Post by: Alexa Kathol
My name is Alexa Kathol, and I am about to start my second year of law school at Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, Virginia. This summer, I had the privilege of partnering with Advocates International (AI) and Christian Legal Fellowship (CLF) to work alongside some of the most talented, dedicated, and passionate attorneys in North America. Although the COVID-19 pandemic meant that I worked virtually from home, I still learned so much about some of the most pressing issues facing modern American and Canadian society.
I was ecstatic to be assigned to CLF’s international research sector. I have always wanted experience working for an international legal organization where I can learn about how foreign laws change, develop, and impact domestic laws and vice versa. Canada is uniquely situated for this task because most of its laws are based off the European system. In particular, all of Canada follows the English common law system except for Quebec, which is the only providence with a French-influenced civil code.
Over the past few decades, Canada, like some of its European counterparts, has become an increasingly progressive nation. Though many see progress as a good thing, for Christian attorneys committed to the textual freedoms promised by the Charter, many of Canada’s so-called enlightened ideas have become concerning, to say the least. Two bills I focused on researching were Bill C-36, The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA), and Bill 21, An Act Respecting the Laicity of the State.
When I started working for CLF in early May, my first research assignment was related to Bill C-36. PCEPA received Royal Assent and came into force as a law on December 6, 2014. The law is modeled off Sweden’s prostitution regulations—now called the “Nordic Model”—which punishes advertisers, customers, and pimps for their involvement in prostitution, but does not punish the prostitute herself. The bill recognizes that prostitutes are victims and that those who create the demand for prostitution benefit from the services which cause and perpetuate prostitution’s harms. Bill C-36 was a step in the right direction for Canada when it could have joined countries like Australia and New Zealand by completely decriminalizing prostitution. However, the Bill now faces constitutional criticism by those who do not view prostitution as slavery, but as a career choice. Opponents say that the Bill quashes their human rights—primarily the right to work, freedom of expression, and gender equality.
After researching over a dozen countries and reading hundreds of codes, statutes, and cases, I was unable to find any successful constitutional challenge to the Nordic Model of prostitution laws. This certainly does not mean that Canada will find Bill C-36 constitutional, it just means that they will not have history on their side if they try to find any empirical examples of other nations ruling that the Nordic Model is unconstitutional.
This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Intern. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.