The Supreme Court of Canada struck down federal laws that deal with prostitution on Friday, citing they are unconstitutional. The 9-0 ruling noted that “it is not a crime in Canada to sell sex for money.”
Kootenay-Columbia Member of Parliament David Wilks said he hadn’t had a chance to review the decision in depth, but did have concerns.
“Certainly, in my opinion, it may provide some significant harm to communities, especially those that are involved in that trade,” Wilks told the Townsman on Friday.
Currently it is a crime to keep a bawdy-house (brothel), to live on the avails of prostitution or to communicate in public with respect to the proposed act of prostitution. Parliament has classified lawful prostitution into two categories: street prostitution and out-calls.
The ruling agrees that the “restrictions on prostitution put the safety and lives of prostitutes at risk, and are therefore unconstitutional. “
Wilks said parliament will look at the ruling closely. The current criminal code provisions will stay in place for the next year, to allow time for parliament to come up with a new plan.
“There are still thing in the criminal code that will protect those that are in that trade.,” Wilks said. “As you know, the Supreme Court gave the federal government of Canada one year to modify the laws of Canada. So I’m sure the minister will look at it very closely. I sit on the justice committee and I’m sure it will be coming to us in due course.”
The Supreme Court also notes that it is not about whether or not prostitution should be legal.
“The Supreme Court is the ultimate rule maker for Canada,” Wilks said. “Once they have made a ruling like they did (Friday) morning, then the federal government must make every attempt to comply.”
Wilks said the one year time limit allows for modifications to the criminal code to ensure it complies with the ruling.
“Minister Peter McKay will review that, along with his staff, and it will come back to the House of Commons at some point in time. I’m assuming as a bill and from that, within the next year, we will have to amend the criminal code to ensure that it reflects what the supreme court of Canada wants.”
He said is is no different from when the Supreme Court made the decision on safe injection sites or medical marijuana.
“The Supreme Court makes a decision, the federal government must comply,” he said.