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City MP has new sex-trade bill

Buyers of illicit acts now targets

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OTTAWA -- Last year she went after the traffickers.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/07/2011 (4227 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — Last year she went after the traffickers.

Now, Winnipeg MP Joy Smith is taking on the buyers.

This September, the Conservative MP from Kildonan-St. Paul will introduce legislation to criminalize the act of buying sex.

“I want to target the demand,” said Smith. “If you take the market away, these victims aren’t in such jeopardy.”

Smith has made human trafficking the central focus of her political career and last year had a private member’s bill passed implementing mandatory minimum sentences for convictions of trafficking a minor.

The first anniversary of the bill just passed, and Smith said she’s not done trying to wage war against one of the biggest criminal industries in the world.

The new bill will be modelled after the Nordic model of prostitution, which views women who sell sex as victims and those who buy sex as criminals and oppressors.

Sweden was the first to pass a law criminalizing the purchase of sex in 1998, but it has had mixed reviews and the impact on prostitution in Sweden is the subject of some debate. Being caught buying sex in Sweden will net you a fine of approximately 50 days’ pay or up to a year in jail.

Criminalizing sex was one of the recommendations in the national strategy against human trafficking Smith wrote and released last year.

Currently the law in Canada targets those who sell sex, rather than those who buy it.

That, however, is potentially going to change depending on the outcome of a court case in Ontario where a judge struck down three anti-prostitution laws, including keeping a common bawdy house, communicating for the purposes of prostitution and living on the avails of prostitution. The decision has been put on hold pending a government appeal against the case.

Implementing a national strategy was one of the Conservatives’ election promises, and Smith said she has the backing of the PMO for her new bill.

Although private member’s bills are often considered the lowest of priority and get less time for debate than bills introduced by cabinet, Smith has a lucky streak going when it comes to her initiatives.

In 2008, she drew the third spot in the lottery for private member’s bills that helped get the mandatory minimum sentence bill through. The draw, usually done at the start of each Parliament, determines the order in which the hundreds of bills introduced by individual MPs get debated. A low number gives a bill much better odds of actually making it to a vote.

When the draw was done this spring, Smith and her caucus-mates were shocked when she pulled a four.

“Everyone is teasing me saying they’re going to take me to Las Vegas,” said Smith.

Her first human trafficking bill, C-268, could get its first use after two men were arrested and charged with trafficking offences in the Halton and Peele regions of southern Ontario. They both face multiple charges including trafficking of a minor, the offence created by C-268. If convicted, they would be sentenced to a minimum of five years in prison.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

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