MONCTON, New Brunswick, January 30, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The province of New Brunswick has said it will stop enforcing Canada’s prostitution laws, prompting a rebuke from federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay.
On January 27, Crown prosecutors in Moncton dropped prostitution-related charges against six men. According to Assistant Deputy Attorney General Luc Labonté said, he will not prosecute prostitution cases until the federal laws, struck down by the Supreme Court in December, are settled.
The issue “has many implications” and “all my counterparts across Canada are trying to resolve how to best address this case,” Labonté told CBC News.
On December 20, Canada’s Supreme Court unanimously threw out the country's anti-prostitution laws – which banned brothels, communicating for the purpose of prostitution, and living off its profits – stating that the current laws imposed dangerous conditions on a profession that is legal, infringing prostitutes’ Charter right to security of the person.
However, the decision stipulated that the federal government has one year to pass new legislation before the ruling takes effect, meaning the current law remains in force.
Federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General Peter MacKay said the Conservative government intends to work quickly to fill the void, but denounced New Brunswick's decision to stop enforcing the law.
“While the administration of justice is a matter of provincial jurisdiction, Canadians expect criminal laws in this country to be properly enforced so long as they remain in force,” MacKay said in a statement to CBC News.
“Make no mistake, doing nothing is not an option,” he stated.
MacKay reiterated that, “the Supreme Court of Canada made very clear in its decision that the current laws with respect to prostitution were to remain in force for 12 months.”
“Our government believes that prostitution is harmful to vulnerable individuals, particularly women. We are currently reviewing a range of options to address the harms that flow from prostitution to communities,” MacKay said.