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Top Five 2012: Canada (Attorney General) v Bedford

Each year at OJEN’s Toronto Summer Law Institute, a judge from the Court of Appeal for Ontario identifies five cases that are of significance in the educational setting. This summary, based on these comments and observations, is appropriate for discussion and debate in the classroom setting.

Canada (Attorney General) v Bedford, 2012 ONCA 186

In this case, the Court of Appeal for Ontario (ONCA) considered whether three Canadian prostitution laws violated the right to life, liberty and security of the person, in addition to the right to freedom of expression under sections 7 and 2(b), respectively, of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Criminal Code of Canada (Code) prohibitions on the operation of bawdy-houses and living on the avails of prostitution violate s.7 of the Charter, as they infringe on individuals’ right to security of the person and are not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. Upon applying a s. 1 Oakes analysis to these infringements, the ONCA found that neither provision could be upheld as a reasonable limit under s. 1. By contrast, the Code’s prohibition on communication for the purpose of prostitution in public does not violate ss. 7 or 2(b) of the Charter and as such can be upheld. The full decision is available here.

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