The constitutionality of the new sex work law (Canada)

Hamish Stewart. The Constitutionality of the New Sex Work LawAlberta Law Review (ALR) 54(1):69-88.

Abstract

In this article, the author considers the constitutionality of Canada’s new law on prostitution: Bill C-36. When the new sex work law was first introduced into Parliament, a number of advocacy groups and commentators argued that it was unconstitutional because of its failure to respond to the concerns raised in Bedford v. Canada, a case where the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the old sex work law on the ground that its negative impact on sex workers’ security of the person outweighed its nuisance abatement objective. This author agrees that Bill C-36 may be unconstitutional, but for a different reason. The new sex work law adheres to the constitutional norms invoked in Bedford by making use of two novel policy objectives: discouraging sex work and reducing the danger of sex work to sex workers. In practice, however, these objectives are likely to conflict with one another. As a result, Bill C-36 is an incoherent piece of legislation that may be unconstitutional for creating arbitrary and grossly disproportionate effects on the security of the person of sex workers.

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