The Canadian Civil Liberties Association generally supports the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal. The CCLA believes the decision goes some way towards making the lives of prostitutes safer.
Specifically, CCLA agrees with the decision to strike down the common bawdy house provision. The evidence before the Court of Appeal was clear that persons engaged in prostitution are safer working indoors than on the street.
CCLA also generally agrees with the Court of Appeal’s decision to read into the living on the avails provision an exception for non-exploitative commercial relationships between prostitutes and bodyguards, drivers and other persons who could assist prostitutes to remain safer.
However, CCLA agrees with the minority decision of Justices MacPherson and Cronk that equality values should inform the analysis of gross disproportionality with respect to the communicating provisions. CCLA strongly supports the view that persons, especially vulnerable persons who face pre-existing disadvantages, should be able to protect themselves. This is especially true of street-based prostitutes who the minority recognized have “very few alternative means of protecting themsevlves” from violence (para. 360). The safety of especially vulnerable persons engaged in prostitution greatly outweighs the government’s objective of limiting social nuisance.
Finally, CCLA is pleased that the Court of Appeal accepted its submission that in the case of legislation which interferes with a person’s life, liberty or security of the person, there is no need to prove causation directly. That is, the applicant need not show that the impugned law directly caused the harm to the applicant’s life, liberty or security of the person.