In a landmark decision striking down the core of the controversial law, Ontario Superior Court Judge Susan Himel said that the law forces women to operate their business furtively in an atmosphere of constant secrecy and danger.
"By increasing the risk of harm to street prostitutes, the communicating law is simply too high a price to pay for the alleviation of social nuisance," Judge Himel said in her 131-page ruling which took almost a year to produce.
"I find that the danger faced by prostitutes greatly outweighs any harm which may be faced by the public," she later added.
The ruling means that the law can no longer be enforced in Ontario. If the decision were to be upheld on appeal, it would topple the use of the prostitution provisions across the country.
In the short term, however, the Ontario Crown is expected to seek a stay of execution that would permit police to temporarily continue enforcing the law.
In a statement following the decision, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said that the government is concerned about the ruling and is considering an appeal.
Three prostitutes launched the challenge in an attempt to bring Canada in line with other nations that have relaxed their enforcement of prostitution, including New Zealand, Australia and Germany. In particular, the litigants challenged three key provisions relating to communicating for the purpose of prostitution, living off the avails and keeping a common bawdy house (brothel).
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