Thursday, July 17, 2014

Canada's new prostitution laws: Everything you need to know

By Josh Wingrove

The Globe and Mail

Published Tuesday, Jul. 15 2014, 10:43 AM EDT

Last updated Tuesday, Jul. 15 2014, 1:21 PM EDT

Sex work and the rules around it have dominated Parliament Hill chatter this summer. The House of Commons justice committee'€™s rare summer sitting is meant to fast-track the government's Bill C-36, which was tabled in June, six months after the Supreme Court struck down some of Canada's prostitution laws.

Dozens of witnesses have spoken about the bill, with some supporting it and others calling for it to be amended or scrapped altogether.

Here's a glance at what the government is proposing, and what critics say about the changes.

1. Going after the buyers

The bill criminalizes the buying of sex or obtain[ing] for consideration the sexual services of a person. The penalties include jail time up to five years in some cases and minimum cash fines that go up after a first offence.

2. What's a sexual service?

The bill doesn't say, meaning it would likely be up to a court to decide where the line was drawn. A government legal brief, submitted to the committee as it considered the bill, says the courts have found lap-dancing and masturbation in a massage parlour€ count as a sexual service or prostitution, but not stripping or the production of pornography.

3. What about sex workers?

They also face penalties under the bill, though the government says it is largely trying to go after the buyers of sex. Under the bill, it would be illegal for a sex worker to discuss the sale of sex in certain areas a government amendment Tuesday appears set to reduce what areas would be protected and it would also be illegal for a person to get a material benefit from the sale of sexual services by anyone other than themselves. Some critics have warned that latter clause could, for instance, prevent sex workers from working together, which some do to improve safety.

4. What about those who work with sex workers?

Anyone who receives a financial or other material benefit, knowing that it is obtained by or derived directly or indirectly'€ from the sale of a sexual service, faces up to 10 years in prison. This excludes those who have a legitimate living arrangement with a sex worker, those who receives the benefit '€œas a result of a legal or moral obligation of the sex worker, those who sell the sex worker a service or good on the same terms to the general public, and those who offer a private service to sex workers but do so for a fee proportionate to the service and so long as they do not counsel or encourage sex work.

5. Can sex workers advertise their services?

This is a key plank of the bill, which makes it a crime to '€œknowingly advertise an offer to provide sexual services for consideration,'€ or money. This could potentially include newspapers, such as weekly publications that include personal ads from sex workers, or websites that publish similar ads. Justice Minister Peter MacKay appears to believe the ban could go after such publications. '€œIt affects all forms of advertising, including online. And anything that enables or furthers what we think is an inherently dangerous practice of prostitution will be subject to prosecution, but the courts will determine what fits that definition,'€ he told reporters after speaking to the committee July 7. This has been welcomed by some, including Janine Benedet, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia who supports the bill overall, though she called for some changes. "I didn'€™t actually expect to see this advertising provision in this bill but I would say it'€™s actually a really important step, to say that kind of profiteering needs to stop," she said.

6. Can anyone still advertise the sale of sex?

Yes sex workers themselves. The bill includes an exemption that says no one will be prosecuted for an advertisement of their own sexual services, though platforms that actually knowingly run the ads may face prosecution.

7. What else is in the bill?

It expands the Criminal Code's definition of a weapon to including anything €œused, designed to be used or intended for use in binding or tying up a person against their will, a change the head of the Canadian Police Association welcomed. The bill also sets mandatory minimum sentences of at least four years in prison for kidnapping cases that involve exploitation, or any similar case where a person'€™s movements are limited steep new penalties. The bill also gives a judge new powers to order a sex ad seized or deleted by amending a clause that previously extended those powers in cases of child pornography or voyeurism.

The government has pledged $20-million over five years in new funding to help sex workers get out of the trade. However, Ottawa hasn'€™t said specifically how the money will be spent and various critics, including police chiefs, have warned it's too little.

8. What brought us here?

The Supreme Court struck down Canada'€™s existing laws last December namely, a ban on keeping or being in a bawdy house, or brothel; a ban on '€œliving on the avails of prostitution, since largely reworded as the material benefit ban; and a ban on communicating in public for the purposes of prostitution. The court generally said the provisions violated the Charter by threatening sex workers' rights to life, liberty and security of the person. That'€™s essential, because critics are warning the new bill does the same thing, and is therefore vulnerable to a Charter challenge. "The new bill does not respect our constitutional right to life, security and liberty," sex worker Émilie Laliberté told the committee.

The group whose challenge led to the December Supreme Court decision has already promised another legal fight.

9. Why is the government doing this?

They'€™re doing it now because the court forced their hand '€“ without a new law, Canada would simply not have any laws on the books against prostitution by December. Some witnesses have called for that, but that's not what government is doing. Conservative MP Stella Ambler, who is on the Justice Committee considering the bill, has flatly called the bill an anti-prostitution law, and the Justice Minister has said it'€™s the government's aim to limit the sex trade as much as possible.

The opposition parties have opposed the bill. But both the NDP and Liberals have avoided getting into specifics about how they would have responded to the court'€™s ruling.

10. What's the status of the bill?

Once done at the committee, it will return to the House of Commons, which is scheduled to return from its summer break Sept. 15. It has not yet worked its way through the Senate. Canada'€™s current laws, struck down by the Court, officially expire in December, and the government has pledged to pass Bill C-36 by then.

Produced by digital politics editor Chris Hannay.

Monday, July 14, 2014

YOU'RE INVITED TO... Boobapalooza 2014! A Dancers for Cancer Fundraiser

We hope you will join us for
Boobapalooza 2014!
A Dancers for Cancer Fundraiser at The Byrd Pub

SURREY, BC: On Sunday August 3rd, from 3 to 11 p.m., dancers will donate shows at the Byrd Pub, 10768 King George Blvd, Surrey to fundraise for the children of a former colleague who died of cancer in 2008. Before she passed away, Twyla Newton was a waitress at the Cecil Hotel for nearly 20 years. She also made and sold costumes to exotic dancers in the community.

When she died, her children found themselves at the mercy of family, friends, and the foster care system during a crucial and vulnerable time in their lives, as they were coming into the teen years and early adulthood.

"We've been able to help in a small but ongoing way over the past six years," explains Trina Ricketts, founder of the annual event. "By funding piano lessons, musical equipment, computers, graduation clothes and things like that, we have been able to support their passions and provide opportunities for growth."

The event is run through the volunteer efforts of - an information and support network of adult entertainers and friends. Although Boobapalooza was started by exotic dancers, it has become an event that welcomes performers from all styles of dance. "Clothing removal is appreciated but not required," says Ricketts.

Ironically, Ricketts sadly lost her father to lung cancer on June 17, during the planning of this year's fundraiser. "My dad had every t-shirt from every Naked Truth event," Ricketts shared. "He never made me feel bad for being a stripper. In my heart, I'm dedicating this event to him."

Boobapalooza will feature continuous, live entertainment, door prizes, a silent auction, photo booth, and more. Entry is by donation. Anyone interested in donating a performance or a silent auction item, is invited to contact


§         The Byrd Pub, Surrey
§         The Georgia Straight, Vancouver
§         Manifesto Salon, Vancouver
§         Mysfit Fitness, Surrey
§         Birdie @ Black Rabbit Tattoo Studio
§         Westcoast Piercing and Ink, Surrey
§         Lashes, Lipstick Gore and More, Surrey
§         Get Exposed! Media, Surrey
§         Free Spirit Media, Vancouver
§         Tantra Fitness, Vancouver


100% Proceeds to Local Children Orphaned by Cancer

The celebration will feature continuous entertainment, door prizes, photo booth, silent auction, and more. We are thrilled to announce that award-winner for Best Floor Show in the TNT Awards two years running, Exotic Dancer Charlie, will be emceeing the fundraiser.

Funds raised will be going to the children of a woman who passed away from cancer. She worked with exotic dancers as a costumer designer and server in one of the Vancouver clubs. Her children have been recipients of our fundraisers in the past and we are proud to continue to offer them what little financial support we can as they are raised by their foster parents and become adults.

Would you like to donate an item to our silent auction? Some ideas for donations include products or services, themed gift baskets, tickets to events, restaurant and hotel gift certificates, and vacation packages.

In return for your sponsorship, we will put a thank you on our website at and thank you publicly during the event. Your company name will also be highlighted above the description of the auction item you donate so that guests will have repeat exposure to your company’s goodwill and generosity.

We welcome smaller items for door prizes too. And you are invited to include a coupon or small give-away in each of the gift bags we hand out to guests as they arrive (approximately 200 gift bags will be provided). Include your business card or company info with the give-away to entice new customers and let them know where to find you.

Our events get good media coverage and great turnout. The Georgia Straight is our media sponsor. This is a worthwhile opportunity for you to promote your brand.

Thank you very much for your consideration. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like to contribute. 

Your participation is valued and your generosity appreciated.


Trina Ricketts
Event Co-Coordinator


Exotic dancers, Burlesque Dancers, Pole Dancers, Hula Hoopers, Chair Dancers - ALL DANCERS WELCOME!

Nudity Appreciated but Not Required. J


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hundreds of legal experts call on federal government to reconsider proposed prostitution laws

Written by Kevin Hollett on July 07, 2014

Ottawa, ON [July 7]—More than 200 legal experts from across Canada are urging the federal government to consider the harmful and likely unconstitutional effects of the proposed sex work legislation introduced by Justice Minister MacKay last month.
The signatories to the open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper—which include top constitutional, criminal, and public law experts—assert that Bill C-36, the Protection Of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, will reproduce the harms caused by the prostitution laws that were struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada in Bedford v. Canada. The letter states that the criminal laws proposed by Bill C-36 are likely to violate the Charter rights of sex workers, who will face increased risk of violence as a result of the new law.

The open letter was released on the first day of hearings by the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, which is studying the proposed legislation.

The letter examines three key aspects of Bill C-36—the prohibitions on purchasing sex, public communication and advertising—and says these prohibitions will recreate the violent and harmful conditions that caused the SCC to strike down three of Canada’s major prostitution laws.

“These laws were found to create and exacerbate dangerous conditions and prevent sex workers from taking action to reduce or mitigate the risks they face,” the letter states. “We are concerned that, for the very same reasons that caused the Court to strike down these prostitution laws, the criminal regime proposed by Bill C-36 is likely to offend the Charter as well.”

The proposed legislation targets clients through the prohibition on purchasing sex and makes it an offence for sex workers to communicate in almost all public places. According to the letter, this creates a situation where sex workers and clients take steps to avoid police detection, which means they are displaced to isolated, dangerous areas and sex workers have less time to screen clients before getting into vehicles.

“Minister MacKay has expressed his view that criminalizing clients will protect sex workers, but this approach will, in fact, have devastating consequences on sex workers’ safety,” says Elin Sigurdson, a Vancouver-based lawyer who has worked for more than a decade on sex workers’ rights in Canada and will be making submissions before the Justice Committee. “The evidence from Canada and from around the world has made it clear that approach creates the conditions for violence, abuse, and human rights violations to occur by driving the sex industry underground where sex workers have little control over the conditions of their work.”

In addition to criminalizing clients of sex workers, Bill C-36 also proposes prohibitions on advertising sexual services, a provision that will restrict sex workers’ ability to work safely indoors.

“The ban on advertising will make working indoors very difficult, if not impossible, because sex workers will not be able to market their services.” said Sandra Ka Hon Chu, a Toronto lawyer and co-director of research and advocacy with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. “The Supreme Court of Canada was very clear that that the bawdy house law, which had the same effect of depriving sex workers of access to safer indoor work environments, violated their fundamental constitutional rights. In this regard, I believe that the advertising restriction offends sex workers’ right to security of the person.”

A copy of the letter and list of signatories has been sent to the Prime Minister and provided to all members of the Justice Committee. It is also available here.

- 30 -

About Pivot Legal Society
Pivot Legal Society is a leading Canadian human rights organization that uses the law to address the root causes of poverty and social exclusion in Canada. Pivot’s award winning work includes challenging laws and policies that force people to the margins of society and keep them there. Since 2002 Pivot has won major victories for sex workers’ rights, police accountability, affordable housing, and health and drug policy.

For additional information or to schedule an interview, please contact:

In Vancouver:
Kevin Hollett

In Ottawa:
Andrew Balfour

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

OMG: Clergy Who Support the Rights of Sex Workers

Dear TNTer's,

You gotta love a world where holy folk are supporting the rights of sex industry workers and clients.  The following statement (pasted below) was released at a media conference at St. Matthias Anglican Church in Victoria, BC on June 27, 2014.

XO Annie

A little background...

34 ordained ministers and counting have signed the document. Most are Anglican clergy from Vancouver Island. The signatories are divided more or less half and half between men and women. It includes:
            two hospital chaplains;
            two professors from the University of Victoria;
            two Anglican nuns (one of them being the Reverend Mother of the Sisters of St. John the Divine, in Toronto);
            at least one priest of First Nations background;
            retired clergy;
            one of Canada's leading experts on people who describe themselves as "Spritual But Not Religious" or "SBNRs" (Dr. Siobhan Chandler);
            a divinity student; and, of course,
            parish clergy.

This cross-section of religious leaders does not presume to speak for their places of employment or assignment, and this statement is not a statement of any particular religious institution. That said, these individuals, by signing this statement, wish to make it clear that they are opposed to the proposed legislation on ethical and religious grounds. Their opposition arises out of religious convictions about the dignity of each human being, and a special concern for the oppressed and marginalized of our society.

The Rev. Bruce Bryant-Scott is available for interviews by contacting him at 250-889-8917 or by e-mail at .

    The Reverend Bruce Bryant-Scott
    St. Matthias Anglican Church
    600 Richmond Avenue
    Victoria, BC V8S 3Y7
    Office: 250-598-2833
    Cell: 250-889-8917

We, ordained ministers and laity of various faith groups and denominations, wish to  express our concerns regarding Bill C;36 “Protection of Communities and Exploited  Persons Act” now before the House of Commons of the Parliament of Canada.  

We wish to make it clear that we continue to uphold marriage as an ideal and as the  normative place for sexual relations. We have great concerns about the commodification of  sex in our economy, and the exploitation and abuse of vulnerable women and men who are  sex workers.  

That said, we cannot support Bill C;36, for the following reasons.  

First, we believe that it infringes upon the human rights of sex workers to health, safety,  and life.  It disregards the issues raised by the Supreme Court of Canada when it struck  down the provisions of the Criminal Code that target sex workers. It simply re;inscribes the  old provisions in different language, and will result in immediate legal challenges.  This  does not further the welfare of sex workers, but continues their marginalization.    

Second, the proposed Bill C;36 will drive sex workers and their clients further  underground, putting sex workers at even greater threat of violence.  

Third, there was almost no consultation with sex workers or their advocates prior to the  drafting of this bill; the viewpoints shared in the online consultation by these parties were  not duly considered. The provisions of this bill run counter to a considerable body of sex  work research conducted in Canada and other jurisdictions. The provisions of the bill are  not based on evidence, but unproven assumptions.

Fourth, there is no meaningful provision to deal with the underlying economic and social  conditions that result in many people engaging in sex work.  This bill continues to  criminalize poverty, especially amongst indigenous peoples, youth coming from  government care, women with disabilities, and lower income single mothers, who are all  disproportionately represented among sex workers.  

This is a moral issue. While we can debate the pros and cons of sex work in our Canadian  society, and bring our religious beliefs to bear upon both sides of this question, we are all  agreed that this proposed legislation does nothing to advance the welfare of sex workers  and in fact, it increases the potential for dangerous situations. This is immoral.  

We urge the Justice Minister Peter MacKay, the Members of the House of Commons on the  Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, and the Parliament to withdraw this  proposed bill. We believe broader, meaningful consultation is required for any future  legislation, not only so that it will be an act which will stand up in a court of law, but so that  it serves the fundamental needs of this vulnerable population.


The Rev. Dr. John Barton, Retired Priest
             Diocese of New Westminster, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Canon Dr. Martin Brokenleg, OSBCn, Retired Priest
             Diocese of New Westminster, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Bruce Bryant;Scott, Rector,  
Parish of St. Matthias, Victoria  
             Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

The Reverend Lynn Cawthra, Deacon,  
             Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

Dr. Siobhan Chandler,  
             Camosun College, Victoria

Rev. David Chillman, Rector
Parish of St Philip;by;the;Sea Anglican Church, Lantzville  
Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

Sister Elizabeth Ann Eckert, SSJD, Reverend Mother
The Sisterhood of St. John the Divine, Toronto ON  
Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Canon Karen K Fast, Priest Associate,  
Parish of St. John the Divine Church, Victoria  
             Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. William Ferrey, Rector,  
Parish of St. Columba, Tofino,   
Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Nancy Ford, Deacon to the City
Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria  
             Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Deborah van der Goes, Honorary Assistant,
Parish of St. Philip, Cedar,   
             Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

The Ven. Dennis Hayden, Priest in Charge
Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria  
Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada  

The Rev. Susan Hayward;Brown, Priest  
             Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Michael Hemmings, Priest 
             Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

Ms. Gillian Hoyer, Postulant for Ordination 
             Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

Rev. Shelagh Huston, Deacon,  
Cowichan;Malaspina Region  
             Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

Rev. R. (Rob) T. Hutchison CD, Priest
             Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

Sister Brenda Jenner, SSJD
            The Sisterhood of St. John the Divine, Victoria BC

The Reverend A. Donald Lee, AHC,  Honorary Assistant  

Parish of Holy Trinity, Sooke  
             Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. S. Edward Lewis, Retired Priest
             Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Alastair McCollum  Rector,  
Parish of St John the Divine, Victoria  
             Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Dr. Murdith McLean  
            Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, University of Victoria

Dr. Martha McGinnis;Archibald, Associate Professor and Undergraduate Advisor
             Linguistics Department, University of Victoria

The Rev. Betty J. McLeod Miller, Deacon
             Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Mary Louise Meadow, Retired Priest
             Diocese of Toronto, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Arthur Menu, Hospital Chaplain,  
             Vancouver Island Health Authority

The Rev. David W. Opheim, Incumbent & Director

All Saints Church;Community Centre  
             Diocese of Toronto, Anglican Church of Canada
The Rev. Eric Partridge, Deacon in Charge
Parish of St. Mary Magdalene, Mayne Island  
             Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

The Ven. Gordon W.A. Payne, Retired Priest
             Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Clara Plamondon

St. John the Baptist Anglican Church, Duncan  
             Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Deborah Rivet, Rector
The Parish of St. Peter, Quamichan  
             Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Peter Shurvin, Honorary Assistant,
 Parish of St. Barnabas, Victoria,  
 Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada  
            Hospital Chaplain, Vancouver Island Health Authority

The Rev. Dr. Linda A. St.Clair, Retired Priest
             Diocese of New Westminster, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Michael Wearne, Retired Priest
             Diocese of British Columbia, Anglican Church of Canada