Current Legal Debate

Current Legal Debate

Guide to the Issue Clippings
Collection 2014 – 2019
(pdf)

For a full discussion of the background and issues see the materials on the excellent Web site of the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform. I have also written and spoke extensively about the dangers of the new law, and my comments are contained in the fourth part of the menu item My Other Writings, on this my site.

In 2021 a Superior Court decision struck down as unconstitutional major portions of the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (also referred to as Bill C-36). This was a repeat of the decision in the lower court in 2020 in another case, which the judge took one year to write. The government did not appeal that decision, but the law remained intact because it was only a lower court decision.

The Ontario Government appealed the Superior Court decision, and the Court of Appeal upheld the law as constitutional. The Supreme Court of Canada may be called upon to decide the matter in this one case.

In addition to these recent rulings, the defendants in the 2020 decision, along with the 25 member groups of the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform, have since filed a constitutional challenge to the Act. Bedford Versus Canada, along with the rulings just mentioned, and probably other rulings, and much additional evidence, will be much cited in the challenge.

Also, the scheduled parliamentary review of PCEPA is under way. It will find what we knew all along. It will find that PCEPA facilitates organized crime and human trafficking. It will find that, even if constitutional, the law endangers women. The governing party in Canada voted against PCEPA when in opposition. They have not acted when in government.

The law passed in 2014 is likely to fall one way or another. The authorities are already becoming reluctant to enforce it. The pandemic has largely obscured the debate, but the relevant questions, raised over the years, will be addressed. The private activities of consenting adults in the bedroom or dungeon will, in time, not be an issue for the state. The law must not require women to have sex for free.

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