CLF contributes to National Consultation on Human Trafficking

For immediate release

Human trafficking is modern day slavery, and it is happening in Canada.
— CLF Brief to Parliament

LONDON, ON — In a brief submitted today to the Parliament of Canada’s Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Christian Legal Fellowship (CLF) urged Parliament to retain its current prostitution and surrogacy laws—critical components in the fight against human trafficking in Canada. In their brief, CLF states: “The best way to eradicate sex trafficking is to reduce demand for prostitution, and the best way to reduce demand for prostitution is to make the purchase of sex illegal, as Canada’s current legislative scheme does.”

Derek Ross, CLF’s Executive Director and General Counsel, comments:

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, and it is happening in Canada. Women and girls especially are being trafficked into prostitution in Canada at alarming rates. We must do everything we can to end this scourge. Canada’s international obligations require us to take all legislative steps necessary to end human trafficking. Today we are calling on the Government of Canada to uphold our current prostitution laws, and to carefully investigate the link between commercial surrogacy and human trafficking before moving forward with legalization.
— Derek Ross, CLF's ED & General Counsel



CLF submitted its brief to the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. In February 2018, the Committee began a study of human trafficking in Canada, seeking to identify how Canada can prevent, detect, and raise awareness about human trafficking, and better respond to the needs of victims. As part of their study, the Committee invited community partners with expertise in the fight against human trafficking to make submissions.


CLF’s Submissions

CLF’s submissions focus on the link between prostitution legislation and human trafficking. Canada’s international commitments under theProtocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children require Canada to take all necessary measures, including legislation, to suppress human trafficking.

The majority of human trafficking victims are women and girls who are trafficked into prostitution. Countries with lower prostitution rates experience lower rates of human trafficking. The evidence shows that legalization of prostitution will lead to increased rates of both. On the other hand, countries that have adopted the “Nordic Model”, like Canada, have seen prostitution rates steadily decline. 

Additionally, CLF’s submissions draw attention to the issue of commercial surrogacy. A Private Member’s Bill that would legalize commercial surrogacy is currently before the House. CLF sees significant risks associated with the commercialization of surrogacy, which may lead to increased rates of human trafficking. CLF urged Parliament to carefully consider the possible human trafficking implications before proceeding with a full legalization of commercial surrogacy.

With this in mind, CLF made the following recommendations to the Government of Canada:

1.    Uphold the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act(PCEPA) and defend it from constitutional challenge.

2.    Ensure that the PCEPA is applied by police and prosecution services to prosecute those who purchase sex.

3.    Improve gathering of data on prostitution and sex trafficking in Canada in order to be able to accurately measure the effect of legislation and the progress of the fight against human trafficking.

4.    Investigate any link between commercial surrogacy and human trafficking before changing Canada’s surrogacy laws.


About Christian Legal Fellowship (CLF)

Christian Legal Fellowship (CLF) is Canada’s national association of Christian lawyers, law students, and jurists. CLF has over 700 members across Canada practicing in all areas of law. While having no direct denominational affiliation, CLF’s members represent more than 35 Christian denominations working in association together.

CLF is dedicated to advancing the public good by articulating legal and moral principles that are consistent with, and illuminated by, the Christian faith through court interventions and public consultations. Over nearly two decades, CLF has been granted intervener standing in almost 40 cases involving Charterissues—including 12 at the Supreme Court of Canada—seeking to advance justice, protect the vulnerable, promote equality, and advocate for freedom of religion, conscience, and expression. CLF also has unique expertise in international law; it has Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and has participated in several proceedings before international courts.

CLF has developed considerable expertise in legal issues surrounding prostitution legislation in Canada. In particular, CLF was one of the few public interest organizations to intervene at all three levels of court in Bedfordv Canada. CLF’s submissions focus on promoting gender equality, preventing the exploitation of vulnerable persons, and protecting human dignity. CLF is deeply concerned with the implications of human trafficking in Canada.


Read more:

Read CLF’s submissions in English and French.


For more information contact:
Sarah Mix-Ross
Associate Counsel
Christian Legal Fellowship
Alliance des chrétiens en droit