Maggies, POWER and the Ontario Court of Appeal

Jessica Smith

This news story by Jessica Smith appeared in the Metro Ottawa on June 13 2011 under the headline 'Group Defends Prostitutes' Call for Decriminalization'.


A group that represents prostitutes in the capital region is bringing the views of those sex workers to the Ontario Court of Appeal this week. Today, the federal and provincial governments will begin their appeal of a judge’s ruling that struck down laws criminalizing operating or working in a brothel, communicating for the purpose of prostitution and living off the avails of prostitution.

Last year Superior Court Judge Susan Himel ruled the criminal code provisions unconstitutional because they endanger sex workers.

Lawyers for POWER (Prostitutes of Ottawa/Gatineau Work, Educate, Resist) and Maggie’s — a Toronto-based group that also represents sex workers — will be making a unique argument based “extensive consultation” with sex workers, said Frédérique Chabot, vice-chair of POWER.

The group argues sex work is a person’s choice, concerning their own body and sexuality and can represent “independence or empowerment or a job that a person chooses to do for reasons that work for them,” said Chabot.

That won’t be heard from any of the interveners in the case, Chabot said.

POWER is going to court to support the three women who launched the constitutional challenge five years ago. The group wants to see sex work completely decriminalized, which it says will allow sex workers to operate in safer environments without getting criminal records, Chabot said.

Link to the original story in the Metro Ottawa.