Canada government appealing prostitution ruling to Supreme Court

[JURIST] Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson [official website] announced [press release] Wednesday that the government will appeal [docket] a recent prostitution ruling [JURIST report] to the Supreme Court of Canada [official website]. The decision rendered three portions of the nation's current anti-prostitution law unconstitutional and imposed a 30-day period for the government to file an appeal. Nicholson spoke on the decision [Globe and Mail video] before the House of Commons [official website], saying, "Canadians can continue to count on this government to protect those that are vulnerable to this exploitation." The respondents, three professional sex workers who brought the original case, alleged [Globe and Mail report] that the timing of the appeal, at the end of the court's 30-day stay, has left them with little time to respond appropriately. The Ontario Court of Appeal [official website] ruling struck down prohibitions on the keeping of a "common bawdy house," but maintained restrictions on prostitutes openly soliciting customers, often referred to as "street prostitution." The decision is only binding in Ontario, but the court suggested that Parliament consider amending the law, as well as noting an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada [official website] would make a binding decision for the country. The Supreme Court has not commented on whether it will take the case.

The Ontario Court of Appeal extended a stay in June that was previously extended in December 2010 of a lower court decision [JURIST reports] striking down laws banning prostitution-related activities. In March 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed to review a BC Court of Appeal [official website] decision allowing a challenge to the country's anti-prostitution laws. In 2007 the Sex Professional of Canada [advocacy website] initiated an application [JURIST report] with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice [official website] challenging the three provisions on the grounds that they are inconsistent with the Charter. The challenge came on the heels of the trial of Robert Pickton [CBC case backgrounder], who was accused of murdering 26 women [indictment text], mostly prostitutes, in the Vancouver area in the 1990s. Pickton was convicted of six counts of murder [Globe and Mail report] in late 2007.

 

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