Jimmy Carter offers Canada advice on updating prostitution laws

With new federal prostitution laws on the horizon, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter is once again urging Parliamentarians to adopt the Nordic model, which targets pimps and those who pay for sex rather than the prostitutes themselves.

Conservative MP Joy Smith emailed the letter to MPs, then made it public on Twitter

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter is urging Canadian members of Parliament and Senators to adopt the Nordic model when updating the country's prostitution laws. (Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press)

As the federal government looks to update its prostitution laws, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter is once again urging Parliamentarians to adopt the Nordic model which targets pimps, brothel owners and those who pay for sex rather than the prostitutes themselves.

"In your efforts to revise your nations's prostitution laws, I encourage you to adopt the highly successful Nordic model," Carter said in a letter dated May 16, and circulated on Twitter today by Conservative MP Joy Smith.

This model, Carter writes, "provides long-term funding for exit programs to assist prostituted persons in escaping exploitation, and develops a national awareness campaign to promote the equality of women that will expose the violence, inequality, and coercion in prostitution."

"Prostitution is inherently violent, especially towards women and girls, and I support efforts to help those who are trapped in this industry.

"Your decisive leadership in this matter is critical in order for Canada to take this monumental step towards the preservation of human rights," Carter said.

'Victims first' approach

Smith made the letter public after she emailed it to MPs this morning, a spokesperson for the Conservative MP told CBC News on Monday.

The Manitoba MP for Kildonan-St. Paul believes "this approach is the only one that will address violence against women and ensure a ‘victims first’ approach is taken."

According to the spokesperson for Smith, Carter sent the open letter to the leaders of each federal party but also sent a copy to Smith.

"President Carter has been aware of MP Smith’s advocacy work on this issue in Canada and therefore shared a copy of his letter with her."

This is not the first time the former U.S. president has offered Canada advice on how it ought to revise its prostitution laws.

A week after the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country's anti-prostitution laws in December, Carter noted in an op-ed published in the Ottawa Citizen, that the top court's decision was "a step in the right direction."

Justice Minister Peter MacKay said in December his department would explore "all possible options" to ensure Canada's laws address what he called the "significant harms" that flow from prostitution.

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