Latest news —

The Passing of Bill C-36!

 

We are excited as it moves us in the right direction. We have a lot of work to do and will continue to host Red Light Green Light film screenings in 2015!

As we move forward education will be paramount to ensuring this law will greatly support our most vulnerable brothers and sisters and prevent their further exploitation.

We will keep you posted on any other upcoming events.

Gratefully,

Your Anti Human Trafficking committee

 

November 4, 2014 – Bill C-36 Passes Senate!

Bill C-36 passes the Senate and is set to receive Royal Assent before the December 19, 2014 deadline.  This means that prostitution will not be decriminalized, and that by early 2015 Canada will have a new prostitution law.

Brief summary of the new law:

  1. Criminalize the purchase of sex;
  2. Decriminalize the selling of sex (unless found working in proximity to where minors would gather such as schools;
  3. It is illegal to benefit from the exploitation of another person;
  4. It is illegal to advertise sexual services of another person;
  5. Government sets aside $20M to provide programs for those who wish to exit.

This is a great start in our country to really begin to change our current thinking on Prostitution and Trafficking and start to educate ourselves on how we can get more people on board to help our fellow sisters and young people who currently find themselves being exploited.  The $20M set aside to help them “exit” is a critical component to this law.

We feel if we can educate more of our fellow parishioners we can ensure that the government continues to move in the right direction. We will keep you posted on next steps.

Bill C-36 – Why is it important?

By: Sister Nancy Brown

This bill, in response to the Dec. 20, 2013 Supreme Court decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford, attempts to create a legal framework for prostitution in Canada.   Throughout 2012-13, the Bedford case made its way through the courts in Ontario and finally to the Supreme Court of Canada.  After much deliberation, the Supreme Court gave the Parliament of Canada one year to respond with a new law. In response to this deadline, our government through the Justice Minister Peter Mackay responded with Bill C-36 called Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.  Presently, the bill has gone through three readings of the parliament and has been sent to the Senate for final approval before becoming law. If this happens a new law will be in place on December 20, 2014.  This will be the first time that the act of buying sexual services will be illegal in Canada.

In the past, prostitution was actually legal in Canada and it was the activity surrounding prostitution that was illegal. The Supreme Court of Canada declared unconstitutional three Criminal Code offences such as keeping a bawdy house, living on the avails and communicating in public for the purpose of prostitution.   If this new law is not passed, prostitution will remain legal in Canada, and we will witness an increase in the exploitation and violence toward women and children, an increase the amount of human trafficking in, to and through our country and an increase in the involvement of organized crime in our country.

Recognizing the urgency of getting Bill C-36 approved and the danger of having prostitution legalized in Canada, the office of Service and Justice (OSJ) of the Archdiocese of Vancouver formed a committee to address this urgent matter. The committee was led by Evelyn Vollet (Director, OSJ) and consisted of several Catholic Women’s League (CWL) members (Sharon Ciebin, Barbara Renaud and Angelina Stiglich) as well as Dr. Michael Markwick (Capilano University), Dr. Christina Jones (Trinity Western University), Sr. Nancy Brown (Covenant House Vancouver), Barbara Dowling (Vice Chancellor RCAV and Director, Stewardship Office) and Gwendoline Allison (Foy Allison Law Group).  This group chaired several information sessions throughout the winter, 2014 in parishes such as St. Augustine’s, St. Mary’s and Immaculate Conception, Delta.  With the aid of local CWL councils, postcards to members of parliament were circulated to parishioners on the same Sunday that the Archbishop Michael Miller’s pastoral letter was read in the churches and published in the BC Catholic.   During the fall, 2014, other parishes and CWL counsels (St. Patrick’s, Vancouver, St. Augustine, Vancouver, St. Luke’s, Maple Ridge, and St. Joseph’s, Langley) hosted the screening of the Red Light/Green Light film. After the viewing of the film and a question and answer session, participants were asked to sign a prepared letter to be sent to their member of parliament urging them to vote for Bill C-36.   This film has been shown throughout Canada and is now on tour in the USA.   The Vancouver Archdiocese was the first Catholic Archdiocese to sponsor this film and to date over 400 parishioners have viewed the film. Here are some comments from the participants:

“As many nations around the globe attempt to fight sex trafficking, many consider legalizing prostitution. The two film makers, Jared and Michelle Brock, founders of ‘Hope for the Sold’, traveled across 10 countries to answer the question, “How can we prevent sexual exploitation before it happens in the first place?” Penny Rogers, St Augustine Parish Social Justice Ministry.

“More than 100 people from around the Fraser Valley came out to watch this very informative film and become informed about the various approaches to sex trafficking and prostitution around the globe.” Angelina Stiglich, St Joseph Parish Langley and CWL member.

Red Light Green Light examines prostitution and trafficking in the context of differing legal models of prostitution worldwide. Approximates 60 people from St. Luke’s and neighbouring parishes watched the film and heard an excellent summation of the current status of prostitution laws in Canada from Sister Nancy Brown.” Barbara Renaud, St Luke Parish Maple Ridge and CWL member.

If Bill C-36 passes the readings in Senate and becomes law, it will be a turning point for Canada. The bill states that the Parliament of Canada “has grave concerns about the exploitation that is inherent in prostitution and the risks of violence posed to those who engage in it” and “recognizes the social harm caused by the objectification of the human body and the commodification of sexual activity.”

The intention of the new legislation is to work towards the elimination of prostitution and recognizes that prostitution is not work but rather violence against women and children. It is a new approach to prostitution which says that men do not have the right for paid access to women’s bodies and criminalizes the purchase of sex while decriminalizes the prostituted women or youth.

This committee continues to strongly encourage the Catholic community to become educated and advocate for the implementation of this new bill once it has passed the Senate and becomes law. Our work continues as we call for a change of attitude toward prostituted women and youth. In our country, where aboriginal women are over represented within street prostitution while Asian women are over represented in massage parlors, appropriate strategies and programs will be urgently needed to assist those wishing to exit prostitution.   For the 75% who enter prostitution unwillingly, the roots causes of prostitution will need to be addressed. Solutions to the social-economic problems such as poverty, housing, drug addiction will need to be found for exiting to happen and a stable change of lifestyle to take place for those leaving the sex industry.

The adoption of this bill is the result of a great deal of advocacy, the participation of many concerned citizen, the hard work of this committee and others, the many prayers for justice and the courageous voices who have spoken their truth in sharing their stories of sexual exploitation across of country. The committee is extremely grateful for the contribution, generosity and collaboration of so many churches and parishioners throughout the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

Supporters and opponents of Bill C-36 have met with the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights

After 3 full days of testimonies, the Committee members have now heard from legal experts, academics and activists on the new prostitution bill. More than 60 parties presented in over 20 hours of hearings that began Monday July 7th and finished Thursday July 10th.

Of special note please watch

  1. Gwendolyn Allison –  Lawyer
  2. Trisha Baptie – “Exploited Voices now Educating” (EVE)
  3. Jarod and Michelle Brock – Co-founders Red Light / Green Light

As hearings continue to examine Bill C-36, we urge you to take action and write to your MP. Defend Dignity has a letter template you can use and download.

Archbishop Miller calls Bill C-36 a good first step

” The anti-trafficking legislation introduced by the federal government last month is a welcome first step toward filling Canada’s legislative void concerning prostitution and trafficking.

Since the bill is likely to undergo revisions before its final stage, I will withhold detailed comment other than to say that this legislation addresses several of the areas of concern I have about the existing legal vacuum as well as the previous law that was struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada last year.

The bill acknowledges the need to protect human dignity and recognizes the violence, exploitation and social harm inherent in prostitution. The bill also sets out to discourage prostitution, which has a disproportionate impact on women and children. It aims to encourage those who engage in prostitution to report violence and to leave prostitution.

While I have concerns about some aspects of the bill, notably its intent to recriminalize some prostituted individuals, thereby reinforcing/perpetuating the vulnerability that the Supreme Court hoped to remove, I am hopeful that these areas can be improved upon through the contributions of experts such as our Archdiocesan study committee.

In short, Bill C-36 is headed in the right direction and I look forward to it as a reasonable response to the unacceptable legal void we have at this time, as well as an improvement on the previous law. ”

+Archbishop J. Michael Miller

 

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