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

Interior Health appoints administrator at Summerland Seniors Village

Numerous concerns raised about private seniors care facility

Penticton seeking additional downtown input on potential cycling routes

The City has narrowed down the choices to two options and wants public input before deciding

Breaking: Penticton woman pleads guilty to manslaughter of boyfriend

Kiera Bourque pleaded guilty in a Penticton courtroom on Monday

Long-time winemaker retires after 14 years in Oliver

Robert Summers joined the Hester Creek Estate Winery team in 2006.

Snowfall warning in effect for the Coquihalla Highway

An unstable airmass is producing heavy flurries over parts of the southern highway passes

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

Kelowna youth accused of killing 16-year-old released

The young woman was arrested on Feb. 21 and is facing one charge of manslaughter

Man arrested following suspicious trailer fire in Kelowna

Reports came in about the fire at approximately 11:45 a.m. on Monday morning

Body discovered following vehicle fire on Kelowna property

Firefighters discovered a body in a home on Anderson Road

‘Please be quiet,’ Kelowna Mayor tells sexual assault survivor protesting in council chambers

Forty per cent of sexual assaults reported to Kelowna RCMP in 2019 were deemed ‘unfounded’

Salmon Arm boy is only Para-Nordic athlete at BC Winter games

Thirteen-year-old Kaden Baum competed in three races on his sit-ski at the games.

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Swinging with the Stars raises $314,500 for Central Okanagan Hospice Association

The 12th annual event took place at the Delta Hotel in Downtown Kelowna

Most Read