The government’s controversial prostitution bill passed in the House of Commons Monday night by a 156-124 vote.
The Supreme Court last December ruled Canada’s existing laws on the world’s oldest profession were unconstitutional and ordered Parliament to come up with new legislation within a year.
Justice Minister Peter MacKay was behind the new legislation, Bill C-36, and took the approach that it would criminalize the purchase of sex, but not its sale.
MacKay called his legislation a “made in Canada” approach and the best way to eliminate prostitution altogether.
By allowing prostitutes to sell sexual services without fear of criminalization, the law won’t prevent them from implementing safety measures such as bodyguards, MacKay has said.
Under the previous law, prostitutes were effectively prohibited from hiring bodyguards because nobody was allowed to live “off the avails of prostitution.”
“The objective is to (lower) the demand and make prostitution illegal,” MacKay said last month to a committee of senators.
He said the prostitution bill represents a “paradigm shift” in Canada because it deals with sex workers as victims who need help, rather than criminals who deserve punishment.