Wynne to Examine Consitutionality of C36/PCEPA

The next time someone tells you that you can’t make a difference, just tell them about the time a bunch of hookers, pimps and perverts were able to convince a Premier to request a consitutional reference.

Premier Wynne Statement on Bill C-36:

Yesterday, on December 6, after months of hearings and public debate, The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act came into effect.

When the Supreme Court of Canada struck down three provisions of the Criminal Code, they found that each of the impugned laws placed sex workers unnecessarily at risk in a way that violated their rights to safety and security under the Charter.

As I have said before, my priority in this debate is to ensure that our laws and institutions enhance the safety of those who are vulnerable — in this case, sex workers: a class of (mostly) women, who are disproportionately the victims of sexual and physical violence.  So I believe that there is merit in considering whether the Conservative government’s new legislation meets that test.

I have listened to the debate that has taken place over the last year, and particularly since the introduction of Bill C-36.  And I am left with grave concern that the so-called Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act will protect neither “exploited persons” nor “communities.”

I am not an expert, and I am not a lawyer, but as Premier of this province, I am concerned that this legislation (now the law of the land) will not make sex workers safer.

The legislation was duly passed through a democratic process.  The Attorney General of Ontario is bound to enforce the Criminal Code.  And she will.

But I have also asked the Attorney General to advise me on the constitutional validity of this legislation, in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Bedford case, and our options as a government in the event that the legislation’s constitutionality is in question.

We must enforce duly enacted legislation, but I believe that we must also take steps to satisfy ourselves that, in doing so, we are upholding the constitution and the Charter.

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who spoke up – sex workers, clients and allies alike. After such a difficult year for sex workers, it’s nice to know we have people who actually care about our well-being.

7 thoughts on “Wynne to Examine Consitutionality of C36/PCEPA

  1. Well let’s not break out the champagne yet, that same story contains this disturbing paragraph:

    “In her statement Sunday Wynne says she has also asked to be given “options” in case the law’s Charter compatibility is questioned, but adds the province will still enforce it.”

    Wynne is also on record via her spokesperson for saying that C36 is viewed as a “federal matter” and that they will have to “see how it plays out”, which sounds suspiciously like the ol’ “kick the can down the road” strategy in order to avoid any political risk.

    Here’s a clue Premier Wynne, 25 of your city councilors have issued a letter to you urging you to challenge the constitutionality of C36 by referring it to the Ontario Court of Appeals and NOT to enforce it until a ruling has been handed down. So cut the crap with this “the province will still enforce it”, ok? If C36 made being gay illegal, would you be perfectly ok with the OPP rounding up the LGBT community, loading them on to trains bound for Joy Smith’s Manitoba Conversion Camps?

    I don’t think so. Announce tomorrow morning, December 8th that Ontario will NOT enforce C36 until higher courts (OCOA and/or SPOC) have ruled that it is legal under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Fair enough?

    • Come on, we’re splitting hairs now – there’s no way she would make such disparaging comments about the new law (and the Conservative Party that pushed it through) if she didn’t intend to send at least part of it for a reference. If the AGO tells her it might not be constitutional, then that means that prosecutions likely won’t be pursued, and the AGO would have to engage in some serious legal gymnastics to state that it’s unequivocably constitutional.

      This is exceedingly good news, let’s not treat it as anything else.

      • Oh I welcome any opposition to C36 from any quarter however we still need to remember that the political process is not unlike the process of making sausage, you really don’t want to know what goes on, and what goes in, to the final product.

        I am cautiously (with emphasis on ‘cautiously’) optimistic.

  2. Congratulations to all who were involved in this!!

    I was thrilled to discover the Kathleen Wynne story yesterday morning on the front page of The Globe and Mail.

    That one of the most powerful politicians in this country – the elected first minister of a province with 38% of Canada’s population – a person who correspondingly has the resources of the second-largest governmental bureaucracy at her disposal, is openly questioning the federal Conservative Dictatorship on this issue is the best news of 2014.

    The Harperites have taken, and are continuing to take, their best shot at dismantling responsible, and responsive, democracy in Canada. Their consistent lying, dismissiveness, cynicism, and just plain nastiness is profoundly demoralizing. Having abandoned the fundamental caveat that must be kept in mind under any Parliamentarian system – namely, that governments should be morally constrained by their responsibility of representing and protecting all citizens, not only their own political base – the Conservatives retain not a shred of moral legitimacy.

    It is only natural that this Harperite disease of cynicism and suspicion has begun to seep into the minds of many. But a general distrust in the motives of our public respresentatives must be resisted. If not, the Harperites have won their long-game, and have destroyed functional democracy in this countr ( despite the ongoing facade of formal democratic mechanisms).

    The main theoretical practical constraints, between elections, on any Federal Westminster majority in parliament are: the rule of law (which of course the Conservatives have for most practical purposes thumbed their nose at); popular opinion (which is not sufficiently galvanized in large enough numbers to concern the Conservatives); and the influence of member-states of the federation (hello Ms Wynne!)

    As a lone-wolf type of activist (and erstwhile pervert), and surely like most activists on this issue, I’ve spent uncounted working hours doing what I have to do this past year, but without any particular hope that I could actually make a difference. And I very humbly confess that the idea of a last-minute hail-mary appeal to the provinces seemed to me to be the least promising of possibilities. Yet here it is, a pass completed for a big gain. No TD scored quite yet, true – but the offence is still on the field and the line of scrimmage has radically moved. The crowd, previously squeezing towards the stadium exit ramps, freezes in its tracks. Again breath is bated, the next play pregnant with tantalizing possibilites.

    My admiration of those who came up with the idea of writing this into the playbook, and of those who executed the play under (again in my dumb opinion) unhopeful circumstances, is unbounded.

    Hats off to Kathleen Wynne and all the folks who retain their determination, and who are undauntedly working to defend the idea of a just and compassionate Canada!

    • Because of our “Justice” Minister’s actions and that of his government, it’s indeed a wonderful irony that sex workers, who MacKay characterized as helpless victims, have never been better organized and have never been so militant in demanding their basic human rights. I wonder if the Cons saw it coming? It has also had the effect of having galvanized sex-workers’ political allies. I for one am one proud pervert, standing with my fellow perverts. Sex workers’ rights are Human Rights.

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