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Prostitution in Canada: Who, what, where, when

A different approach



©Jupiter Images - A different approach
©Jupiter Images

Not everyone agrees with Lamont. Mariana Valverde for example, argues that the Supreme Court decision isn't even the most relevant point in this debate. That's because while they have the power to strike down the existing laws, they cannot decide on new legislation.

"What happens really depends on what the municipalities do," she explained. " If the laws are struck down, there's this sort of big legal vacuum. And if we don't have any regulatory structure, then there's going to be serious problems."

Valverde compares the situation to running a taxi company or a hair salon. To do either, one needs a municipal permits. The problem is that the current system for massage parlours and adult entertainment businesses is that they are allowed to operate on the assumption that no prostitution goes on there. Valverde points out that municipalities will have to step in and revise their current regulations. "Municipalities don't seem to be aware of the fact that they're going to have to do something fairly quickly," she said.

According to Valverde, several municipalities in Canada (though not Toronto or Montreal) are already licensing escorts. "In a sense," she explained, "they're already regulating prostitution."

In her film, Lamont shows a unit of the Montreal police department learning on how to deal with prostitution. Later, she pointed out that things have actually started to change in terms of how law enforcement deals with issues of so-called vice. 

In certain neighborhoods, the police has stopped targeting street walkers and started to focus on the johns. Obviously, the penalties for the clients are less severe - a warning or a fine at worst.  When the police sees a car roaming around a known red light district, they mark down the license plate number and send the person a letter at home instructing them to stay away from the neighborhood. 

"I can tell you, that works," said Lamont. "Can you imagine, they get a letter at home! Most of these guys are in a relationship."

While the issue of prostitution in Canada remains murky, what does seem clear is that all is not Rodeo Drive, Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. 

To watch Eve Lamont's documentary, "L'imposture" (The Fallacy) on Tout.tv, click here


Anne Cohen
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