Ontario's premier has entered the debate over Canada's repressive new prostitution law a day after it took effect, adding her voice to a growing number of groups concerned for sex workers' safety.
Kathleen Wynne issued a statement Sunday saying she has a grave concern that the new rules dealing with prostitution won't be any better than the old system when it comes to protecting prostitutes from harm.
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.
Wynne said she has asked the province's attorney general to advise her on the legislation's constitutional validity in light of the Supreme Court of Canada ruling quashing the old law, and for options in case its Charter compatibility is
questioned, but stopped short of saying the province wouldn't follow the new rules:
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.
Meanwhile Vancouver Police don't seem impressed by the new law
New federal anti-prostitution laws criminalizing the purchase of sex will be in effect as of Saturday, but the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) have no plans for a crackdown.
Sex work involving consenting adults is not an enforcement priority for the VPD, the police department's sex-work enforcement guidelines say.
Our priority will remain the safety of sex workers, VPD spokesman Sergeant Randy Fincham said.
Sex-worker advocacy groups argue the new law will put outdoor sex workers in danger. Laura Dilley, executive director of PACE (Providing Alternatives, Counselling and Education) Society explained:
They won't be able to go to public places to screen clients adequately because the clients are worried their information will get to police.
The VPD is known as a progressive police force for adopting harm-reduction strategies for marijuana and sex work.