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Letter regarding Bill C-397 (1998)

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Dear Official,

I call upon you as a legal official to urge the House of Commons to reject Bill C-397 and to not endorse any legislation that would change the summary conviction status of s.213 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Please keep me informed as to what your office is doing to ensure that Bill C-397 is not enacted.


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Backgrounder: About Bill C-397

Print out our PETITION!
Don't forget Page 2…

This private member's bill was introduced in May 1998 by Eric Lowther, MP for Calgary Centre. In his press release Lowther claims he has won the support from three levels of government in Alberta as well as from Alberta Justice Minister Jon Havelock. Lowther is solliciting endorsements from city councils across Canada.

Lowther's bill proposes that "communicating for the purposes of prostitution" be made a dual or "hybrid" offence. Currently, such offences result in a summary conviction and usually only minor fines are given. Changing s.213 of the Criminal Code to a dual offence would allow such offences to be prosecuted as either a summary or indictable conviction. Police would treat the offence at the time of arrest as indictable and would therefore fingerprint and photograph offenders.

"We don't make the laws, We just enforce them"

Sound familiar? Trying to have "communicating for the purpose of prostitution" made into an indictable offence is nothing new. Metro Toronto Police along with residents groups went to Ottawa to lobby for this change too, on May 6, 1992. Burnaby RCMP detachment wrote a report to Burnaby City Council recommending Bill C-397 and City Hall gave the bill its official support. Police request these kinds of changes to the Criminal Code because it gives them greater power for unwarranted searches, detainment and disregard for a person's right to privacy.


The Sex Sector: The Economic and Social Bases of Prostitution in Southeast Asia. International Labour Organization, Press release, August 19, 1998.

Redefining Prostitution as Sex Work on the International Agenda. Jo Bindman, Anti-Slavery International with the participation of Jo Doezema, Network of Sex Work Projects © 1997.

Report of an Inquiry into administration of internal investigations by the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force. The Ontario Civilian Commission On Police Services, August 1992.

Bill C-397: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (prostitution). The House Of Commons Of Canada, 1st Session, 36th Parliament, 46-47 Elizabeth II, 1997-98. First reading, May 1, 1998.

Press release: Get Serious About Prostitution... Give Better Tools for Identification (May 1, 1998) and letter to mayor and council (May 19, 1998) from Eric Lowther, MP Calgary Centre.

Report: Bill C-397 -- Prostitution as a Dual Offence. From Superintendent R.G. Dicks, Officer in Charge, Burnaby Detachment, RCMP. Received by the City of Burnaby Community Policing Committee meeting, September 10, 1998.

Created: October 7, 1998
Last modified: July 3, 1999

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