“Johns” wait outside a brothel in Amsterdam. Photo courtesy of Hope for the Sold.

Canada begins implementing transformational prostitution laws

“For the first time, women trafficked into prostitution will be treated with dignity.”

OTTAWA, ON—Canada’s new prostitution legislation, Bill C-36, has received royal assent. The newly implemented laws have been widely supported by a broad range of Christian ministries and front-line organizations who see it as a needed change to help protect vulnerable and exploited women and children.

“The ultimate objective of the new law is to put an end to prostitution and sexual exploitation in Canada,” says Julie Beazley, a policy analyst with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. “These laws are a victory for women’s equality, because all women and girls are safer in a society that stands up to the idea that a women or her sexuality can be bought or sold.”

Many people are unaware that prostitution has never been illegal in Canada. In December 2013, the Supreme Court deemed Canada’s prostitution laws unconstitutional, stating that they put women who engaged in prostitution at risk. The laws, which prohibited living off the avails of prostitution, keeping a bawdy house and communicating for the purposes of prostitution, were struck down with a clause allowing Parliament one year to enact new laws.

“With the passage of [the new prostitution law] buying or attempting to buy sex will be illegal for the first time in Canadian history. The law recognizes the vast majority of prostituted persons are not there by choice: they are to be seen as victims of exploitation. The law also clearly identifies the demand for paid sex as the driving force behind prostitution and sex trafficking.”

Beazley says the new legislation targets that demand by criminalizing “johns,” pimps and traffickers.

Member of Parliament Joy Smith highlights another key component of the new law—not only does it turn the tables, targeting the purchasers rather than the victims of trafficking, it also implements support programs for victims seeking to escape prostitution.

“This bill is the first of its kind in Canada. It’s historic and it’s progressive,” says Smith. “For the first time in Canada’s history, women trafficked into prostitution will not be treated as nuisances, they’ll be treated with dignity. For the first time, the government of Canada will provide robust funding to help women and youth escape prostitution and their traffickers.”

In support of the bill the Canadian government has pledged $20 million to fund grassroots organizations working with victims of exploitation. Smith says through this funding the government plans to focus it’s support on exit programs for those seeking to leave the sex trade.

“This law has great potential to reduce the demand for paid sex, leading to less opportunities for traffickers to sell women and children,” says Jared Brock. “While aftercare is absolutely vital, it must go hand-in-hand with prevention. That is the strength of this law: its goal is to reduce the demand for paid sex on a long-term scale, which will lead to less victims requiring aftercare.”

Jared and his wife Michelle are co-founders of an abolitionist charity Hope for the Sold. They are currently touring a documentary they directed and produced, Red Light Green Light, about global sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.

“This law is pointing Canada in the right direction. While there will always be men who purchase sex, regardless of the legal context, this law will help reduce the bulk of that. In Sweden, where a similar approach has been in effect for more than a decade, the national conversation has changed as a result, leading to more gender equality and greater understanding for victims.”

However, despite his praise for the bill, Brock cautions that believers should not lose momentum on the issue or let down their guard now that the bill has passed.

“We need to be all the more diligent in understanding the factors surrounding this issue like gender inequality, the plight of First Nations communities and the over-sexualization of our youth. Sexual exploitation is a big issue and it will take all of us to bring it to an end.”

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About the author

Senior Correspondent

Craig Macartney lives in Ottawa, Ontario, where he follows global politics and dreams of life in the mission field.

  • sunny

    are we to believe that photo is really a lineup at a brothel?

    • Al Hiebert

      Do you have warrant to regard this photo as false or misleading?

      • sunny

        not sure i need an actual warrant, however the signage is clearly Moulin Rouge, and on that street that club and a couple of others are live sex show clubs, no brothels. Brothels, even in cities with legalized regulated brothels are not on the main street.

        At a place like Moulin Rouge, there are show times, so of course there would be a lineup to attend a preset show time.

        I have seen plenty of pictures accompanying a lot of news articles, and for the most part the photos do not reflect either what the story is about or the reality of the majority of sex work. 90% of sex workers work indoors, either independently in a hotel room or apartment, or may work in a massage parlour setting, or may work with an agency and go to the client’s location. Since only 10% of all sex work is done outdoors in the streets, then why are 90% of all sex work related articles have a picture of a young woman who is outside on the street?

        It is in order to mislead you and to help you form a particular opinion on the topic. nothing more and nothing less. It takes investigation and an open mind and a great deal of skepticism to get something close to the truth.

        • Al Hiebert

          In scholarship generally “warrant” means providing
          sound credible evidence to support an assertion — nothing to do with legal

          “And as Canada’s laws on prostitution were challenged in the courts, more
          Canadians became aware that upward
          of 90 percent of those marketed in the world’s oldest profession are
          commodities of sexual pleasure against their will.”

          • sunny

            i am sorry, but using that article link as an example of ‘sound credible evidence’ fails. reference to falsified, misleading or misrepresentative research hardly supports the claim that 90% of sex workers are forced against their will. It is an unreasonable and illogical assumption in the first place, and when a study is actually referenced in such claims, i have seen a study that again only deals with marginalized street workers. As further research shows that in all cities, only 10% of all sex workers are from the streets, it would be illogical (and false) to take percentages from research that only includes one small segment, and one specific one, to apply it across the board.

            in fact, we do not interview and research and document all men in prison, and then announce that ‘all men’ want to rob and assault women, do we>? So why would we look at one research project focused solely on street workers in a particular city (in that case, i believe it is a study from 20 years ago in Vancouvers downtown east side, an area with a high percentage of runaways, native, and drug abusers).

            And it does not take away from my comment that, having looked at the name of the club in the photo, and googled it, i know that this is a street with a couple of clubs that show live sex shows, as theater, and like any other live theatre, there will be a lineup outside waiting for the ticket window to open. i.e. not a lineup of a 100 men waiting for their turn in a brothel. And further, since it is Amsterdam, a brothel wouldn’t have anyone under legal age so no need for a hysterical story with a misleading photo.

            And the SCC court challenge was never about opening brothels. There has never been a need to open anything. All one of the overturned laws did was make it legal to continue to do sex work the way it is currently done: in massage parlours, and private residences, and hotel rooms. no one but anti sex worker organizations ever really tried to claim that brothels similar to Germany’s or Amsterdams, or even new Zealands, were about to open up across from churchs or school yards. And all that hysteria failed to even mention the fact that cities have to zone and approve licenses for these kinds of operations, and that was always going to be unlikely outside of areas already zoned specifically for adult entertainment venues.

          • Al Hiebert

            Above you asserted that “Actual adult consensual sex workers” were opposed to C-36. Of course that’s true. They were well represented in the parliamentary committee hearings last June. One of the experts interviewed on the documentary “Red Light, Green Light” indicates that these “Actual adult consensual sex workers” represent the elite 2% of sex workers. Bedford et. al. did not expect a C-36 outcome from their SCC challenge. You need to see the documentary “Red Light, Green Light.”

          • sunny

            sorry, but why would i watch anything presented by a group that falsely indicates that only 2% of all sex workers are adult consensual lol?

            Even arrest stats of the US don’t support that theory. Also why would i need a documentary that was not created by actual working sex workers, when i have access to thousands who can already and have been speaking out?

            I think it is past time you listened to them. There are no ‘elite’ sex workers, there are only sex workers. Whether they work the streets, or get taken on yachts by milliionaires for a week long appointment, no one should be denying their rights and their choices.

          • Al Hiebert

            When you say, “There are no ‘elite’ sex workers” you betray your
            ignorance of the facts such as the times when Tiger Woods paid a
            reported $500,000 for one night each with some “‘elite’ sex workers.” Sure, you prefer to believe
            “There are no ‘elite’ sex workers.” The parliamentary committee who
            heard 60 witnesses last spring were not convinced of such claims. Deal
            with it.

            Perhaps you can convince the next government of your beliefs. Which party do you think will form it? When?

          • sunny

            you are so tiresome. i said that the claim that only 2% of all sex workers are willing adults is false. I said that all sex workers are more than just a label of elite, and that there are far more than 2% (your claim that only the elite objected to C36?) who objected to C36.

            Do you believe the Conservative government had no hand in who you got to see present at the hearings, and more specifically, who you did not see? These 60 groups, how many of them represented current sex workers, or sex worker organizations, or individuals? Remember, one of the speakers was cut off, and kicked out. Where is her voice in this discussion? Did she get a fair hearing? A number of them heckled, abused, cornered in the rest room, shamed, demeaned, and one even outed on twitter by Megan Walker, Bridget Pelletier and Natasha Falle. All great representatives, I’m sure you would claim, these 3 who try so very hard to dismiss, discredit and silence working sex workers, then try to humiliate them online in social media. Disgraceful

            This is the list of speakers on one of those days.

            Casandra Diamond, Director (BridgeNorth)

            Graeme Hamilton, Representative (Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers)

            Leo Russomanno, Member and Criminal Defence Counsel(Criminal Lawyers’ Association)

            Megan Walker, Executive Director (London Abused Women’s Centre)

            Nana Yanful, Representative (Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers)

            Larissa Crack, Founder, Director (Northern Women’s Connection)

            Natasha Falle, Founder (Sextrade 101)

            Cheryl Link, Assistant Director (Northern Women’s Connection)

            Diane Matte, Coordinator (Concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle)

            Bridget Perrier, Co-Founder, First Nations Educator (Sextrade 101)

            Terri-Jean Bedford, Respondent/appellant on cross-appeal, Canada v. Bedford (As an individual)

            Janine Benedet, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia (As an individual)

            Frances Mahon, lawyer, Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP (As an individual)

            Gwendoline Allison, Lawyer, Foy Allison Law Group (As an individual)

            Trisha Baptie, Community Engagement Coordinator (EVE (Formerly Exploited Voices now Educating))

            Georgialee Lang, Lawyer (As an individual)

            Valerie Scott, Legal Coordinator (Sex Professionals of Canada)

            TWO out of that entire list represented current sex workers, however both of those two are actually retired sex workers. Tell me, of all the rest, who spoke for sex workers. Who presented their voices. Even the two did not because they are not currently working, their experience and presentations were there to remind everyone that these issues were supposed to have been put to rest by the SCC in the Bedford challenge. There was a representative from the Evangelicals, there was a representative from Rape Relief, and abuse counseling services, and any number of people, none of whom have anything to do with sex work, sex workers, or what they want or need.

            re: Tiger Woods? A ‘reported’ figure is not a fact. Do you have the source for that? Do you understand that even ‘elite’ sex workers are unlikely to charge 500k per night? it is a ridiculous claim, with zero evidence.

          • Al Hiebert

            Sorry, I did not say, “that only 2% of all sex workers are willing adults.” What I did say was, “these ‘Actual adult consensual sex workers’ represent the elite 2% of sex workers.” Can you understand the difference?

            Your debate is not with me. It’s with the law of Canada. I’m checking out.

          • Fred Bastiat

            “I give you the tools to find the real information out there..”

            Based on his fallacious line of questioning, I doubt the real information is what he was wanting. I’d be nice to hear back from him and see. Fine post for others to read though. As you are well aware, the audience is not always the person you’re discussing the topic, I applaud your use of social media to educate. My best education on the topic, best information links, and most factual data has come direct from sex workers.

          • Chelsea Tornade-Hoe

            Falsely? I’ve been in prostitution for 14 years and I have not met even a single girl over that time who considered this consensual, if anything that 2% margin is mighty generous. Prostitution is paid rape. We only do it because we need the money, we do not consent to sex, we endure rape so that we can get money. Duh, you’d think this fact should be obvious to anyone with 2 brain cells to rub together. We want better options, and support to exit. We want the Nordic Model, all around the world we want the Nordic Model. I am watching your victory with green eyes from New Zealand, well done Canada!

          • sunny

            You are so delusional it is sad. Also, it is a terrible terrible thing that you put youself into this work while feeling the way you do. You must be a terrible sex worker, for your clients.

            This is a business, you provide a service, and clearly you haven’t met many sex workers at all if you still believe what you are saying. the ‘world’ of sex workers most certainly do not want the nordic model, to put themselves into danger of abuse by law enforcement and religious anti sex worker organizations.

            There is no way you are a sex worker. Former, now abolitionist, sure, but not a currently working sex worker. The idea is ludicrous

          • Chelsea Tornade-Hoe

            I’m not a liar. Everyone knows the liar is you, and your scam is over.

          • sunny

            “everyone’ knows that? I’m not the one who pretends to be an SW. Anyway also not the one who claimed the photo in this article is a brothel lineup.


            plus, try to reign in your hatred here, this is ChristianWeek, not knockdown drag out fight club.

          • Chelsea Tornade-Hoe

            I’m not a sex worker because there is no such thing, I am a raped worker aka prostituted woman.

          • JA

            Yes, where is that 90% coming from? It certainly isn’t factual.

  • Dafydd64

    The law is pointing Canada to the right, alright, but it’s not the correct direction at all. Simplistic right-wing ideology is all it is. There has been widespread negative criticism from many experts in the field and other organizations working on behalf of women. Where is there even an acknowledgement of that in this story? This is just a shill for the federal Tories.

    • Al Hiebert

      Pick your “experts” as you like, to support your beliefs and behaviours. Truth & compassion is too often compromised by leftist “experts.”

      • Dafydd64

        I don’t “pick” experts, Al. It’s called evidence-based research. Unlike ideology, it is exactly based on truth — the truth of human behaviour. As the Bible makes pretty clear, all the laws in the world don’t stop humans from sinning. Despicable males behaviour can’t be legislated away, nor can poverty and abuse. But true compassion can be put in place to make life — and work — safer for these women. (And, frankly, this law has been condemned by people across the optical spectrum.)
        Ideologists dismiss experts because they don’t like their findings,. That’s known as not letting facts get in the way of ideological narrative. I see no truth or compassion in such ignorance. It certainly isn’t Christian.

        • Al Hiebert

          I agree, “Despicable [human] behaviour can’t be legislated away, nor can poverty and abuse.” Yet Christian compassion supports laws against murder, assault, kidnapping, human trafficking, fraud, etc. IMHO C-36 fits that category. It even has provisions for improved safety for the 7-10% of Canada’s prostitutes who are actually in the sex trade voluntarily. Sure, it does not open the doors to the brothel industry that Allan Young and others sought when they challenged Canada’s old prostitution laws. But it compassionately provides escape programs for those 90-93% of Canada’s prostitutes who prefer to leave the sex trade. Read the evidence-based research in “Out of Business” (especially pp. 8-14) at: http://files.efc-canada.net/si/Prostitution/Out%20of%20Business.pdf/ Learn the truth of human behaviour. Watch a 5-minute video (2011) “A Case for Rethinking Prostitution” at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?x-yt-cl=85114404&v=1pNgLpXhU3Y&x-yt-ts=1422579428

  • Al Hiebert

    Of course the johns, pimps & traffickers will seek to reverse C-36. They will find allies to help them achieve their goals. Among them are the secular orthodox lawyers, politicians, education bureaucracies, commercial organizations & entertainment enterprises that seek wealth & fame through the over-sexualization of our youth. Christians who care for exploited women and children can help to prevent such a reversal by how they vote & by how they empower their kids to grow up whole in our messed up world.

    • sunny

      do you understand who else is seeking to reverse C36? Actual adult consensual sex workers, male and female ones. The ones most affected by anti sex worker legislation like C36 will be street based workers, and then those who are currently working in safer group settings such as with an agency or in a massage parlour. Who it is unlikely to affect, but who speaks up the most on behalf of those others, are the adult consensual independent workers.

      The fact is, that no client, no pimp and no trafficker bring attention to themselves with objections of any kind. The ones this law affects are the sex workers themselves, attempts like yours to dismiss the objection is an attempt to silence them and their rights and their concerns. nothing more and nothing less.

      The truth is that the only people who really care about the disadvantaged or the exploited are the adult consensual sex workers, because they alone with the SCC seem to know what sort of legislation and enforcement is really needed in order to find exploited.

      Do you know that after the SCC overturned 3 of those laws, and presented a year grace, that law enforcement suddenly found a lot of time and energy and charged dozens and dozens of people, and found at least a couple of dozen underage sex workers being run by those who were exploiting them? They’d been exploited and underage prior to the SCC ruling, so why didn’t police find them before? Because they spent far too much time on the easy busts, on the street workers and their clients. They didn’t spend their time on internet ads looking for those who looked underage or any of the other signs of exploitation.

      You want to tell me how they could suddenly find them in 2014, and not before then?

      And now, what will they do now, if they enforce the laws. They are going back to the easy busts, because once again it is going to be illegal for a client to approach a sex worker in public.

      • Al Hiebert

        Are you suggesting that the parliamentary committee that heard 60 witness on C-36 last June did not hear these concerns? Are you suggesting that the European Union that recommended the Nordic Model to all its member states was uninform on these matters? Do you not care about gender equality rights?

        “We’ve learned from other countries that have
        experimented with legalization, such as Germany and Holland, that the result is
        increased trafficking, exploitation, and violence. The illegal industry has
        thrived under legalization, to the point where many brothels and “windows” in
        the famous red-light district of Amsterdam have been shut down after having
        been taken over by organized crime. The myth of a “safe, legal industry” as
        been shown to be nonexistent, as prostitution is exploitative by nature and
        promotes power imbalances between men and women.”


        • sunny

          i know for a fact that they belittled them, shortchanged their speaking times, and allowed those abolitionist groups to heckle, harass and badger them while they were speaking. Those same people who gave you such heart wrenching testimony in the camera view, went home and tweeted and Facebooked angry hate messages, insults and derogatory demeaning words at the sex workers and sex work advocates who also came to speak.

          All evidence, including recent Swedish police reports, indicate that the ‘nordic’ model is not succeeding. Research out of New Zealand has shown that they have not had a single case of exploitation sex trafficking since they decriminalized and regulated sex work in 2003. Reports from 2013 out of Sweden still show that dozens of victims, and dozens of exploitative traffickers continue to operate in Sweden. There have been news reports that massage parlours openly offer sexual services, in Sweden. Further reports indicate that since they introduced the ‘nordic’ model, the number of massage parlours have tripled.

          let’s face it, all this information is readily available, and yet those same organizations you refer to try to shut down, discredit, dismiss and silence the very people the “nordic’ model is actually going to affect. NO one who is not currently a sex worker has the right to speak on their behalf on laws that will affect their safety. NO one, and that is exactly what happened, the actual sex workers were given equal access to the hearings as some Evangelical league or some other ridiculous organizations that have nothing to do with sex work? it was a travesty, and a complete farce. Anyone watching could see that.

          Sex work is one of the few occupations a woman can do that makes her financially independent from the government, her family and one single abusive man. Taking that choice away from her? That is the real injustice.

          • Al Hiebert

            First, which party do you think will be in government next October? Do you expect that C-36 will be reversed in the next year or so?

            Second, MYTH: Prostitutes are sex addicts and like their job.

            FACT: Only 1% of prostitutes actually report enjoyment working in
            the sex trade, the other 99% feel it is a job and they do it for the
            money. Many women disclose having serious trust and intimacy issues as a
            direct result of the repetition and the desensitizing nature of sex

            MYTH: Prostitutes who work at indoor locations are safer than those working on the streets.

            FACT: Many prostitutes who work indoors have experienced violence
            at the hands of their tricks/clients. The invisibility of working
            indoors heightens the risk of rape and violence. Indoor locations may
            also house underage girls and on-site drug dealers, again furthering the
            potential for violence and criminal activity.

            MYTH: Most people who have experienced working in the sex trade support a decriminalized or legalized system.

            FACT: Every prostitute is different. However, once women know the
            facts, most think prostitution on any level is exploitation of women
            and that legalizing prostitution will only make it more attractive to
            abusers; pimps and human traffickers. Most women would rather support a
            system that helps them find alternatives to sex work.

            Information Provided By Sextrade101.com

          • sunny

            I didn’t think it would be possible to ONLY find the anti sex worker ‘research’ for your ‘fact/mythology’ lol, but there it is. None of those things are actual facts, if you bothered to look at the falsified data that is used to, or the lack of credibility of the research that is being used.

            And i have little interest in what former sex workers may have to present. The only thing that is important here and now is what current sex workers want and need. C36 is not what they want, nor what they need. Having a bunch of abolitionists trying to control what they want and need, in an occupation that is legal and always has been, is the myth.

            Again, i would encourage you to read the real research, not a bunch of statements drawn from one single flawed source material. You are quoting from articles, not source material, it is already flawed in the analysis.

            For example, anything done by Melissa Farley, and anything done by an organization that profits from people like yourself believing their ‘myth/facts’, to open up your wallets,

          • Al Hiebert

            First, which party do you think will be in government next October? Do you expect that C-36 will be reversed in the next year or so?

            Second, you have provided zero data to support your assertions.

            Third, you can “prove” anything so long as your perspective is narrow enough.

          • Chelsea Tornade-Hoe

            Yoo-hoo!! Currently employed in a New Zealand Brothel prostituted woman right here talking to you!
            Melissa Farley’s research is 100% truth buddy. This is the reality of prostitution, the girls you paid to rape, if they even did say they are fine with prostitution and you’re not just making it up, said it because it’s their job to pretend to not mind, because their pimp would not be too happy with them if they told you how repulsive you really are.
            Women are not commodities, deal with it.

          • JA

            Clearly you don’t understand the implications of the so called Nordic Model. This is actually not uncommon. There are real life effects of such a prohibition. It goes well beyond the law.
            Incidentally, Melissa Farley has been caught out a few times on her “research”
            Also, with such an opinion, what are you doing still working in the sex industry.

          • Chelsea Tornade-Hoe

            Idiot. We are all campaigning for the Nordic Model down here in NZ, you’re embarrassing yourself now. The only people at all who stick by the decrim policy are the NZPC which DO NOT represent newzealand prostituted women, they are the pimp centric propaganda lobby and they just don’t want to lose their funding. They’re a joke, and so are you.

          • sunny

            Sorry, but you know that is not true at all. anyone with google will know that any abolitionist attempts have been squashed in parliament multiple times over. I am sure that those who are from NZ would be interested in what you are saying about it all tho.

          • Chelsea Tornade-Hoe

            Have you ever even been to New Zealand?
            No, you have not.

          • Chelsea Tornade-Hoe

            You’re just some loser at his desk who is either
            a. a rapist trying to keep a class of women accessible for paid rape,
            b. a pimp trying to keep up your thieving potential off of women’s earnings,
            or c, Lobby Propagandist doing lackey bitch work, selling out your truth and morality for minimum wage.

            None of that can even come close to me, little boy.

      • Chelsea Tornade-Hoe

        Oh for fucks sake, just die.

        • sunny

          Well, there you have it, when they lack a solid argument, they make death threats, insults and other means to discredit.

          This is what you abolitionists are supporting, btw, this kind of comment directed at sex workers who refuse to allow them to lie about this work,or what SWs need. This instills such a sense of fear in them, that you will find out that only a small minority of sex workers actually need help to exit, that their funding will dry up.

          • Chelsea Tornade-Hoe

            Lol a second ago you were saying the only people who’s opinions matter are currently employed prostituted women. So by your own admission, your priority is to listen to me, and go die now.
            You’re not even making sense dude, it’s pathetic, so sad to watch.

          • JA

            Yes, I have noticed that. People who use insults like that show they don’t have much of an argument.

    • JA

      Those who attempt to control peoples lives in this matter will promote C-36.

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