Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights Monday, July 7, 2014 Chair

Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights Monday, July 7, 2014 Chair
Standing Committee on Justice and Human
Rights
JUST
●
NUMBER 034
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2nd SESSION
EVIDENCE
Monday, July 7, 2014
Chair
Mr. Mike Wallace
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41st PARLIAMENT
1
Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights
Monday, July 7, 2014
● (1535)
[English]
The Chair (Mr. Mike Wallace (Burlington, CPC)): Hello,
ladies and gentleman. I'm going to call our meeting of the Standing
Committee on Justice and Human Rights to order.
This is our third meeting of the day, meeting number 34. It is
televised. According to the order of reference on Monday, June 16,
2014, we are considering 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.
We have a number of witnesses with us today. I am going to
introduce all of the witnesses and then we will go to each
organization for 10 minutes. There will be rounds of questions
afterwards.
From the Government of Manitoba, we have the Honourable
Andrew Swan, Minister of Justice and Attorney General. Thank you
for joining us, Minister.
From the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, we have Julia
Beazley. From Concertation des luttes contre l'exploitation sexuelle,
we have Diane Matte and Rose Sullivan here with us. From the Sex
Trafficking Survivors United, Natasha Falle is here. From Maggie's:
The Toronto Sex Workers Action Project, Jean McDonald and
Monica Forrester are here.
As the witnesses are here, we're going to start.
Minister Swan, the floor is yours for 10 minutes.
Hon. Andrew Swan (Minister of Justice and Attorney
General, Government of Manitoba): I am thankful for the
opportunity to be here to speak to the committee about Bill C-36.
In Manitoba's view, prostitution is not a victimless crime. Every
day vulnerable persons—women, men, and children—are preyed
upon by individuals and groups who sexually exploit them. The
harm caused to those exploited is severe: alcohol and drug addiction,
violent victimization, and emotional traumatization at the hands of
buyers of sex, pimps, drug dealers, and others. We know that many
victims in Manitoba are first sexually exploited at a very young age.
The majority of those who escape suffer from deep physical and
emotional scars and trauma that remain with them for the rest of their
lives.
Victims of sexual exploitation in Manitoba and elsewhere face
risks and dangers that can only be considered extreme. In “Homicide
in Canada, 2011”, the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics
indicated that between 1997 and 2011, 99 people were killed as a
direct result of being sexually exploited. It is likely, Mr. Chair, that
this number is quite lower than the reality. This number only
includes those cases in which the police are able to determine that
death occurred during prostitution-related activities. Indeed, many
missing and murdered women cases, such as the Pickton case in B.C.
or the recent Lamb case in Manitoba, involve women who were
thought to have been sexually exploited.
The Manitoba government does not support the legalization of
prostitution, it does not support the full decriminalization of
prostitution or a de facto decriminalization of prostitution, which
would occur if there was no response to the Bedford decision. All
those options would continue to allow the purchase of others for sex,
devalue human life, and enable tragedies associated with prostitution
to continue to occur.
Finding the right way to reduce sexual exploitation in Canada is
difficult, complex, and controversial. It's also vitally important. Bill
C-36 deals with the legal gap resulting from the Supreme Court of
Canada decision in the case of Bedford. We now have an opportunity
together to find a better way to protect and assist victims of sexual
exploitation and enhance safety in our communities.
The great majority of sellers of sex—not all, but the great majority
—are indeed victims of sexual exploitation. The great majority of
sellers of sex do not have any meaningful choice about becoming
involved and staying involved in prostitution. Given the significant
role in prostitution of childhood sexual abuse, substance abuse,
financial dependency, chemical dependency, and coercion by street
gangs and organized crime, it is unreasonable to expect that the
victims of sexual exploitation can easily exit without appropriate
laws and supports to assist them.
In my time today I'll explain why Manitoba supports the adoption
of the so-called Nordic model. We'll also suggest why and how Bill
C-36 needs to be amended. I'll also talk about the necessary support
for victims of sexual exploitation, and why we need clarity
respecting the funding announced by the federal government for
this purpose.
Bill C-36 offers an appropriate approach to address prostitution. It
focuses for the first time in Canada's history on reducing the demand
for the purchase of sex and assisting victims to escape sexual
exploitation. With reduced demand, there will be less incentive to
coerce others to engage in prostitution and human trafficking.
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The Nordic model of prostitution laws flows from the premise that
victims of sexual exploitation should not be further victimized by
criminal charges for selling their sexual services. Instead the laws
take on the demand side of prostitution by making it a criminal
offence to purchase sex and by penalizing those who exploit the
victims for profit by making it a criminal offence to profit from
procuring sexual services for another person.
In the Nordic model, the criminal law is part of a larger strategy
that includes increasing public awareness to the harms of prostitution
and providing exit strategies and supports to assist victims of sexual
exploitation.
The Nordic model has been successful in reducing prostitution
where it has been adopted. For example, it's significantly decreased
street prostitution by at least half in Sweden at a time when
prostitution in other Nordic countries was increasing. Human
trafficking into Sweden has all but ceased. Studies from Norway,
next door, show a marked decrease in serious violence against
victims of sexual exploitation. Several other countries, including
Norway, Finland, Iceland, Israel, and France have since also adopted
or are in the process of adopting the Nordic model.
In Manitoba, I can tell you that prosecutors and police have
effectively adopted the Nordic model demand reduction approach in
dealing with prostitution charges under the Criminal Code. Our
prosecutors encourage those who are charged with offences to
participate in diversion programs and consider whether more
stringent probation conditions, such as community work and stayaway orders, should be sought against buyers of sex convicted under
the Criminal Code prostitution provisions.
● (1540)
In November 2013, the Winnipeg Police Service announced that
it's counter exploitation unit would be adopting the approach of not
arresting victims of sexual exploitation. Instead, they would be
working with them to see if they could connect them with social
work organizations and support groups that could help them to leave
what they're doing. They would also continue to arrest and charge
johns and those who exploit sexually exploit people for profit.
The RCMP and other municipal police forces in Manitoba have
also taken this deferential approach. Given my government's support
for the Nordic model—expressed at the last national meeting of
justice ministers and by way of my letter to Minister MacKay of
February 5—I'm very pleased that Bill C-36 primarily adopts a
similar approach, by creating an offence of purchasing sexual
services and criminalizing profiting from the prostitution of others
while not criminalizing the selling of one's own sexual services or
using the proceeds for non-exploitive purposes. I do support those
elements of the bill, and I encourage all members of Parliament to
enact them so they can be implemented as soon as possible.
I am pleased that I don't stand alone. I do want to recognize the
work and the efforts of Manitoba MP Joy Smith; we've maybe taken
a different path to the same conclusion. I'm sure that some other day
we'll be disagreeing vehemently on something, but Joy Smith has
been a strong voice on this in Manitoba.
That being said, there are certainly requirements for amendment
before this bill should pass. I do have serious concerns about those
July 7, 2014
provisions of Bill C-36 that would criminalize the victims of sexual
exploitation if they are forced to engage in prostitution in a manner
that stops or impedes traffic, or communication for the purposes of
prostitution in a public place where persons under the age of 18 may
reasonably be expected to be present.
Those provisions are completely inconsistent with the Nordic
model, in terms of punishing and revictimizing the victims of sexual
exploitation. This would force those engaged in street prostitution to
ply their trade in more isolated and dangerous locations. It would put
their safety at risk. It certainly could jeopardize the constitutionality
of the legislation by undermining the safety of victims of sexual
exploitation rather than enhancing their protection. I can't support
those provisions, and I would urge that Bill C-36 be amended to
remove them from the legislation.
I do have serious concerns that the provisions contained in clause
15 of the bill would lead to greater danger, an almost certain series of
court challenges, and a much enhanced risk that they will ultimately
be struck down. In the meantime, the focus will continue to be on the
sellers of sex. Instead, it should be on the buyers of sex to take
responsibility for their actions and change their behaviour.
I've tried to determine how these provisions made it into the bill.
My best guess is that they attempt to reconcile a lack of consensus
among law enforcement on the best way to have victims of sexual
exploitation make changes in their lives. It is perhaps the threat of
criminal prosecution that is seen by some to be the best way to get
there. I do not agree.
In Manitoba, as I have already stated, our law enforcement
partners have already moved as far as they can toward the Nordic
model. The prostitution diversion program, operated by the
Salvation Army, and paid for by the diversion program for the
buyers of sex, commonly known as john school, will continue and
hopefully be enhanced. Victims of sexual exploitation will pursue
change if we give them reasons and the opportunity to do so, not by
holding the threat of prosecution over their heads.
Finally, although not part of Bill C-36, I would like to express
qualified support for the federal government's commitment to
provide funding for programs to assist victims of sexual exploitation.
Programs to assist victims to withdraw from prostitution and to
pursue more positive alternatives are an essential part of the Nordic
model and a key element to the success of that approach. There is a
need for robust ongoing programming to provide sexually exploited
victims with a meaningful choice to leave the sex trade.
It is unclear from the federal government's announcement whether
the $20-million funding allocation is a one-time grant or is intended
to reflect a commitment to annual federal funding for this purpose. I
saw media reports just today that suggest it would be $4 million for
each of five years. If we divide that up per capita, that would mean
less than $200,000 a year for Manitoba. We already spend $8 million
a year as a province, helping out victims of sexual exploitation.
July 7, 2014
JUST-34
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I hope the government will reconsider this and provide ongoing
funding. The needs of sexually exploited victims will be ongoing no
matter how well this bill works. I would urge the Minister of Justice
to consult provincial and territorial ministers to assess the level and
type of federal funding that is critical to supporting long-term
programming for sexually exploited victims across the country.
of our society's most vulnerable women, children, and men. We do
not believe prostitution can be considered safe or legitimated as a
form of work, nor can it be accepted as a solution to poverty and a
range of other underlying social issues.
Mr. Chair, the appendix to the written submission describes
Tracia’s Trust, which is Manitoba's strategy to assist victims of
sexual exploitation. Again, Manitoba invests about $8 million per
year. We look forward to meaningful, ongoing contributions from
the federal government, and I promise that Manitoba will invest
those contributions wisely.
We commend the government for the good work it has done in
crafting Bill C-36, which courageously challenges the assumption
that men are entitled to paid sexual access to women's bodies, and
boldly refutes the notion that buying sex is an inevitable in our
society. In this regard the bill represents a paradigm shift in law and
policy, and eventually we hope in public attitude about prostitution.
In closing, I want to thank the committee for allowing me the
opportunity to provide my comments on behalf of the people of
Manitoba. I do urge the passage of Bill C-36, but with these
important changes, so that we can change the dialogue and change
the channel in this country and go after demand.
● (1545)
This is a shift the EFC has advocated for, so we're pleased to see it
reflected not just in the bill but in comments and speeches delivered
by the minister in introducing and framing it.
I do look forward to any questions you may have after the other
presenters have had their opportunity to speak.
Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you, Minister. Thank you for that presentation
from the Government of Manitoba.
Now from the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Ms. Beazley.
Ms. Julia Beazley (Policy Analyst, Centre for Faith and Public
Life, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada): Thank you.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is the national association
of evangelical Christians gathered together for influence, impact, and
identity in ministry and public witness. Since 1964 the EFC has
provided a national forum for evangelicals and a constructive voice
for biblical principles in life and society.
Over the last few decades, the EFC has presented a number of
papers and submissions to Parliament on the issue of prostitution and
on the closely related issue of human trafficking. We also intervened
before the Supreme Court of Canada in the Bedford case. We're
grateful for the opportunity to speak to this important bill. For the
sake of time I'm going to focus on a few key elements of the bill and
ask that you would refer to our written brief for our full analysis.
A central message of the Bible is the call for God's people to be
compassionate because God has been compassionate to us. Our
belief that God has created all people in his image and loves each
one compels us both to announce and to guard the fundamental
dignity of each person. We understand people should be treated as
creatures with inherent worth, not as objects for another's
gratification or profit. The EFC has long expressed concern for
those who are prostituted based on biblical principles that compel
care for the vulnerable, the pursuit of justice, and inform the duty of
care we owe one another as human beings.
Research shows that the vast majority of individuals in
prostitution enter by force, coercion, or as a result of constrained
choice and last resort. Prostitution is inherently dangerous. It's
violence against women and a form of systemic exploitation of many
The preamble begins with the recognition that prostitution is
inherently exploitive and dangerous, that objectification of the
human body and commodification of sexual activity causes social
harm, and that prostitution violates human dignity and gender
equality. It also recognizes issues like poverty, addiction, mental
illness, and racialization are key contributing factors to individuals
entering prostitution, and it notes the importance of denouncing and
prohibiting the purchase of sex because that's what creates the
demand for prostitution.
This positioning effectively turns the historic treatment of
prostitution on its head. Legal and political treatment of prostitution
has long focused almost exclusively on those who are prostituted and
how we might deal with them as public nuisance, as a threat to
public health, or a source of community disruption. Sex buyers who
drive the demand that funnels individuals into prostitution and holds
them there have been largely invisible.
C-36 correctly identifies and targets demand as the driving force
behind prostitution and trafficking for sexual exploitation. The bill
proposes a new offence prohibiting the purchase or attempted
purchase of sexual services. If passed, the purchase of sex would be
illegal for the first time in Canada and a buyer's conduct would be
illegal wherever it occurs.
The sex trade operates according to market principles of supply
and demand. Without male demand for paid sexual access to
primarily women and children, the prostitution industry wouldn't
flourish or expand. This new offence takes aim at the root of this
exploitation and is supported by significant fines and potential jail
time. Surveys of men who buy sex indicate these, along with a risk
of public shaming, are the things that would most effectively deter
them from continuing in their sex-buying behaviour.
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JUST-34
We recommend funds incurred from fines under proposed
subsection 286.1(1) be directed towards exit services. We question
the purpose of proposed paragraph 286.1(1)(b), which gives the
option of a summary offence with lower fines and jail terms. For
consistency of message and deterrents, our preference would be that
all offences under this section be indictable as under 286.1(1)(a).
However, if there is good reason for maintaining the option of a
summary conviction at the crown's discretion, then we suggest that
summary conviction only be an option on first offence and that
subsequent offences be indictable.
● (1550)
We also question what will become of re-educational programs
like john schools, which serve an important restorative justice
function. Feedback from buyers who attend and anecdotal evidence
from those who run or participate in the programs suggest that these
play an important role in changing how buyers view prostitution, and
that recidivism rates among those who attend are relatively low.
In prostitution, everyone is robbed, including the buyer, and
certainly any family they may have. Our interest is that all parties to
prostitution be restored and we feel that john schools play an
important role in this. So we hope that provinces will be encouraged
to maintain or establish prostitution offender programs as part of the
punishment for offences under section 286.1.
Where the diversion program is often an alternative to a first
offence criminal charge, it could be made mandatory so that in
addition to the $1,000 fine on a first offence, buyers could be
required to attend a diversion program.
Bill C-36 also initiates a critical shift in how those who are
prostituted are viewed in law. Research and anecdotal evidence tell
us that between 88% and 96% of those in prostitution are not there
by choice and say that they would get out if they felt they had a
viable alternative. This bill recognizes and reflects that reality. The
government has made it clear that in the spirit and intent of the
legislation those who are prostituted are no longer seen as a nuisance
but as vulnerable, and therefore afforded immunity from criminal
charges except under specific circumstances.
This is an important shift that we affirm wholeheartedly. We are
concerned, though, that paragraphs 213(1)(a) and (b), which deal
with stopping motor vehicles or impeding vehicular or pedestrian
traffic, remain and are unqualified by the new section 213(1.1),
which makes it an offence to communicate for prostitution in a
public place or next to a place where reasonably minors might be
expected to be present.
We understand the balance the government has tried to achieve
between protecting vulnerable individuals involved in prostitution
and protecting communities, especially children, from exposure.
Where there is prostitution there are johns and pimps, and the
objective of protecting children from exposure, being solicited by
buyers, or approached by pimps is a good one. But the current
wording of the section leaves a fairly big loophole that could
undermine the intent of the law to criminalize mainly the activities of
johns and pimps.
Further, by our interpretation the only ones who risk criminalization under the proposed laws are the most vulnerable: those engaging
July 7, 2014
in street-level prostitution who are among the poorest, most
desperate, and most addicted. Criminalizing vulnerable individuals
creates barriers to their exit from prostitution and further entrenches
the inequality and marginalization that got them there.
Criminal records are a significant barrier to many potential
educational or employment opportunities for those who successfully
exit, especially when so many who find health and freedom want to
then go back and help.
We want to minimize the potential of this section for criminalizing
prostituted individuals. The current scope is far too broad as it could
be argued that minors could be reasonably expected to be just about
anywhere in public. Our preference is that section 213 be either
narrowed significantly or removed. Offences under section 213(1)
and 213(1.1) are punishable on summary conviction, which, as I
understand it, can carry fines of up to $2,000, jail time up to six
months, or both.
If section 213 is not amended to minimize the potential for
criminalization we suggest the punishment for these summary
offences be set at a very low threshold with no potential for
imprisonment, and be defined in the legislation so that we can ensure
the most vulnerable don't continue to face undue hardship.
Ultimately a lot of this comes down to enforcement. How can we
be assured that the spirit and intent of the bill will be upheld when it
comes to enforcing the laws? We have travelled extensively across
Canada, conducting public informational forums on prostitution, in
partnership with Defend Dignity, and I can say two things with
confidence. There are police officers and police forces in whose
hands we feel completely confident that the spirit of this law will be
upheld. But there are also others in whose hands we don't have that
same confidence.
The Attorney General of Canada can give direction to the
provincial attorneys general, who then give guidance to law
enforcement within their jurisdiction, but how a particular police
department enforces the laws is determined by the department itself,
as evidenced by the number of police forces across the country that
have already been policing in a manner consistent with Bill C-36.
We suggest that standardized training be developed for law
enforcement, provincial attorneys general, and crown attorneys
about the new treatment of prostitution under Bill C-36 to support
enforcement that's consistent with the intent of the legislation.
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JUST-34
Finally, the legislative changes proposed are part of what is to be a
two-pronged approach taken by the government. We welcome the
initial commitment of $20 million to supporting exit programs and
hope this will translate to long-term sustained federal funding. The
government should also engage provincial, territorial, and municipal
governments and a wide range of stakeholders in developing a
comprehensive national plan to ensure that programs and supports
are in place to prevent vulnerable individuals from entering
prostitution and support those who are in as they exit.
We suggest that such a plan could be integrated into the national
action plan to combat human trafficking.
● (1555)
It's also important to address poverty and affordable housing as
underlying social issues that drive individuals to prostitution or make
them vulnerable to exploitation, because preventing entry into
prostitution is just as important as helping with exit from it once
they're in.
Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation.
Our next presenter is from the Concertation des luttes contre
l'exploitation sexuelle.
Madame Matte, are you the speaker? Oui?
[Translation]
Ms. Diane Matte (Community organizer, Concertation des
luttes contre l'exploitation sexuelle): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I would like to thank the committee for agreeing to hear the
perspective of the women we represent.
Like many individuals, groups and countries that are following
this debate and watching what we are doing here in Canada,
Concertation des luttes contre l'exploitation sexuelle, or CLES,
cannot but salute the decision to criminalize the purchasing of sex in
Canada. Even though the bill is imperfect, we regard this as a victory
for abolition, not prohibition. This bill calls upon Canadian society
to stop considering prostitution and the industry that exploits it as
inevitable and a victimless crime. For the first time in Canadian legal
history, a government is inviting us to examine prostitution as a
crime against the person, a form of violence against women that is
incompatible with the quest for social equality, in particular the
equality rights of women who are among the most marginalized.
CLES has been in existence for nearly 10 years, and for 6 of those
years, we have been in daily contact with women who have been or
are in prostitution. We believe in the necessity of building a world
without prostitution. We offer support, guidance and an ear to female
victims of sexual exploitation. We fight with them for recognition of
their rights and to ensure their security, including the security of not
being prostituted and of receiving support to leave the business when
they want to.
We organize the women so they can act to bring about the change
they want in their lives and those of the women around them. We do
preventive work to combat the trivialization of prostitution and to
publicize its impact on the physical and mental health of those who
are dealing with this reality, but also on access to equality for all
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women. We consider ourselves part of an international movement
that is working tirelessly to denounce the secular and patriarchal
tradition of prostitution.
I won't get into the details of the brief, but we invite you to look at
Bill C-36 from a perspective that sees government action as part of
the struggle against the commodification of human beings, in the
interest of equality for all.
We shall focus first of all on the concept of security. In our view,
the Bedford ruling relied on a very narrow interpretation of the
security of person concept set out in every human rights charter in
the world. I urge Canadian society not to adopt that limited view.
The Bedford ruling encouraged the privatization of the safety of
women in the prostitution industry. It was recommended that women
hire a driver or bodyguard, rather than address the lack of safety of
those women at the source. We find it unacceptable to reduce the
concept of security to its simplest form, in Canadian society today.
Like others have done before us, we urge you to refuse any form
of criminalization of prostitutes. My colleague Rose Sullivan can
elaborate on that. Women have a voice. But very often, when women
who work in the prostitution industry criticize prostitution, or when
women who have left prostitution speak about it in a negative light,
they manage to snuff that voice out.
We encourage you to listen to what women in prostitution have
said. Over the past year, CLES has done a study, which we would be
happy to provide to the committee. After speaking with 109 women
in 6 cities across Quebec, we learned that 45% of them were still
active in the sex industry when they answered the questionnaire or
took part in interviews, and that 80% of them wanted to get out of
prostitution but did not know of any organizations to help them. That
view needs to be taken into account.
Furthermore, of the 109 women who answered the questionnaire,
90% had been or were victims of violence at the hands of men in
their immediate circles, be they family members, clients or pimps.
The women we talk to on a daily basis, as well as those who
responded to our research call, are demanding more justice, more
consistency, more services and more recognition that they are living
or have lived one of the forms of violence against women that are
most trivialized, and yet still taboo in the year 2014.
● (1600)
While we support Bill C-36, one fundamental change must be
made to act upon undertaking to decriminalize the victims of sexual
exploitation. The Nordic, or Swedish, model relies on three integral
parts, the first being the total decriminalization of prostitutes, female
or otherwise. The second is the criminalization of the purchase of
sex. And the third is education aimed at changing society's attitudes
and perception around prostitution. The success of Bill C-36
inevitably hinges on those three inseparable components.
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JUST-34
I will conclude by stressing that we are at a crossroads, and certain
choices are necessary. No one, no political party, can skirt the
fundamental question. Do we believe that prostitution and the sexual
exploitation it represents have their purpose in our society? If not, we
have to act and go much further than what Bill C-36 would do. We
have to want more for women than prostitution; we have to want
more for the women who are in prostitution.
Of course, we support the $20-million investment made by the
government, but it is not enough. We would like to see more
funding, to be sure. We want to stress how important it is that the
money go to groups that work towards the same objectives set out in
the preamble of the bill, in other words, stamping out the view that
prostitution is an inevitable reality that cannot be changed.
And I feel compelled to point out, in no uncertain terms, that a
number of organizations around the country working to keep women
in prostitution currently benefit from government funding as well as
endowments. These organizations encourage women in prostitution
who are unhappy with their current working conditions to go
elsewhere or to become pimps themselves. Let's call a spade a spade.
Some groups endeavour to keep women in prostitution. Bill C-36
seeks to block such efforts by the industry to legitimize the sex trade
in Canada. Selling sexual services to others is neither a legitimate
business nor compatible with the pursuit of gender equality.
● (1605)
[English]
The Chair: Ms. Sullivan.
[Translation]
Ms. Rose Sullivan (Participant , Concertation des luttes contre
l'exploitation sexuelle): Good afternoon.
My name is Rose Sullivan. I am a survivor of prostitution and a
CLES activist. I am actively involved in building a support network
for women who are victims of sexual exploitation and want a way
out.
I was a prostitute for three long years. And I tried to conduct my
business as safely as possible because I want to live, for my children
among other reasons. What I learned from my time as a prostitute is
that it's impossible to engage in prostitution safely. When I started
out, I was pro-sex work, but over time, I became a staunch
abolitionist, in addition to being completely beaten down. Things are
better now.
I am an active champion of abolishing prostitution. And that is
why I support Bill C-36 wholeheartedly. There is, however, one
aspect of the bill that disturbs me: the fact that some provisions
continue to criminalize women. As I see it, to ensure the safety of
female prostitutes and to genuinely support their exit from
prostitution, it is imperative that they not be criminalized. Even
though the criminalization of prostitutes represents a small
component of the bill, it negates all the other provisions. If there
is any possible way to lay the criminal blame on prostitutes, pimps
and the various groups that benefit from prostitution will still have
the tools they need to scare, manipulate, blackmail and keep these
women in prostitution. They must not be criminalized in any way.
To call us victims in some situations and criminals in others makes
absolutely no sense. In my view, this part of the bill could lead to
July 7, 2014
more prostitution in places where children are present, even though
the opposite is intended. It enables pimps to keep their control over
the women. No matter where these women are—quote unquote—
pimped out, they will be breaking the law and that will allow pimps
to exploit them. The bill will do absolutely nothing to reduce
prostitution in the locations desired, in other words, near children
and churches.
As a mother of three, I would say that women who prostitute
themselves in their homes, while their children are in the room or the
apartment next door, are probably the women with the fewest
choices. They are the most vulnerable ones of all. This is utterly the
wrong way to help them; criminalizing them even more than women
who are fortunate enough to carry out their business in other
circumstances is just wrong.
Regardless, children can be anywhere. That part of the bill is
extremely arbitrary. Police and municipalities will still be able to
freely abuse their power and continue to criminalize far too many
women.
When I was a prostitute, apart from being assaulted—something
that happened to me quite early on—my biggest fears were losing
custody of my children and having a criminal record. And those
were the fears that the individuals who pimped me out played upon
to control me. That is how they scared me and made me stay in
prostitution much longer than I had originally intended.
Once, a client of mine became violent with me, and I wanted to
stop seeing him. And my pimp used these scare tactics to force me to
keep seeing that client. He said he was going to call children's aid
and the police. I was scared so I kept seeing the client. And when the
day finally came that I just couldn't take the violence any more and I
actually called the police, I got no help because the law was too
ambiguous and the police didn't really know how to help me even
though they knew I needed assistance.
● (1610)
There can no longer be any grey areas in the law. All prostitution
legislation must be clear, specific and easy to enforce in order to
adequately protect women and give those who want to exit
prostitution the help they need to do so.
[English]
The Chair: Thank you for that presentation.
Our next presenter is from the Sex Trafficking Survivors United,
Ms. Falle.
Ms. Natasha Falle (Representative, Sex Trafficking Survivors
United): Sex Trafficking Survivors United is a survivor-led
international organization. Our 177 survivors urge the Canadian
Parliament to take a stand against the exploitation of young, poor,
and vulnerable by the richer, older, and more powerful. Pass Bill
C-36.
July 7, 2014
JUST-34
7
As all survivors know, the vast majority of people end up in
prostitution because they have no other choice, which only serves to
stigmatize and further trap most of the sexually exploited. This
empowers their traffickers and abusers while erasing the truth that
the exploited are victims of multiple crimes. This is a statement made
by our founder, Stella Marr.
for those underaged and those 16 to 24. Topics that were discussed
included how to be in control while working. Children have little or
no control in situations of abuse from adults.
According to the Toronto sex crimes unit, the average age is 14.
My story, my truth, is a common story. I entered when I was close to
15 years old. I came from a middle class home in the Calgary
suburbs. My father was a police officer. My mother managed bridal
shops. My seemingly normal life suddenly became unsafe, and I hit
the streets. Not knowing where to turn for help, I spent months
couch-surfing from place to place, often hungry and scared. I began
having sex at an early age, often giving myself away loosely for a
place to stay.
Another topic was how to support yourself financially, physically,
and emotionally. Teaching kids how to be sex workers is abuse. How
to avoid arrest is teaching youth how to avoid police. How to avoid
HIV. I can't tell you how many times I've had a condom pulled off by
a john without my knowing, or a hole poked in it, or been offered
$20 or $1,000 for a condomless blow job.
I was first introduced to prostitution by underage girls, 14 and 15
years old, and eventually a man who posed as a manager offered me
a business opportunity. I introduced my five underage friends into
prostitution at that time. We sold sex independently for a number of
months. We fought society's stereotypes that we were junkies,
criminals, and sexual deviants. We tried hard not to feed those
stereotypes by not using hard drugs or having pimps, but one by one
each one of us ended up with a pimp and/or on drugs. My best friend
was murdered. She was shot in the head by a pimp she only knew for
three months who posed as a bodyguard.
● (1615)
While underage we easily gained work in escort agencies, by ads
in papers, on street corners, in massage parlours, and while the
geographical location in which sex is sold varies, what remains the
same is the men who purchase human bodies. The power dynamics
do not change. This is a business exchange based on lies and gender
inequality and threats of violence. It is often referred to as “the
game” because both parties struggle for power and control. For their
survival the prostituted people need to feel they have power in the
situation, the sex buyers for their own gratification.
Most violence we experienced in prostitution happened after the
sex act was finished. Men spent their welfare cheques or their
mortgage payments to have sex with me. They used money set aside
for their children's birthday gifts or anniversary gifts. When I was no
longer a fantasy image to them and the thrill was over, I was just a
regular person and in some cases considered disposable to these
men.
I met and I was sold with hundreds of underage girls in
prostitution. I have counselled over 1,200 prostituted women, trans,
and children. Most disclose that they entered into it as children.
Child sex abuse occurs when an adult or an older child persuades,
tricks, or forces a child into sexual activity. It includes sexual acts,
inappropriate touching, showing the child pornography, or involving
them in prostitution. It is considered child abuse when an adult has
sex with a child or youth. When a child receives money for sex it
does not change anything, it is still abuse.
Let's talk about the slippery slope of legalized prostitution and atrisk youth. In 2011 Youth Line website promoted a youth sex worker
workshop facilitated by a pro-prostitution group from that you will
soon hear from, entitled Hu$tle & Dough: Youth Sex Workers Build
Power & Safety! Hu$tle is spelled with a dollar sign. This is a group
This workshop was facilitated by a current sex worker, who
herself began as a youth. I have copies of it that I have submitted to
the chair.
It is a basic human right for women and children to be free from
being sold to men. No child or woman should have to resort to
accepting violence for their survival, under any circumstance. It is
crucial to note that all but one of the experiential affiants in this
Bedford case entered prostitution as children. The other affiant
admitted to being coerced.
Considering that most prostituted women and men entered as
children, it's fair to assume that many have not had a healthy
comparison apart from prostitution. That is why it does not surprise
people such as me, with lived experience, that in July of 2012 the
Adult Entertainment Association of Canada threatened to recruit
high-school students, claiming to help youth pay for university. In
reality, they were advocating for an industry that thrives off the male
demand for younger flesh for their own personal gain.
Someone who greatly inspired me to be where I am today—a
graduate of college and university, a college professor of police
foundations for five years, the founder of an organization, and a
board member of Sex Trafficking Survivors United—once said to
me in my earlier years, when I first transitioned from the sex trade....
I had been out a couple of years, and I really struggled. I blamed
myself for a lot of the experiences that I had endured. She said to me,
“For something to be a real choice, you need to have another option
of equal or greater value”.
8
JUST-34
There's no job description that could accurately portray my
experiences in prostitution. I have sold sex independently, and I have
been forced by so-called bodyguards. My pimp was shot while
protecting me from another pimp. He also stabbed another man
seven times, who had harmed me. He hung this over my head,
making me believe that I owed him my life for this protection. My
pimp burned me with cigarettes, broke my bones, and brutally beat
me on a regular basis. I was trained not to call the police. I listened,
out of fear of losing work, the only work that I knew.
It was not the laws that hindered me from calling the police. It was
the pimps and the owners of bawdy houses, who did not want the
police attention of their establishments that would chase the sex
buyers away. We were labelled rats and snitches when we went to the
police. Therefore, we dealt with violent matters internally.
A prostituted woman was killed in Germany in a brothel this
month, and it was the 22nd murder since the complete legalization of
prostitution in 2002. Whereas, in Sweden, where the Nordic model
passed in 1999, the only murder of a prostituted woman was in 2013,
and it is not clear whether it was prostitution related.
Sex Trafficking Survivors United recommends that the government raise the $20 million allocated to help survivor-led organizations such as ourselves help the people, our sisters, exit from this
dangerous, dark, and lucrative underground industry.
We recommend that section 213 be revisited and all criminalization of prostituted people be removed. Women who are unable to
adequately protect themselves or their own children are not in a
position to protect children in the communities.
July 7, 2014
Our mission is to assist sex workers in their efforts to live and
work with safety and dignity. Maggie's is a harm reduction agency
primarily funded through the Ontario Ministry of Health and LongTerm Care. We provide safer sex and safer drug use supplies,
education and support, and have had several thousand client contacts
in the last year. We do front-line work and our service users are
predominantly street-based sex workers. Many are lower income,
indigenous, of colour and/or transgendered.
Since the legislation was introduced we've held many consultations with our service users, who unanimously reject this bill. They
believe it will not ensure their safety or their security. Instead they
say it will push them further into harm's way, continuing the
epidemic of violence against sex workers in Canada. They are
gravely worried about their own safety and worried that more of their
friends will go missing, be assaulted, raped or murdered.
Recreating the same harms of the old legislation struck down by
the Supreme Court, Bill C-36 will continue to allow violent
predators like Robert Pickton to prey on sex workers who have been
pushed into less public areas of the city, unable to screen their
potential clients and unable to work together. This is why many
people have taken to calling Bill C-36 the Pickton model.
I have provided more details in our brief, submitted in partnership
with the London Abused Women's Centre. You'll hear from the
director there on another day.
I'd like to give thanks on behalf of all survivors around the world
who are in support of this bill. We recognize the historic significance
of the government in recognizing this form of male violence against
prostituted people. It is clear from the evidence I have presented
today that the government is on the right track to protecting our most
vulnerable in society. For that, survivors around the world are most
grateful.
The debate here should not be about choice or about whether
violence happens to sex workers. We know violence happens to sex
workers. We want to address that violence. Instead it should be about
the best ways to ensure safety and security and access to services
such as police, if necessary, for sex workers.
I would like to personally extend my deepest gratitude to MP Joy
Smith and Minister Peter MacKay for listening to survivors. There's
a reason that so many of us are exposing prostitution.
Thank you.
● (1620)
The Chair: Thank you for that presentation.
Our next and final presenter for this panel is Maggie's: The
Toronto Sex Workers Action Project.
The floor is yours for 10 minutes.
Ms. Jean McDonald (Executive Director, Maggie's: The
Toronto Sex Workers Action Project): Hi there. My name is Jean
McDonald. I'm the executive director of Maggie's: The Toronto Sex
Workers Action Project, an organization that's run for and by sex
workers, and is the oldest of its kind in Canada.
Bill C-36 does not do this. It both indirectly and directly punishes
sex workers by making prostitution illegal, as Peter MacKay
confirmed this morning. Criminalization breeds isolation and
isolation, in turn, breeds vulnerability to violence, exploitation,
and abuse. Instead of working to de-stigmatize prostitution and to
see sex workers as part of Canadian society, Bill C-36 will make it
difficult and unsafe for sex workers to reach out to community
services, to family and friends, or even to police for assistance. In
fact, proposed subsection 213(1.1), which criminalizes communication, will give police considerable powers to continue to target and
harass sex workers. Communication is one of the key means by
which street-based sex workers are able to screen their clients, to see
if a client may be intoxicated or sober, to negotiate rate, services, and
safer sex practices.
July 7, 2014
JUST-34
Criminalizing the purchase of sex, as studies from Sweden have
shown, will not protect sex workers nor will it reduce demand. When
clients are criminalized they are also less likely to assist sex workers
who may be exploited or abused because those clients themselves
will fear arrest. As well, criminalizing the purchase of sex in effect
results in a de facto criminalization of the sale of sex.
Working indoors has been demonstrated to enhance sex workers'
ability to control their work conditions and to negotiate safer sex
practices, yet Bill C-36 impedes the ability to work indoors because
it bans advertising and criminalizes the purchase of sexual services.
Instead of criminalizing prostitution, the Government of Canada
should listen to what sex workers have been saying for more than 30
years and what sex worker groups the world over unanimously agree
will increase the safety and security of sex workers, and that is
decriminalization.
Systems of decriminalization, such as the Prostitution Reform Act
2003 in New Zealand, allow sex workers to have the same labour
protections and legal rights as any other person in the country.
Studies of decriminalization in New Zealand have shown an
improvement in working conditions, a decrease in violence, and an
increase in the ability for sex workers to negotiate safer sex practices.
● (1625)
There are already provisions in the Criminal Code pertaining to
forced labour, forcible confinement, kidnapping, sexual assault,
statutory rape, theft, and physical assault. Should sex work be
decriminalized, none of these very important aspects of the Criminal
Code will be affected. In fact, sex workers will have a greater ability
to access and to charge people who may be doing these things to
them.
At Maggie's, we believe that Bill C-36 must be scrapped in its
entirety. In its place, a system of decriminalization should be
developed to provide sex workers with the same labour, legal, and
human rights as any other person in Canada.
We support the move from legislation that is moralist to one that is
based on human rights and on health and safety standards. At
Maggie's, we see the decriminalization of prostitution as an essential
part of our overall harm reduction strategy.
9
me if I'm wrong on that. I'm here in her stead to offer her submission
because we do not want to allow the policing of prostitution to
silence the very women whom we need to be hearing from. So
following this is the submission of Monica Forrester.
My name is Monica Forrester. I'm a woman of colour from Curve
Lake Reservation in Ontario. I'm a trans woman and a street sex
worker of 25 years. I've been stigmatized because of my identity, my
race, and my class. I'm here to speak about sex workers who are
doing the work due to choice, coercion, or economic circumstance.
For many years I was homeless. I had no other options but to do
sex work to survive and to get the basic necessities of life and access
community. Sex work was where I found community with people
dealing with the same discrimination as I was. I'm now a college
graduate and an outreach worker bringing community, empowerment, and safety to marginalized groups.
Many do not understand street sex work or how Bill C-36 will
affect us. Some work the street because they are poor and don't have
the money to pay for things, like a phone or a computer or renting
space. Some are homeless and have no other method of earning
money. For some women, such as single mothers, social services are
far from sufficient. Ontario Works provides $718 to a single parent
in Ontario, but the average one-bedroom rent in Toronto is about
$1,000 per month. Single parents who are sex working to support
their family do not want to work at home where their children live,
and so some choose to work on the street.
Thank you.
The Chair: Ms. Forrester, are you adding anything?
Ms. Chanelle Gallant (Outreach and Community Support
Worker, Maggie's: The Toronto Sex Workers Action Project):
Yes, I am.
My name is Chanelle Gallant. I'm a former staffer at Maggie's:
The Toronto Sex Workers Action Project. I'm here representing one
of our staffers, Monica Forrester, who could not be with us.
Monica is an indigenous sex-working woman. She was scheduled
to be here, but over this past weekend one of her close friends, who
is also an indigenous sex-working woman, was arrested on
“communicating for the purposes of prostitution” charges. Monica
has to stay in Toronto to offer her friend support and bail.
I believe that Monica was to be the only current indigenous sex
worker that this group will be hearing from. I invite you to correct
Aboriginal women in remote areas are working along the
highways to get from town to town. Survival sex work is necessary
to feed their kids and themselves. They face added stigma within
their communities because of ongoing colonization. Colonialism
already silenced them about sex, and sex work adds another layer of
stigma and more isolation from their community.
Aboriginal women in Vancouver who were killed by Robert
Pickton were from all over, but went to the downtown streets to do
survival sex work. There are migrants and newcomers to Canada
whose first language isn't English. For them, advertising is difficult
or even impossible, but they can advertise by being on the street and
negotiating a few English words.
10
JUST-34
Bill C-36 does not help these people, does not help sex workers,
including those who have no other choices. A lot of trans women
like me, because they don't have basic human rights, can't find jobs.
Recently a trans woman asked me about these new laws, wondering
how she was going to pay her rent or go to college or transition so
she could get another job. This week a 50-year-old woman who's
been a sex worker for her entire adult life came into Maggie's for
safer sex supplies and asked who was going to hire her. It was all
she'd ever done. Was she going to have to go on welfare now?
Bill C-36 will silence sex workers who experience violence. I'm a
sex worker and a front-line outreach worker with 20 years'
experience. I have seen all these situations first-hand. When there
is more policing and surveillance, sex workers get isolated from
people providing essential services, and that isolation leads to
vulnerability. These services include education about safer sex, safer
work areas, the law, policing, and community support. The streetbased community is a community of its own. It can be close-knit. We
educate each other because we need each other. Bill C-36 will
change that because people will be more in fear of sharing
information and supporting each other. We will have to take
whatever clients we can and not be able to fully screen for safety.
Police will push outdoor workers away from residential areas
because of the restriction on being near anyone under 18. This will
lead to an increase in residential surveillance and harassment.
Marginalized groups, like people of colour, trans women, aboriginal
women, and two-spirit women are more likely to be street-based, and
they will face extreme criminalization under this bill.
With the Internet, much of the sex industry moved indoors. By
criminalizing advertising though, these workers will now be forced
back out onto the street. This puts them at risk because indoor
workers do not have any knowledge of street safety. Together, all of
this will increase violence, murder, and HIV/AIDS against our
community.
● (1630)
My recommendations are that $20 million in exit funds should be
used to offer direct support to sex workers that is not dependent on
their leaving the industry, which many of us can't or don't want to do.
We need laws that allow us to work with safety and dignity, to make
our own choices, for example, the right to advertise, to hire security
staff, and to work with buddies. We need sex-worker positive
agencies, like Maggie's, that empower us about safety, health, and
well-being. The Supreme Court decision should be respected
because it saw the necessity of decriminalization for all sex workers,
whether we are in it by choice, coercion, or because of economic
circumstances.
Right now, if we face violence, we can't call the police because it
will be recorded in the system. I have never been able to call police
for help, even after I was sexually assaulted. At the time I had been
through the mandatory diversion program after an arrest for
prostitution and knew that I faced incarceration if my sex work
was discovered, so even though I was raped, I did not call police.
Bill C-36 would not have helped me then, and it won't help me now.
I would ask that you reconsider Bill C-36 and the horrible
outcomes it will have on the most marginalized sex workers in
Canada. The fate of the sex worker community is in your hands.
July 7, 2014
Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you for that statement on behalf of Ms.
Forrester.
That is the round of presentations.
We go now to a round of questions, and our first questioner, for
the New Democratic Party, is Madame Boivin.
[Translation]
Ms. Françoise Boivin (Gatineau, NDP): Thank you to all the
witnesses for being with us today.
The perspectives are wide-ranging. It mustn't be easy for either
side to hear what the witnesses have to say. The same is true for us.
It's a complex issue. Groups I consider to be feminist have totally
different positions. What I find fascinating in all this is the fact that it
is virtually all women who want to appear before the committee, and
yet, they all have different opinions.
Ms. McDonald, I have a question for you. You heard what
Ms. Matte and Ms. Sullivan from CLES had to say.
[English]
They said they believe in a world without prostitution. Do you
believe in that?
Ms. Jean McDonald: Frankly, no. I don't believe in a world
without prostitution.
It's not only that, but if the goal of this committee is to actually
end prostitution, this legislation will not succeed in doing so. It
definitely would not be my choice to end prostitution. But if that is
the committee's intent—
● (1635)
Ms. Françoise Boivin: Why is that?
Ms. Jean McDonald: That is because studies by the Swedish
government have shown that the criminalization of clients did not in
fact make a considerable difference in the amount of people doing
sex work. What it did, though, because of the harassment and
targeting of sex workers on the street and the difficulty in accessing
clientele, was to move a lot of them indoors, with a lot of them
starting to work in massage parlours and more out of sight.
Ms. Françoise Boivin: So there are no statistics because we don't
see them.
Are you a merchandise?
Ms. Jean McDonald: Sorry?
July 7, 2014
JUST-34
Ms. Françoise Boivin: I heard that prostitution equates as if
women are merchandise.
Sorry, maybe that was a bad translation.
Ms. Jean McDonald: That's okay.
The answer is no. I guess the question you're asking is about
people saying that “women are bought and sold”, or referring to
“buying women's bodies”. Frankly, that language is victimizing.
That language is dehumanizing. It's also extremely sexist and
problematic to talk about people in that manner, as if we are objects.
We're not.
[Translation]
Ms. Françoise Boivin: Thank you.
Ms. Matte, you said the Supreme Court adopted a very narrow
view of the concept of security in the Bedford ruling. Right
afterwards, you said that Bill C-36 rectified that to some extent. In
other words, Bill C-36 does what Bedford does not. Did I understand
you correctly?
Ms. Diane Matte: Indeed. The bill does what Bedford did not and
could not do on its own, and that is change the objectives of the law,
the Supreme Court justices, themselves, acknowledging that fact. A
review of the evidence before them could not have produced the
same outcome.
I didn't have time to discuss the concept of security in detail. But
in our view, it would be beneficial to have Bill C-36 go much further
and set out definitions of what constitutes a sexual service and the
advertising of that service, as you were asking about this morning.
Ms. Françoise Boivin: Absolutely. A sexual service in the sense
of—
Ms. Diane Matte: But security should also be defined. As
feminists, we can't be satisfied with giving women a few more
seconds to select their clients as an adequate way to ensure their
security.
11
[English]
Where you all pretty much agree, I find—thank God there's
something on which everybody pretty much agrees—is that $20
million is ridiculous.
I would like you, Minister, to maybe first tell me this. After you
sent your letter in February, did the federal minister contact you or
anybody to view how the law should be drafted, other than just your
position that the Nordic model is it? Is there some consultation
between ministers of justice throughout this great country of ours,
since you are pretty much the ones who will have to apply this new
law, with your police services and so on?
You talked about $20 million being divided over the period of five
years, which gives a pretty much ridiculous amount for Manitoba.
But what is needed? What types of services are needed to do what
everybody who believes in the Nordic model...who always put it
with an equation that “We need exit support”? And exit support
means what, exactly?
● (1640)
Hon. Andrew Swan: There are some big questions here.
Back in the fall, at the ministers meeting in Whitehorse, I
advanced on behalf of Manitoba our view that the Nordic model was
the way to go. I wrote to Minister MacKay early in February. I know
that MP Joy Smith and I had discussed it. I made sure every
Manitoba MP got a copy of the letter. I haven't heard from Mr.
MacKay since the letter was sent early in February.
In terms of the kinds of services needed to help sexually exploited
victims leave behind their life, it is difficult because of the trauma
they've sustained. Attached to the submission is Tracia's Trust, which
is a summary of the various things Manitoba is doing. There is no
one simple answer. In many cases it may be people who have
physical trauma, very much like that of returning soldiers. In some
cases it's addictions problems or mental health issues.
If it were possible to know which men were violent, we wouldn't
have any abuse shelters in Canada or sexual assault centres. Having
a few additional seconds, and sometimes even living with a man for
years, doesn't allow women to know when a man is going to turn
violent.
One of the things we found very helpful, which I think maybe
we've understood a bit more about this afternoon, is how helpful it is
to have experiential people, who have the credibility of talking about
what their life was about, who maybe have the best ability to work
with people to try to effect that change.
As far as the commodification aspect is concerned, I'm a bit
shocked at how your're minimizing our arguments.
Ms. Françoise Boivin: No, I wasn't minimizing them. I was
asking you how they felt.
Ms. Diane Matte: When you're talking about prostitution,
supporters of the Bedford ruling or the total decriminalization of
prostitution maintain that it's an industry with commercial transactions like any other. It's up to the women to decide whether they feel
they are being objectified or not. It is clear, however, that the weight
of their argument rests on the commercial transaction element,
period.
We have the prostitution diversion program. This is only a threeday program, run by the Salvation Army. We intend to continue that
program. Whatever Bill C-36 looks like, that, in and of itself, does
not work miracles. We are not going to get somebody who's been
sexually exploited to magically, in the course of those three days,
change their life. But if they can get into that camp, get cleaned up,
eat properly, sleep, which oftentimes is not possible, and then at least
have an opportunity to be lined up with various agencies that can
help them to make that choice, then we'll be further ahead. But it is
not easy.
We are saying it's not a commercial transaction. It is first and
foremost an unequal practice.
Ms. Françoise Boivin: Thank you. I think I understand your
point.
I don't want to be flippant, but the amount of money Manitoba
will get every year, if it goes per capita, may allow us to help one
person, or two people, and we know there's a greater demand than
that. These are people who have suffered tremendously.
The Chair: Thank you for those questions and answers.
12
JUST-34
Our next questioner, from the Conservative Party, is Mrs. Smith.
Mrs. Joy Smith (Kildonan—St. Paul, CPC): Thank you, Mr.
Chair.
Thank you to all the witnesses for coming here today to give us
your opinions.
Mr. Swan, I applaud you for all the work you do in Manitoba. I
really applaud your support of Bill C-36, and your advice on some
amendments. For the first time in Canada, the purchase of sex will be
illegal, and that will help a lot of things. First-time advertising by
third parties will be addressed, and for the first time we have
compassion in the bill.
Having said that, could you expand a bit on what a victim actually
needs? With living in the part of Winnipeg you live in and being on
some of the streets that both of us have been on, perhaps you could
give the committee insight as to what really happens.
I applaud Natasha and Rose for speaking today. It was fantastic.
But could you give an overview as an elected person?
Hon. Andrew Swan: It's true. I represent the inner west end of
Winnipeg where there is street prostitution that takes place. I know
there is other exploitation that takes place behind closed doors.
Obviously, the challenges are huge, and we've tried to get at some
of the issues. If somebody comes forward who says they've been on
the streets and they need help, if the first thing we do is to take away
their children, we're not actually getting anywhere. So family
services can certainly use more assistance to help people come up
with a plan to battle their addiction issue or their mental health issue
while knowing that they're not going to have to leave their children.
One of the things that traditionally happened in Manitoba and
elsewhere is that if you were out on the street and you were on social
assistance, your social assistance worker would say they would cut
off your social assistance. What do we think is going to happen when
we take away the person's social assistance?
In many cases, it's housing. People don't have safe and affordable
housing. In many cases it is mental health services and addiction
services. In many cases it's moving people away from the situation
they're in, which many times people want. It's not easy to do because
you might be leaving behind the—
● (1645)
Mrs. Joy Smith: Our time is going, so I have another point to
make. I have a couple of more questions with the others.
Thank you.
What stands out, and what I've heard, is the symbiotic relationship
between provincial jurisdiction and federal jurisdiction—a partnership. For the first time, the federal law, Bill C-36, is working in
partnership with what you're doing in the province of Manitoba. I
dare say it's one child at a time or one victim at a time, isn't it?
I also want to ask Jean McDonald a question. You were saying
you are helping to lessen the risk to the prostitutes on the street. Can
you tell me whether you get paid for this position, or do you do it
voluntarily?
July 7, 2014
Ms. Jean McDonald: Pardon me? What does my job have to do
with the legislation that we are discussing today?
Mrs. Joy Smith: I'm just wondering if, in helping the—
Ms. Jean McDonald: It's not—
Mrs. Joy Smith: You don't want to answer that question? That's
fine.
Ms. Jean McDonald: I don't think it's pertinent to this discussion
whatsoever.
Mrs. Joy Smith: Okay, that's fine.
Ms. Jean McDonald: I am the executive director.
The Chair: Right.
I think you're taking offence. You mentioned that you were getting
funding from the provincial government in Ontario.
Ms. Jean McDonald: Yes, that's because we—
The Chair: I don't think she was asking you how much you get
paid. She wanted to know if the organization, as we might ask, is
based on volunteers or employees.
Ms. Jean McDonald: How does whether I am employed or a
volunteer.... I'm still not sure how....
Maybe Joy could explain how my employment impacts this bill.
Mrs. Joy Smith: Well, it's just as the chair said.
The Chair: It's okay.
You don't want to answer the question. I was just explaining the
question. If you don't want to answer the question—
Mrs. Joy Smith: Thanks. Obviously we'll leave that. We can find
that out.
Madam Matte, I really liked what you were saying about the issue
being the dignity of women, and, Rose, you underlined that.
Could either one of you voice what you think is so beneficial in
Bill C-36? You've given some suggestions for amendments as well.
Rose, you came today and you said that you fully support Bill
C-36. What is it about Bill C-36 that would help, in a practical way,
those who need that help on the streets?
[Translation]
Ms. Rose Sullivan: Criminalizing the men instead of the women,
who, at the end of the day, are victims, initiates a shift in attitudes.
And as far as the various components addressing violence against
women go, they were long overdue. This legislation is absolutely
needed not just because it endeavours to create equality between
men and women, but also because it shows that prostitution isn't
innocuous, isn't an option that should be considered when someone
is going through a hard time.
A country that offers women opportunities to exit prostitution
should not be sending them the message that prostitution is an
acceptable solution when they need money, are destitute and don't
have an education. It would be more appropriate to let them know
the solutions that are available to them.
July 7, 2014
JUST-34
Ms. Diane Matte: The other point where we agree with groups
like Maggie's is the decriminalization of women in prostitution.
Bill C-36 can't produce the desired outcome if women in prostitution
continue to be criminalized in one form or another, regardless of
whether they work on the streets or indoors. The exact opposite will
happen. I have the feeling that continuing to criminalize them at all
sends the message that they should go indoors because they'll be
safer there.
It depends on where you stand in the debate. The NDP seems to
think women will be safer indoors, but the reality is that, no matter
where they are, they can fall victim to violence at the hands of clients
or pimps.
The bill is endeavouring to change society's views on prostitution.
It gives women an opportunity to exit prostitution voluntarily. And
that needs to be pointed out.
● (1650)
[English]
Mrs. Joy Smith: Thank you very much for your answer.
The Chair: You have one minute.
Mrs. Joy Smith: I know, and I'm trying to rush through this.
Natasha, could you please give us your opinion about targeting
johns for the first time—arresting them. Do you think that's going to
be beneficial to help keep the women safe?
Ms. Natasha Falle: Certainly. In fact, I believe that Bill C-36 will
actually give people who are being prostituted more leverage when
dealing with violent johns, in enabling them to call the police and not
fear being blamed for the abuse they are experiencing. I also believe
it will give them an opportunity to screen because they can do so
without having to answer to pimps and johns, because now men are
going to be targeted. I also believe that by teaching society that this
is an issue of male violence against women and children mostly, we
are going to teach future generations of boys to grow up and
understand that this is something they shouldn't contribute to.
I also believe that focusing on women and looking at them as
victims in this industry will actually provide more opportunities for
them to exit it, which we're not seeing right now. I think by pumping
in money to organizations such as Maggie's it actually enables
people to stay there. They did mention that there are some women
whom they believe can't get out, and I don't believe that is true at all.
I think that anyone who wants something is able to make that a
possibility. I am a living testimony of that. In my last two years I had
drug-induced schizophrenia and today I am in this position that I am
today.
The Chair: Thank you very much for those questions and
answers.
Our next questioner is Mr. Casey from the Liberal Party.
Mr. Sean Casey (Charlottetown, Lib.): Thank you, Mr.
Chairman.
First off, as a matter of courtesy to my colleagues on the
committee and to the witnesses, I apologize for coming late to the
meeting. Mr. Dechert, Mr. Scott, and I were on Power & Politics inbetween sessions. That the reason we were a bit late.
13
Mr. Minister, I came in the middle of your statement so I didn't
hear it all, but I did read it in advance.
We're now on the second panel of the day, and although there's
been a great divergence of views through the day, there is one thing
on which every single witness, except for Peter MacKay and the
Justice officials, agree on. Walk With Me Canada Victim Services,
the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform, the Criminal
Lawyers' Association, Professor Janine Benedet, and Professor John
Lowman all agree, as did each of you in your testimony today, that
the criminalization of sex workers under the communication
provisions is problematic and should either be amended or
completely wiped out. That is one point of consensus from all of
the witnesses, except for the minister and his officials today.
I want to come first to Ms. Beazley and Madam Matte, because I
know that both of your organizations have done an extensive survey
of models in other countries. Around here we constantly hear about
the Nordic model. We know that it is an approach that criminalizes
the purchasers, but what we have before us is something that not
only criminalizes the purchasers but, in many instances, also
criminalizes the providers and criminalizes advertising.
A witness we are going to be hearing from later in the week is a
fellow by the name of José Mendes Bota. He was the rapporteur at
the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. He also did
an extensive survey of the different models around the world, and in
his report he describes a prohibitionist system, which bans
prostitution by criminalizing all aspects of it, including the sale of
sex and all the people involved. He said a number of European
countries have chosen this approach, including Albania, Croatia,
Romania, the Russian Federation, Serbia, and Ukraine.
My question for you, Ms. Beazley, and for you, Ms. Matte, is
given all of the things that have been piled on top of the basic Nordic
model in Bill C-36, are we not in fact much closer to a prohibitionist
model with what we have before us?
● (1655)
Ms. Julia Beazley: We are a hybrid, I would say. We are not fully
prohibitionist. I don't think it's fair to say that, because there is an
awful lot in the bill that recognizes the status of most persons in
prostitution. As I said, the overall spirit and intent of the legislation
is that those who are prostituted not be criminalized.
There is, however, this nod to a prohibitionist approach that still
allows.... The first two sections of the original communications
provision weren't challenged, so they stand. Then there is this new
section dealing with public places where minors might be present,
and you've heard each of us on that and how we would like to see it
narrowed, removed, amended, those sorts of things. We all share that
concern, but I don't think it's fair to say that this approach has gone
fully prohibitionist. It's kind of a hybrid. I would say it is a nod to the
prohibitionist approach.
Mr. Sean Casey: The Canadian law is somewhere between
Sweden and Russia.
14
JUST-34
Ms. Julia Beazley: I wouldn't say Russia. No, I don't think that's
—
Mr. Sean Casey: Madame Matte.
Ms. Diane Matte: I would say that it's not a prohibitionist
approach at all, and that we surely count on every political party
around the table to get rid of what we want to get rid of.
Perhaps I can give you this image. For us, it's like we have the
right map to go where we want to go. We know where we want to
go. We have the right map. But we have a little rock in our shoe, and
that little rock in the shoe is the criminalization of women,
particularly in the streets. So we have to make sure that we keep
on the track we're on but get rid of what is not working.
I think it is unfair to use the prohibitionist jargon when we talk
about what we have in front of us. We can say that the prohibitionist
approach has not been successful at all, and there's not only Russia
that we can think about. There are many countries around the world
who actually criminalize only women in prostitution, and not men. I
don't know what you would call that, but for me this is like the sum
of what patriarchy can do: criminalize women for being actually
sexually exploited.
For me, we have to be careful about how we use words. The
prohibitionist legal model, because that's mostly what we're talking
about, would be a model that says in its objectives and in practice
that all parties involved in prostitution should be criminalized, and
this is not what this bill is saying.
So we just have to get rid of the rock that we have in our sock, in
our shoe—but don't lose the map.
Mr. Sean Casey: Merci.
Ms. Falle and Ms. Sullivan, both of you have described being in
the sex trade and successfully exiting,
[Translation]
if I've understood you correctly.
[English]
Have either of you been saddled with either a youth criminal
justice record or a criminal record as a result of your time in the sex
trade?
Ms. Natasha Falle: Yes. The first time I ever stood on a street
corner, at 17 years old, I was arrested by a police officer.
Mr. Sean Casey: So that was a youth record.
Ms. Natasha Falle: Yes.
Mr. Sean Casey: Describe the difficulty that the youth record
caused you in your exit.
Ms. Natasha Falle: Yes, certainly. It wasn't just the youth record.
It was also my adult record with soliciting that hindered me from
being able to do what other people are able to do, from reintegrating
into society.
When I was arrested, I basically just gave up. I thought, “This is it.
I have a criminal record for prostitution. There's nothing else out
there for me. I might as well just accept this environment.” What I
July 7, 2014
did was I made the best of that environment; albeit abusive, I needed
to embrace it for my own survival.
Mr. Sean Casey: Madame Sullivan.
[Translation]
Ms. Rose Sullivan: I don't have a criminal record. I was very
lucky.
[English]
Mr. Sean Casey: Okay.
Mr. Minister, you indicated that the money that's been put on the
table, if a per capita formula is used, won't make a whole lot of
difference in Manitoba. We don't much care for per capita funding in
my part of the world, believe me.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Mr. Sean Casey: I'll ask a couple of questions in that regard.
First, given that you put $8 million a year into these programs now,
what is the right number to make a meaningful difference?
As well, if I may, because I know I'm just about done here, all too
often we see criminal justice measures introduced in this place that
have significant impacts on the budgets of those who have to
administer the justice—your departments, the provinces. Do you
have any concerns in that regard with respect to this legislation?
● (1700)
Hon. Andrew Swan: With respect to the legislation, no, since we
called for the Nordic model to come to Canada; we accept that there
could be some additional costs. To some extent we think we can
manage that. It will be our intention to continue running what we call
john school, which is operated by the Salvation Army. We think with
some minimum fines that will allow us to raise the amount that
people will pay for john school so that they don't have to go down to
court and maybe have a reporter or their neighbour hanging around
the corner. It would be my hope that with that money from john
school we'll be able to expand the prostitution diversion camp and
provide, again, that first window into changing people's lives.
Overall, the $8 million a year, I can tell you right now, is not
enough. There is not enough support that we can provide to assist
people. Of course, many times it's co-occurring mental health and
addictions issues. It's dealing with trauma. It's dealing with many
complex issues. At $8 million a year, we're struggling to provide a
modicum of services. Certainly we look forward to something more
than a temporary small investment from the federal government.
We'd like it to be more substantial. We'll continue to shoulder the
majority of the burden, and we accept that's the case. We think this is
important to Manitoba.
The Chair: Thank you very much 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.
Thank you to all our witnesses.
July 7, 2014
JUST-34
I just want to say to Ms. Sullivan, Ms. Falle, and through you, Ms.
Gallant, to Monica Forrester, that I think you're very brave for
coming here and telling us your stories, and I want to thank you for
doing that. It's very difficult for us as legislators to really understand
what takes place in an industry like this without hearing your stories,
so thank you for that.
I just want to respond quickly to Ms. Sullivan. You were
concerned that Bill C-36 would criminalize a sex worker who was
carrying on the practice in her home where her children would be
present. The answer is simple: that is not a public place so it wouldn't
be caught under that provision. I just want to reassure you on that.
For Ms. Forrester through Ms. Gallant, she said that she asked to
be corrected. She was wrong that we weren't hearing from any other
indigenous people in the sex business—
Ms. Chanelle Gallant: Current indigenous sex workers.
Mr. Bob Dechert: We did hear from one previously, as you know,
and we will be hearing from the Native Women's Association of
Canada later in the week. I understand that they, for example, believe
in the criminalization of the purchase of sex in the Nordic model.
Ms. Chanelle Gallant: I understand they do, and I do not believe
that any of their witnesses will be current indigenous sex workers.
Mr. Bob Dechert: Okay, but there are former sex workers.
Ms. Chanelle Gallant: That's right, and that's why I'm making the
point to talk about people who will currently be impacted by the
legislation. Former workers will not be.
Mr. Bob Dechert: Okay, we'll hear what they have to say about
what they think the impact will be.
The other thing that was mentioned by Ms. McDonald was that
this bans all forms of advertising. That's just not true. There is
provision for advertising done in a way that's by the individual
himself or herself that would allow them to do it in a way without
exploitation.
You mentioned something I thought was curious. You said that
you believed that sex worker groups the world over unanimously
favour decriminalization.
Ms. Jean McDonald: That's right.
● (1705)
Mr. Bob Dechert: But we hear from the organization that Ms.
Sullivan and Ms. Matte represent, from Ms. Falle, and from a
number of other organizations, and will hear from other organizations that are both women's groups and groups that represent sex
workers, who do favour the criminalization of the purchase of sex,
the so-called Nordic model. So I don't understand why you say—
Ms. Jean McDonald: I would go back to what Chanelle was just
saying that the sex workers groups I'm talking about are
predominantly if not fully made up of people who are currently in
the sex industry. There's a big difference, a huge difference, between
someone who will actually be impacted themself by this legislation
and—
Mr. Bob Dechert: You will agree with me that there are
organizations that represent sex workers that—
Ms. Jean McDonald: No.
15
Mr. Bob Dechert: You're saying that nowhere in the world,
Canada or any other place in the world, are there organizations that
represent current sex workers that believe in this model.
Ms. Jean McDonald: Yes, current.... There are no—
Mr. Bob Dechert: Can I hear from Ms. Matte?
Ms. Jean McDonald: Are you current sex workers?
Ms. Natasha Falle: Some of our advocates are. You just have to
go onto our website to look at that.
Ms. Jean McDonald: I find that hard to believe.
Mr. Bob Dechert: There seems to be some disagreement on that
point.
The Chair: Mr. Dechert, could you focus your questions so we
have questions and one person answers?
Mr. Bob Dechert: Sure, I'll focus. I just have one more thing for
Ms. McDonald.
In answer to a question from Madam Boivin about the elimination
of prostitution, you said, first of all, that you didn't think that was
possible. It was kind of curious, and maybe I got it wrong, but I
thought you said that you wouldn't support the elimination of
prostitution if that were an option. That wouldn't be something that
you supported. Is that what you said?
Ms. Jean McDonald: Yes, absolutely. For me, it is not something
that I would like to see happen. I would prefer that prostitution be
decriminalized, because as—
Mr. Bob Dechert: You don't want to see it eliminated is my point.
Is that correct? I just want to understand that point. You wouldn't
want to see prostitution ended.
Ms. Jean McDonald: The Prostitution Reform Act 2003 of New
Zealand recognized the harm done to sex workers, and that is why
they decided to decriminalize. In fact, the intent of that legislation
was to create a framework to safeguard the human rights of sex
workers and to protect them from exploitation, to promote the
welfare and occupational health and safety of sex workers.
Mr. Bob Dechert: Okay, the point I just want to understand—
Ms. Jean McDonald: These are things that sex workers need.
Mr. Bob Dechert: Excuse me, Ms. McDonald, if I might. I'm
trying to ask you a question. Do you see merit in the continuation of
prostitution in Canada. Just answer yes or no.
Ms. Jean McDonald: No. I can answer how I want to do that, sir.
Actually, yes. When prostitution is between two or more
consenting adults, I feel those consenting adults should have the
ability to decide for themselves what they want to be doing.
Mr. Bob Dechert: Okay. I take your point.
16
JUST-34
Minister Swan, I want to thank you for being here. I think it's
important you're here. As a provincial attorney general you're one of
the individuals that is going to have to make this new legislation
work if and when it's passed and becomes law.
You mentioned in your opening statement that you believe that
most sex workers are exploited, and you feel that criminalizing the
purchase of sex will reduce the exploitation. Did I get that correct?
Hon. Andrew Swan: That's right.
Mr. Bob Dechert: My friends in the federal NDP will correct me
if I'm wrong, but they seem to be saying—I heard Mr. Scott say this
to the CBC earlier today—that they do not believe in the
criminalization of the purchase of sex, that they oppose it because
they believe it will make the—
Mr. Craig Scott (Toronto—Danforth, NDP): I have a point of
order, Mr. Chair. Sitting right beside me there is a witness who said I
didn't say that.
Mr. Bob Dechert: So maybe they do. Perhaps they will clarify. If
I got it wrong, I apologize. I believe I heard them say they oppose
Bill C-36 because they believe that criminalizing the purchase of sex
will make the practice of the sex industry more dangerous.
Do you believe that? Do you agree with that statement?
Hon. Andrew Swan: Let me talk a little about our current
practice in Manitoba. If you're a buyer of sex and you get picked up
by the police and you're charged under the current provisions of the
Criminal Code, you have two options. You can follow the criminal
option. You can show up in court, in which case you may get a very
small fine. You may get an absolute discharge, but you're going to
court in front of...well, it's an open court. Or you can go to the john
school run by the Salvation Army, where men can learn about the
real dynamics of what this is all about and hear not just from the
police and just health workers, but also from those with experience
in the industry who will tell them what their lives have been like.
We also had a little additional feature whereby if you're a john in
Manitoba who gets caught, you get to clean up back lanes in my
neighbourhood and see what it's like when condoms and syringes are
lying around.
I would like to continue having john school. We may have a wider
pool of people taking that program. That is a restorative justice
practice. That is a way to educate people, and I hope we never see
somebody again in the justice system. We think that if men
understand the dynamics of prostitution, the great majority of them
will change their attitudes, and I believe we can change behaviour.
And that's....
● (1710)
Mr. Bob Dechert: So you think it can be reduced.
Hon. Andrew Swan: Yes.
Mr. Bob Dechert: Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you for those questions and answers.
Now we go to Mr. Scott of the New Democratic Party.
Mr. Craig Scott: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I have a couple of questions for Ms. McDonald and Ms. Gallant
from Maggie's. These are prompted by similar questions from Mr.
July 7, 2014
Dechert who doesn't seem to be able to get his mind around the
perspective of at least a substantial percentage of current sex
workers. You said in your presentation that the users of Maggie's
services unanimously reject this bill. You talked about consultations.
I'm wondering if you could elaborate a bit more on that, because I
think we are seeing a fair degree of ships passing in the night, people
not fully understanding how it could ever be that the sex workers
you work with and for would have that point of view.
Ms. Jean McDonald: Absolutely. As I said, we work with many
street-involved sex workers. We have a drop-in centre where people
can come in and get some food, and pick up safer sex and safer druguse supplies.
People were wondering what was going on with this legislation,
and we thought a great idea would be to have an education workshop
explaining what the legislation is about. We told them we were going
to be coming here as witnesses, and we said, “We want to hear from
you about what you think. How do you think this will impact you in
your everyday life as current street-based sex workers?”
They were very worried. They did not see this as protecting them
whatsoever, because, when you're criminalized, it's very difficult to
access police services. As Monica said in her testimony, because she
was criminalized she felt unable to contact police when she was
quite brutally sexually assaulted.
When I'm suggesting decriminalization as an alternative, what I
want to say is that I'm looking at prostitution pragmatically. I'm
saying that it exists in our world today. It's been in existence for
many thousands of years, if not more. It's not going to end
immediately, and that's certainly the case we see in Sweden, where
this so-called Nordic model comes from.
The approach I take to prostitution is pragmatic, not based on
moral kinds of grounds where it's “Oh, icky, I don't like that”. No,
this happens, and yes, for some people it sucks. But what are the best
ways to reach out to those people to help them?
I was saying what the purpose of the Prostitution Reform Act of
New Zealand was. That legislation has a provision for review after
three to five years built into it. After five years, a study conducted by
the public health department of New Zealand found that on the
whole, the PRA had been effective in achieving its purpose. They
found that the sex industry had not increased in size, and many of the
social evils predicted by some who opposed decriminalization had
not actually come to be.
Ms. Chanelle Gallant: Could I just add to that a little bit, too,
Craig?
July 7, 2014
JUST-34
Because we're hearing a lot about this $20 million going into
various kinds of john schools and diversion programs, etc., I want to
put on the record—just to reiterate the testimony of Monica
Forrester, who was raped while she was on a diversion program and
could not access police support—that what we're talking about here
is a system that still continues to criminalize sex workers. You
cannot criminalize the purchase of sex without criminalizing the sale
of sex.
We've had a number of comments that advertising would be
protected. That's not what we're hearing from the Pivot Legal Society
and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, who have pointed out
that the legislation criminalizes any third party that advertises sex
worker services. So I fail to see how you can advertise without a
third party. So, that's for indoor workers.
But outdoor workers are still telling us, “I could not call the police
in this situation. The police will not be a support service to me, as
someone who faces...”. We're talking about sex workers like Monica
and others who are the most vulnerable. They're telling us that these
programs will not protect them from violence and sexual harm and
HIV and AIDS and, in fact, they will have the opposite impact.
I would like to say that this bill will cause harm. This bill will lead
to beaten, raped, and murdered sex workers, and an increase in HIV
and AIDS, and we'll be back when that happens because we will
consider this Parliament partially responsible for those outcomes for
the sex worker community.
● (1715)
Mr. Craig Scott: Thank you.
I just wanted to make one last point. I have only 30 seconds, and
perhaps Minister Swan could comment.
One of the central things about the Nordic model is, let's call it, the
“social democratic policy environment” within which it's situated.
Equal life chances are much more emphasized in a country like
Sweden, so the supply end is handled more at that stage, and access
to services help at the exit end. And I would add—although it's not
so clear in Sweden—that if you're looking at New Zealand, you're
looking at the middle ground where the safety, health, and labour
protections are put in.
I wonder if you could just reiterate for everybody that $20 million
is going to come nowhere close to dealing with, let's call it, the
“social democratic policy environment” that's needed.
Hon. Andrew Swan: Agreed.
Mr. Craig Scott: Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you for that.
Our next questioner is Ms. Ambler from the Conservative Party.
Mrs. Stella Ambler (Mississauga South, CPC): Thank you, Mr.
Chair. And thank you, to all of our witnesses, for being here today.
We very much appreciate your time and testimony.
When I told friends, family, and constituents that I was coming
here this week to sit on this committee about this new legislation, a
couple of people, not very many but a handful, commented, you're
not going to change this. You're not going to stop prostitution. It's
17
been around forever. It's oldest or second oldest profession, whatever
the saying is.
Mr. Craig Scott: The oldest. Lawyers are the second.
Mrs. Stella Ambler: Oh, you're the second. All right, the oldest
profession.
I'm heartened by the testimony and the beliefs of organizations
and people in this world who work with prostitutes and who believe
it is possible to build a world without prostitution. That should be
our goal.
I want to ask the women who have lived this, Natasha and Rose,
do think this should be the goal of legislation, to eradicate
prostitution, and if not fully eradicate, at least substantially reduce,
the amount of prostitution in this country?
Ms. Natasha Falle: Yes, certainly. We should aim to end all forms
of violence in this country, and prostitution is just another form of
violence.
We have child abuse. We have domestic violence. We have all
these various forms of violence. We don't just succumb. We don't
just accept these forms of violence and find legislation that can help
make it easier for them to be less abused. We aim to, and our laws
are designed to, end these forms of abuse and reduce these forms of
violence.
Do I believe that abuse is ever going to go away? Maybe not, but
we don't give up. We don't give up for the people who are being
harmed by it.
Mrs. Stella Ambler: Thank you.
Ms. McDonald, I can see you shaking your head. I have a feeling
that it's because you don't see prostitution as abuse. I want to thank
you for what you do. I understand that you want to reduce the harm
and want to help. I know you consider this pragmatically and look at
it in this way, and I appreciate that.
I'd like to ask you, though, in addition to counselling women in
the sex trade on how to do it more safely and on how to protect
themselves, do you also counsel them to eventually get out? Is that
your end goal, as well?
● (1720)
Ms. Jean McDonald: It is not my end goal. Exit is not my end
goal. I do actually support people who come to me and say, I want to
start looking for another job. We are actually planning to have a
workshop about how to write a resumé and how to do a cover letter.
We offer our clients a space where they can use our computers and
do print outs, those kinds of things.
But the thing is this. People know that when they come to
Maggie's they're not going to be judged. They're not going to be told
that they're bad or that they should want to leave. They're not going
to be told, such as the woman from Walk With Me said earlier, that
they can build their healing journey in jail. What was that even?
Mrs. Stella Ambler: No one is suggesting that, and there are no
provisions in this bill to put prostitutes in jail.
Ms. Jean McDonald: Yes, there are. I absolutely—
Mrs. Stella Ambler: No, there aren't.
18
JUST-34
Ms. Jean McDonald: There are.
Mrs. Stella Ambler: No, there aren't. We're talking about
summary convictions, which do not lead to criminal records of
any kind.
Ms. Jean McDonald: What if they're working with—
Mrs. Stella Ambler: This is my time, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Jean McDonald: What if they're working in an area where
there are youth 18 or younger?
Mrs. Stella Ambler: Ms. Falle, may I ask you how you got out?
Ms. Natasha Falle: Yes. It's been my experience that most of us
have had to hit rock bottom in order to get out, which means near
death experiences, mental health issues, or being institutionalized.
Sometimes jail actually gives us the opportunity to have that time to
be able to think about our life circumstances. Obviously jail is not an
exit program, as might have been implied by others.
I managed to get out because I....
I was in the sex trade industry for 12 years. I was forced, and I
also sold independently. I have sold sex in illegal establishments and
legal establishments. I went for 10 of those 12 years never using hard
drugs. In fact, I discriminated against people who did use drugs.
The trauma caught up with me. I've been sexually assaulted by a
driver for escorts. The escort drivers who were driving me from A to
B were coke dealers; it was easily accessible. A trauma incident
happened. I didn't know how to cope and I did turn to cocaine. I
spent two years on cocaine and developed a drug-induced
schizophrenia. That was a pretty scary experience for me.
The Chair: Thank you.
Our next group of questioners is from the New Democratic Party.
Madam Péclet, go ahead.
[Translation]
Ms. Ève Péclet (La Pointe-de-l'Île, NDP): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
This is a fascinating discussion.
I'd like to preface my questions with the same comments I made at
our last meeting. It's important to know that we aren't trying to figure
out which lawyer or which research is right. What we are actually
trying to do is comply with the essence of the Supreme Court's
decision and arrive at the best legislation to protect the life, liberty
and security of men and women in the prostitution industry.
After hearing what a number of witnesses had to say, I think we
can all agree that there's a problem when it comes to the advertising
piece. The government has attempted to criminalize clients rather
than prostitutes. But I would say that a consensus exists around the
fact that the ban on advertising in public places poses a problem.
I'd like to hear Ms. McDonald's comments on the subject. If the
idea is to criminalize only clients, what impact will the advertising
ban and the de facto criminalization of sex workers have on the
ground?
[English]
Ms. Jean McDonald: Well, what I can do is tell you about the sex
workers who do advertise online and in newspapers. Their concern
July 7, 2014
with this legislation is that first, it will be difficult for them to reach
clients because many of them use third-party websites. I won't
mention their names—I was going to but...they are very concerned
about that.
The other thing they are concerned about is that many workers
will work with buddies, or do “duos” basically is the name for it.
They are worried that if they list their friends on their website, they
could be criminalized for it.
There is another issue. It is my understanding—and maybe you
can correct me if it's a wrong reading—that even if your
advertisements are put up by yourself, you aren't criminally
responsible, but those can actually be forceably taken down by the
courts. That also basically bans advertising.
● (1725)
[Translation]
Ms. Ève Péclet: I'd like the other witnesses to answer that quickly,
if they would.
Ms. Falle, do you agree that the ban on advertising does, after all,
result in the criminalization of sex workers?
[English]
Ms. Natasha Falle: No, of course I don't agree. The bill clearly
highlights that the people who sell sex are victims of this industry. I
don't see their point.
Ms. Ève Péclet: No. I mean they have an interdiction—I'm sorry,
I'm not very good in English—of publicity in a public….
Ms. Natasha Falle: Yes.
Ms. Ève Péclet: So, they are criminalized if they do advertise for
themselves in a public area.
Ms. Natasha Falle: I thought Mrs. Smith already addressed that.
Ms. Ève Péclet: Then you don't agree. Thank you.
Sorry, I don't have a lot of time and I would like to talk to Mr.
Swan about the $20 million. I think it's very important that instead of
implementing a bill that would target the consequences of a
situation, why not try to target the problematic at its source? Why not
say that social factors unfortunately make some people more
vulnerable than others, so why not try to implement something, such
as financial programs or whatever, to target the problematic at its
source? We're talking about reducing poverty.
If we're talking about achieving equality between men and
women, then why not target poverty? We know that unfortunately,
women usually live in a greater state of poverty than do men. Can
you elaborate on that?
Hon. Andrew Swan: Sure. I mean, one of the reasons I'm here as
a Manitoban is that, of course, we have the tragedy of missing and
murdered aboriginal women. Now, just so it's clear, not every
aboriginal woman who goes missing or is murdered has been
sexually exploited. But if you are an aboriginal women who is being
sexually exploited, your odds are not good.
July 7, 2014
JUST-34
We know from the work that's been done....and I know that Joy
Smith and Irene Mathyssen and others were on a committee that
looked at human trafficking several years ago. Many of the
recommendations include ways to deal with poverty, to deal with
education for first nations, where many of the young people are
being trafficked from. You're absolutely right that there is much to be
done on poverty, on housing, on educational opportunities. That
doesn't change the fact that I believe, with the amendments I've
asked for, that Bill C-36 goes a great way further downstream to try
to prevent loss and damage and more tragedies.
But you're right, there are many big questions to be answered.
The Chair: Thank you for those questions and answers.
Our final questioner this afternoon is Monsieur Goguen. We'll go
a couple of minutes past, because we started a couple of minutes late.
Mr. Robert Goguen (Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, CPC):
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'll be brief.
My question will be directed to you, Minister Swan. Obviously
Manitoba appears in its enforcement to have adopted the Nordic
model. In the Nordic model, of course, the prostitutes are not
charged, correct?
You had concerns with clause 15, of course, that prostitutes would
be charged if they were selling their goods in a public place. Of
course, the intent in that provision is to not expose children to what
prostitution can be.
Now, we all know that when a prosecution is undertaken, it's done
in a couple of steps. Basically, the police have enforced their
discretion. The crown has enforced its discretion. We know from
discussions with other police forces that prior to Bedford, what the
police forces would do is they would actually arrest the prostitutes,
because they'd have a legal authority to do so; would question them;
and would inquire as to whether or not they were victimized or
whether there was some way that they could get information about
the pimps, those who were victimizing them. They would not charge
them, but would then direct them to services that might extract them
from the industry. So if you're not charging the prostitutes, you're
sort of taking away that possibility—although ultimately they're not
charged.
If this bill were amended to require the Attorney General to
consent to the charges going forward, would that change your point
of view?
● (1730)
Hon. Andrew Swan: Look, if you've been picked up for
communicating or for whatever the new section will be called, then
you do have the sword of Damocles hanging over your head. Are the
police going to lay a charge if you don't give up information on
somebody or on something else? I don't think that's a helpful way to
deal with the issue.
19
As the application judge found, street prostitutes, with some exceptions, are a
particularly marginalized population. Whether because of financial desperation,
drug addictions, mental illness, or compulsion from pimps, they often have little
choice but to sell their bodies for money. Realistically, while they may retain some
minimal power of choice—that the Attorney General of Canada called
“constrained choice”—these are not people who can be said to be truly
“choosing” a risky line of business.
With those comments of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, if
we don't amend this bill to remove those provisions, this will be a red
flag for a challenge to this bill. I don't know if it will be successful or
not. I think the chief justice, speaking for the court, has been pretty
blunt about that. We think there are better ways to assist victims of
sexual exploitation than to have the threat of criminal prosecution
hanging over their heads.
Again, I do represent an area where unfortunately people do see
street prostitution. I can tell you, from speaking with my
constituents, taking off my Attorney General hat and putting on
my hat as the member of the legislature for Minto, that the great
majority of people in my area, I'm quite satisfied in saying,
understand the need for a differential response and that the old law
did not make sense. The provisions that were struck down in the
Bedford case have some challenges. This is our chance to get it right.
I don't think we do that by continuing to criminalize people who are
the most vulnerable.
Mr. Robert Goguen: But there's more than anecdotal evidence
that the prostitutes who do exercise their profession in public places
are the most vulnerable, the most inclined to be victimized. Letting
alone the extraction of information, as you might have said, what
about the possibility of taking them into your confidence, of finding
out a little bit more about them, of introducing them to a social
worker, of introducing them to a victims group and somehow
opening the door of getting help from them?
You know, you can't help those who don't want to help
themselves, and if there's no legal authority to apprehend them
and to somehow incite them to get the help, where do you go?
Hon. Andrew Swan: The prostitution diversion program
continues to run in Manitoba, even though very few charges are
being laid and very few threats of charges are being made. It is our
intention that even if Bill C-36 passes as amended, we will continue
to run that program, and we will be able to find victims of sexual
exploitation who want to take that program. Again, the program is
three days' long right now, which is barely enough time for
somebody who has been working the streets in the north end or the
west end of Winnipeg to get themselves to that window of being able
to see that maybe there is something more.
I would love to expand that program: the number of days, how
often we offer it, and perhaps to provide more meaningful assistance
up front to assist people in making that change.
Again, in Manitoba, not just our crown attorneys but also the
Winnipeg Police Service and our other police services are very
reluctant to lay charges in any circumstances, because they recognize
the difference between sellers of sex and buyers of sex.
I wouldn't quite phrase it that you can't help people who don't
want to help themselves, but what I've learned from organizations
like Sage House, the Salvation Army, and TERF in Winnipeg is that
the best we can do is to provide a platform and a safe place for
people to start to make that decision to change their lives.
Looking at the Bedford decision, in my letter to Minister MacKay
I quoted from the chief justice's comments, as follows:
The Chair: Thank you very much for those questions and
answers.
20
JUST-34
I want to thank the panellists for being here today. It was a very
interesting panel, and I appreciate all your responses.
● (1735)
We will be continuing to study this for the next three days, until
Thursday, so stay tuned. We are televised, and we are always open
for visitors.
Thank you very much.
With that we will call it until tomorrow morning.
The meeting is adjourned.
July 7, 2014
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