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JUST Committee Report

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Minister of Justice
and Attorney General of Canada

Ministre de la Justice
et procureur général du Canada

The Honourable / L’honorable Irwin Cotler, P.C., O.C., M.P./c.p., o.c., député

Ottawa, Canada K1A 0H8

NOV 1 9 2004


The Honourable Paul DeVillers
Member of Parliament
Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights,
   Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Confederation Building, Room 172
Ottawa, Ontario  KIA OA6

Dear Mr. DeVillers:

The purpose of this letter is to suggest that a sub-committee of the Standing Committee on Justice, Human rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness be struck to study the laws related to prostitution.  The sub-committee could have a mandate similar to the solicitation laws in September 2003.  The purpose of the new sub-committee could be to improve the safety of sex-trade workers and communities overall, and to recommend the changes necessary to reduce the exploitation of and violence against sex-trade workers.

Given the importance of this matter, for all Canadians and, in particular, for sex-trade workers, I decided, once I was appointed Minister of Justice, to meet with numerous stakeholders directly affected by the issues surrounding prostitution in Canada.  Thus, in March 2004, I publicly indicated the need to more adequately protect individuals involved in prostitution against exploitation, violence, and abuse and I pledged to support the reconstitution of the sub-committee as a democratic process for law reform and social change with regard to the prostitution problem in Canada.

Since then, a number of reports and research papers have been produced on this issue including, among the most recent, the report from Pivot Legal Society entitled Voices for Dignity; A call to End the Harms Cause by Canada’s Sex Trade Laws and the report from the Conseil permanent de la jeunesse du Québec entitled Vu de la rue : Les jeunes adultes prostitués, which advocates the repeal of the solicitation laws because they encourage violence against prostitutes.  The Canadian Medical Association has also urged doctors to lobby the federal government to change Canada’s prostitution laws in order to, in particular, protect street prostitutes.


There appears to be a consensus regarding the need to review and amend the prostitution related provisions of the Criminal Code as soon as possible.  However, there is no unanimity in relation to how to improve the safety of prostitutes, even within the different interest groups, such as feminist groups.

The importance of dealing with this issue and the variety of views in relation to how it should be addressed leads me to recommend the prompt constitution of the sub-committee of the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.  This sub-committee should allow Parliamentarians to established a dialogue between the different interest groups and determine the best possible solution for both protecting the individuals involved in prostitution-related activities and responding as appropriately as possible to the concerns of Canadians about prostitution.

My officials will be happy to assist the new sub-committee in its work.



Original signed by :

Hon. Irwin Cotler
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada