Canada’s old laws on prostitution were struck down by the Supreme Court last year because they forced sex workers into vulnerable and dangerous situations.
Some commentators say that Harper government’s new law might do the same thing, and end up back in the courts.
If the new law is also struck down as unconstitutional, there might be little else that Ottawa can do to deal with prostitution.
Parliament cannot legislate under the criminal code unless the law defines criminal offences and provides penalties. Such action must relate to public peace, order, security, health, and morality.
If Ottawa is unable to outlaw some aspects of the sex trade without endangering sex workers, there is little they can do to regulate it.
However provinces and municipalities have the power to regulate, since they have jurisdiction over property, civil rights and public health.
Recent efforts to pass laws about prostitution have been based on the belief that sex workers are victims, and only provinces and local communities can take steps to help them get out of the business.
We can expect to see local authorities play a greater role in prostitution issues in the near future in Canada.
I’m Roger Currie. Join us again next week for more thoughts on the Frontier.
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