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Conservative MP (Peace River—Westlock) Arnold Viersenis facing serious backlash online following comments made in the House of Commons to Victoria NDP MP Laurel Collins.
In a House of Commons discussion regarding sex work, “I want to ask the honourable member to consider listening to the voices of sex workers. Sex workers are saying that sex work is work, and i also askt he honourable member if he considers the Harper government’s decision to implement Bill-C36 which criminalized the work environments the establishment that sex workers go to feel safe that criminalized their ability to hire security.”
Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, (PCEPA) passed in 2014. Bill C-36 treats prostitution as a form of sexual exploitation that disproportionately impacts on women and girls. Critics of the bill call it unconstitutional, with advocates calling for it to be repealed.
In response to Collins, Viersen asked the NDP MP if she had ever considered sex work.
“I would just respond to that by asking the honourable if it’s an area of work that she’s considered and if that’s an appropriate—”
Echoes of the word “shame” and audible groans could be heard throughout the house before Viersen attempts to refocus whatever point he was trying to make.
“I think this makes the point. I do not think any woman in this country ever chooses this as a job. This is something that they are trafficked into,” Viersen attempted to clarify.
He would later go on to apologize for his comments.
Viersen has previously brought up sex work as an issue of importance. In an opinion article in 2018, Viersen wrote an article asking readers to email Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to ensure that the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) “is not only protected, but fully implemented” as the Liberals were then moving to fully decriminalize prostitution.