Libby calls for proof that Criminal Code changes are warranted

The Honourable Rob Nicholson
Minister of Justice
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Minister Nicholson,

I write to express my concern about your government’s recent announcement of regulatory changes to the Criminal Code, especially in regard to prostitution.

In 2007, the Parliamentary Sub-committee on Solicitation Laws, of which I was a member, heard from over 300 witnesses and examined available literature to come to the majority conclusion that current laws surrounding prostitution are harming women and men working in the sex trade.

The Sub-committee also emphasized the need for more research and data collection to ensure that any future policies will have a positive impact on people engaged in prostitution and communities in general.

The government has yet to implement the Sub-committee’s recommendations. Instead, the Conservatives are moving forward with harmful regulations with no evidence of their effectiveness or even that they are needed. Your government’s move to make “keeping a bawdy house” a serious offence, already an offence under the Criminal Code, serves only to drive prostitution further into the margins of society.

Bringing forward sweeping regulatory changes, without consultation and without debate in the House of Commons is at the very least irresponsible and wasteful, and at worst harmful — particularly for people who are in vulnerable positions, such as sex workers.

I therefore ask that you provide me with the research and evidence that show why these changes are necessary, and the facts and figures that demonstrate they will be effective in ensuring the safety of sex workers and our communities overall.

Sincerely,

Libby Davies, MP Vancouver East
NDP Spokesperson for Solicitation Laws

This Open Letter to Ministers & Public Officials was posted on August 11, 2010