Open Letter to Kathleen Wynne: Refer C36 to the Ontario Court of Appeal Immediately

The Right Honourable Premier Kathleen Wynne:

Bill C36, the Conservative Party of Canada’s response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous decision on Canada’s prostitution laws, has now passed third reading in both the House of Commons and the Senate. It is likely to receive Royal Assent in the coming weeks, after which it will become law.

This bill is an assault on the entire sex work community. We have done our best to share our stories, and we have raised our concerns, put forward mountains of evidence, and made every possible effort to have our voices heard. But we have been dismissed, ignored, and deemed unworthy of contributing to an issue that will affect us in the most fundamental ways.

This bill will put women and marginalized peoples in danger. This bill will put vulnerable people in a more vulnerable position. This bill will unquestionably visit violence and death upon sex workers, and will recreate the same conditions that allowed predators like Robert Pickton and Gary Ridgeway to thrive.

This bill absolutely violates the rights guaranteed to us by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Minister Peter MacKay has even admitted as much, when he claimed it may hold up under Section 1 – a tacit admission that it fails the protections afforded by other sections. But I remind you – this is the very same government that insisted the previous laws were indeed constitutional, and the Supreme Court unanimously disagreed. They ignore and disrespect the constitution at every turn, and they have allowed ideology to trump rationality time and again. Their credibility is non-existent, they engage in decision-based evidence-making instead of evidence-based decision-making, and their contempt for the Supreme Court is blatant and appalling.

When I spoke to you at Queen’s Park back in June, you assured me that your concern was with how this law would affect vulnerable people, and you have publicly stated that you will continue to monitor the situation. You said you would consider all available options. Now, Prime Minister Harper is trying to force you to dedicate provincial resources to enforcing this law, which is a failure on every level. Will you allow him to force his will upon you, and the sex-working citizens of Ontario?

I ask of you this – as soon as it receives Royal Assent, please refer this bill immediately to the Ontario Court of Appeal for a constitutional reference, and do not pursue prosecutions until they determine its constitutionality. You cannot, in good conscience, expend provincial resources on the enforcement of this law when it is so clearly in need of judicial review at the highest level. The sex work community cannot afford years of violence and death as this law works its way through the courts.

Doing so would cost you nothing, and you would simply be doing your due diligence to ensure the laws our provinces enforces meet the basic constitutional standard that all laws much satisfy. Sex workers are Canadians who deserve the full protection of our constitution, and do not deserve to be treated like we do not matter.

The time to act is upon you, and you are the only person who can prevent Stephen Harper’s laws from putting sex workers in grave danger. You must stand up to him now. If you do not, you will either be standing with him, or standing idly by while predators and exploitative criminals use these laws to their advantage. There is no middle ground on this issue.

I implore you, Premier Wynne – please stand up for what you know is right.

23 thoughts on “Open Letter to Kathleen Wynne: Refer C36 to the Ontario Court of Appeal Immediately

  1. This is the most important message that can be conveyed regarding the unconstitutional travesty known as “Bill C-36”. The Canadian Bar Association stated in no uncertain terms that there are sections of the proposed legislation which must be excised due to the blatant violations of civil rights which would be codified if it is indeed passed. It is precisely what was described by Ms. Thomas “decision-based evidence-making instead of evidence-based decision-making”.

    Bill C-36 has been generated not upon sound, logical thinking, but upon far right, religious zealotry, an agenda of social oppression based on Old Testament condemnation, in fact under Bill C-36, Jesus Christ Himself would be subject to arrest and imprisonment if he were found guilty of associating with sex workers. This bill’s purpose is laughingly proclaimed to be for the “protection of women” however it does exactly the opposite, and when the sex workers begin to be maimed, mutilated and murdered, we will hear not regret and sorrow from the Harper-MacKay Conservatives, we will hear only catcalls and judgmental sneers of “well, if the murdered sex worker(s) had gotten out of that business, they would be alive today”, that is the Harper Regime’s mindset, that is what their souls are based upon, not tolerance, not compassion, but judgment and cold blooded pogroms for the sole purpose of wiping out any who oppose them and stand in their way.

    This is what Canadian Fascism looks like. God help us all.

    • Actually I find kinsmanship between Harper and Hitler. They are and were bent on ridding society of the people that did or do not fit their picture of what a good citizen should be based on religious practice, equality, ethics and many more issues. The Harper inquisition will lead to a trail of abuse and possibly deaths among the sex workers, as it did under Hitler. Harper and the conservatives should be held responsible for all the abuse and deaths caused by this blatant hate-based legislation.

      • Harper and MacKay should be charged as accessories after the first death of a sex worker after this new law comes into effect.

  2. Thank you, Nikki, for this eloquent letter. I am a former sex trade workers and have friends (female, male and trans) who work in the sex trades here in Ontario. I believe that their safety and wellbeing will be compromised if this law is enforced here. Please, please, Premier Wynne, consider a constitutional reference and please exhort other Premiers to take the same action.

  3. C-36 is a ridiculous bill. It’s time to stop pretending that criminalizing sex work accomplishes anything meaningful and start dealing with the actual problems around the issue, especially the health, welfare and safety of those involved.

  4. thinking about you nikki!! hopefully she listens…out premier is an abolitionist so not a chance for that to happen here….

    love susie

  5. Bill c-36 is counter-productive forced on Canadians by the Tory dictatorship.The Ontario provincial Liberals should do the the general population of Ontario assurance of no prosecution by law in order to serve and protect Ontarians, until the bill is ultimately struck down through the courts or when the Harper/Mackay regime is voted out of power in 2015.

    • Today it’s the sex workers. Tomorrow, perhaps those who use tobacco are singled out for criminalization? After all, tobacco can have an adverse impact on health, and that means higher medical expenses, and what about alcohol? Every year, many Canadians are killed by drunk drivers, not to mention the ‘trigger’ effect of alcohol so far as domestic violence is concerned, so why isn’t alcohol subject to criminalization?

      IF our Governor- General had any sense of honor and integrity, he would REFUSE to grant ‘royal assent’ to this attempted abortion of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, unfortunately it seems that David Johnston is just one more rubber stamp for Emperor Harpatine and his motley crew.

      • “Emperor Harpatine” – love it! 🙂

        As I argued at some length in a National Post article – here for example – Harper and his Evangelical fellow-travelers have attempted to impose their highly questionable morality on everyone else. Which should cost them the next election.

        Although I note that their presence during the Senate hearings was much less than during those of the House. So maybe some within the Conservative Party are able to read the writing on the wall.

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  7. This is a bad law that will endanger people’s lives. It is our duty, as citizens living in a democracy, to challenge a bad law that will put people directly in harm’s way. Please Premier Wynne, as a member of the LGBT community, you understand persecution based on nothing more than moral judgement. Please challenge this law. Stop it.

    • Well said Erik!

      We already had laws that protected sex workers from exploitation, human trafficking, etc. This law attacks consenting adults on both sides of the equation. Not only will it force sex workers into the shadows, it will ruin their livelihoods.

      • Yes, but unfortunately that is exactly its’ intention. The law is not meant to protect anybody, it’s meant to punish those who don’t subscribe to the Cons view of morality.

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  10. In my opinion bill C36 has little to do with the protection of communities or people and everything to do with the election of a majority conservative government in the next election even if it costs some Canadian citizens there lives

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  14. You have our full support here! We have seen from the mistakes of other countries that making things like this illegal does NOT help the cause, it just drives the industry underground and becomes less safe for everyone involved.

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