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Ignatieff wants to find “balance” on Canada’s sex work laws

Liberal leader answers questions at Ottawa town hall

At Thursday’s “Open Mike” town hall in Ottawa, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff took unscripted questions from audience members on a variety of subjects.

Afterward, he held a media availability for reporters, where Xtra asked about his position on the Ontario Superior Court decision that struck down prostitution laws in the province.

“It’s being appealed, and all I feel about it is there is a balance, which I see in my own constituency,” Ignatieff says. “Families in family areas are very concerned about the public nuisance and public disorder that happens with prostitution — I’ve seen it in my own riding.

“On the other hand, the same families are concerned about the safety, the physical safety, of sex workers. That’s the balance we have to find. I’m not going to say whether that court got it right — that’s not my job. My job is then, if the government appeals, and there’s a decision and has to be new legislation, we’ll look at the new legislation with that balance in mind, because that’s the balance that Canadians want us to keep.”

During the event, Ignatieff took two questions from representatives of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers group, who are advocating that Parliament pass bill C-393, which would reform Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR).

Bill C-393 is currently before the Commons industry committee, where the Grandmothers will be testifying on Tuesday morning. Ignatieff also noted that he would be meeting with the Grandmothers next week, and that they have turned up to every single one of his “Open Mike” events.

“If 393 does the job, of course we’ll support it,” Ignatieff said, before adding that he wants to do something in addition to the bill around helping developing countries buy needed medicines.

“One of the things I think we need to do is to get a Canadian fund that helps governments to buy, in this case, the antiretrovirals that allow Africans to get treatment,” Ignatieff said.

Liberal MPs Glen Pearson and Keith Martin have been talking about developing a CIDA fund to help with drug purchases abroad.

Ignatieff added that in addition to encouraging the export of generic drugs to Africa, issues of the distribution chain also needed to be addressed.

For more federal politics coverage, check out Dale Smith’s Hill Queeries blog on