purchase sexual services.
I would like to address some corporate propositions or provisions
of Bill C-36, the protection of communities and exploited persons
act, in the process.
I would like to begin by addressing the question of whether
prostitution is inherently exploitative.
Certainly, as we have seen, there are particular individuals and
situations that exhibit cruel and unjust exploitative behaviours and
conditions. We cannot deny that. But my research indicates that
these particular individuals and situations exist in a very complex
relationship within the industry, that by and large they are a smaller
portion of the industry—an insidious portion, but a smaller portion.
They do not represent the majority.
My research indicates that many sex workers work independently
and, by extension, the clients I have spoken to maintain that they
always negotiate the exchange of services for money directly with
sex workers. A small percentage negotiate services through a third
party.
The majority of the clients that I have surveyed provide no
indication that they ever threaten, force, coerce, deceive, or abuse a
position of trust or power and authority over a sex worker. This
claim is supported by the research that my colleagues and my sister
project, the understanding sex work project, have done.
Having said this, it is incredibly important to acknowledge that a
minority of clients I have spoken to directly, and surveyed over the
past 20 years, clearly exhibit exploitative behaviours, attitudes, and
beliefs. Some of these include pressuring sex workers into doing
something sexually that they were not prepared to do, refusing to pay
for services, insulting or putting down a sex worker, making
threatening gestures, threatening to destroy sex workers' property,
verbally threatening or assaulting and physically restraining a sex
worker. These things do happen. These things must be stopped.
Again, I emphasize that this is a minority of individuals I have
talked to, and I have talked to almost 3,000 individuals who have
purchased sexual services over the past 18 years.
On a second point, the assumption that all relations that occur
between sex workers and people who purchase sexual services are
exploitative because the balance of power is asymmetrical favouring
the client, this is not supported by the accounts of clients I've
surveyed. Many of the participants in my most recent study indicated
that they either felt the service provider they engaged with had more
control or power, or that the control or power was relatively equally
distributed. A small portion identified that they had more power.
Again, these findings are supported by results from my sister project
that looked directly at sex workers and spoke directly to sex workers.
● (1315)
On the question of violence in the sex industry, in all of my
studies, I've sought to understand issues and instances of violence
and victimization that take place when sexual services are being sold
and purchased. I think that has to be the focus of a lot of research.
We need to understand it, and I have tried to understand it for the
past 18 years.
3
The results of my two most recent large-scale investigations, with
large samples of clients, have produced consistent findings when it
comes to the level of self-reported violence and aggression that they
report committing against sex workers. The majority of interactions
that clients have with sex workers are peaceful. Having said this,
again it is important to point out that a small portion of clients report
having committed violent offences, as defined by the Criminal Code,
against sex workers. This portion of individuals who are involved in
the purchase of sex are clearly a problem.
Non-violent forms of aggression—verbal assault, conflicts that
emerge from misunderstandings, lack of communication, hurried
communication—appear to be far more commonplace than violent
ones. Again, an interesting finding that I've had over the years is that
violence and victimization are not asymmetrical. Many of the clients
I've spoke to over the years have also experienced violent and nonviolent victimization themselves, either at the hands of a sex worker
or at the hands of an industry, owner, manager, madam, or pimp.
My more sophisticated analyses of these findings around violence
reveal that the actual occurrences of violence and victimization in the
sex trade vary significantly across different contexts, specifically
different venues where commercial sexual transactions take place.
The street-based portion of the sex industry seems to be a context
that holds the most potential for violent interactions to occur, and
where concerns around safety for both sex workers and clients are
the greatest. Part of the dangers involved in the street-based industry
are a result of the isolated nature of the locations they are forced to
move to because of their constant fear of arrest, concerns about
community safety, the absence of clear and commonly understood
behavioural norms and regulations, and the increased likelihood that
either the worker or the client will be under the influence of drugs
and alcohol. These same patterns do not appear with the same
regularity in off-street settings.
Criminalizing all buyers of sexual services will make it not only
result in innocent people being marked for life with the label of
criminal, but it will make it significantly more difficult to properly
prevent and address actual acts of violence that do occur in the sex
industry under these conditions. When it comes to wanting those
who engage in prostitution to be encouraged to report acts of
violence and victimization, we would all agree, I think. That's
paramount. If one of the aims of the proposed legislation is to
encourage this reporting, then we need to make sure we do not create
laws that actually discourage it from happening. Research that I have
done indicates the real potential and value of clients in detecting and
reporting violence and other abuses that they witness.
I am puzzled as to why we would criminalize people who are
frequently in the best position to report instances of violence and
victimization that they witness. Moreover, if when purchasing sex a
person is engaged in a criminal activity, we have found that they are
much less likely to report, or less willing to report, instances of
violence. That's a consistent finding throughout all of my research.
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JUST-39
On the assertion that demand for prostitution needs to be curbed
and attitudes and behaviours of sex buyers need to be changed, the
belief that demand is solely responsible for the existence of the sex
industry ignores the fact that in many cases supply produces
demand. It's hypocritical and discriminatory, in a society where sex
and sexuality are used liberally to sell all sorts of goods and services,
to criminalize the purchase of direct contact sexual services, while at
the same time sanctioning the sale of such services. It's highly
unlikely that such a discriminatory law would stand up to the
inevitable and costly challenges under subsection 15(1) of the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Yet another assumption underlying the bill appears to be that
demand can be curbed and attitudes and behaviours can be changed
simply by criminalizing the purchase of sexual services, arresting
and incarcerating and fining the people who engage in such
behaviour. The results of my research indicate that such approaches
simply result in displacing the behaviour to hidden and potentially
more dangerous locales. Furthermore, labelling as criminal people
who pay for sexual services, while at the same time legalizing the
actions of people who sell such services, will create a situation that
some have referred to as “the perfect crime”. People purchasing
sexual services become the legitimate targets of robbery, fraud, theft,
blackmail, and assault, something that we have seen sex workers
experience for the past 30 years.
● (1320)
Finally, the issue of advertising is a very important one. This bill
proposes that advertising and communications be criminalized. The
findings from my research reveal that open and unrestricted
exchange of information between sex workers and clients has
significant implications for clients and subsequent interactions they
have with sex workers. Under the proposed law, I find it hard to see
how conflicts over misunderstandings or disagreements about terms
of service, which are the things that result in violent and non-violent
victimization, would be curbed in any way, shape, or form. Nor do I
feel that under this proposed legislation we would be able to access
them.
The proposal also has potentially negative implications for
outreach, support services, as well as social and health research.
With access to spaces where open and honest communication
between sex workers and buyers is cut off, our ability to identify
unsafe situations or conditions is compromised, and our ability to
reach out to people is severely limited.
I'd just like to conclude by saying I believe a way forward is to
take a strong look at this bill. I believe that we need to reassess the
sections that criminalize the purchase of services and the advertisements. I believe that we should treat the sex industry as any other
industry and regulate it through existing protocol. I recommend, as
others have internationally, that regulatory harm reduction and health
promotion policies be developed and implemented on the basis of
the direct and active contribution of people who are actually
involved in the sex industry, as well as drawing upon empirical
evidence provided by the growing body of ethically and methodologically sound Canadian research that's been done in this area. I
propose that the money that would have been used to detect and
prosecute clients as a class be used to fund combatting the real
July 9, 2014
violence and victimization in targeting the clients who do commit
acts of violence and victimization.
● (1325)
The Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation.
We're now going to the video conference, and our first individual
is from REED, Michelle Miller.
The floor is yours for 10 minutes, Ms. Miller.
Ms. Michelle Miller (Executive Director, Resist Exploitation,
Embrace Dignity (REED)): Good afternoon.
I'm here representing REED, Resist Exploitation, Embrace
Dignity, a faith-rooted women's equality-seeking organization that
offers support to women in prostitution, provides public education,
and addresses the root causes of sexual exploitation.
Over the last nine years we have worked with women who have
been trafficked into the prostitution market in Vancouver from
countries such as China, Mexico, Indonesia, Peru, and others. We
have also supported Canadian women prostituting indoors and
outdoors and those in both high-track and low-track prostitution.
It is from the perspective of a front-line anti-violence worker that I
am speaking this afternoon.
Bill C-36 is a progressive, historic piece of legislation that finally
dares to criminalize the source of harm in prostitution, the johns, and
largely decriminalizes those being exploited.
The bill contains many assertions to be applauded. The preamble
to the bill clearly affirms the inherent violence of prostitution, the
social harm caused by the commodification of women's bodies, the
disproportionate impact of prostitution on women and girls, and the
fact that the demand for paid sex fuels the prostitution market.
Buyers will face criminal sanctions, the financial benefit from the
prostitution of others is illegal, and you have pledged funds to help
women exit prostitution. We affirm the steps you have taken to frame
prostitution as a form of violence against women, and are
encouraged that you do not accept prostitution as inevitable. Bravo.
At the same time we are concerned that section 213 of the
Criminal Code, which allows for the continued criminalization of
women selling sex, undercuts the intent of the bill. While selling sex
is otherwise decriminalized throughout Bill C-36, it is considered
illegal if the solicitation happens anywhere in public near where one
can reasonably expect to find persons under 18.
We at REED are concerned that section 213 allows broad
loopholes through which prostituted women can be criminalized and
subject to further vulnerabilities, undercutting the stated intent of the
bill.
We are in support of Bill C-36, but recommend that section 213 be
removed.
July 9, 2014
JUST-39
I want to talk just a little bit about why we affirm the bill, and then
I want to talk about why we're concerned about section 213.
First, why we support asymmetrical criminalization. Prostitution
is a form of violence against women. Women should not be
penalized for their own exploitation; rather, those perpetrating and
benefiting from it should be criminalized. Prostitution is the
sexualized subordination of women and hinders women's equality.
In crass economic terms, the sex industry operates as a market
based on supply and demand. There is a demand for paid sex and
exploiting the vulnerability of women and girls creates the supply for
this market. Women and girls suffering from racial discrimination,
the effects of residential schools and colonization, poverty, sexual
assault as children, and other, and developmental issues such as fetal
alcohol syndrome, are coerced into being sold to men for sex.
Pimps are shrewd businessmen. Make no mistake, they know
exactly who to target and how to approach them. From what we
know from supporting women at REED, and from studies done as
well, the overwhelming majority of women are recruited into
prostitution at below the age of 18. We see it all the time. Most often
their entry into prostitution was preceded by repeated trauma.
According to research by Susan Nadon and others in the Journal
of Interpersonal Violence and other academic studies, and the firsthand accounts of women, the majority of prostituted women report a
history of childhood sexual abuse. As feminist writer, Andrea
Dworkin, has said that “incest is boot camp” for prostitution.
Childhood sexual abuse damages a child's sense of self, normalizes
forced sexual contact, and teaches them that their bodies do not
belong to them, thus reducing their threshold to seeing themselves as
sellable.
Whether it's high track or low track, in a brothel or on the street, or
perhaps in pornography that someone might view from the privacy
of their own home, women in prostitution are seen as body parts.
Their feelings and person do not matter.
● (1330)
The essence of Bill C-36 goes a long way to recovering the
humanity and dignity of women, and of men. Frankly, I think the
humanity and dignity of men is diminished when society condones
their behaviour by not holding them accountable for violence against
women. We need to expect more for men and more from men. I
invite you to join me in this.
REED works throughout metro Vancouver, but certainly in the
downtown east side it is not uncommon to see men in minivans on
their way to work at 8 o'clock in the morning, sometimes with a
child's car seat in the back, cruising the alleyways on the way to
work, looking for a quick $5-to-$10 blow job from a severely sick
and addicted woman. The power differential is horrific, but the sense
of inequality and male entitlement is the paradigm of prostitution,
even though it doesn't always present itself in such stark visible
contrasts as this interaction does.
Research has focused a great deal on women in prostitution, who
they are, what happens to them, and how they might recover from
the trauma. All of these are critical questions.
5
But who are the men buying the bodies of women to have sex in
or on, and what do we know about them, particularly their attitudes
toward women? How do they feel about women? We have two
decent sources of information: the handful of academic studies done
on men who buy sex, but also what they themselves report on
prostitution review forums online—direct first-hand data. For those
of you who don't know, these are online forums where men discuss
and review the women they have bought in prostitution.
Unfortunately, I am unable to tell you in this professional setting
what most of them say, as it is degrading and violent, which is telling
in itself. However, I will share with you one snippet that I read on a
forum yesterday. Don't worry; it's okay to say on TV. One man gave
a consumer report of a woman by saying this: “You can make her
your sex toy or whatever you want, if you can crack her”.
Roughly 99% of research in the field has been done on prostitutes,
and 1% has been done on johns, yet buying sex is so pervasive. In a
rigorous empirical study done in Boston, in 2011, the research team
reported that they had a shockingly difficult time locating men who
really didn't buy women. The use of pornography, phone sex, lap
dances and other services has become so widespread that the
researchers were forced to loosen their definition in order to get a
control group of a hundred people. They finally had to settle on the
definition of non-sex buyers as the following: “men who have not
been to a strip club more than two times in the past year, have not
purchased a lap dance, have not used pornography more than one
time in the last month, and have not purchased phone sex or
prostituted women”.
What did they find out? Sex buyers were nearly eight times as
likely as non-sex buyers to say they would rape a woman if they
could get away with it.
This is also echoed in a solid 2009 study published by Eaves, in
London, who found that the more accepting sex buyers were of
prostitution, the more likely they were to also accept cultural myths
about rape, such as, “women say no but they really mean yes”, and
“a woman who dresses provocatively is being asked to be raped”.
Sex buyers, in the Boston study, used significantly more
pornography than non-sex buyers, and three-quarters of them said
they received their sex education from pornography. Over time, as a
result of their prostitution use, sex buyers reported that their sexual
preferences changed and they sought more sado-masochistic and
degrading acts.
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JUST-39
Sex buyers often prefer the licence that they feel they have with
prostituted women. I quote: “You are the boss—the total boss”, said
one john. “Even us normal guys, we want to say something and have
it done, no questions asked. No, I don't feel like it. No, I'm tired.
Unquestionable obedience. I mean, that's powerful. Power is like a
drug.”
● (1335)
Sex buyers repeatedly commented that they liked the power
relationship in prostitution. One of the women who we have
supported at REED was told by her pimp to act like she spoke less
English than she did so she would increase the power differential in
the act, and that men wanted to buy women who were more
vulnerable.
They're seldom lonely, and the majority are married or in a
committed relationship. Many johns view their payment as giving
them unfettered permission to degrade and assault women. One
reported, “You can find a ho for any type of need—slapping,
choking, aggressive sex—beyond what your girlfriend will do.” This
is direct data from the johns themselves.
July 9, 2014
Respect for human dignity is one of the underlying principles
upon which Canadian society is based. We know the following from
the Rodriguez decision of the Supreme Court of Canada:
That respect for human dignity is one of the underlying principles upon which our
society is based is unquestioned.
Further, our Canadian government, in 1949, signed on to the
Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons
Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations
Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. One of the key
principles that we signed onto was this:
Whereas prostitution and the accompanying evil of the traffic in persons for the
purpose of prostitution are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human
person and endanger the welfare of the individual, the family and the community
The Chair: You need to wrap up, Ms. Miller, your time is up.
Ms. Michelle Miller: Okay.
Prostitution is a form of violence against women and women
should not be penalized for their own exploitation. Rather, those
perpetrating and benefiting from it should be criminalized.
Just briefly, we're concerned about the loophole in Bill C-36 that
the new section 213, where women can be criminalized. We found
that involvement in the criminal justice system is a really significant
barrier for women exiting prostitution and for seeking help. It
stigmatizes them and, more importantly, it acts as a barrier to their
finding employment, and it disrupts their lives and their families'
lives, including those of their children. Here I'll refer to Peter
MacKay's hierarchy of vulnerability, that children are more
vulnerable than prostituted women.
In summary, Bill C-36 is a progressive, historic piece of
legislation that finally dares to criminalize the source of harm in
prostitution—the johns—and decriminalizes those being exploited.
We're in support of Bill C-36, but recommend that the new section
213 be removed from the bill.
Prostitution is simply a practice that arises from the historical
subordination of women and the historical right of men to buy and
exchange women as objects for sexual use. This practice is a
disgraceful assault on human dignity. But prostitution not only
harms the women and the girls involved, it also entirely undermines
the social fabric of Canada. It affects more than those who practise or
purchase services. It affects those who are prostituted against their
will, it supports a network of interconnected criminal activity, and it
forms societal attitudes that devalue an entire category of Canadians.
Now we ought to be proud because our Canadian history
underscores Canada's rejection of exploitive behaviour from the
decision to compensate the aboriginal victims of residential schools
to our denunciation of human trafficking and child prostitution, but
to legalize prostitution is to reverse the trajectory that promotes the
equality of all persons and embraces the inherent dignity of each
person.
Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much for that presentation.
Our next presenter, as an individual, is Ms. Lang.
Ms. Georgialee Lang (As an Individual): Thank you.
My name is Georgialee Lang. I'm a lawyer in Vancouver. I was
one of the many lawyers that were in the Supreme Court of Canada
in June of 2013 arguing in the case of Attorney General v. Bedford,
the prostitution case.
I was one of the lone voices that sought to urge the Supreme Court
of Canada not to strike down the law, not to legalize prostitution, and
my reasons are as follows.
Perhaps the best example that the harms inherent in prostitution
are not alleviated by legalization is the research from the State of
Victoria in Australia, where prostitution was legalized in the 1980s.
The research results of Dr. Sheila Jeffreys and Dr. Mary Sullivan,
both from the University of Melbourne, and Dr. Janice Raymond,
indicates the following.
First of all, the object of legalizing prostitution was harm
minimization. Of course, that parallels what the court said in
Attorney General v. Bedford. There were safety issues at stake.
July 9, 2014
JUST-39
7
It was said in Australia that the legalization of prostitution would
assist in eradicating the criminal element, guard against unregulated
expansion of prostitution, and combat violence against prostitutes.
The reality is that legalization did not eliminate violence; it did not
stop street prostitution; it did not provide or produce a safer work
environment for women; it did not dignify and professionalize the
women in prostitution; and it did not contain the expansion of
prostitution. What actually occurred was that legalization in
Australia led to a massive expansion of prostitution. Ironically, the
growth was mainly in the illegal sector. So while Australia, in the
State of Victoria, legalized prostitution, it was the illegal sector that
started to grow beyond their expectations, and particularly
unlicensed brothels. Once they made brothels legal, a great many
people just opened unlicensed brothels.
The preamble to Bill C-36 sets much broader goals—nothing less
than fighting “the exploitation that is inherent in prostitution” and
protecting “human dignity and the equality of all Canadians”. No
longer is the goal to prevent neighbourhood disorder, or disruption,
or nuisance. We have a much broader goal.
Legalization of prostitution also did not empower individual
prostitutes. The notion was that they would be able to work together
as entrepreneurs in legal brothels or set up in their own homes. What
happened was that large operators, that is businessmen, dominated
the brothel industry. Individuals or small groups of women could not
compete at all.
That does not mean that Parliament is precluded from imposing limits on where
and how prostitution may be conducted.
Street prostitution did not disappear, simply because women who
work outside have a host of social problems, including homelessness, drug addiction, being underaged, or are not willing to
register with brothels or to register with the government.
● (1340)
The legislation that was intended to eliminate organized crime
instead brought with it an explosion of human trafficking. Run by
international crime syndicates, licensed brothels in the state of
Victoria in Australia acted as warehouses for trafficked women.
That is why I say that Bill C-36 is a step in the right direction. It is
a step that recognizes that prostitution is the exploitation of women
and that it is time for Canadians and our government to step in and
do something about it. I applaud the Canadian government for the
steps they are taking and for this bill.
I want to address the constitutionality of this new law. There are
many who have said that this law won't pass muster, that it will not
survive constitutional scrutiny, and that it's simply a waste of money
to put this law into effect. I disagree with all of these theories.
When the court in Attorney General v. Bedford looked at the
prostitution laws, prostitution was not illegal. You have to understand that they were looking at laws that curtailed certain activities
that surrounded prostitution, laws that were nuisance laws. They
weren't laws that made prostitution illegal.
What the court did in Attorney General v. Bedford was to
determine that running a common bawdy house, which of course
under our old laws was meant to prevent neighbourhood disruption
and disorder.... They found that denying prostitutes the safety
associated with working in a permanent indoor location was grossly
disproportionate to neighbourhood disruption, which is what the law
curtailed.
In general, the former prostitution laws were designed to combat
the public nuisance aspects of the sex trade. It's much too trivial an
objective to justify violating prostitutes' charter rights.
Not only does the preamble of our new bill assert that Parliament
seeks to denounce and prohibit exploitation and inequality, but it
also sets out the aim of encouraging “those who engage in
prostitution to report incidents of violence and to leave prostitution”.
Madam Justice McLachlin, in the Attorney General v. Bedford
case, said this. In striking down the laws, the nuisance laws, the court
made it clear in its decision the following:
That's what Bill C-36 does. Bill C-36 speaks to the concept that
the exploitation is a terrible assault on women and children and some
boys and men. It cannot continue. This bill, I say, deals with the
constitutional aspects. It provides limitations on where and how. In
my submission, and in my respectful opinion, this bill will pass
constitutional muster particularly with the new preamble.
Thank you for inviting me to speak.
● (1345)
The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Lang, for your presentation.
Our final presenter, by video conference, is Ms. Dussault from
PIECE.
The floor is yours, Madame.
Ms. Elizabeth Dussault (Member, Prostitutes Involved,
Empowered, Cogent - Edmonton): Thank you, Chairman, and
members of Parliament, for this fantastic opportunity.
I would like to take a brief moment to point out that I have not
heard MP Joy Smith ask sex workers questions regarding the
comments they have shared here. I would like to extend MP Smith
an invitation to ask me anything she likes, and I will answer
honestly.
I would like to state that it is an honour to speak to this committee.
My name is Elizabeth Dussault, and I'm 30 years old. I would like to
give you a little bit of my background to aid in understanding my
points of view. I have been a sex worker for the past four and a half
years. I started working in Australia in the sex industry, and when I
came back to Canada I continued to work on and off. While in
Australia and in Canada, I have worked for an escort company as an
independent escort, and worked in several brothels. I have been
advocating for improved and progressive laws and better working
conditions for the sex industry for two years now. I have written a
document for Edmonton’s bylaw enforcement services, been in the
Metro News newspaper, the Edmonton Journal, and on Citytv's
Breakfast Television Edmonton.
8
JUST-39
Then Prostitutes Involved, Empowered, Cogent—Edmonton, also
known as PIECE, found me and gave me a home with their amazing
group of women. As a brief aside, the median age of entry into sex
work among the PIECE group is 26.5 years of age. We are fighting
to speak for all prostitutes because so many of these women are
fearful to speak due to what happens to them when they do. Let me
tell you what happened to me.
I personally have lost my two jobs at brothels, as well as being
fired from my lifeguarding and swimming teacher position, for being
an advocate. PIECE knows that Bill C-36 will send sex workers
further into the shadows, leaving them prey to abuse, rape, and serial
killers such Pickton and others. I offer you another path. I have seen
full legalization and ensuing regulations that leave sex workers safe,
empowered, and treated as any human being in any job. I have
partaken in a society that is progressive, where the clients are
respectful and educated, the general society is accepting and
enlightened, and where sex workers are upstanding citizens who
contribute to their society.
Bill C-36 will not do this in the slightest. What will come if this
bill passes will be disastrous and dangerous, unleashing further
opportunities for fear, abuse, neglect, increased exploitation, and of
course more deaths. My understanding of the Supreme Court's
decision was that the current laws are not constitutional. Accepting
this to be true, Bill C-36 is the rewriting of old stricken laws using
similar, but different, terminology. However, buying it, advertising
it, having a safe haven for workers, and criminalizing anyone who
might be involved in protecting them equates to making the entire
business of selling sex for money virtually illegal. This is in no way
a solution to prostitution.
It is a very ancient profession and is not going anywhere. Canada
will never be rid of it. Opting to stay in the dark ages and pushing
sex workers into unsafe environments such as not having brothels
where there is safety in numbers, not allowing them to be near one
another on the streets, will effectively result in harm and death. In no
other controversial job does the government remove workers' rights,
make their jobs more unsafe, and turn a blind eye. Quite the contrary
happens.
For example, liquor, gaming, guns, oil, and diamond mining are
widely debated and fought against by religious groups, extremists,
and other organizations. However, the government responded in kind
with legalizing, regulating, and doing everything in its power to
protect the general population from the detriment that can occur if
these industries run amok. Canada created establishments and made
zoning rules for these industries, devised and enforced rules to keep
the public and the workers safe, and then taxed and benefited from
these industries. This creates jobs, helps the economy, and
establishes safety for all Canadians. This is what sex workers
deserve in accordance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Currently, sex workers are ostracized, neglected, and misunderstood by the government and the public. Workers are scared and
fearful, even of the police who are supposed to serve and protect
them. Bill C-36 will exacerbate these concerns. To me, coming from
Australia to Canada and seeing the differences, the current laws here
are appalling. To know that it could get even worse makes me sick to
my stomach. I fear for every sex worker across Canada. I fear for
every sex worker across Canada.
July 9, 2014
● (1350)
Since my media coverage I have been struggling to find a job in
the sex industry and in respectable society. The sex industry fears
hiring me because they will be arrested for their association with me.
I am alienated from respectable society because I am a sex worker. I
am ostracized from both sides. I said loud and proud that I choose to
be a sex worker, that it exists, and that we are humans.
I have a clean criminal record. I am addiction free. I was an
honour student who took all AP classes. I was also hand-picked as
the only representative of my 2,000 person high school to go to
Ottawa for a conference. I am an upstanding citizen who went to
Grant MacEwan University majoring in political science and was
selected to go to Ottawa to participate in a mock United Nations
debate for a week.
I have travelled the world alone, worked for Environment Canada,
Alberta Health, Telus, the University of Alberta, Grant MacEwan
University, and the YMCA. I sit here now before you as a Canadian
citizen, as a sex worker, and as a human imploring you to see reason
and not allow this bill to go through. It will bring about chaos and
death that our country does not have to endure.
Australian brothels and escort companies are run as legitimate
businesses. They advertise, have open and honest discussions with
their customers about services, and are zoned in specific areas away
from schools and religious institutions.
I never saw a worker on the streets, as they are safe working as
escorts or protected in studios. In Australia I could be open about my
work and people would respond with kindness, respect, and general
understanding of what I do, even if they disagreed with my choice. I
have personally never met anybody who was human trafficked or
underage in the industry.
I had an Australian working holiday visa, and immigration came
in and checked up on me. They saw I was there by choice, had a
visa, was capable of working and wished me good day.
I always felt safe and protected. I worked in a healthy, happy
environment where we worked as a team and they educated me. I
was even given a little red book that includes information on health
issues, testing locations, consulates, and important phone numbers
such as the police. It was in six different languages.
I had opportunities to get out of the industry if I wanted. I was
never forced to do anything against my will. In fact I was supported
to listen to my gut, be safe, and encouraged to have a healthy selfesteem and see myself as a productive member of society.
July 9, 2014
JUST-39
I arrived back in Canada and what I found was detestable. I
expected Australia, New Zealand, and Canada to be fairly similar.
What I found was disgraceful: the fear of the police, the segregation
of sex workers from society, the laws implementing no drivers or
security, the illegality of brothels, and the deprivation of open and
honest communication.
Bill C-36 might be acceptable in Russia. However, let us be
leaders along with New Zealand and Australia in a uniquely
Canadian manner.
I am here today to plead with the government to do some more
research, look to progressive countries, listen to people such as
myself who choose to be in this industry and enjoy their work, and to
look at human rights laws and give sex workers the respect they
deserve.
I have seen how it can be. I have experienced an incredible model
for Canada to emulate. As an educated, enlightened, and experienced
young woman who at the age of 26 chose to enter into the sex
industry, I appeal to your humanity. I beseech you to not move
forward with Bill C-36.
I will leave you with this quote from Madam Justice McLachlin:
A law that prevents street prostitutes from resorting to safe havens...while a
suspected serial killer prowls the streets, is a law that has lost sight of its purpose.
Thank you, again, Mr. Chair, and members of Parliament.
● (1355)
The Chair: Thank you for that presentation, Ms. Dussault.
We are now off to the question and answer period of our meeting.
Our first questioner for the New Democratic Party is Madam
Boivin.
[Translation]
Ms. Françoise Boivin (Gatineau, NDP): Thank you all for being
with us today and for sharing your experiences and points of view. It
helps us do our work.
Chief Justice McLachlin's ears must be ringing right now because
just about everyone is quoting her, even though not all for the same
reasons or with the same view.
reasonable limitation, and I understand that very clearly because the
law was a nuisance law. As Madam Justice McLachlin said in the
decision, prostitution is not illegal. This is a nuisance law, this is all
out of proportion to the safety issues, and so I think that was—
Ms. Françoise Boivin: Are you telling us today then that
prostitution is now illegal in Canada with Bill C-36 if it is adopted?
Ms. Georgialee Lang: Prostitution is illegal. Yes, it is, it will be.
It will be illegal for men to purchase sex. That's correct.
● (1400)
Ms. Françoise Boivin: No, but prostitution is more than just the
buying.
So are you saying that you see Bill C-36 as clearly making
prostitution illegal in all its aspects in Canada after the adoption of
Bill C-36?
Ms. Georgialee Lang: Not in all of its aspects, of course, because
we know from Bill C-36 that women will only be criminalized if
they are selling sex in the vicinity of children, but they are welcome
to sell sex in brothels, in private homes. They are welcome to sell sex
anywhere there aren't children under 18, and of course—
Ms. Françoise Boivin: So in that inference, then, would you see
Justice McLachlin at a later date in the not-too-distant future saying
again that prostitution is not illegal in Canada? As well, going back
to what was probably the main phrase she voiced in her decision,
which you quoted—sadly, not in its entirety because when you said
that—
[Translation]
. . . the Charter does not mean that Parliament is precluded from imposing limits
on where and how prostitution. . .
[English]
—which is what the legislator is trying to do with Bill C-36, you
just didn't mention—
My first question is for Ms. Lang.
[English]
[Translation]
You said that you were one of the lonely voices that was asking
the Supreme Court of Canada not to strike down the law. Obviously
they didn't listen to you, and I say that in a nice way, having lost a
few cases here and there myself.
[English]
But what I'm wondering, though, from having read the Bedford
decision, is whether you were surprised not to see more about
section 15, because I'm pretty sure you must have pleaded section 15
at length in the Bedford case.
Ms. Georgialee Lang: No, I wasn't surprised that there was not
more discussion of section 15.
Our submissions, of course, focused on the fact that the law was a
reasonable limitation in accordance with the charter. Of course, that
was not found to be accurate. The court said that it wasn't a
9
. . . as long as it does so in a way that does not infringe the constitutional rights of
prostitutes.
So my question for you is, in that part of that decision, if the
Supreme Court of Canada had to review Bill C-36, is it your
understanding that what has been put in Bill C-36 by the Minister of
Justice and his team is okay with that part of the decision of the
Supreme Court of Canada?
Ms. Georgialee Lang: Yes, I say it is and let me tell you why,
because the old law was a nuisance law. Prostitution was not illegal,
only the activities surrounding prostitution, and they were all caught
in that section of the Criminal Code that deals with nuisance and
disorder.
10
JUST-39
Ms. Françoise Boivin: So it's the preamble that makes you say....
Just to be clear for me, because you keep saying that it was a
nuisance law, what makes you say that it is not half and half now,
like part nuisance law—because of the public aspect of it when they
do it in public—and the other part where they criminalize the client?
Because if it's based on the preamble, for me the preamble will be
useful for the courts. If the disposition is not clear, then they'll go to
the interpretation. If they don't have to go to the interpretation, they'll
look at the section, at the clause inside the Criminal Code, and that's
it. The preamble will not be included in the Criminal Code.
Ms. Georgialee Lang: I'm sorry, but I beg to differ. The preamble
is a complete paradigm shift. We move from nuisance law to law that
clearly says that it's the decision of Parliament that women and girls
are being exploited in prostitution, and furthermore, the government
is saying that we need to find a way for these women to exit the sex
trade. That is a completely new paradigm from what you had when
you had the arguments in Attorney General v. Bedford and there are
—
Ms. Françoise Boivin: But that's not in the Criminal Code. That
won't be in the Criminal Code.
Even when you look at the title of the law, which says, “protection
of communities and exploited persons act”, it's now a beast with two
heads, let's say, instead of just one, like you said, as a nuisance—
Ms. Georgialee Lang: That's another strong benefit of this law,
that it actually recognizes that societal fabric. The people who don't
want to have prostitutes around children can now feel protected
because Bill C-36 prevents that.
Ms. Françoise Boivin: On the fact that it still criminalizes women
—and we've talked about women—I received some e-mails during
lunch saying that there are male prostitutes also.
You consider them victims also, I'm sure.
Ms. Georgialee Lang: Absolutely.
Ms. Françoise Boivin: Okay.
And on the fact that we criminalize them with Bill C-36, I'm not
sure, but I think I heard you say that you were not for that part of the
bill. Do you think we have to remove this from Bill C-36, or will you
live with it: “you're a victim, but you'll be criminalized anyway”?
Ms. Georgialee Lang: It was my colleague Ms. Miller, on behalf
of her organization, REED, who suggested that be eliminated. I'm
not suggesting that.
● (1405)
Ms. Françoise Boivin: You're okay with the fact that if they are
victims they could be criminalized anyway.
Ms. Georgialee Lang: What I'm okay with is that prostitution
shouldn't take place where there are children. I'm okay with that, and
I think that will pass constitutional muster as well.
Ms. Françoise Boivin: As a lawyer, do you think the section is
clear enough, for instance, what is public, where kids could be....
How would you define it?
Ms. Georgialee Lang: Well, I agree with you that it could be
clarified. That could be an amendment that is undertaken by your
July 9, 2014
committee, to make it very clear so there are no misunderstandings
—
Ms. Françoise Boivin: Do you have suggestions? You're brilliant,
so I would love to have suggestions.
Ms. Georgialee Lang: I haven't given any thought to that aspect
of the law because I'm in favour of the entire law.
However, I could certainly e-mail you and give you some
suggestions. I'd be happy to do that.
The Chair: Thank you very much for those questions and
answers.
Our next questioner, from the Conservative Party, is Ms. Ambler.
Mrs. Stella Ambler (Mississauga South, CPC): Thank you, Mr.
Chair.
Thank you to all for being here today. We really do appreciate
your contribution to our committee.
Ms. Perrier, I'd like to give you some extra thanks and gratitude
for being here today. I know it must be very difficult to tell us your
story, but it really does help us, and I think it helps Canadians who
are watching to understand why we need to do this.
If you're okay with it, I'd like you to help me understand
something. This is our third day here. I know you've been here
listening, so I'd like your perspective on a particular issue related to
negotiating or screening. I'd like to ask if you agree with some of the
testimony we have heard from people. I'm not sure that they
themselves have actually ever done this. Some have, and some say
that Bill C-36 will make it more difficult for those involved in
prostitution to negotiate a better deal, and it will make them
somehow less safe.
I'm wondering if you think that will happen with this bill. If you
have had any experience with that, perhaps you could let us know
that as well.
Ms. Bridget Perrier: For me, I think prostitution is inherently
dangerous. There is no form of screening that would tell you if the
guy is going to kill you. To even communicate with the johns is very
tricky; that is why we call them “tricks”.
I was involved in prostitution as a child and as an adult. The same
acts were put on me at 12 years old and at 22 years old. These guys
are very savvy. You have to gauge them. If they are angry at you or if
they feel you have ripped them off…it's all about gauging them and
that.
I've had clients, past johns, that have contacted me now that I'm
out in public, speaking about it, and they have asked me if I am
going to write a book and to please don't. So if it were so
honourable, why are they asking me not to write a book? Well, I am
going to write a book, and I'm going to use their names and I'm
going to use the make of car. I'm going to talk about what they look
like, and go right into depth, because I think the wives need to know
too. Why protect these guys? I have years of wear and tear on my
body. As the mother of a son and a sister of brothers, this is
something I wouldn't want my brothers doing, or my son.
July 9, 2014
JUST-39
I've never met a nice john. I've met a john that was able to give me
money for this and that and that, but I’ve never met a nice john. They
all had an ulterior motive and the motive was sex with me.
Mrs. Stella Ambler: Thank you.
So, your clients weren't all respectful and educated?
● (1410)
Ms. Bridget Perrier: Actually, as a child, one of my clients was a
crown attorney in Thunder Bay, and he paid for me and was caught
with me, and I got put on trial. I grew up being shamed in my own
community for what a grown man who was put in a place of power
did. I got rejected from where I grew up and was raised because of
this crown attorney that did this with young girls. That was his thing
—little girls. He would get an older girl to bring us little girls to him.
The older girl was a 30-year-old madam.
Mrs. Stella Ambler: I know that your time as a trafficked person
and being kidnapped was partly as an underage girl and partly as a
woman over 18. Would you say that it was all of a sudden magically
possible for you at the age of 18 or 19 to make better deals and
negotiate better terms, to screen your clients better? Would you say
that it improved a lot when you turned 18?
Ms. Bridget Perrier: To be really truthful, I made a lot more
money as a child than I did as an adult. They paid me a lot more
when they knew I was 12 years old. As an adult woman I felt that I
had control, but I didn't have control because when I stepped back
from prostitution to be a mom, I realized in my own marriage and
everything it was all like a façade; it seeped through. It was like this
elephant in the room.
11
Mr. Chris Atchison: I'd like to start by saying it's actually
delightful to be here because these types of dialogues need to
happen. They need to happen more frequently and they need to
happen more publicly, because it is with this exchange of knowledge
and experiences that we will actually arrive at a better understanding
of things.
In terms of the percentages of sex workers working in the industry,
I can't comment directly on that. My colleagues from my sister
project can comment more directly on the percentage who are
underage.
In our most recent project, we focused exclusively on adult
consensual sexual service exchanges, so none of the individuals we
talked to would have been under 18, and very few of those
individuals started in the industry prior to 18.
Speaking to the issue of the demand for those people under 18,
that's one thing I can speak to. I asked people in my surveys time and
time and time again what age ranges they prefer. Fewer than one
percent of clients I have spoken to indicate a preference for
somebody under the age of 18. In fact, there is a correlate—
Mrs. Stella Ambler: Do you really think they are going to tell
you?
Mr. Chris Atchison: Sure they will.
The Chair: Okay, that's your time. Thank you, Ms. Ambler.
Thank you for those questions.
Mrs. Stella Ambler: You've been here this whole time. When you
hear other witnesses talk about consent and choice and choosing this
life—what is going through your mind, if you don't mind my asking?
We're now on to the Liberal Party, and, Mr. Casey, it's your time.
Ms. Bridget Perrier: I don't think little girls aspire to service
multitudes of different men as adults. I think lack of choice consists
of choice. When women involved in prostitution say that this is their
choice, they are feeling somewhat in need to control and hold some
kind of control to it. That's why they say they choose it. If you had
asked me when I was 22 if I chose to be in the life, I would have said
yes, I was there of my own free will. But I didn't realize that
prostitution chose me.
Ms. Lang, I want to ask you about your representation at the
Supreme Court of Canada. I understand your client was the
Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. Is that right?
Mrs. Stella Ambler: If I could close with you, I also would like to
thank you for being a mother to Angel and taking over where her
mother left off after she was murdered. Also, congratulations on the
adoption of your little boy.
Ms. Bridget Perrier: Thank you.
● (1415)
Mrs. Stella Ambler: I have a question for Mr. Atchison. I know it
is hard for you to be here too because there are other viewpoints
expressed, and I do appreciate you have done a lot of research and
spoken to thousands of women who are in prostitution as adults and
who've made that their choice. I know those are the only ones you
work with, so you don't work with folks like Bridget and you don't
work with any underage trafficked girls and women.
But what percentage do you think you're working with? What
percentage are you dealing with who are happy with their line of
work as opposed to those who are trapped and have no choice?
Mr. Sean Casey (Charlottetown, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Georgialee Lang: That's correct.
Mr. Sean Casey: Is that your only client? Do you work for them,
or do you work in a firm?
Ms. Georgialee Lang: No, I have my own law firm. I don't work
for them. I was retained as counsel for them.
Mr. Sean Casey: Thank you.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada actually appeared before
us on Monday afternoon. Their witness was Julia Beazley. Did you
see her testimony?
Ms. Georgialee Lang: I'm sorry, I didn't. I wish I had.
Mr. Sean Casey: One of the things that she expressed concern
about was section 213. She was concerned that it continued to
criminalize sex workers or prostituted persons, depending on which
language you prefer.
You, as counsel for the organization, if I understand what you've
said so far, are completely okay with section 213. How do you
explain the inconsistency in your position before us with that of your
client?
12
JUST-39
Ms. Georgialee Lang: Well, it's not an inconsistency. I'm
appearing as an individual who has an interest in this subject matter.
My retainer with the Evangelical Fellowship ended when Madam
Justice McLachlin handed down her reasons in December 2013.
They're not my current client; they're a former client.
Mr. Sean Casey: Okay. When you appeared before the Supreme
Court of Canada, I think what you said to Madam Boivin was that
you emphasized section 1 in your presentation.
Ms. Georgialee Lang: That's correct.
Mr. Sean Casey: All nine of the judges disagreed.
Ms. Georgialee Lang: That's correct.
Mr. Sean Casey: Is the reason for your emphasizing section 1 in
your presentation to the Supreme Court of Canada was because you
conceded that there was a violation of section 7?
Ms. Georgialee Lang: Well, no, I didn't concede that there was a
violation, but my submission was that if the learned justices of the
Supreme Court believed there was a violation, I believed it should be
saved as a reasonable limitation in a free and democratic society.
That was my submission.
Furthermore—
Mr. Sean Casey: You are the first witness to appear before us
trained in the law with the viewpoint that you've expressed, absent
those who are the Minister of Justice or who work for the Minister of
Justice. In fact, yesterday we were given a letter signed by 220 of
your colleagues at the Canadian Bar, addressed to the Prime Minister
of Canada, that expressed a different view.
Are you a lone wolf, or is there a community of lawyers who
would be able to sign a letter that shares your view?
Ms. Georgialee Lang: Yes: my position is not a popular one, but
I think there are many lawyers that I know of personally who would
sign such a letter. I'm not sure that any group has been formed with
the purpose of supporting the prostitution law, but I know from
personal experience, in speaking to my colleagues, that there are
many who agree that this bill is the right way to go.
Like I said, I know I'm not the most popular person amongst the
CBA these days.
Mr. Sean Casey: It would be nice to meet some of your
colleagues someday.
Ms. Miller, you indicated that you have some concerns with
section 213. That's the section that has the potential of continuing to
criminalize sex workers.
What we've heard today in testimony is that oftentimes the police
use this section not to charge a sex worker but to use it as a threat to
be able to separate them from pimps, to be able to try to extricate
them. So it's a tool they apparently use to hang over the head of the
sex worker to get them into a conversation. Does that make it okay?
● (1420)
Ms. Michelle Miller: I'm not sure what you mean by using it as a
“threat” to get them away from a pimp. Can you clarify what you're
saying?
Mr. Sean Casey: Sure. You arrest a sex worker and say to them,
“The reason for your arrest is that I am considering charging you
July 9, 2014
under section 213 for soliciting for the purpose, so come with me.”
Then you spend a couple of hours in conversation with that person.
You don't charge them, but the possibility of a charge is hanging
over their head in order to get them into a conversation. Does that
make it okay?
Ms. Michelle Miller: No. I'm not in support of that.
Mr. Sean Casey: Thank you.
Ms. Perrier, thank you very much for your testimony. It was
particularly powerful. If you are not comfortable answering the
question that I'm about to ask, just tell me and I'll move on.
You indicated that you spent some time in the sex trade and you
have successfully exited. Do you have a criminal record?
Ms. Bridget Perrier: I did have a criminal record, and I was able
to get a pardon. But I did have a lengthy record.
Mr. Sean Casey: Can you talk about the effect that record had on
your ability to exit?
Ms. Bridget Perrier: You know what? I exited with a Canadawide warrant, so it didn't have any effect.
Actually, you know, I look at it as a blessing. I look at it as things
happen for a reason, and it saved my life.
Mr. Sean Casey: I know that you've been here all week. You've
heard the testimony this morning from Ms. Ekberg. You've heard
testimony from NWAC. There have been some questions posed on
behalf of the Chiefs of Ontario with respect to concerns over the lack
of recognition of the unique vulnerability of our first nations with
respect to prostitution. Ms. Ekberg's suggestion was that there should
be something in the preamble.
Do you have an opinion with respect to whether or not Bill C-36
adequately takes into account that unique vulnerability?
Ms. Bridget Perrier: I think Bill C-36 will protect aboriginal
women a little bit more. I think there is a dialogue that's opened, and
with the amount of missing and murdered aboriginal women, this
bill will recognize the need to protect them.
Mr. Sean Casey: Thank you.
Mr. Atchison, I have not yet seen any written briefs that you may
have submitted, although we have tremendous respect for evidencebased decision-making and, obviously, you share that respect.
First of all, have you submitted a brief that we're going to be able
to consider?
Mr. Chris Atchison: I have submitted it as part of a team brief. I
will be submitting a second brief tomorrow.
Mr. Sean Casey: Could you comment on the absence of any
measures in Bill C-36 with respect to research and data collection
and/or any allocation specifically within the $20 million dedicated to
research and data collection, please.
July 9, 2014
JUST-39
Mr. Chris Atchison: Yes. It's vitally important that we have an
ongoing understanding of this industry if we are going to regulate it
and provide services to people involved in this industry. So it's
vitally important that however we go about regulating this industry,
we keep those doors of communication, those channels of
communication, open. I don't see that Bill C-36 is doing that. In
fact, I think the restrictions on communications and advertising will
make it even less possible to access an already difficult population,
and an even more difficult population, being the people who
purchase sexual services, will become almost impossible now. Sex
workers will become more difficult and clients will become
impossible.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Thank you for those questions and answers.
Our next questioner from the Conservative Party is Mrs. Smith.
● (1425)
Mrs. Joy Smith (Kildonan—St. Paul, CPC): Thank you, Mr.
Wallace.
Bridget, we have known each other for a very long time and you
are one of Canada's heroes for what you've done. You can't begin to
describe all that you have walked through. If you listen to all of this
and you listen to the politicians and everybody has their reasons for
saying whatever.... When you listen to the sex workers who have
never seen a young child, ever, in the sex trade, and when you hear
researchers say they've just dealt with adults with consensual sex,
what I'm concerned about.... And I'm thinking back to 2004 when I
first became an MP and the country was in denial that there was
human trafficking, let alone children in human trafficking. Can you
make some comment on that because you know? Could you link that
to organized crime?
Ms. Bridget Perrier: The men and women who exploited me
were involved in organized crime. It comes hand in hand.
I think it's a boldfaced lie for someone who is involved in
prostitution to sit up here and say they've never encountered a child.
In my time working across Canada, do you know how many times I
used to drag little girls home to their mothers, because I knew they
were getting set up for what I had already endured? I never wanted
any little girl to experience pain like that. But it's a boldfaced lie for
people to say they've never seen a child involved in prostitution.
Actually it mortifies me when I hear the term “child sex worker”
and it devalues that child. That is an abused and exploited child.
When is it differentiated, when a $100 bill is thrown in that child's
hands whether it's a little boy or a little girl?
Mrs. Joy Smith: What strikes me now in 2014 is that finally the
voices of the survivors are coming forward. As a survivor and a
person who has gone out and rescued yourself and a lot of young
children and supported them, as I know you have, and also, on the
Willie Pickton file—and you know that I worked with a joint victim
of Willie Pickton's murders—what is something you want to say to
the government right now because you're here in support of Bill
C-36? How can we better get the voice of more of the survivors, the
people who have been there, to come and speak out like you have so
eloquently for so long?
13
Ms. Bridget Perrier: I think we need to just have this dialogue. I
think that with all of what's going on with the legislation and that it
will open that dialogue. Every day I open up my email and there are
two more women or girls, or mother of a girl, or whatever, who ask
me to help them. I don't know, I really—
Mrs. Joy Smith: Bridget, can I ask you another question because
I know I'll run out of time?
Tell me about the johns. We've heard all week that the nice guys,
the johns, have their needs. I can understand that, but, by the same
token, the picture is that this is normal behaviour and that these johns
are nice people who have a need that they need for a little while and
that they're very respectful in every way. Can you answer that in any
way, shape, or form from your experience?
Ms. Bridget Perrier: We've been working alongside the Invisible
Men Project, and every day we get an e-mail about quotes from these
johns taken from a website that rates prostitutes.
This one reminds me of my daughter's mother: “I chose her
thinking mileage may be better if she's a little desperate for money.
Totally not worth it. I wasn't even going to tip her but she hung
around the room, while I showered, telling me how it was so slow
today, etc. On an unrelated note, my wife leaves next week to visit
relatives so the marathon tour begins. Normally, I can only get out
during the day, while working, but this means strip joints at night
and SW cruising. I'll post my results”.
They are hunters.
Mrs. Joy Smith: Thank you.
I have one question for Michelle Miller.
Can you tell the committee how addressing the demand will help
all the women that you work with? Does Bill C-36 drive women
underground?
● (1430)
Ms. Michelle Miller: I'm glad you asked me that. I do think that
Bill C-36 would address demand. It helps the women by decreasing
the market. It's using a really crass economic term, which is one way
of viewing prostitution. If there was no market then women would
not have to be recruited to be fed into that market. Their vulnerability
is taken advantage of for that reason.
I don't think it would be driven underground for the simple reason
that the johns still have to be able to find the women. So it's not
going to be underground. I think this notion that women will be less
safe when they're hidden away somewhere is very interesting. I'm
not sure where that underground is. Is it supposed to be a bunker
somewhere, or a cellar somewhere? We hear this term “underground”, but there are going to be places where johns can find them.
I think it's interesting that sex industry industrialists are asking for
women to be indoors where it is safer, but they are afraid they would
be pushed out of sight into underground places. There seems to be
this really duplicitous sense of what would keep women safe.
What we know from working with women is that the harm comes
from the johns no matter what the location is. There is no way to
keep them safe.
14
JUST-39
Mrs. Joy Smith: Thank you, Michelle.
I have a question for Mr. Atchison. You seem to have a really
good respect for research, and thank you for that. As Mr. Casey says,
we always want evidence-based research. You deal only with what
you call “consensual” adults, correct?
Mr. Chris Atchison: Adult, consensual, sexual exchanges.
Mrs. Joy Smith: Have you ever thought about expanding your
research to the survivors of human trafficking in this country? We've
got lots of them.
Mr. Chris Atchison: I've thought about that but from all the
information I've ever seen that's choosing to study a fraction of an
industry at the expense of the majority of the industry.
Mrs. Joy Smith: So you think that the majority are adult sex
buyers and workers consensually doing what they want to do? Are
you saying you think that is the majority in your research?
Mr. Chris Atchison: I use the term “consent” very guardedly
because the whole notion of consent, in and of itself, has to be
discussed, understood, and defined more adequately. I do believe,
purely on the basis of the research that I've done, that the vast
majority of, particularly, the off-street sex industry is consensual
between adults.
The Chair: That's your time. Thank you for those questions and
answers.
Our next questioner from the New Democratic Party is Madam
Péclet.
[Translation]
Ms. Ève Péclet (La Pointe-de-l'Île, NDP): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My question is for Ms. Dussault.
Has your experience taught you that criminalizing clients will
actually lead to less demand?
July 9, 2014
your experience with us. I'm sorry you had to go through what you
did and that there are victims of human trafficking who need your
help.
● (1435)
[English]
It's really commendable, so thank you very much for everything
you do.
[Translation]
My question goes beyond Bill C-36.
Let's say that Bill C-36 is passed tomorrow as it currently stands.
It is clear that provision 213 criminalizes sex workers. Would you be
willing to accept the criminalization of women if the bill were passed
as is?
[English]
Ms. Bridget Perrier: I would, and I'll tell you why: when my 15year-old gets accosted standing outside at a bus stop, I will know I
did the right thing.
My children are more at risk of being brought into prostitution due
to race and having a mom who was exploited; they're more likely. I
value my children. They're my life. I've already lost a child to
prostitution, and I'm not going to lose any more.
[Translation]
Ms. Ève Péclet: I'm sorry to hear that.
It's still helpful to look at the big picture. Many of the articles I've
read have focused on whether the government has been doing
enough all these years to achieve gender equality, particularly as
regards more funding for first nations communities.
There are surely studies showing the opposite to be true or
corroborating other people's positions. But I would like you to just
speak from your own experience. Will it reduce demand, yes or no?
[English]
Ms. Elizabeth Dussault: Honestly, I have not done research on
that so I'm not 100% sure. From my experiences in Australia versus
Canada, it's about equal.
If the bill were passed tomorrow, what would happen to the female
drug addict who was on the street corner, as Ms. Miller talked about,
for instance? What would happen in her case?
Each person is an individual, so I can't speak to when they'll have
needs or what not, but it definitely will make everybody safer. I've
experienced that first-hand. Being in Australia, everything was quite
lovely. The clients were awesome. I did not come into contact with
anybody who was underage or trafficked. Immigration was very
pointed about that.
What will happen to those young women? What is needed to help
them in their current situations so they don't end up in the hands of
procurers and pimps?
As for the clients, it was roughly about the same numbers in my
books, from what I've experienced.
[Translation]
Ms. Ève Péclet: Bridget, if you don't mind, I'd like to call you by
your first name.
I want to tell you how much I admire you. Coming here to tell
your story is never easy. And I'd just like to thank you for sharing
The minister for Manitoba said that $20 million over 5 years
amounted to roughly $200,000 for his province per year. He said he
is already spending $8 million to help young addicted women who
are on the streets.
[English]
Ms. Bridget Perrier: There's a solution for that. I work on a zero
operating budget for Sextrade101. I make my money by public
speaking. I have 400 girls who are clients across Canada who I work
with. We have not gotten federal funding. We do everything within
our speaking...and I have another job where I'm able to put in.
We haven't worked on our operating budget, and we have a 1%
recidivism rate for girls who exit.
Ms. Ève Péclet: So you don't need—
July 9, 2014
JUST-39
Ms. Bridget Perrier: No, we do need funding, but we do our best
with what little we have. You know, $20 million, that's nothing—
Ms. Ève Péclet: For five years.
Ms. Bridget Perrier: —for five years. Hopefully with the johns
and the john schools we'll see revenue from it. We need to look at
this. When these johns are fined, the fines should be geared to
income. If they're making $100,000 a year, they should be paying a
$10,000 fine, with that money going into direct services for
prostituted women.
Ms. Ève Péclet: I still have time? Okay, great.
[Translation]
I'd like to ask Ms. Miller the same question.
You talked about a car that was cruising around and picked up that
woman. If Bill C-36 is passed tomorrow, what would happen to that
young woman? How could she be helped?
Provisions have been in place for years and they haven't helped.
So what about that aspect?
The question we need to ask ourselves today is this. What do we
need to do to wipe out situations of inequality and poverty, which are
the root cause of the problem?
[English]
Ms. Michelle Miller: Yes. You are asking two questions; one on
prevention and one on what she needs now.
On prevention, I would support guaranteed livable income, detox
beds, access to treatment, job training and education, and affordable
housing. Certainly in my city, I know those are incredibly important
things.
As far as what that woman would need now, she needs some of
those same things. She needs access to a way to exit. She needs
immediate housing. She needs access to detox beds. She needs
support. She needs job retaining.
I would also like to ask, how does this bill affect her? I'd like to
talk about a generation later and talk about, potentially, her daughter.
I think it would affect her daughter in that with Bill C-36, we're
sending a clear message and a clear social norm that women are not
for sale and that it's not okay to buy women.
For instance, right now in Sweden, where a similar law has been
in place for 10 years, there are 10-year-old children who don't know
the normalization of buying and selling women's bodies, so I think
that her daughter would be less vulnerable and men would be less
likely to be buying her.
● (1440)
The Chair: Thank you very much. Thank you for those questions
and answers.
Our next questioner from the Conservative Party is Mr. Dechert.
Mr. Bob Dechert (Mississauga—Erindale, CPC): Thank you,
Mr. Chair, and thank you to each of our guests.
Ms. Perrier, we've met before. It's very good to see you. I hope
you won't mind if I call you Bridget.
15
I want to join with my colleagues in thanking you for sharing your
story and the story of your daughter, Angel. I personally was very
moved, and I'm pretty sure everyone who was listening to you today
was equally moved.
I've had the honour to meet a lot of war veterans in my life, but I
think you might be the bravest person I've ever met. We'll maybe
have an opportunity later for that applause that's so deserved.
If I could award you a medal of valour I would, but one thing I do
know is that you're saving lives today. I want to thank you for being
here and for speaking out about the terrible things that happened to
you, and to your daughter, and other people you know. Thank you
for the work you're doing every day to save the lives of others.
I'd like to ask Ms. Lang some questions.
Ms. Lang, you mentioned in your opening statement the
penultimate comments made by Chief Justice McLachlin in her
decision, which I think are worth reading again because they are very
important. She said:
Concluding that each of the challenged provisions violates the Charter does not
mean that Parliament is precluded from imposing limits on where and how
prostitution may be conducted, as long as it does so in a way that does not infringe
the constitutional rights of prostitutes.
She then went on to say:
The regulation of prostitution is a complex and delicate matter. It will be for
Parliament
—that's all of us and the people we serve with every day in the
House of Commons and in the Senate—
should it choose to do so, to devise a new approach, reflecting different elements
of the existing regime. Considering all the interests at stake, the declaration of
invalidity should be suspended for one year.
She threw it back in our lap. She could have said that the
provisions are struck down, as of today, and we have wide open,
unfettered, unregulated legalization of prostitution in Canada. She
didn't. She passed it back to us. She said Parliament has a role to
play.
There are some who would abdicate that role, but I think it's
incumbent upon us, and I think the Chief Justice has asked us to read
the decision and to look at all the issues surrounding prostitution,
hear the stories of Bridget Perrier and so many others who have
come before us, and then craft a response. She's talking about the
jurisdiction of the federal government of Canada.
She knows very well the division of powers under the
Constitution of Canada. She's not talking about zoning and business
regulation at the local level. She's not talking about employment or
occupation and health safety regulation. She's talking about those
things that are in the purview of the Parliament of Canada—criminal
law; banking insurance law; railway law; and certain other areas
obviously; national defence; taxation. But within that purview, of the
tools we parliamentarians have to regulate the way prostitution is
carried on, the primary one has to be the Criminal Code.
16
JUST-39
What do you think she was referring to? Do you think she was
asking us to re-examine the Criminal Code and find a way of making
it work in a way that protects the Charter rights of the prostitutes, and
do you believe we have done so in Bill C-36?
● (1445)
Ms. Georgialee Lang: She looked at the law, and she recognized
that the objects in the Criminal Code on prostitution were not
prostitution laws; they were nuisance laws. So when the court
examined that, they then weighed the benefit of having a nuisance
law against the safety issues that we recognize are inherent in
prostitution.
What she said in the statement, that Parliament is not precluded
from imposing limits, is certainly a fundamental principle. It is the
federal Parliament that makes the criminal law in Canada. It is then
the court that can determine whether that law is constitutional.
With Bill C-36, I believe the honourable justice minister and his
committee have addressed the issues that were raised by Madam
Justice McLachlin, and her colleagues in the Supreme Court of
Canada, and they have done that in a very effective way.
There are numerous law professors across Canada who have
examined whether this new law will pass constitutional muster, and
there are many who agree that it will. There is no doubt that it will be
challenged, but I think the justice minister has done an exemplary
job of crafting a law that speaks to the interests of the parties
involved in prostitution. It decriminalizes it for the women, unless of
course they are selling sex around children. It speaks to the buyers of
sex, who are the exploiters. The preamble to this bill clearly says
that's what we're after, the harm, and that we, as Parliament, have the
right to make that determination and make that law.
This bill is a good bill. It's addressing what the justices raised in
the Supreme Court of Canada. I believe it speaks to the real issue,
which is the exploitation of women and the commodification and the
commercialization of women's bodies, which is a frontal assault on
human dignity and a breach of human rights.
Mr. Bob Dechert: If Parliament were to do nothing, as Ms. Scott
and Ms. Lebovitch urged us earlier today.... They were two of the
litigants in the Bedford case. They said, “Just let it fall. Don't do
anything. Let the provisions that were struck down by the court fall
away as the court has determined to do so”.
What would the regulation of prostitution look like in Canada, in
your view, if Parliament were to do nothing?
Ms. Georgialee Lang: I think the biggest concern about the
legalization of prostitution is human trafficking. In every jurisdiction
where they have legalized prostitution, the explosion of human
trafficking is well documented.
For example, when Germany legalized prostitution, there was an
influx of women from South America, and then later, when the
Berlin Wall fell, all of these Third World women living in eastern
bloc countries were brought into Germany.
The same thing happened in Australia. In Australia, there was an
explosion in human trafficking. Apparently there was a large influx
of Chinese prostitutes because many of the business people, the
July 9, 2014
procurers of sex—these pimps, now businessmen because it's all
legal in Australia—brought in women from all different countries.
That is the biggest fear. Human trafficking is insidious, and I think
it's recognized, and well recognized in Canada, that it is unlawful.
Mr. Bob Dechert: Thank you.
I have one final comment. Mr. Casey and others have raised the
point, and you talked about it earlier, that there was a letter that was
received from 220 or so lawyers who take a different view.
I am a lawyer who agrees with you. I was a member of a law firm
with over 900 lawyers. I practised in the city of Toronto, where there
are over 14,000 lawyers, so 200 doesn't seem like that big of a
number to me. I think we could find an equal number who support
our view.
Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you for those comments.
Thank you for those questions and answers.
Our next questioner, from the New Democratic Party, is Mr.
Jacob.
[Translation]
Mr. Pierre Jacob (Brome—Missisquoi, NDP): Thank you,
Mr. Chair.
I want to thank the witnesses for being with us this afternoon.
My first question is for Mr. Atchison.
You're a pragmatic research associate. You said you didn't have a
moral position on the sex industry and that you were relying on
empirical evidence. You also said investments were needed to stop
violence and victimization.
The government is investing $4 million a year over 5 years, for a
total of $20 million for the entire country. Does that strike you as a
serious investment in terms of combatting violence against women
and their victimization?
● (1450)
[English]
Mr. Chris Atchison: No, I absolutely do not, particularly when
we talk about....
If we take seriously the goal of ending demand and changing
attitudes and behaviours around the purchase of sexual services, I
don't see how that's going to happen with $20 million. If we are
going to do this—and I don't think we should—I don't see any
mention of widespread education and outreach programs to the
people with whom we actually want to curb the demand.
Are we expecting to see that the pure application of sanction is
going to end demand? Part of that money will have to go to
education, public education, i.e., general deterrents—and none of
that is going to go—in addition to putting money to the well-needed
funding of the existing organizations that provide vital support
services.
So, no.
July 9, 2014
JUST-39
[Translation]
Mr. Pierre Jacob: Thank you kindly, Mr. Atchison.
My second question is for Ms. Lang.
You're a lawyer and, in your opening remarks, you stressed the
importance of respect for human dignity.
If the federal government was more proactive when it came to
promoting gender equality, do you think it would make a difference
in terms of preventing the exploitation of women and violence
against them?
[English]
Ms. Georgialee Lang: I believe that men using women for sexual
purposes is inherently violent and an absolute affront to human
dignity. On your question as to whether there are provisions to
provide equality between men and women in Canada, that simply is
a separate issue. There can't be equality between prostitutes and
johns because of the very nature of the services being rendered. So I
say, no, that's not going to change what we're grappling with.
[Translation]
Mr. Pierre Jacob: Thank you, Ms. Lang.
My third question is for Ms. Dussault.
You said you were against Bill C-36 because it would result in
more neglect and violence for sex workers and give rise to alienation
and inequality, among other things.
I would like you and your colleagues to tell us how Bill C-36
would affect you if it came into force tomorrow morning.
● (1455)
[English]
Ms. Elizabeth Dussault: If it were passed tomorrow morning, I
believe that I and all of the very—whether educated or uneducated—
brilliant women I work with, and have worked with in the past,
would definitely be at a huge disadvantage.
We would not be able to advertise as clearly as we need to, to
ensure our safety. We would not be able to work together in the
manner that we do and that I want to see increased. I believe we
would very much be forced more out into the streets, into more
dangerous areas—not underground, as someone here said, but
definitely we would be struggling to maintain our balance and our
safety, which we've tried to get with the current laws.
[Translation]
Mr. Pierre Jacob: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
[English]
In your presentation, you talked about New Zealand's experience.
I'd like you to elaborate on that.
[English]
Ms. Elizabeth Dussault: I'm sorry, but I haven't actually been to
New Zealand. I was in Australia.
What differences do you speak of? I could ramble for hours about
it.
[Translation]
Mr. Pierre Jacob: I have another question for you.
How helpful would affordable housing and poverty reduction
measures be with respect to helping sex workers exit prostitution?
[English]
Ms. Elizabeth Dussault: That's not my area of expertise. I would
think that affordable housing and whatnot would be good for all
society, not just for sex workers.
Again, speaking for women who are human trafficked or abused, I
don't believe that's what this bill is in regard to. I'm very sorry for
Ms. Perrier's experiences, and I would be very happy to stand behind
her, or beside her for that matter, and work with her to stop human
trafficking and underage prostitution.
But I choose to be a sex worker. I've had a very different
experience than she has had, so I don't have that education to speak
to something that she's gone through.
[Translation]
Mr. Pierre Jacob: Very well.
You can speak to my next question, time permitting.
17
The Chair: Thank you, Monsieur Jacob.
The next question goes to the Conservative Party, and I'm taking
it.
Professor, just focusing in on this from strictly a social science
perspective, I have some questions about your methodologies in the
study. You presented some overview today, and I think you're
presenting more.
If I understood you correctly, you have surveyed or interviewed
about 3,000 buyers, and that's really where your focus has been. Is
that correct?
Mr. Chris Atchison: It's the focus I've spoken of today. I have
also participated in, as either a co-investigator or as an assistant, at
least another nine projects around the sex industry in general.
The Chair: Since buyers are part of this change in Bill C-36,
that's what I want to focus on. You say they were interviewed or
surveyed. What's the breakdown? How many were interviewed in
person, and how many were surveyed?
Mr. Chris Atchison: I've done hundreds of hours of ethnographic
observation in various virtual and physical spaces over the course of
time.
The Chair: That doesn't mean anything to me. How many men—
I'll say men, although there might be women in there too—did you
survey, did you actually send a piece of paper saying, “I understand
you're a john, and we're trying to understand why you're buying sex
from these individuals”? How many did you survey, and how many
did you have in front of you interviewing?
Mr. Chris Atchison: Right. In the two projects that I referred to
today, there were 50 in-depth interviews and a total of 2,004 surveys.
18
JUST-39
The Chair: Just from a social science perspective, how do you
know in a survey whether or not the person is telling you the truth, or
the whole truth, and how do you do it in an interview? What are your
methods such that as a social scientist you can guarantee this
committee that those people are likely telling the truth?
Mr. Chris Atchison: There's no way that anybody studying any
portion of the sex industry can guarantee the truth of any account,
whether it be a sex worker, sex buyer, manager, owner, operator,
policeman, lawyer, or politician. What we can do is construct our
instruments in such a way that we phrase questions that are not
leading and that do not result in bias, that do not result in response
bias, in social desirability bias. This is much easier in selfadministered surveys, which can provide a degree of privacy and
confidentiality than in person.
With regard to the in-person interviews, the reason I do
phenomenological interviews, often lasting seven or eight hours in
length, is that through the length of conversation, some of those
walls come down.
The Chair: Come down. Sure.
Is there a control group, as in any other scientific method, that
you've put against it?
Mr. Chris Atchison: We've done that in the past. In my first
study, in 1996, we compared people who purchased sex with
members of the general population, males and females. We found
very few statistically significant differences.
Subsequently, I have focused specifically on getting at individuals
in the sex industry so that we can compare among and between
buyers, sellers, intimate partners, and so on and so forth.
● (1500)
The Chair: As I recall—you can tell me if I'm wrong, because I
may have missed it—I think when you were asked a question about
violence, you had different degrees of violence in your survey.
There's physical violence, and obviously there are laws against that,
and then there are others, whether it's verbal and so on.
Did you tell the committee that something like 25% identified that
there's physical violence? Did I hear that correctly?
Mr. Chris Atchison: No.
The Chair: What number did you have, then?
Mr. Chris Atchison: In terms of their instigation of physical
violence, less than 5% have presented physical violence in varying
forms. We measure violence in about 20 or 25 different ways,
reflecting a continuum, everything from just arguments and verbal
discussions all the way up to violent abuse—assault, robbery, and
sexual assault.
The Chair: Maybe you just can't do this, but for somebody to tell
me that they treat these people with respect and I'm doing it for selfgratification, or whatever the issue.... For you to study that, though,
you don't follow up with the actual person they bought the service
July 9, 2014
from to find out if that person was telling you the truth or if they
were violent—whether physically or verbally or any other way—if
they refused to pay, all those other things.
There's no way for you to know whether what they're saying as
buyers of sexual services is actually what they do when they're
behind closed doors in a consensual adult situation. Does your study
show that?
Mr. Chris Atchison: Yes. Our most recent study is a 360-degree
view of the sex industry, where we've looked at sex workers, sex
buyers, the intimate partners of sex workers, managers, owners,
operators, and regulators—
The Chair: Are they matched, where the buyer tells you who
they're buying from and you can interview both of them?
Mr. Chris Atchison: At this juncture, especially under the current
legal regime, it would be impossible in Canada.
The Chair: Okay.
Finally, because a lot of the discussion is about the treatment of
the opposite sex, do most of your surveys ask whether they're in a
relationship, whether it's marriage or boyfriend/girlfriend? Do you
find out if they have other relationships other than with those whom
they're buying sex from? Do they give you permission to talk to
them about how they are treated?
Mr. Chris Atchison: Absolutely. I look at all the range of
demographics, including their non-commercial relationships and
aspects of their gender and sexuality. No, we don't match up with
people who do have non-commercial partners. People who have
non-commercial partners are represented in a variety of different
ways. There are those who are married, there are those who are
common law, have regular sexual partners, and so on and so forth. At
this juncture, again, also due to the current legal regime, we don't—
can't—match that up.
A lot of the times what we have to do in order to elicit
participation and guarantee the confidentiality and privacy that we
do, in order to get the participants, we have to respect their identities
and say we can't reveal these to anybody.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
An hon. member: That sounds like the one from the government.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
That was mine, I hate to tell you.
Thank you, witnesses, for coming tonight and being part of this
review of Bill C-36. We have another panel today, and then three
panels tomorrow, and then we'll be doing clause by clause next
week.
So thank you very much.
The meeting is adjourned.
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