Ottawa to Appeal Court Ruling that Struck Down Prostitution Laws



September 28, 2010

Globe & Mail, September 29, 2010: The federal government will appeal an Ontario court judgment that struck down Canada’s prostitution laws. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced in the House of Commons Wednesday that the government will challenge Tuesday’s ruling that the laws are unconstitutional. Prostitution is not illegal in Canada, but the court struck down three provisions that criminalized most aspects of it. Keep reading this report.

Action Item: In addition to prayer, send a letter to your MP as well as Prime Minister Harper, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Rona Ambrose ([email protected], [email protected], [email protected]) thanking them for agreeing to appeal this court decision (sample letter is below). Learn more about this issue by reading a quality report from the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. Also, find the Christian Legal Fellowship’s press release about this below.

For Immediate Release from the CHRISTIAN LEGAL FELLOWSHIP: September 28, 2010


Toronto, ON – The Superior Court of Ontario released its decision in Bedford v. Canada, a case challenging the constitutionality of Criminal Code provisions impacting prostitution.  The case, heard last October, was brought by three sex workers on the grounds that the Criminal Code provisions against operating a bawdy house, living off the avails of prostitution, or communicating for the purposes of prostitution violated s. 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In response to the challenge, the Catholic Civil Rights League, the Christian Legal Fellowship (“CLF”), and REAL Women of Canada (“the intervenors”) filed a joint submission requesting the Court uphold the Criminal Code provisions in order to protect vulnerable individuals who may find themselves forced into prostitution. The intervenors also presented evidence explaining Canada’s historic and longstanding position against prostitution, revealing the importance of these provisions in maintaining Canada’s moral and social fabric.

Ruth Ross, CLF Executive Director and General Legal Counsel, stated, “Today’s decision is unfortunate. Although it purposes to fulfill a noble goal, that of providing greater protection for the vulnerable, it in fact has the potential to create a system that undermines the security of all Canadians.  As studies have shown and recent reports from Winnipeg affirm, prostitution and human trafficking are closely linked.  By eliminating the Criminal Code provisions, we anticipate police will find it more difficult to identify and protect those who have been forced into prostitution and pimps will acquire a greater degree of power.”

“Prostitution exposes both women and men to physical and psychological harm; it is an inherently dangerous activity. Removing the Criminal Code provisions will not reduce the harm to those who engage in the behaviour nor will it benefit society as a whole. Other nations have implemented similar legal schemes only to find an increase in detrimental consequences.  Moreover, the decision reinforces the notion that sex is not an intimate and loving act but instead a commodity that can be bought and sold at will.”

“Beyond the particular issue of prostitution, this decision again puts into question Parliament’s role in our Canadian democracy. In enacting these provisions, Parliament reviewed the array of variables and social science evidence, took into account public opinion by hearing from citizens across the nation, and discussed the complexity of the subject.  Its provisions struck a reasoned balance that did much to protect the human dignity of victims of prostitution and the health, safety, welfare and morals of society.”

For background information and to view written legal arguments, visit the Private Members Forum on our website at:

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Sample Letter from ARPA Canada

Dear Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Honourable Rob Nicholson, Honourable Rona Ambrose, and Honourable [name of your MP],

Thank you very much for your dedicated service to our country. In many ways we rely on your integrity and zeal for justice to keep our country strong and free.

I just heard about Mr. Nicholson’s announcement that the federal government will appeal the Ontario court decision that struck down the country’s prostitution laws. I applaud you for doing this. Thank you very much.

Related to this issue, I respectfully urge you to consider this report courtesy of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada that compares the Swedish and Dutch models and the correlation between prostitution and human trafficking: Furthermore, I believe that prostitution by its very nature is harmful on many levels and needs to be curtailed as much as possible. Though it has limits, the Criminal Code is an important means towards accomplishing this.

May God bless you in your important roles as you lead our nation.


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