The striking down of prostitution laws by the Supreme Court of Canada will make it more difficult for police to protect exploited women and children, Canadian Heritage Minister Shelly Glover says.
I’ve seen the plight women face being victimized, being abused and mistreated.
Glover, who took a leave from the Winnipeg Police Service to enter politics, said Friday that the existing laws provide police with the tools to infiltrate prostitution rings and assist victims of prostitution to break free of addictions and abuse.
As a police officer, she said, she has seen "first hand the devastating effects that prostitution and human trafficking" can have.
"I’ve seen the plight women face being victimized, being abused and mistreated. And I saw it when I was undercover working to unravel abusive and exploitive prostitution rings," she said.
Glover responded on behalf of the federal government to the Supreme Court ruling at a brief Winnipeg news conference this afternoon.
She said the government will review the court decision and come up with some options "to ensure that the criminal law continues to fight against harm in our communities because of prostitution."
She said she is personally disappointed with the ruling.
The court struck down all three prostitution-related prohibitions — against keeping a brothel, living on the avails of prostitution and street soliciting — as violations of the constitutional guarantee to life, liberty and security of the person.
The landmark ruling gives Parliament a one-year window to produce new legislation, which means prostitution-related offences will remain in the Criminal Code until Dec. 19, 2014.
Asked whether she had concerns about how strictly the existing law would be enforced over the coming year, she directed journalists to ask police chiefs, frontline officers and police unions that question.