Ontario gvmt announces it will stop enforcing prostitution laws
The Ontario government has joined New Brunswick in saying it will cease enforcing the prostitution laws thrown out by the Supreme Court in December, even though the high court said the laws would remain in force for twelve months to give the federal government a chance to pass new legislation, reports LifeSiteNews.
The announcement from Canada’s largest province has drawn strong criticism from anti-trafficking groups.
Last week the attorney general of Ontario announced that the province will stop pursuing cases involving brothels, living off the avails of prostitution and street soliciting, the sections of the Criminal Code the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in its December 20 ruling, while continuing to prosecute other prostitution-related offenses.
"Having carefully reviewed the Supreme Court’s decision, the Ministry recognizes that there are several prostitution-related offences under the Criminal Code which were not affected by the Court’s decision," said Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, in a statement to CBC News.
New Brunswick Assistant Deputy Attorney General Luc Labonté said on January 27 the province will stop enforcing the prostitution laws until the federal laws struck down by the Supreme Court are settled.
In response, federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General Peter MacKay said the provinces have a duty to enforce the law of the land.
"While the administration of justice is a matter of provincial jurisdiction, Canadians expect criminal laws in this country to be properly enforced so long as they remain in force. The Supreme Court of Canada made very clear in its decision that the current laws with respect to prostitution were to remain in force for twelve months. This gives Parliament the chance to respond," he told CBC News.
"Make no mistake, doing nothing is not an option," warned MacKay.
Alberta's attorney general Jonathan Denis followed MacKay's directive and issued an order last week stating that the province will continue to enforce the existing prostitution-related laws while awaiting Ottawa's response to December’s Supreme Court ruling.