Canada’s anti-hooking laws will remain in effect in Ontario — at least for now.
In a ruling released Dec 2, Justice Marc Rosenberg extended the laws until at least April 29, 2011.
The news comes two months after Ontario justice Susan Himel struck down three criminal code provisions in the province — keeping a bawdyhouse, living off the avails of prostitution and communication for the purpose of solicitation. In practical terms, the laws forbid sex workers from working in teams, hiring bodyguards or sussing out clients for warning signs in advance of a date.
Himel’s decision was the result of several years of work by Terri-Jean Bedford, Valerie Scott, Amy Lebovitch and York law professor Alan Young.
But Himel’s decision will be stayed — meaning that the laws remain in effect — pending an Ontario Court of Appeal decision.
Young has already warned of the relatively conservative track record of the Ontario Court of Appeal.
The case is likely to end up at the Supreme Court of Canada, which could strike all or some of Canada’s sex work laws nationwide.
Himel’s decision has the potential to further protect the country’s bathhouses, which have suffered through police harassment, usually using the periodic enforcement of the bawdyhouse law. Bathhouses have been raided repeatedly in Canada, most recently in Hamilton (2004) and Calgary (2002).
Valerie Scott, executive director of Sex Professionals of Canada. (Marcus McCann photo)