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

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

Just Posted

Remembering the tools of yesteryear

Barriere and District Heritage Society talks mundane modern tasks once laborous and time consuming

New group gives support to children with exceptionalities

Yellowhead Community Services encourages those with questions about child development to drop in

Back in Time

Historical Perspective

Brent Mason brings a night of music and storytelling to Clearwater

Mason will be playing at the Dutch Lake Community Centre on Feb. 26

Clearwater mayor unimpressed with Forest Minister’s inaction on local tenure transfer

Mayor Merlin Blackwell says he’s ready to lead delegation to Victoria

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Toffoli scores OT winner as Canucks beat Habs 4-3

Demko makes 37 saves for Vancouver

Private clinics would harm ‘ordinary’ people using public system in B.C.: lawyer

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in 2018 that the government would begin to fine doctors $10,000

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

Child in hospital following fatal crash that killed father, sibling on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

‘Die!’: Vernon councillor mailed death threat

This story contains information that might be sensitive to some readers

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

Most Read