Are cops turning their backs on feds’ new hooker law?

Four months after Canada’s new anti-prostitution law came into effect, a strange thing happened on the way to the crackdown the HarperCons seemed to be hoping for.

A handful of police forces – among them Saskatoon, Calgary, Montreal, Victoria and Vancouver – declared that they would not enforce them. Turns out more police forces are following suit. At least, that seems to be the consensus among the police department spokespeople we talked to. Save for the odd exception, most claim the new law hasn’t changed the way they handle prostitution.

Real information about how laws are being applied can only come from defence lawyers and prosecutors who are in the courts every day, and right now there just isn’t enough data.

Anecdotally, at least, police seem more inclined to exercise discretion than order sweeps, for budgetary as well as philosophical reasons. On the street, meanwhile, sex workers are still experiencing heightened feelings of insecurity, says Jean McDonald, executive director of Maggie’s, a Toronto-based sex workers’ action project. Maggie’s is part of a nationwide coalition that has called on the provinces to order police not to enforce the law. Premier Kathleen Wynne, who’s expressed “grave concern” that the law will not live up to its stated objective of keeping women in the sex trade safe, asked her attorney general to review its constitutionality. Sex workers say criminalizing johns will drive the trade further underground. But no deadline was given.

For the record, here’s what police departments we spoke to had to say about how the new anti-prostitution law is being enforced – or not.

Finish reading this article on NOW Magazine’s website.

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