Numerous lawyers at the BCCLA have joined 200 legal experts nationwide in signing onto an open letter to the Prime Minister opposing the government’s proposed legislation to criminalize the purchase of sex in Canada.
The signatories to the open letter —which include top constitutional, criminal, and public law experts—assert that Bill C-36, the Protection Of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, will reproduce the harms caused by the prostitution laws that were struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada in Bedford v. Canada. The letter states that the criminal laws proposed by Bill C-36 are likely to violate the Charter rights of sex workers, who will face increased risk of violence as a result of the new law. As stated in the letter:
As the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously held in Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford (“Bedford”), three of Canada’s current adult prostitution laws are an unjustifiable infringement of sex workers’ right to security of the person, pursuant to s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (“the Charter”). These laws were found to create and exacerbate dangerous conditions and prevent sex workers from taking action to reduce or mitigate the risks they face. We are concerned that, for the very same reasons that caused the Court to strike down these prostitution laws, the criminal regime proposed by Bill C-36 is likely to offend the Charter as well.