Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay says it's not an option to leave adult prostitution unregulated after a Supreme Court ruling struck key laws down.

B.C. still prosecuting some sex trade cases: Crown

Ottawa seeks input on new law to control prostitution

B.C.’s Criminal Justice Branch moved Monday to counter what it said was public misunderstanding that most prostitution-related cases will no longer go to court in the wake of a landmark ruling.

Crown counsel have shifted their practice after a Dec. 20 Supreme Court of Canada decision struck down key aspects of the criminal law on adult prostitution.

The branch issued a statement that noted the high court decision rendering unconstitutional some offences – keeping or being in a brothel, procuring or living off the avails of prostitution, and communicating in a public place for its purpose – doesn’t take effect for one year, during which time the laws remain in force.

Child prostitution offences remain illegal and unaffected by the ruling.

The branch’s new guidelines to prosecutors say there’s a continued public interest in prosecuting sex trade buyers for communicating, particularly when they solicit undercover police, as well as charges for both brothel operation and living off the avails when workers are exploited.

There’s less public interest justifying charges against sex trade workers for street solicitation or working in a brothel, they say.

Prosecutors will consider all charge requests from police on a case-by-case basis, while ongoing prosecutions that don’t meet the public interest test may be terminated.

Meanwhile, the federal government is embarking on one month of online consultations to seek public comment on how the country’s prostitution laws should be rewritten in response to the decision.

“Doing nothing is not an option,” Justice Minister Peter MacKay said Monday. “Our government is concerned about the significant harms that flow from prostitution to communities, those engaged in prostitution and other vulnerable persons.”

The Supreme Court gave Ottawa a year to rewrite the laws, which it said currently endanger sex workers and violate their constitutional rights.

The law barring anyone from living off the avails of prostitution in effect barred sex trade workers from legally protecting themselves by hiring bodyguards or drivers and renting indoor premises.

Canadian law until now has left prostitution itself legal while criminalizing communication and related activity.

There are three main international models Canada could pursue.

– Decriminalization and legalization of regulated prostitution, as used in Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Australia.

– Prohibition of both the sale and purchase of sex, as well as involvement of pimps and other third parties, as is in place in U.S. states except Nevada.

– The ‘Nordic Model’ of Sweden, Norway and Iceland that decriminalizes prostitutes themselves but criminalizes clients and third parties who exploit them. An emphasis is put on social programs to help workers leave the sex trade.

The website for the online consultations can be found at www.justice.gc.ca.

It asks whether it should be criminal to buy sex from an adult, for and adult to sell sex, or to benefit economically from prostitution by an adult – and what exceptions should be allowed in each case.

“If you support allowing the sale or purchase of sexual services, what limitations should there be, if any, on where or how this can be conducted?” one question on the site asks.

Just Posted

‘LNG, Fracking and the Comox Valley Connection’ – public forum in Courtenay

Wednesday, Feb. 27, 7 p.m. at the Florence Filberg Centre

UPDATE: Police determine no emergency in Friday’s mystery radio appeal for help

Police had asked for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Comox Valley child gets dream vacation from Make-A-Wish Foundation

Elliot Hunter went to Disneyland and met Lightning McQueen

UPDATED: Two vehicles seen leaving bloody scene of Courtenay shooting

32-year-old victim in stable condition and known to police

Courtenay to host the BC Regionals FireFit Championships

‘Toughest two minutes in sports’ coming to the Comox Valley

VIDEO: Iconic ‘snow cone’ takes shape at B.C. park near Clearwater

Snow cone forming at Wells Gray Provincial Park one that would make Disney’s Queen Elsa proud

Pink Shirt Day a reminder to ‘T.H.I.N.K.’ before posting on social media

‘Be Kind’ message on shirts sold for anti-bullying activities of Wednesday, Feb. 27

A ‘warm embrace’ for grieving parents at funeral of seven young fire victims

Mourners offered love and support to Kawthar Barho, mother of seven children

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

B.C. man creates Indigenous colouring book for children

Leon McFadden is working on 11 more books to finish the horoscope series

UPDATE: Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

Credit card fraud steals $50,000 from Victoria businesses: police

Crime Reduction Unit investigating several frauds costing several businesses over $50,000

Most Read