I am going to speak only in English, given how complex the subject is. I apologize.
In terms of the study we submitted to the clerk by way of disc today, I'll have to submit an actual hard copy to Monsieur Pagé afterwards, too.
Our adult entertainment association is a stakeholder organization designed to serve the needs of the exotic dance industry, which is the exotic dance entertainers, the strip clubs. It is based in Ontario. It is a self-regulatory model. Some of the owners from Ottawa are here today. It's a way in which our organization has been put together to help self-regulate. There's a 1-800 number for entertainers to call, should they have issues so they can report confidentially. We work together with municipalities to create various educational materials, etc.
The Bedford decision does not apply to the clubs. This is not an area where we wanted to go. This is not a venue in which we want to do something. The proposal we're submitting to the committee today is a reaction to the Supreme Court decision—nine to nothing.
I heard the the other day, Mr. Chair, with all due respect, state that the justice department felt this bill would stand up to a legal test. My question to the members of the committee is this. Are these the same individuals who said the last one would stand up to a legal test? They should be fired. In any other business, they would be. It's uncalled for.
This particular study that we're submitting is an opportunity for the courts to look at a model that would work. It involves health. It involves safety. It involves a number of things.
The five main reasons that this study was done independently by Mr. Czekalla point out that this is a ready-made answer. The adult entertainment clubs could take on this aspect as an enhanced licensed area under the same umbrella of an adult entertainment club. There are five major reasons the study points out. It was a five-month study.
Number one is the zoning. There would be no need for a red light district. There would be no need for official plan changes, no need for zoning changes. The licensed adult entertainment clubs, by definition, are services designed to appeal to erotic or sexual appetites or inclinations. It has the word “sexual” in it, and it has the word “services”. That wouldn't change. They are known entities. They have a good track record of protecting women. They already work together with police. We have a very valid association that works together with governments, which is going to take some time. It's the reality of things. This is not an issue that a few lawyers can deal with. It's going to take a lot of input from a lot of people, and it's going to be part of my recommendations.
The legal test.... It is a slippery slope that we go on. It is uncalled for, for any minister to take on the fact that.... If you are going to be deliberate and know there's going to be a court challenge, in reality that's almost malicious intent. You should be held liable, either through a civil suit or even criminal charges, should there be ramifications afterwards. That's the reality of things.
The charter itself—and I hold it up as a prop. This is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 7 of the charter guarantees the protection and safety of all persons in Canada—all persons—not 31,000 select persons who decide to write online. All persons in Canada are guaranteed that right under the charter.
Mr. Czekalla is going to talk about the study itself, about how it talks about implementing and taking on enhanced services.
I have three recommendations.
The first is that there needs to be an outside legal review of this. Morris, Manning is an excellent choice. Theresa Simone is another person who has a great reputation.
Number two is that there is no way.... There has to be enhanced dialogue. There has to be a working group put together and an extension has to be asked for past December 13. When that's done, our request is that our study be sent in to the court as a model to say, “Is this what you had in mind? Is this what we're talking about?” In reality, it was nine to nothing.
I have two last points before turning it over to Mr. Czekalla.
Am I okay with time?
Good morning, and thank you for having me here today to speak to you on Bill .
My name is Rudi Czekalla Martínez, and I am the principal at Municipal Policy Consultants in Toronto, Ontario. I have been involved in the development of public policy in the area of adult entertainment both as a regulator and a private consultant for almost 15 years.
I'm also the author of the “Enhanced Adult Services Study” that Mr. Lambrinos referred to.
From my experience I can tell you that although the federal government lays out the regulatory framework for prostitution in this country, it is actually the municipalities that have the greatest impact on how prostitution is managed. This is the case because irrespective of what the federal government does, prostitution finds a way to continue to exist. It may transform its modus operandi to accommodate legislation, but it never goes away. Municipalities understand this very well and they have responded in a number of ways.
In Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton, municipal authorities have been licensing escort services for more than a decade. Not unlike the businesses themselves, which carefully set up their operations to make sure they don't technically run afoul of the law, these municipalities have carefully worded their own bylaws to ensure that they do not directly contradict the criminal laws, while at the same time indirectly regulate the business of prostitution.
So you see, we have a situation in which the different levels of government are not working together effectively to come up with a realistic, practical, balanced, and of course, constitutionally valid solution.
The model proposed in Bill does nothing to alleviate this matter. Aside from not responding to the issues raised by the Supreme Court, it also does nothing to help the provinces, and ultimately municipal governments, to deal with the real issues: the safety of the women involved in prostitution; their social marginalization; and their economic disenfranchisement. These are all things created by current as well as the proposed legislation.
The study I conducted includes 103 key findings and nine major recommendations, with 37 actionable items. In the short time I have before you, I would like to provide you with a synopsis of the study's recommendations and approach to their implementation.
First and foremost, an effective model needs to have outcome-based objectives against which the effectiveness of the approach is measured. Of course this means having valid and reliable metrics, which in turns means that there has to be relevant, consistent, and timely data available.
In Sweden, the government set as one of its objectives to reduce the violence against prostitutes. As several independent studies have pointed out, the government then went on to claim that it was achieving its goal because there were fewer prostitutes working on the streets, which was then interpreted to mean that there was less prostitution overall, and therefore less violence as well.
The government in Sweden never had valid and reliable metrics. It simply made very fallible assumptions. In fact, what has happened in Sweden is that the legislation there has simply driven prostitution deeper underground, not reducing levels in any significant way. By doing so it has also made it more dangerous, as sex worker focus groups have revealed.
Here at home, police services, from the RCMP all the way to the local police forces, don't keep the kind of data that is needed to ensure that we are measuring what needs to be measured. So the centralization of data collection by law enforcement authorities is one of the central recommendations of the study.
Another set key recommendation from the study focuses on the need to employ a harm reduction approach. We know that criminalization, whether explicit as in the United States or implicit as has been the case in Canada, and would continue to be so under the proposed legislation, simply doesn't work. We therefore need to focus on reducing individual, group, and social harm. This can only be done by redressing the laws and institutionalized norms that systematically victimize sex workers. Human trafficking, sexual exploitation, physical and psychological violence, social marginalization, and economic disenfranchisement are all issues that have to be addressed through a balanced combination of regulation and supports.
An excise tax on services would go a long way to pay for such programs.
Finally, the study makes a case for having all levels of government explicitly working together to come up with a strategy that does what I have just described. For each issue and sub-issue, there will almost always be a level of government that will be the lead and have the other orders of government play supporting roles. Without an explicit implementation plan, driven by specific outcomes and validated by specific measures, any attempt at addressing prostitution risks becomes just another ambiguously unsuccessful attempt in a long line of similar attempts at dealing with this issue.
I echo the sentiment shared by Mr. Lambrinos that this committee should consider recommending to Parliament that further work be undertaken, and that an extension for such work be sought from the Supreme Court.
Thank you. Thank you for having me here today. It's an honour to be present.
My name is Glendene Grant. I'm a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and the founder of MATH, Mothers Against Trafficking Humans. I'm not here today with any studies or data. I have a real story.
I started MATH on April 18, 2010, as part of my way to raise awareness of human trafficking and educate anyone I can about the crime of human trafficking, after my daughter Jessie Foster went missing.
She was quickly known to be a victim of the crime. She is an international endangered missing woman and pretty much the most well-known human trafficking victim in Canada. Some of us even refer to her as the poster child for the crime. So my reason for being here is personal. I want to tell you a little bit about what happened to Jessie.
When she was 17 she met a man in Calgary who became her friend. They stayed friends even after she graduated high school, got a job, and her own apartment. To me this person was grooming her. That's my opinion. He is a recruiter and a pimp. His brother is a known pimp. We didn't know that right away, but when we found out it fell into place. She was taken on two “trips”. I always do quotes around “trips” because they weren't what you would want to go on.
They took her to Florida. They took her to Manhattan and Atlantic City, and instead of bringing her home on the second trip, they took her to Las Vegas. This happened after it was suggested to her that she prostitute herself the night before they were to leave, because their funds had run out and he didn't have any money for expenses to get them home .
So she rushed downstairs and called me, and was a little bit upset at the time, but said he's just being a jerk and I'm going back up to my room.
The next morning she called and said they were going to Las Vegas. She said nothing about what had happened the night before. She acted like it didn't happen. I was scared. I didn't know what was going on. I just knew that it wasn't a normal situation.
When she got to Las Vegas she called and said she was going to stay there until her 21st birthday, which was two weeks away. Twenty-one is the legal age in Las Vegas so it also fell into place once she went missing.
It didn't take her long to change her story. After the birthday story there was an accident. Then she had to stay for insurance. Then after that she met a fellow. After that she fell in love, moved in, and got engaged. This all happened very quickly. She was actually living with this fellow by June. She only got there in May.
After she went missing we hired a private investigator. She had been beaten, hospitalized with a broken jaw, forced to work in an escort agency, and arrested for solicitation.
When I talk about Jessie I talk about my honour roll student. She was into sports, music, dance, had tonnes of friends since kindergarten, and had never been in trouble ever in her life, not with school, friends, parents, or anything.
The first time she was arrested was in June. She had only been taken there in May. She was arrested again in September. She went missing in March. It was 10 months after she was taken down there. When we hired a private investigator, everything came out immediately.
Her pimp, or I should say her fiancé, had a bail bonds company he worked with all the time. This bail bonds company bailed Jessie out twice plus all of his other girls who worked for him. I know this because I actually talked to the bounty hunter who worked for him. This guy called me up and wanted to find Jessie. She was due for court and had a bail. I told him, you find her, because she's missing and I'd be glad for her to go to jail. I don't care what....
He was very touched by her story, and once that case ended and he had no contract, he came on pro bono to help us look for Jessie. He couldn't find her either.
Now with Jessie, she's my second oldest of four daughters. She has a stepdad, my husband, Jim, and me. We've been together almost 30 years, but yesterday was our first wedding anniversary. We just got married. I felt horrible doing it without Jessie, but we've done a lot of things without Jessie in the last eight years. Two of her sisters have become moms. Life has gone on. As best as we can, we've coped with it.
Two of her sisters were still teenagers when she went missing. Her older sister was 23 so they were just entering their adulthood. The problem with all that is that they've had to do all this with a missing sister, and to do all that you have to really learn to cope. They kind of took their key from me. I said whatever we're going to do we're going to do for Jessie, and we're going to do it with Jessie in our hearts.
Some of us have coped. Some of us haven't. Her father has not. He is no longer working. His health has deteriorated. He's greatly overweight, and it's sad to say because he's a wonderful man but this has destroyed him from the inside out. It's his daughter and he can't cope with it.
I'm very grateful that I have a supportive husband. He has a very supportive wife, too, but sometimes that's not enough. Jim's there with me all the way.
Now this is why I believe in Bill . The biggest reason is that we can't have the alternative. We can't have prostitution, and everything else connected to it, as a legal occupation in Canada. We need to keep laws in place to stop it. There are no safe ways for there to be legal brothels and street walkers with bodyguards, or pimps, as I call them. We know they're pimps. We need to let them know this is not going to be tolerated in Canada again. We can't risk more and more people being forced into the sex trade, if this was to be a legal job, as there would never be enough people to fill the potential job openings.
We truly cannot have any more victims like Jessie or any more families like ours. I've been living this nightmare for eight years. Even eight days or eight hours is a really hard time. When Jessie first went missing, we all thought it was going to be over the next day, at the end of the week. The first year comes along; it's just ongoing. Some people who are advocates, we can't live without them, but thank goodness they can take a day off or go on a holiday and get a little reprieve from this. I can't. I wake up every day...goes to Jessie, goes to what probably happened to her, and then it goes to my fight to stop this from happening.
Another important fact, in my opinion, is that we need to stop this demand, because that's the only thing that's keeping it going. If we don't hold the pimps and the johns accountable, it'll never happen. There are people who want to pay for sex and there are people who are victimized into servicing them by some very cruel people.
We need lots of funding for people to exit the sex trade. It's something that's needed; otherwise, nothing else will work. There are many people who have told me that they're in the sex trade because they have no way out. They don't want to stay in it, but they can't afford to support their children and get some kind of an education. None of them are receiving any counselling for the trauma that they've endured. They've been told, literally, it's a catch-22. They want to leave. When they try, they fail and they end up back. That to me is absolutely horrible. The men, women, and children need to get a way to get their lives back. They need to learn how to live happy, healthy lives, and those with children need to do it for their kids, too. It takes time and money. It's not easy. They want to live a life that they're proud of.
I just spoke to a woman the other day. She messaged me on Facebook and asked me why I support this bill. She does not, but she believes everyone has an opinion. We conversed for quite some time. She told me, “I will never tell my daughters what I do for a living.” To me that just told me right there and then that's not her choice of a job, of a career. If you want your children to make the right choices in their lives, they have to be told the truth. They have to know what's going on in their own lives and families. Otherwise, you know, they're just falling. They need to know what their mother does for a living, and they need to be proud of everything.
As far as MATH is concerned, MATH has really helped me. I speak all over, at different types of events. Some I do just on my own with MATH. If it's in the Kamloops and District Crime Stoppers area, I go with Mark Price. He's the head of that organization there. We just go to schools. We go to anything we can. We've been to a school in Boston Bar, B.C.—it's such a small place, kindergarten through 12 is one school—because of a missing young lady. She was missing for two weeks, and she came back. Everyone thought, “Thank goodness, she's back. She's fine.” Then they started realizing she wasn't fine, so they brought us into their school so we could explain to their students what's out there.
With me it's become a personal crusade. It's my coping mechanism. It's also my way to keep Jessie out there. I have no proof that Jessie's not alive or that she's dead, so I go on the assumption that she is alive. Hopefully, we'll find her one day. When we do find her, she's going to see that there have been fights in her name and changes brought about.
I'm not just going to sit there. When Jessie went missing there was a fine line between a missing person and a human trafficking victim. Everyone thought I was grasping at a straw, I needed an excuse, something to explain what happened to my daughter and where she went. Now we are eight-plus years, eight-and-a-half years later, and we have laws that are changing. Every day we're hearing about organizations being arrested and people being charged with this crime. When Jessie went missing, it wasn't even a known crime. People told me it doesn't happen in North America, it doesn't happen in Canada. We now know it does.
So we need to make a change, and I want to thank you for allowing me to speak on Jessie's behalf.
I'm under no false pretence that many of you here will actually be invested in hearing me out. Really hear me.
Sex workers are very well connected in our movement. We know what we need to keep ourselves safer and how to go about establishing more optimal working conditions.
I've been involved with sex work community organizing for 11 years now, and in my 17 years of working as a sex worker I have worked street-based, for agencies, and currently I am an independent worker.
As a plaintiff in the recent Supreme Court case, which has become a broad discussion in the mainstream, the name Lebovitch, my name, certainly has lost its anonymity. I don't want that loss of privacy and the stigma that I have faced to be done in vain. I don't want the rights that my colleagues have gained from this case to be stripped away.
Drawing on my own knowledge and expertise and that of the people who I have known and I have worked with over the years, I can tell you there is a clear disconnect between Bill and all of the evidence and education we have provided to the government about the policy perspective needed to move forward. Our priorities and concerns have been completely ignored.
I'm not here today to tell you how to amend this bill. It's beyond salvaging. This is not a moral crusade to be won. It is a struggle to assert voices of dignity and human rights. We have consistently proposed an effective model that takes into account sex workers' realities and practical concerns. That is the New Zealand model of decriminalization.
The rest of my time, in my mind, is best served by me explaining to you and imagining a point in time of my colleagues under the tyranny of Bill .
It's late...so stressed out...the cops keep harassing me, telling me to move. I have to make more cash to get the things I need.
Where are the others working tonight? Clients are so paranoid, not stopping for more than a quick minute before driving off. It freaks me out that these guys want me to get into their cars and we've only talked for five seconds. I heard some of the others were working out in the industrial park. More clients are driving out around there. Does the bus go out that far? Could I even catch it at this time?
Oh, look, there's D. He gives me the creeps but I know he's a good friend.
I just checked into my motel and put my ad up on Backpage. Damn, that was expensive; Backpage prices have really gone up. They just shut down two other sites. I could advertise for free on one of them. I heard they're going to shut down Backpage too. How am I going to get clients then?
Guys are not giving me their info for my screening. He called from a blocked number. I couldn't even check with the bad date list. The last guy who came over wouldn't even pay me at the beginning, he was so paranoid. I had to suck him off before he trusted I was not a cop. Then he tried to walk out without paying.
One of my friends just got kicked out of the motel. Are the cops outside watching who is coming in and out? Clients are trying to haggle down my price. Maybe I should lower my rates. How am I going to pay my rent?
As demonstrated by these very realistic examples, our lives as sex workers will be made much more precarious and anxiety-filled as a result of this bill, should it be implemented.
We will continue to work, but under much more dangerous conditions. We will constantly be looking over our shoulders. We will still find ourselves under the structure of criminalization. We will lose our negotiating power for the rates we charge, for our safety, for the right to make demands about our comfort levels in providing certain services. We will still be unable to report abuse and harassment. We still won't have access to labour rights because under this bill we are nothing but voiceless victims in need of rescue.
We can do better than this for sex workers. As I have stated earlier, the government has the evidence and policy examples of a better way forward. I implore you to centralize the voices and concerns of my sex-working colleagues.
We cannot afford to wait another six-plus years for another Supreme Court challenge. Lives are at stake.
Pardon me, I'm very allergic to fluorescent lights. I was told the lighting in here would be halogen, which is not true. So I will do my best here.
With this bill, you are going to drive us so far underground and make us work under such difficult conditions, with many more people working within those more dangerous conditions, that violence is bound to escalate. There is no question. It is not theory; it is not hypothesis. We are going to start getting killed; there is no question about that.
That was from Cathy, a witness at a parliamentary committee on Bill C-49, also known as the communicating law, on October 22, 1985. I was also one of the witnesses that day. We told you then what would happen, and you said, “Thank you very much”, and went ahead and passed the bill.
On December 20, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down one-third of the communicating law and one-tenth of the procuring law and the bawdy house law. It did so on the basis that the old laws compromised not only our health and safety, but were found on evidence to cause catastrophic harm. So why would this government not only reintroduce the old laws, but go even further and write new sections that will make our occupation even more dangerous than the old regime made it?
Bill is not rationally connected to the Supreme Court's reasoning in Canada v. Bedford. The laws regulating the sex trade are important, not only in an obvious way for what they prohibit but also for the conditions they create and their influence on how sex workers are perceived. When it is any other group, other than sex workers, people intuitively understand that there is a direct connection between what the law says about a group of people and how individuals of that group are treated by others.
When Russia passed laws to squelch the gay rights movement in June, 2013, no one was surprised to hear of a rise in gay-bashing cases, or that those protesting the laws—not the bashers—were jailed. When Uganda passed a law that included life imprisonment for homosexual acts and Nigeria banned same-sex unions and began arresting those suspected of being gay, we were not shocked to hear of beatings, torture, and murders.
We know that criminalizing homosexuality leads to increased violence against homosexuals. It should be equally obvious that criminalizing sex work increases violence against sex workers. That is one of the reasons why decriminalization is so important to us. Laws don't only reflect society, they shape both attitudes and how activities are conducted. Social purity laws are particularly problematic. Think about the prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. in the 1920s. People didn't react by saying, “Okay, I guess I'll never have another glass of wine”. Instead, they found ways around the law. Prohibition enriched organized crime, kept the police busy, added risks that weren't there before, and criminalized the actions of a significant percentage of the population. The laws shaped the way the activity was carried out. What it didn't do was achieve its stated aims. Of course, this will be the effect of Bill .
Our clients have been called horrible names lately: perverts, pathetic, predators. But think who our clients really are. They are not the Robert Picktons or the Gary Ridgways of this world. They do not arrive on a shuttle from Mars at sundown. They are men who, for many different reasons, buy our services, and I must stress, “our services”. They do not buy us. Our clients are your fathers, your brothers, your uncles, and yes, your colleagues.
The spectre of parading them in front of the media and courts for the entertainment value of shame and humiliation is irresistible to those of the finger-pointing persuasion. But these are revenge laws, and revenge laws have no place in a just society.
When you tell society that we are criminals, that you want to legislate us out of existence, predators will take you up on the offer. We all know about the Robert Picktons and the Gary Ridgways of this world. Gary Ridgway, the Green River murderer, said:
...I hate most prostitutes and I did not want to pay them for sex. I also picked prostitutes as [my] victims because they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing right away and might never be reported missing.
Ridgway was convicted of murdering 49 of my colleagues, but later confessed to murdering almost double that number. Bad laws serve us up on a silver platter to sexual predators.
Most people, whether pro or con, aren't happy with Bill . SPOC's advice is to scrap the bill in its entirety. After all, as said in his statement released on December 20, 2013:
A number of other Criminal Code provisions remain in place to protect those engaged in prostitution and other vulnerable persons, and to address the negative effects prostitution has on communities.
On that, and on that alone, we agree with . There are a plethora of other Criminal Code provisions that specifically address extortion, coercion, procuring, assault, forcible confinement, human trafficking, and about 14 different laws protecting against the exploitation of minors.
SPOC's position is to let the laws that the Supreme Court struck down—
Let me begin by thanking each of you, members of the standing committee, for having us appear today regarding Bill , the protection of communities and exploited persons act.
We appreciate the government's efforts to abolish prostitution and prostitution-related activities while taking a victim-focused approach. I am joined today by a detective from our vice team who is considered one of the foremost experts in the extraction of young women and children who are sexually exploited and trafficked for the purposes of prostitution. For the past six years he has been dedicated to investigating domestic human trafficking. Due to the nature of his duties as an investigator, he will appear in camera today. If asked, his experience and observations will help explain what happens in the field from an investigator's perspective.
As chief of York Regional Police, an organization that polices a diverse community of over 1.1 million people, I am proud to say that we have been recognized as a leader in combatting and preventing domestic human trafficking from occurring, bringing perpetrators to justice, and protecting and extracting sexually exploited women, children, and marginalized individuals from all walks of life. Over the past four years York Regional Police has rescued over 100 victims trafficked and involved in prostitution, who are mostly found to be under 21 years of age. More recently, our vice team has laid 12 counts of human trafficking and over 80 pimping-related charges in the first five months of this year.
In many cases, the women and children are forced into the sex trade through violence, threats of violence, coercion, and trickery. We consider these women and children to be victims of crime and we are committed to investigating all incidents relating to sexual exploitation and human trafficking and providing assistance to these victims.
Our experience leads us to believe that prostitution is exploitive, degrading, and inherently dangerous to those who sell sex. We are thankful for the opportunity to provide our input on such an important bill. We have asked the government to develop a made-in-Canada model, which gives police officers the necessary enforcement tools, is tough on pimps and johns, provides supports for victims of exploitation, and does not legalize an industry that is inherently dangerous.
It is our view that Bill accomplishes most of these goals. Specifically, we support the government's approach to abolish prostitution, prosecute those involved in the exploitation of others, provide support to those who are victimized, and reduce the negative impact to communities.
We are also in support of the tough sentences proposed for those who would exploit marginalized women and children. In the absence of new prostitution legislation, our ability to protect victims and vulnerable individuals, particularly women and children, would be impacted.
I would like to emphasize the connection between prostitution and human trafficking. Sexual exploitation almost always occurs among victims of human trafficking. While human trafficking legislation exists, human trafficking can be difficult to identify until trust and cooperation is established with victims. For this reason, human trafficking and prostitution investigations often go hand in hand.
A 2014 York Regional Police initiative resulted in the arrest of 10 men for human trafficking in relation to the sexual exploitation of a number of women and girls, 40% of whom were under 18 years of age. Although we did not initially have grounds to lay human trafficking charges, we were able to rely upon prostitution-related offences to separate these men from their victims. This gave us the opportunity to gain the trust of the victims, eliciting comprehensive statements to form the basis of human trafficking charges, as well as connecting those victims to support agencies.
You see, without the Criminal Code tools we would not be able to suss out the would-be victims and create the distance between the victims and the abuser. This is time consuming and often takes several attempts to gain the trust and confidence to help victims escape their abusers, not dissimilar to domestic violence.
Within the confines of a bawdy house or while under the control of pimps, victims are often afraid to ask officers for help. It is important to have the tools to separate victims from their exploiters, including the offences of receiving a material benefit for sexual services and procuring.
Generally during prostitution investigations, police in Canada recognize prostitutes as victims and vulnerable individuals. Certainly, York Regional Police has taken a victim-focused approach. It is important to stress that we do not seek to criminalize women in the sex trade. In the past five years, York Regional Police has not laid one single charge against a woman in the sex trade.
In our experience, many prostitutes enter prostitution unwillingly, and most enter while they are in their mid-teens. Similar to the 2014 initiative that I mentioned, during a two-week initiative in December 2013, York Regional Police investigators identified 31 young sex trade workers who were previously unknown to police. Of those 31, nearly 30% were under the age of 18, and the average age of entry into the sex trade was 14.8 years of age. Investigators were able to assist all of those under 18 in getting home to a safe place for Christmas. Without sustained help and support, however, it is our concern that most of these young women and girls are at risk of returning to the trade in a short time.
Adequate funding for support services will be essential. Once victims are extracted from the sex trade, they need exit strategies including access to programs and funding, which can assist not only with short-term accommodation and transportation needs, but also with underlying problems of substance abuse, mental illness, and the trauma of sexual abuse or exploitation.
Through our investigations, we have noted that many sex trade workers come out of the business penniless and with significant personal challenges including addictions. Our investigators have advised of incidents in which victims handed over thousands of dollars in cash to their pimps only to flee with nothing.
We commend the allocation of $20 million in funding as an important first step, and hope that the government will undertake an analysis of what additional funding may be needed in light of the input it receives from stakeholders.
Once Bill is implemented, it is our hope that this legislation and related funding will continue to provide law enforcement with the tools of intervention to extract victims from immediate dangers and connect them to victim services and support agencies.
York Regional Police supports the legislative changes in Bill to reduce victimization with the objective of the abolition of an inherently harmful and exploitative business.
We look forward to continued participation during the implementation of Bill .
Good morning to you, and good afternoon from Copenhagen.
I am, in fact, not a professor of law yet. I am a Canadian lawyer and I've worked on prostitution and human trafficking issues since the late 1980s in a number of countries.
First, I would like to thank the committee for the invitation to present at this hearing, and especially for all the effort you put in to allowing me to participate via video link from Copenhagen.
What I will do today is comment on certain aspects of Bill . That doesn't mean that I fully endorse, or not, other aspects of the bill that I'm not mentioning.
As the committee may be aware, I was a special adviser to the Swedish government for six years and I was charged with the development and implementation of legal and policy matters and intervention in relation to prostitution and human trafficking, on what is often called “the Swedish approach”.
The Swedish approach is firmly steeped in principles of gender equality, human rights, etc., and has also inspired other countries, as you well know, in Scandinavia, in the European Union and beyond, where communities are working to shift the culture of the idea that prostitution is inevitable toward the understanding that prostitution is something through which individuals in a society should not have to be exploited.
Please ask questions about the Swedish approach during question time. I would be happy to discuss some of the issues that were raised earlier during this meeting.
Let me go directly to Bill . I want to first comment on the preamble.
First of all, I will say I'm happy to see that the government is taking action, for the first time in Canadian legal history, to comprehensively address the root cause of prostitution: those who create the demand, those prostitution buyers, those men who are involved as purchasers. I'm also happy that they have intended to target those who profit financially and materially from the exploitation of mainly women in prostitution.
To ensure effective application of any comprehensive legal framework that aims to prevent and tackle prostitution, it is essential, as we did very clearly in Sweden, to state which values and principles such laws are informed by and rest upon, as the government has attempted to do, at least partly, in the preamble of the bill. What is not visible in this preamble is that prostitution is a gender-specific violation. The majority of the victims are female and the majority of the perpetrators—buyers, pimps and traffickers—are men. We also know that in Canada aboriginal women and girls are highly represented in both indoor and street prostitution. This needs to be reflected.
I recommend that the preamble also include a paragraph that recognizes the international human rights obligations that Canada has under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, for example, and also under article 9.5 of the Palermo protocol, which obligates countries to criminalize or discourage the demand for prostitution purposes.
Communication for the purpose to provide a sexual service troubles me deeply, as it does, I think, everyone who is responding to the call to comment on this bill. It is most troubling for me to note that the government decided, despite plenty of evidence provided by survivors of prostitution and human trafficking, academic and community researchers, women's anti-violence organizations, law enforcement, today's witnesses, and some provinces, as to the multiple detrimental effects of criminal or administrative sanctions on those who are exploited in prostitution. Not only are they discriminatory but they are contrary to the human rights obligations that Canada has signed on to.
I believe that instead of facing criminal charges and potential involvement in the criminal justice system, like any other victim of a crime, victims in prostitution should be accorded all the rights and protection available through federal and provincial victim bills of rights, and they should be encompassed and amended in Bill .
I want to underline that in no legal system, no matter what measures are taken, should those who are involved in prostitution be apprehended, fined, prosecuted, and jailed for something that is a crime committed against them, and not by them. So I urge the government to reconsider and remove this offence from Bill .
If the government still wants to ensure that prostitution doesn't exist in public places and close to children, should that be an important aim, the best way to do that is not targeting the victim but targeting those who create the demand for men who buy sexual services. We know that from Sweden. It is an effective way of discouraging men from taking part in purchasing sexual services in the first place. I'm encouraged to see that the government has decided to put into place legislation or an offence that criminalizes the buyers.
I do have some comments on this particular offence. I will give some and the rest will come in writing.
First of all, I want to contradict studies that are going to be presented and have been presented to the committee, which underline that men who purchase women and men for prostitution purposes are benign and have a real interest in the victim's safety and protection. We know very well from the large body of academic and community-based research, and also from direct comments made by men who purchase women on websites that are located in Canada....
In the case of my research I had looked closely at the big websites in the Netherlands, called hookers.nl, where men post the most horrific comments about the women they purchase. I've also been involved in interviewing buyers in Lebanon, where we also can see that—just as in all of the other countries where men have purchased sexual services—they talk about the benefits derived from controlling women in prostitution.
To increase applicability, you need to ensure that attempts are criminalized. Otherwise, you will not be able to intervene until a violation has been committed. You need to increase the scale of the crimes, which is in the very low level, to reflect the seriousness of the crime. A breach of those provisions should mean a criminal record that cannot be rescinded even if they participate in so-called john school. As well, as has been done in Norway, the provision should be extended extraterritorially so that the Canadian resident who attempts to purchase a sexual service outside of Canada can be prosecuted in the country.
Key to an effective policy strategy to prevent prostitution offences is to ensure that individuals, groups, or legal persons are not able to recruit, harbour, or materially benefit from the prostitution of somebody else. It was recognized very early in the international community that there is a close link between the existence of legal brothels and other legal or illegal prostitution-related activities in a country, and the attraction for pimps and traffickers to bring women to those markets, and also for the men who purchase to actually show up in those markets. This has been soundly confirmed, both in the practical applications of 16 years of work that we've done in Sweden, but also through academic research, and importantly, evaluation and court cases that have been taking place recently in Germany and Netherlands, where they conclude that their system is attractive to those who facilitate and sell women for prostitution purposes. So instead of repealing the prostitution...[Inaudible--Editor]...as the Supreme Court proposed, they need to be reformed, strengthened, etc.
I also think that it's interesting to testify at the same time as the Adult Entertainment Association, because one aspect of the Canadian legal framework that is not federal, but is closely related in practice and effects to the actions that we are discussing today, is the municipal licensing system of strip clubs, body-rub parlours, escort services, etc. The existence of such venues, I argue, has a direct impact on the scale and extent of prostitution-related activities and human trafficking into and within Canada, and of course, the creation of victims both in Canada and in other countries.
We also know that the opposite is true. If you enforce vigorously criminal provisions against the whole chain of perpetrators—buyers, pimps, and traffickers—we also see that traffickers and pimps will not establish themselves in the country or in that particular community. That has also been recognized by those countries in Europe that have a legal or decriminalized system.
I am not going to say anything about the advertisement provision right now, although I generally approve of it. But there are problems of jurisdictional aspects that I will leave. These are discussed in my paper.
When I testified to another committee in the Canadian Parliament in 2007, I suggested that the government should appoint an independent national rapporteur on trafficking in human beings who would have the mandate to investigate, monitor, and analyze the state and scale of prostitution and trafficking, but also all measures—legal and policy—to see whether they are consistent with the charter and with international human rights.
In conclusion, in a democratic society in which we strive for gender equality and equal treatment of everyone, no matter their background, we must include the right to live free from violence and exploitation, including exploitation through prostitution, no matter where that exploitation takes place, whether it is indoors, on streets, or wherever.
I urge the committee and in turn the government to resist the dramatic promotion of and the resulting normalization of arguments about prostitution as individual choice or legitimate and empowering work, in the Canadian public debate put forward by what is called in international human rights theory the “pro-violation constituency”, meaning organizations, individuals, etc., who, when their interests are threatened, lobby for and consent to policies associated with human rights and norms violations.
In the case of prostitution in Canada, such pro-violation constituencies are often or may be composed of individuals, groups, and organizations that directly or indirectly aim either to increase their exploitative access to those victims—and in the case of Canada and other countries, that is usually groups of men who want to have better access to women and young men through prostitution—in order to continue the exploitation. We have those groups in Canada. We have evidence that this is exactly what they're doing.
The other aspect and the other pro-violation constituency is of course those who derive a financial or material benefit from the exploitation of those who are drawn into prostitution, as is indicated, for example, in the Netherlands—the business associations that want to expand their empires and make more profits.
I think it is long overdue in Canada that we identify prostitution and human trafficking as intimately linked and understand them as serious forms of violence and systemic human rights violations.
It's time to act responsibly, ethically, and decisively by criminalizing those who exploit, those who benefit, and ensuring that those who are victims and exploited in the prostitution industry do not suffer any criminal or administrative penances.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I thank the witnesses for being here today.
Before I start I just want to thank Ms. Grant for being here today. It's a difficult position that you're in, and I hope your daughter comes home.
I also wanted to say that having been involved in police work for some time and having been involved with next of kin, I wouldn't wish that on anyone in this room. It's a terrible thing.
One of the ones I was involved with was Angela Jardine, who was one of the victims of Willie Pickton. Her parents still live in my home town of Sparwood, British Columbia. They still struggle to this day, but they have closure. So it is a challenge.
Chief Jolliffe, I want to ask you a few questions with regard to police procedure and some of the questions my colleague Ms. Boivin was asking.
Part of the sections in the code as they exist today, specific to subsection 213(1), the “Offence in relation to prostitution”, as it's stated, “Definition of 'public place'”, provides the police with opportunity to deal with those on the street in many different ways.
Certainly the police have at their disposal a word called “discretion”, which they use more often than not. I would suggest from your testimony, in which you said that you have not charged anyone in the last five years under section 213, that your officers have used a lot of discretion. I wonder if you could explain to us, from the perspective of police work, the discretion that is used and how it is used.
I want to say thank you to Mr. Chair and the committee for letting me speak today. I've been a police officer for 13 years. The last nine years I've been attached to organized crime. Within the last six years, I have been tasked with being a supervisor in the vice unit. The primary mandate of our unit is the sexual exploitation of women and girls, and essentially all human trafficking cases in York region.
The sexual exploitation of Canadians is happening each and every day. Their backgrounds vary. Some are more vulnerable than others, but I've seen victims from all walks of life. One common characteristic is the age at which they begin selling their bodies. In two recent operations by York Regional Police, we found that the average age of entry into prostitution was less than 15 years old.
Once under the control of a pimp, it's nearly impossible for a victim to walk away. Pimps are abusive. They are manipulative. They control with violence, sometimes drugs, and the harshest forms of coercion. They spin a web of lies around their victims, to the point where these girls cease to believe they have anyone to rely on or run to. Families, friends, law enforcement, and all those looking to give a helping hand become an enemy who cannot be trusted or understand their oppression. The psychological trap is complete and inescapable.
Participation in the world of prostitution is very rarely a choice. It is a desperate act by individuals who have been victimized by pimps, addiction, or mental illness, and sometimes a potent combination of all three.
I am not talking about women who are independent sex workers and claim that it is their profession. These are not the women I am talking about. I'm not talking about those survivors who have been fortunate enough to exit the sex trade. I'm talking about the women and girls who don't have a voice, the ones who are not public and not speaking out. They are the ones our police services try to find, who are in total isolation and truly need help.
If we are lucky enough to find these women and girls, they typically deny that they need help, even though obvious bruises, injuries, and wounds are seen. I see this on a daily basis. These are the ones I am talking about. I am not talking about any of the other perspectives and views. I'm talking about the victims we find every single day who don't fit into these categories. These are the girls I'm talking about. These are the ones we're mandated to rescue.
I'll give you a typical example of a human trafficking victim. When you see a human trafficking victim, first of all, if you're lucky enough to identify that this is a human trafficking victim, they are not going to say, “please help me”. They are not going to say, “come rescue me”. In normal criminal offences—I'll use that term loosely—if I'm a victim, say of a robbery, a gun is to my head, I'm working at a gas station, and somebody robs me, I'm going to call the police when they leave. The gun is to my head, “Don't call the police, or you're going to be killed”. I'm going to be terrified, generally speaking, but I'm going to call the police. I need help and I need to report this.
Human trafficking victims will not call the police. As a matter of fact, we will respond and they will deny it. These are the girls I'm talking about, the ones who are completely isolated and trapped.
There is no question that this is a complex topic. There are many ideas on what to include in Canada's new laws. Some argue for complete legalization of prostitution. They say it's the world's oldest profession and we shouldn't waste time trying to control it.
I say that a society that allows the purchase or sale of the human body is a broken one. The ripple effect this could have on the future of our girls, boys, and society is unimaginable.
Others say that by raising awareness about prostitution and its harms, providing exit strategies for prostitutes, criminalizing the purchase of sex but decriminalizing its sale, prostitutes will voluntarily walk away from their pimps if they are given options. That is not going to work on the women and the girls we are looking for.
Many of these women who entered or were recruited into prostitution due to addiction, abuse, and violence will not overcome this type of victimization. Pimps won't go away, and therefore choosing to leave is not an option. I am not talking about the victims that you have heard about, the pro-legalization, the independent sex workers. I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about the ones who you haven't heard from, the ones who we deal with, and the ones who need our help but do not tell us. They are trapped.
The women trapped in lives of sexual exploitation need many things from us. They need exit programs. They need counsellors, professional help, and they need ongoing empathy, support and respect, much like what this bill is proposing. But before any of that, they need rescue. Best intentions won't heal the bruises left by pimps. We need to separate prostitutes from their abusers and end their isolation. The only way we can do that is if police have the power to intervene. Again, I'm talking about the victims who don't have a voice, the ones who are trapped.
In the past year I've spoken to many community groups about this very issue. There's always a concerned or helpless parent who approaches me about their daughter or a family member. At the end of each conversation they always ask me what tools I need to rescue these girls. The simple answer for me is this. I need time. I need the legal tool and the legal right to take a young woman away from her pimp and enable a serious conversation with that vulnerable young woman—not arrest her, not charge her or put her in jail. But under Bill that's going to be challenging for me to do. Some of the tools are challenging. Pimps will mask themselves as personal bodyguards and continue to exploit women and girls right in front of police officers.
For the sake of the people trapped in this life, I'm asking this committee to consider this when addressing Bill . Again, I am talking about the victims who don't have a voice and have yet to be heard.
There are some very good things with respect to this bill. There are some things I'm asking the committee to consider. I'm here on behalf of the chief and our organization. I'm also here on the front line, telling you exactly what we deal with on a day-to-day basis and subject to any questions.
It is a hot topic on every perspective. No matter what perspective you come from, there is going to be consideration or feedback from other perspectives.
My perspective is coming from the victims we deal with. My perspective in the victim's perspective is: how are we protecting these victims who are not going to be walking away who are able to? How are we going to do that, because those victims we deal with don't have that right? That argument...and I understand that it was struck down by the Supreme Court, absolutely. I respect what the Supreme Court said with respect to the independent sex workers, but that doesn't apply to these girls who are being enslaved every single day. That doesn't apply to them.
It's something that I'm asking this committee to consider. I don't know what the answer is. I have no idea what the answer is, to be honest with you. I've talked to other investigators across the nation who I respect and we just don't know what the right answer is because there are so many different perspectives.
But our view, as police, as law enforcement, when we respond, if the girl is lucky enough to have a father or mother who cares to call us, is that we need the tools for this girl who is brainwashed and manipulated, so that she can't say, “You're harassing me, get lost. I'm doing everything legally and I'm leaving”. All we need is time with her; that's all I need.
I just want to clear up.... I know it's a hot topic. I got some of the evidence of what happened earlier today and I missed the last half, but I know there is some confusion about criminal record and summary conviction offences. Can I just bring some clarity to that?
If I have a criminal record—a lengthy criminal record—and I am charged under section 213, and that's the only charge I am charged with and I am convicted, that will not appear on my criminal record.
The second scenario is that if I am charged with a straight summary conviction offence and in addition to that there is a drug offence or a breach, those are hybrid offences and now I'm going to be fingerprinted for all those offences. Now if I am convicted of a section 213 offence, it will show because there are fingerprints to match that conviction.
Does that provide clarification?