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Controversy over when Canada’s new prostitution legislation comes into effect

Flowers sit in front of the memorial plaque at the Ecole Polytechnique on the 22nd anniversary of the Montreal massacre, Tuesday, December 6, 2011 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

OTTAWA — Canada’s new prostitution legislation — known as the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act — is set to take effect on Saturday.

Saturday is also the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, which marks the anniversary of the shooting deaths of 14 women at École Polytechnique in Montreal.

Watch: An École Polytechnique survivor talks about the importance of memory

One of the women behind a successful court challenge of the old prostitution laws calls the timing “sick and twisted.”

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Valerie Scott said December 6th should be for women who were murdered, saying those in the sex industry fear the new laws will result in more victims, not fewer.

READ MOREWhat Canada’s prostitution laws could look like in 2015

By the bill’s own terms, it was slated to come into effect 30 days after being granted royal assent — which is how December 6th came to be the date.

A spokesperson for Justice Minister Peter MacKay said the government doesn’t control when a bill receives royal assent.

READ MORE: A chronology of Canadian prostitution laws

The new law criminalizes the purchase of sex as well as things like advertising or other forms of communication related to its sale, though it provides some legal immunity for sex workers themselves.

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