MP David Wilks stopped by city council on Monday, August 19, to give an update on his dealings in Ottawa. Wilks sat on the Prostitution Bill (Canada vs. Bedford) for two weeks in July. Parts of the bill were struck down by the Supreme Court back in December of 2013, so it had to be reworked by parliament.
“We heard from 60 witnesses and the reason this came forward was the Supreme Court, back on December 21, 2013, gave the Parliament of Canada one year to bring forth a new law with regards to prostitution in Canada,” Wilks said.
“If we failed to do that on December 20, 2014 then prostitution in Canada would become legal.”
It’s a relatively daunting issue that is quite decisive among all Canadians.”
Wilks said he believes they came up with “a balanced new law that will provide surety for all Canadians that we are taking this topic quite seriously.”
Once the bill makes it through parliament, through the senate and becomes law, it will be completely illegal to purchase sex in Canada in any form.
It will also be illegal to advertise, unless you are in the business as a sex trade worker, he said.
Wilks said only about 10 per cent of sex workers are in the business voluntarily, the other 90 per cent are either human trafficked and/or coerced into it through other means.
“We believe that we found a balance and we’ll move forward with that,” Wilks said.
Coun. Gerry Warner noted it didn’t make much sense that buying sex and advertising sex was illegal, while selling it was not.
“It apparently made sense to the Supreme Court of Canada,” Wilks said. “They make the ultimate decision.”
The Supreme Court told Parliament they could do what they liked as long as it felt that they were not going against the Charter or Rights and Freedoms.
“It will be one of those interesting dilemmas that municipal councils will have to grapple with, because ultimately, you are the zoner of zoning,” Wilks noted. “There may be an opportunity that comes knocking to you in Cranbrook where someone may wish to ply their trade and you would have to determine what type of zoning you would want that in. There could also be a business that could come from that as well.”
Wilks said it was difficult to come up with the various parts of the bill while still satisfying the Charter.
Warner noted that escort ads appear in the newspaper.
“They talk about ‘curvy’ ladies of a certain age that are available for escorting, massages and you don’t need a lot imagination to think what else,” he said. “Will this new balance have any effect on those kinds of services?”
Wilks said all of those forms of business will become illegal and won’t be able to advertise under the new bill.