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
[email protected]

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Law and justiceNDP Leadership

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New MP Taylor Bachrach makes his first trip to Bella Coola

Bachrach said he is keen to get to know his riding and the members of his constituency

Bachrach rejects calls for police action against demonstrators

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP says only way out of crisis is “true nation-to-nation” talks

Nuxalk Nation celebrates first carpentry graduates

11 students graduated from the community’s first carpentry program

Bella Coola leave their mark on All Native Basketball Tournament as they reach Intermediate final

Nuxalk Braves bring home a strong second place finish; three individual awards for Marlon Edgar-Apps

All Native Basketball: Finals matchups start to take shape as title games approach

Two Prince Rupert sides in contention, while two dynasties are on the brink

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

Eby argued that most B.C. residents already know the previous government, at best, turned a blind eye

Blockades remain in place as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs returning to B.C.

Hereditary Chief Woos said they are ready to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C.

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Most Read