Arnold Viersen, MP for Peace River-Westlock, and Laurel Collins, MP for Victoria. (Black Press Media files)

Conservative asks B.C. MP if she ever ‘considered’ sex work in parliamentary debate

MP Arnold Viersen went on to apologize to Laurel Collins after being warned by deputy speaker.

A Conservative MP is under fire after asking a Victoria MP if she has ever considered sex work during a debate on the recent killing of a sex worker in Quebec.

The Conservative Party of Canada put forward a motion Tuesday asking the House of Commons to “condemn the decision of the Parole Board of Canada” in connection to the killing of Marylene Levesque, 22, who was found dead in a hotel room outside Quebec City on Jan. 22.

It’s alleged she was killed by 51-year-old Eustachio Gallese, a convicted murderer out on day parole who was allowed to meet women “only for the purpose of responding to [his] sexual needs,” according to documents.

The parole board and the Correctional Service of Canada are investigating the incident.

In the House on Tuesday, Peace River-Westlock MP Arnold Viersen questioned why Gallese was allowed to interact with women despite his violent history.

ALSO READ: NDP Laurel Collins elected in Victoria

“[The Parole Board] should not have been encouraging him to break the law,” Viersen said, pointing to Bill C-36, a law implemented by the Conservatives in 2014 which criminalizes the buying of sexual services.

“In their minds, the parole board was protecting some women that they deemed more valuable while sending a convicted murderer to prey on those who were most disadvantaged and vulnerable.”

In response, Victoria MP and New Democrat, Laurel Collins, asked Viersen to listen to the voices of sex workers.

“Sex workers are saying that sex work is work,” she said, before asking him to consider whether Bill C-36, which has been widely criticized by advocates for disallowing sex workers to protect themselves, may have played a role in Levesque’s death.

ALSO READ: Charges laid in 1993 killing of young Vancouver woman

She said the bill “criminalized work environments, the establishment that sex workers go to feel safe, that criminalized their ability to hire security.”

Viersen then asked Collins whether sex work “is an area of work that she has considered,” before being cut off by another MP yelling “shame” in the background.

Viersen argued this proves his point that sex work is never a choice women make.

His question drew immediate gasps and NDP MP Jack Harris rose to call it unparliamentary and insulting.

Deputy speaker Bruce Stanton stood and warned the room, saying that the issue requires great “import and sensitivity” and asked the politicians to be “conscious of their comments in this regard.”

“Take care in how these arguments are framed,” Stanton said.

Viersen later rose to offer a full apology.

“I would like to apologize unreservedly for my comments towards the member for Victoria,” he said.

On social media, Collins said she was glad he apologized, and that she “invite[s] him to extend his apology to all women.”

“Denigrating sex work and criminalizing the very things that would keep sex workers safe contribute to increased violence,” she wrote.

– with a file from The Canadian Press


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Law and justiceNDP Leadership

Comments are closed

Just Posted

School District 6 nominated Summit Youth Hub for award

Hub nominated for a B.C Principals’ and Vice Principals’ Association (BCPVPA) Partnership Award

Invermere library reopens for summer

Summer Reading Club and Pop-up Story Time return

Free beach camps for kids

The Lake Windermere Ambassadors are offering free summer camps for kids at James Chabot Beach.

Fisher announces decision to run for MNBC regional director’s role

Debra Fisher plans to run for Region 4 director in the Métis Nation of B.C. election this fall

Traditional Indigenous languages evaluated for regional signage project

Economic Development Officer works toward inclusive signage project for the Columbia Valley

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

Sexologist likens face mask debate to condom debate: What can we learn from it?

Society’s approach to condom usage since the 1980s can be applied to face masks today, one expert says

B.C. homeowners plead for action on condo insurance crisis

Strata property fees growing bigger than mortgage payments

Indigenous man behind complaint of BC Transplant’s alcohol abstinence policy has died

David Dennis, who is Nuu-chah-nulth, argued that six-month sobriety policy is a ‘lethal form of racism’

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Urge travellers to follow COVID-19 rules in a ‘gentle way’: B.C.’s top doctor

Cases surging in the U.S. have B.C. officials hoping the border stays shut all summer

96-year-old woman scales B.C. butte with help of family, friends

‘I did as I was told and I enjoyed every minute of it’

Parallel crises: How COVID-19 exacerbated B.C.’s drug overdose emergency

Part 1: Officials say isolation, toxic drug supply, CERB, contributing to crisis

Most Read