MPs warned to watch their words after MP asked if she’d ever considered sex work

OTTAWA — Members of Parliament are being told to think twice about how they’re framing the ideas they advance in the House of Commons after a Tory MP asked a New Democrat whether she’d ever considered sex work.

The admonishment from the deputy speaker was aimed at Alberta MP Arnold Viersen.

Viersen and the New Democrats’ Laurel Collins were debating a Conservative motion calling for a review of the National Parole Board after a murderer on day parole allegedly killed sex worker Marylene Levesque in Quebec City.

Viersen called the board’s decision to allow him to see a sex worker appalling, and suggested among other things it sends a message that buying a person is acceptable.

Collins asked to him to consider whether previous Conservative legislation criminalizing many elements of the sex trade could have been a factor in the death.

That’s when Viersen asked Collins whether sex work was an area of work she’d considered — aiming, he said, to show that sex work isn’t a career choice like any other.

His question drew immediate gasps and NDP MP Jack Harris rose to call it unparliamentary and insulting.

That prompted deputy speaker Bruce Stanton, a Conservative himself, to caution MPs, saying the issue requires great “import and sensitivity” and asking them to be “conscious of their comments in this regard.”

“Take care in how these arguments are framed,” Stanton said.

Viersen rose first to say he meant no harm to Collins, who represents the riding of Victoria, and suggested he was trying to make a point about sex work never being a choice, but the result of violence and human trafficking.

He later rose to offer a full apology.

“I would like to apologize unreservedly for my comments towards the member for Victoria,” he said.

On social media, Collins said she was glad he apologized.

“I’m glad Arnold Viersen apologized to me, but I invite him to extend his apology to all women,” she wrote.

“Denigrating sex work and criminalizing the very things that would keep sex workers safe contribute to increased violence.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Recollections of well-known families in Red Deer

Past and present families recognized on Family Day

Assault suspect nabbed with sawed-off shotgun

Rocky Mountain House RCMP conduct investigation

New highway to B.C. proposed

The Howse Pass shortcut to British Columbia is worth taking another look… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP execute search warrant

Heavy police presence on Nash Street

Your community calendar

Feb. 19 A Liberation of Holland event is being held at the… Continue reading

Reader’s opinion: Here’s how Premier Kenney can build a stronger Alberta

Apparently, the UPC government has decided that most seniors should pay more… Continue reading

Tournament of Hearts veteran skip Kerry Galusha curls through pain

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — If Kerry Galusha is skipping Northwest Territories at… Continue reading

Andrew Mangiapane scores first hat trick, leads Flames over Ducks 6-4

Flames 6 Ducks 4 CALGARY — Andrew Mangiapane was front and centre… Continue reading

Mielke: Small town Alberta great place to live

There is something to be said for living in small town, Alberta.… Continue reading

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was tightlipped Monday about his plan… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels end B.C. road trip with win over Prince George

Rebels 4 Cougars 2 The Red Deer Rebels finished the B.C. road… Continue reading

Bombardier to sell train unit to France’s Alstom, shedding biggest division

MONTREAL — Bombardier Inc. has reached a US$8.2-billion deal to sell its… Continue reading

Most Read