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Former sex worker says MP's question about rights and rape did not offend her

TORONTO - A former sex worker at the centre of a controversy involving an MP's much-criticized question about constitutional rights and rape says she took no offence.

Timea Nagy told a news conference Wednesday that Conservative MP Robert Goguen made a valid point, despite the "awkward" question he posed Monday while she was testifying at hearings in Ottawa on Canada's proposed new prostitution law.

Goguen's question came after another witness said the bill — which outlaws sex ads in print and online — may violate the constitutional right to freedom of expression. It referenced testimony about Nagy's initiation into prostitution after she was trafficked into Canada in 1998.

"You were describing a scenario where you were being raped, I believe, by three Russians," he said. "Let's suppose the police authorities would have broken in and rescued you. Would your freedom of expression have been in any way breached?"

Nagy replied she didn't understand the question.

The question came in for criticism. An opinion piece in the Globe and Mail carried the headline, "Was this the most offensive question ever asked by an MP?"

At the news conference, Nagy said Goguen later called her and offered an apology, which she said was unnecessary.

Nagy said focusing on the incident detracts from discussion on the bill, C-36, and reiterated her support for it.

"Mr. Goguen is accused of politicizing this issue for his own agenda," she said.

"My comment to that is that I signed up to be a witness on a very tough topic... I have been asked way worse questions."

Among those joining Nagy at the news conference was Robert Hooper, who appeared at the hearing with her to represent the organization she founded, Walk With Me Canada Victim Services. It helps those who went through human trafficking.

The government introduced the proposed law after the Supreme Court struck down Canada's old prostitution law last December and gave the Conservatives one year to replace it.

Under the proposed legislation, selling sex remains legal, but buying it becomes a criminal offence. It would also be illegal for anyone to communicate for the purpose of prostitution and prohibits advertising the sexual services of others.

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Updated on Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 6:01 PM CDT:
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