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Sex Workers Launch Constitutional Challenge to Laws That Threaten Sex Workers’ Health and Safety

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September 27, 2022 – Sex workers and sex work organizations will be speaking about their upcoming constitutional challenge to Canada’s sex work laws (Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act – PCEPA) on Thursday, September 29, 2022 at 12pm EST (9am PST) at an online media event, demonstrating evidence that criminalization through PCEPA results in grave violations to sex workers’ health and safety. Despite a a June 2022 Parliamentary report by Canada’s Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights that reiterated PCEPA, “causes serious harm to those engaged in sex work by making the work more dangerous” and that Canada should “repeal sections 213 and 286.4 of the Criminal Code”, PCEPA remains in force.WHAT: Media briefing by sex worker and sex worker rights’ organizations prior to the October 3-7, 2022 hearings of constitutional challenge to Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA)WHEN: Thursday September 29th, 2022 at 12pm EST / 9am PSTWHERE: Online via Zoom, pre-registration required, click hereWHO: Jenn Clamen, National Coordinator, Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform, main applicant; Sandra Ka Hon Chu, Co-Director, HIV Legal Network, Alliance Member Group and Legal Expert; Elene Lam, Butterfly Asian and Migrant Sex Worker Support Network and fact witness; Ellie Ade Kur, fact witness; Monica Forrester, individual applicant.BACKGROUND
In 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Canada v. Bedford that three criminal prohibitions on prostitution were unconstitutional because they caused harm to sex workers and contravened sex workers’ rights to liberty and security.
Instead of recognizing sex workers’ rights and well-being by decriminalizing sex work, the federal government created a set of criminal laws called the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) that reproduce those same harms.

PCEPA criminalizes communicating to sell sexual services in public, communicating to purchase sexual services in any context, facilitating or receiving a benefit related to the purchase of someone else’s sexual services, and advertising sexual services.

Sex workers are criminalized, stigmatized and discriminated against under PCEPA because many sex workers are:
  • Forced into isolation, exposed to the risk of eviction and unable to access safe indoor workplaces; Prevented from meaningfully communicating with clients to access information related to their health, safety, and ability to refuse or consent to sex
  • Prevented from accessing health, social, and legal services
  • Subject to unwanted and unsolicited police presence in their lives – particularly for Black, Indigenous, migrant and trans sex workers, and sex workers who use drugs, who are regularly profiled and targeted.
Harms of PCEPA on sex workers go well beyond arrest. Sex workers face risk child apprehension, loss of life and life supports, detention and deportation, experience targeted violence, lack of access to health, legal, and social sercices experience human rights abuses as sex workers try to avoid detection by law enforcement, live and work in precarious and unsafe conditions, and do not seek help or report crimes against them.

In March 2021, The Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform – an Alliance of 25 sex worker rights groups across the country, mainly led by sex workers – along with 6 individual applicants, filed a notice to challenge Canada’s sex work-specific criminal offences because they violate sex workers’ constitutional rights to security, personal and sexual autonomy, life, liberty, free expression, association, and equality.

The hearings will start on October 3, 2022 at the Ontario Superior Court in Toronto.

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Conservatives are ‘fearmongering’ over assault-style gun ban: public safety minister

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OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino accuses the Conservatives of “whipping up fear” that the Liberal government is outlawing ordinary long guns and hunting rifles.

In an interview, Mendicino says the government only wants to reinforce a regulatory ban on assault-style firearms like the AR-15 by enshrining a definition in legislation, and it is prepared to work with MPs to get it right.

He insists the government has no intention whatsoever of going after everyday long guns and hunting rifles, calling the notion “Conservative fearmongering.”

In May 2020, the Liberal government announced a ban through order-in-council on over 1,500 models and variants of what it considers assault-style firearms, such as the AR-15 and the Ruger Mini-14.

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The Liberals recently proposed including an evergreen definition of a prohibited assault-style firearm in gun-control legislation being studied by a House of Commons committee.

The Conservatives claim the government’s amendment amounts to the most significant hunting rifle ban in the history of Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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Joly seeks reprimand of Russian ambassador as embassy tweets against LGBTQ community

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OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly has asked her department to summon Russia’s ambassador over social media postings against LGBTQ people.

In recent days, Russia’s embassy in Ottawa has posted on Twitter and Telegram that the West is imposing on Russia’s family values, and arguing that families can only involve a man, a woman and children.

The embassy has posted images of a crossed-out rainbow flag and Orthodox icons of Adam and Eve.

The tweets came as Russia expanded a ban on exposing children to so-called homosexual propaganda, meaning authorities can now prosecute Russians for doing things they argue might entice adults to be gay or transgender.

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Joly’s office says the posts amount to “hateful propaganda” that must be called out and “an attack on the Canadian values of acceptance and tolerance.”

If Global Affairs Canada follows Joly’s request, it will be the third time the department has summoned ambassador Oleg Stepanov this year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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Work hard and never give up, Michelle O’Bonsawin says during Supreme Court welcome

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OTTAWA — The newest member of the Supreme Court of Canada says her journey has not been an easy one, but it has been meaningful and rewarding.

Members of the legal community and Michelle O’Bonsawin’s fellow judges welcomed her to the bench in a ceremony today.

O’Bonsawin, who replaced the retiring Michael Moldaver on Sept. 1, is a bilingual Franco-Ontarian and an Abenaki member of the Odanak First Nation.

O’Bonsawin says she is a big believer that if a person has a goal, works hard and never gives up, they can achieve their dreams.

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She adds that while she has made mistakes and fallen down, those missteps have been her teacher.

Richard Wagner, the chief justice of Canada, praises O’Bonsawin’s generosity and volunteer activities, noting she shares his passion for open courts, access to justice and education.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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