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Prostitution report

If it can survive efforts to shelve it, a report winding its way through a subcommittee of federal politicians could call for major changes to the way prostitution is dealt with in Canada-and repeal the laws used to target gay bathhouses.

So says Libby Davies, the Vancouver East NDP politician whose 2003 motion before Parliament resulted in a cross-country consultation with prostitutes and others concerned about existing laws earlier this year.

Government researchers spent the summer months preparing the subcommittee’s first draft report. Now the committee is racing against time to ensure the report sees daylight, says Davies.

If an election is called before the report is submitted to Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, the work is lost.

Cotler has publicly said he’d be willing to consider the report’s recommendations. But media reports suggest Prime Minister Paul Martin is putting pressure on Liberal members of the committee to slow the process or bury the report.

Davies says the draft report “takes the right direction and is very substantive. I’m overall very pleased.”

She’s not allowed by Parliamentary rules to talk publicly about what’s in the first try at a report. But the National Post’s John Ivison hinted Oct 7 that the draft proposes repealing laws “relating to bawdy houses, living on the avails of prostitution and solicitation.”

“This is a matter of real health emergency for sex workers who are facing real danger because of the law,” Davies says. “If it was any other group of people, it would have been addressed by now.”