Canada prostitution bill likely unconstitutional, says Swedish expert

One of the architects of Sweden’s anti-prostitution strategy — a model the Conservatives are trying to emulate — says the government’s proposed new law is likely unconstitutional.

OTTAWA — One of the architects of Sweden’s anti-prostitution strategy — a model the Conservatives are trying to emulate — says the government’s proposed new law is likely unconstitutional.

Gunilla Ekberg says a provision of the Tory bill which still criminalizes prostitutes in some cases is also a violation of Canada’s international human rights obligations.

Ekberg is a Canadian citizen who was an adviser for the Swedish government in the 1990s when it crafted a law that makes it illegal to be a pimp or a john, but not a prostitute.

The Harper government has tabled a similar bill in response to last year’s decision by the Supreme Court of Canada to strike down the law.

But a portion of it still makes prostitution illegal if it is carried out in a public place where children might be.

Ekberg and numerous other witnesses at this week’s parliamentary hearings on the bill are urging the government to amend that provision in order to strengthen it.