In December 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country's prostitution laws, giving Parliament one year to introduce legislation. The court's decision affects all three prostitution-related prohibitions in the Criminal Code: against keeping a brothel, living on the avails of prostitution and street soliciting.

Commissioner Brian Peddle Commissioner Brian Peddle

Since the early days of the Movement, The Salvation Army has sought to help those caught in the sex trade. It has established places of refuge for victims, sought legal changes that would both prevent human trafficking and punish those involved, and it has created alternatives for those vulnerable to trafficking. That tradition continues in Canada today, where The Salvation Army offers shelter for trafficked persons, diversion programs for prostitutes and johns, and support structures for those who are leaving the sex trade.

As Canada develops new legislation to govern prostitution, Commissioner Brian Peddle, territorial commander, has sent the following letter to the Prime Minister, which reflects the Canada and Bermuda Territory's position on the issue.


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The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A6


Dear Prime Minister:

Effectively addressing the realities of prostitution in Canada presents the government with a huge and complex challenge. The Salvation Army offers its perspective in an effort to help meet that challenge.

Prostitution in Canada overwhelmingly exploits those with whom we are in contact. Prostitution exposes people to an environment rife with high levels of abuse and violence. It takes advantage of their vulnerabilities and disregards their worth as human beings. We say this based on The Salvation Army's long and extensive experience in ministries such as our shelters, addictions treatment work, church congregations, street ministry, and correctional and justice services.

The people The Salvation Army encounters typically have not chosen to get involved in prostitution and cannot be considered entrepreneurs. Of the hundreds we have related to in recent years, all but a handful say they would prefer to exit if there were meaningful, attainable alternatives. Those we meet sell sex in order to survive—to eat, to live or to sustain an addiction. Typically, they have been involved from a young age (12-14 years old) and someone has “facilitated” their entry into prostitution—a john who talks them into it for $50, a pimp who promises a couch or nice clothes, a peer who has normalized it. They may have run from an abusive or otherwise dysfunctional home life or a group home situation. Sadly, entry into prostitution has not looked extreme to them.

Prostituted people we see have had limited time and little success in school and have not had skills training for alternative work. They have acquired a substance addiction either as a “grooming” measure or as a way to cope. Typically, they suffer from severe and inadequately managed mental, spiritual, relational and physical health issues. Sadly, many feel it is now the only option of which they are worthy.

The Salvation Army is a member of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and the Canadian Council of Churches. We support the recommendations you have already received from them. In addition, we offer the following recommendations based on our distinctive experience:

  • Raise public awareness of the fact that prostitution is a form of violence, including violence against men, boys and society, but primarily against women and girls.

  • Provide extensive resources by way of health and social services collaboration between federal and provincial levels of government that make it easier for those who are prostituted and those who are buying sex to exit the life. Realistically, the appropriate resources for an adult to try to get out are not available.

  • Make it harder to exploit vulnerable women, men and children in the sex trade.

  • Do not normalize the “sex trade” as just another industry.

  • Allow for extensive consultation with sex trade workers from a diversity of backgrounds, as well as social service and law enforcement agencies who work with them. Acknowledge that the rights and safety of those forced into, trapped in or desiring to exit the “trade” are not trumped by the rights of women who are in it voluntarily.

  • Promote and enforce existing laws that address violence against women, sexual assault, human trafficking and child abuse in the context of prostitution.

  • Support court diversion programs, such as prostitution offender programs (a.k.a. “john schools”), that not only provide a mechanism for a community-based alternative to a criminal conviction, but also raise the conscience of offenders about the wrongs they have done and effect some measure of restorative justice for those they have mistreated.

The Salvation Army believes that in an ideal world, people would not think of sex as a market commodity. But that is not the world in which we live. Sex is bought and sold, and vulnerable and unsuspecting people are wronged in the process. While as Christians we champion the ideal, we believe the first call on us all is to defend the most vulnerable, and undo, or at the very least facilitate healing from, the injustices they suffer.

The Salvation Army urges that more is needed than is available now. Not only more money and more expertise, but more believing in other people, and showing that we do by creating healthy relationships with them. For us, prostitution is not just an “issue.” It's an issue that always has a human face.

The mission of The Salvation Army is to be a transforming influence in the world. We believe that no one deserves to live as prostituted people live now, and we want to help them live the better, transformed lives they want. We cannot do all that is needed. Neither can government nor law. But collaboratively, significant progress is possible.

We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss this issue in greater detail.



Commissioner Brian Peddle
Territorial Commander

Commissioner Rosalie Peddle
Territorial President of Women's Organizations

The Salvation Army Canada and Bermuda Territory




The Honourable Thomas Mulclair, M.P.
Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Justin Trudeau, M.P.
Leader of the Liberal Party

Ms. Elizabeth May
Leader of the Green Party

The Honourable Peter MacKay
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Ms. Françoise Boivin
NDP Justice Critic

Mr. Sean Casey
Liberal Justice Critic


On Monday, March 31, 2014, A salvationist said:

Yes, it is high time that the Army is speaking out about Social Issues. We have been silent far too long and Salvationist have often wondered where the Army has been on other issues that have not been addressesd over the years. We have left it up to The Evangelical Fellowship to do it for us.
I trust and pray that our Government will take note of what the Commissioner has said and do something to help these poor people in that situation. I just can't imagine our dear children being tricked into something like that. We all need to get on our knees and ask God to protect them from those who expolit them and that in the name of Jesus the devil will be bound and the blood of our Saviour will cover them and His protecting hedge will surround them to protect them from those who are responsible for such evil behaviour.

On Saturday, March 29, 2014, John MacDonald said:

I am very pleased to read this summary and stanze taken by the Salvation Army. Brian Peddle is a chap who knows his stuff and doesn't ramble on to make news headlines. I am proud of his comments and suggestions and he's a great example for younger ministers just coming out of training college. Great job Brain. May God continue to lead you.

On Friday, March 28, 2014, Joe Bailey said:

I have met, read and listened to so many stories of those who have been so traumatized, sexually asaulted and interferred with at such an early age living and breathing their own personal PTSD almost driven to this stuff feeling that this is all they are good for. Choice is not anywhere in the picture. So grateful this response is early enough to be considered rational in this process.

On Thursday, March 27, 2014, Jon Phillips said:

Hope these recommendations are followed in Canada.

The Commissioner knows what he is talking about. I have worked in helping these mostly victims almost 30 years and it was refreshing to see someone gets it.

Good job Brian.

On Thursday, March 27, 2014, Tilda Harder said:

I whole heartedly support the Salvations Army's position.

On Thursday, March 27, 2014, Donald Jefcoat said:

I applaud this letter. However there is one line that bothers me. "Raise public awareness of the fact that prostitution is a form of violence, including violence against men, boys and society, but primarily against women and girls."

I have talked with many men who are prostitutes. More of them are "trade" secretly and not as visible. The word primarily should not be there. It would imply that the issues of male prostitutes is not as important. These men are ashamed, guilt ridden, and subject to disease and other abuses as well.

I Think that the gender of the prostitute, or the person obtaining the services be as much a factor as dealing with the evils of it. But regardless this letter is a step in the right direction.

On Thursday, March 27, 2014, Rob Jeffery said:

I think PM Harper would agree with all of the Commissioner's recommendations. It's the justices who sit on the Supreme Court of Canada that need to receive this letter.

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