Prostitution Law Mr. Harper’s unenforceable act

Globe and Mail Lead Editorial
December 12, 2014

Prostitution Law
Mr. Harper’s unenforceable act

Canada’s new anti-prostitution law came into effect this week, but it’s doubtful anyone involved with the so-called “oldest profession” much noticed.

Citing concerns over constitutionality, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says her province will not rigorously pursue prosecutions under the new law, which among other things criminalizes advertising sexual services and soliciting near schools, parks and houses of worship.

“I am left with grave concern that the so-called Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act will protect neither ‘exploited persons’ nor ‘communities’,” said Premier Wynne.

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark expressed similar intentions in a meeting with the Globe’s editorial board this week when she said she supports the Vancouver Police Department’s decision not to make the law a priority.

Now come reports that the Montreal police service’s vice unit is in no particular hurry to enforce the law either. Like police in Vancouver, they will focus their efforts on sex worker safety.

So after Ottawa disregarded initial objections from many experts over its proposed bill, then ignored the possibility the legislation would swiftly be struck down in court, it is now confronted by the reality the law is unlikely to be enforced in the places where the sex trade does its briskest business.

Quite the trifecta.

When the Supreme Court invalidated the core provisions of this country’s out-dated prostitution law in late 2013, the government had an opportunity to address the human tragedies caused by prostitution.

Instead, we are left with a text devoid of authority.

This government has a history of selectively heeding advice on matters of criminal justice and policing, and the Globe’s reporting has also uncovered a worrying pattern of presenting sub-standard, error-ridden legislation to Parliament.

Evidence is mounting, then, of a surprisingly slipshod approach to what is claimed to be a core priority.

As a result, the government finds itself confronted by a vexing question that is entirely of its own making. When does a law cease being a law?

Maybe it’s when nobody feels obligated to submit to it.

Kathleen Wynne has ‘grave concern’ about new prostitution laws

Today, Kathleen Wynne addressed the so-called “Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act” formerly known as Bill C-36. She claimed that she has “grave concerns” over the constitutionality of this act, and has asked the Attorney General of Ontario, Ms. Madeleine Meilleur, for an opinion on the constitutionality of the Conservative Government’s new law.

Sex workers have consistently maintained that this law puts us in great danger, and I applaud Kathleen Wynne for showing respect for the consitution, something Stephen Harper has consistently refused to do. I am confident that the Attorney General will recommend referring it to the Ontario Court of Appeal immediately.

In doing so, Kathleen Wynne can spare sex workers of this country the burden of time-consuming and costly legislation, and more importantly, will prevent sex workers from being targeted for violence and abuse while a constitutional challenge works its way through the courts. I am certain that the Supreme Court will see this “law” for what it truly is – an unconstitutional, partisan piece of nonsense that should never have been tabled in the first place.

OCLA 2014 Acceptance speech

I see some former clients in the audience. How was today’s caucus meeting? It’s good to be back in Ottawa. Maybe this time I won’t get thrown out. But in case I do, I want to first thank the Ontario Civil Liberties Association, executive and members alike, for this award and this event.

Yet, I have to admit I was surprised by the honour. After all, you guys believe in freedom. I believe in bondage. You like free speech. I gag my clients. You support equality. I preach female superiority. You promote humane treatment of prisoners. I torture mine. But why fuss over details?

Tonight I’m going to tell you about my journey through the criminal justice system and how and what I learned about civil liberties. The main point of my talk is that I did not travel and learn alone. I had and have a group of supporters who are steadfast. None lawyers. I will have some words about them. I will also talk about activists, activism, and those who govern us. And I have certainly had lawyers at my side. I’ll talk about them first. 

Val Scott, Amy Lebovitch and I probably got too much credit for striking down the prostitution laws. Our legal teams got too little credit. Let me drop a few names: Professor Alan Young, Marlys Edwardh, Ron Marzel, Stacey Nichols, Sabrina Pingitore, Kendra Reinhardt, Katrina Pacey, Daniel Sheppard and other lawyers, and law students, many law students, who fought for our side directly and indirectly. The amount of work they did was staggering. They were hardly paid, if paid. They could have made money hand over fist using their talents elsewhere. Their opposition, acting as lackeys for the governments of Canada and Ontario were overpaid, under-worked and accumulated defined pension credits indexed to inflation.

For 20 years I have been fighting, and my lawyers have been fighting on my behalf, against the laws that were struck down once and for all last year. In my youth I was too poor and lacked the support to contemplate challenging laws, or even defending myself in court. But in 1994, when I was raided in Thornhill that changed. I had support. I took a position. I was selling role play and refused to sell sex. Yet I was raided and charged as a prostitute. I, and I might add, my four fellow defendants, entered not guilty pleas. That alone got their charges dropped.  I was able to fight on.

David O’Connor represented me at my bail hearing and did a good job. The late Ken Danson began my defense preparations and Morris Manning took over from him. My supporters recommended that change and Ken was supportive. Ken told me, even after he was replaced, “Terri, you can’t plead guilty. Promise me you won’t”. Morris had the charges thrown out because they were too vague. Unfortunately that did not hold up on appeal. Murray Klippenstein took over. Murray has since risen to prominence. He worked with the highly regarded Charlie Campbell and was advised by Paula Rochman and assisted by Wendy Snelgrove. That was in part because I and my supporters felt that lawyers with a reputation as activists were going to be important as the matter became a high profile battle of attrition. During this time corporate lawyer George Callahan, a true gentleman and pit bull as the situation required, assisted me in ensuring my private affairs were in order. He also joined Klippenstein’s team. At trial the team was disqualified. They were ruled in conflict because they represented all the accused together, but only after the charges on those other than me were dropped.

Fortunately, Osgoode Professor Alan Young signed on as an advisor to the team and was ready to take over if the Klippenstein team was disqualified, and he did. He was assisted by lawyer Leah Daniels, who taught at Seneca, when my trial finally got under way in 1998. They spent all summer on the case and had a team of students assisting them. They flew in experts and prepared an elaborate defense.  

It was a barn-burner of a trial. All the major networks staked out the courthouse in Newmarket, wherever that is. The trial went on for weeks and the questions to be decided, as some reporters said, were as fundamental as those raised over a decade later in the recent Supreme Court decision – in my view more fundamental. The media treated it as front page news, and many of the spectators attended the entire trial for research purposes. Judge Bogusky had a landmark case and the country expected a landmark ruling after a twelve day trial, probably a long written decision which would work its way through the higher courts. He had a few weeks after the close of the trial before he gave his decision.

So what did Bogusky do? He gave a short oral decision. He said the reporters and spectators there had to make a living and were in a hurry to leave. He said there was no reason to rule on what was illegal between consenting adults in private that supported my conviction. The reasons he gave for convicting me were so weak that he was ridiculed in the media. No appeal court that was not rigged would uphold such a disgusting miscarriage of justice. He said the misuse of the search warrant was an understandable reaction of young bucks. Rosie DiManno finished off his reputation for good in her column in the Toronto Star. When I went for my sentencing I faced a broken old man who was angry and humiliated because he got what he deserved. He had become a laughing stock. But it was no laughing matter. He ran his court like it was the time of Stalin. To this day, I do not see a basis for the conviction. 

But wait, it gets worse. Professor Young and Paul Burstein did the appeal in 1999. Well, Judge Finlayson of the Ontario Court of Appeal wrote the worst decision in its history. Read it some time. It was so poor, lawyers told me, that it meant that a stripper or waitress could be charged as a prostitute and it was almost impossible to have a search warrant that could be challenged. It was so poor that judges afterward threw out prostitution and bawdy house charges simply because my conviction and appeal decision were such garbage that they became precedents to cite when acquitting. He lied about evidence. He saw absolutely no merit in my appeal. Lawyers were alarmed by his decision. So were judges. Ever wondered why prostitution convictions have fallen steadily since, despite a rising population and growth of the sex trade? Answer in part, Finlayson’s decision.

Some of this was pointed out by now Judge David Corbett, who sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. He worked with Lucy McSweeney and Timothy Banks, then an articling student, when David prepared his masterful factum in 2000. Unfortunately it was not heard. Corbett needed all his abilities just to find the words to explain why Finlayson’s decision was so appalling. The Crown’s Reply was as bad as Corbett’s appeal factum was good. No justice. But wait. Look at what happened in the years after.

Professor Young remained active for me. When I reopened in downtown Toronto just after my conviction he asked the police, in writing, if they had any objection to what I was doing, which was identical to Thornhill. Well, I was open four years and even gave media tours. No raid, no trial. What a contrast. In York Region the police tore my place apart, broke laws and so on. The Crown came at us with full force in a battle of attrition. The judge, and the appeal court, in a manner Stalin would have approved, produced a conviction and fined me $3,000. The legal fees and legal time amounted to a king’s ransom. The property values in the area of the raid fell by hundreds of thousands of dollars per house. I had no place to live and no means of support. Compare that to the Bondage Hotel in Toronto. No investigation. No raid. No trial. And so forth. Who, I ask you who, decides the difference?  And there were other civil liberties issues that arose during all this. But I have spoken about those in my memoirs.

But lawyers were not only at my side to fight charges. When I was in business again another lawyer, Pierre Cloutier, advised me on and assisted me in the handling of the administrative matters of my business, like registration and minute books and so forth. In 2011 I published my memoirs and got help from, you guessed it, a lawyer. Sender Herschorn and his staff were wonderful in ensuring I was within the law in writing the book, in what I said in the book and in advising me on drafts. He wrote to those mentioned in the drafts and sent them copies and made sure that no one had grounds to sue me. He also helped me with the writing and was encouraging throughout. He assisted me in private legal matters as well.

So you see, there is a great deal that lawyers can do for their clients in the sex trade, or those considering entering it, other than just react to charges or arrests. Lawyers can act proactively. So can non-lawyers with legal training, such as paralegals or law students or case managers from law offices.

All this moves me to speak about what I call secret rules that exist in the Canadian criminal justice system. Here are a few. Secret rule: search warrants are not just to gather evidence. Secret rule: each defendant must have his or her own lawyer to fight a charge, so if not rich likely cannot fight. Secret rule: legal aid given to those charged is not viable in court for a proper defense. Secret rule: if you do raise the funds or help to fight they come after you with all guns as punishment. Secret rule: your resources are better spent anticipating and on moving on after a bust and ensuring those busted are expendable. Secret rule: laws are left vague so authorities don’t have to account for their actions. Secret rule: constitutional challenges are so expensive that it can be decades before long due challenges are ever brought forward. The prostitution laws ruled unconstitutional in 2010, 2012 and 2013 were unconstitutional 20 or more years before they were challenged. Secret rule: there is window dressing to obscure all these secret rules. Things like credit for time served, legal aid, charges not standing up because of civil liberties violations are all cited by governments like Mr. Harper’s as evidence that the system favours those charged. 

Secret rules gave rise to a new organization: The Harper Brotherhood of Overpaid and Under-worked Trained Seals. Unless pressed by a scandal they do not speak out against wife beaters, workplace harassers, bullies of all types, dead beat dads, corporate thieves, polluters and I could go on. Organized crime has never had it easier because institutions and organizations that speak for people without means do not have the ear or heart of the Harper Brotherhood.  Anyone belonging to a union, or who is a sex worker, or who is part of an anti-poverty groups, or who belongs to an environmental group, or who is an intellectual, or even who is a judge is not being listened to. The Harper Brotherhood does not believe in accountability. They do not believe in transparency. They do not believe in open debate. They are creating a Canada where young people see laws made for the wrong reasons and so are all the more tempted not to respect or obey the law.

I say again and again that I cannot comment on the government’s policies on external affairs, the economy or on what it is doing to protect the environment. I only comment on their policies in areas where I am informed properly. But if what I see in those areas is going on elsewhere, I have to wonder how patriotic Mr. Harper and his brotherhood of trained seals are.

Is it patriotic if laws passed are unconstitutional, or contrary to Canada’s values as laid out by the Supreme Court? Is it patriotic to focus on length of sentences and ignore overcrowding in prisons? Is it patriotic to ignore the misuse of warrants? Is it patriotic to ignore the underfunding of legal aid? Ignore spousal abuse? Ignore the shortage of shelters for women, or of shelters that accept family pets so the wife beaters can’t use the family pet as a hostage?  Is it patriotic to be caught by surprise by the sexual harassment scandals about women and minorities in the armed forces and the RCMP? And, my friends, is it patriotic to tell women they can only have sex if they have it for free?

We have seen, in Canada, not too many years ago, morality and vice squads arrest drinkers, gamblers, gays, lesbians, readers of adult pornography, and sellers and buyers of sex acts in the absence of a list of prohibited acts. 

Since then we have also seen changes. Now, governments sell alcohol, sell lottery tickets, gays are openly gay, lesbians are openly lesbian, adult pornography is part of cable television packages and now, thanks to Bill C-36, legalization of the sale of sex acts has been formalized. Maybe one day, we will even get a list of what constitutes a sex act under Bill C-36. Until then, we may have to learn by trial and error.

These freedoms did not fall from the sky. They were fought for. But by whom? I dedicated my memoirs to The Dozen. None are lawyers. They are citizens who saw wrongs being done to someone they knew. So, first of all, they were mad at those who did it. Second, it alerted them to the broader issues and they got angrier. Third, they realized they could make a difference individually and collectively. Here is what I learned from them, and from the lawyers and activists with whom I have fought.

If there is a wrong committed by the authorities, find the enemy of your enemy and become their friend. Find people with money, time, numbers or compromising information. But above all, above all, make sure the effort is in the hands of capable, reliable people. We don’t have lawyers doing court cases only because they care. They also have training on how to win and create change. The same must be true of the activists. I am an activist, but I am not a professional organizer or administrator. But I have around me people who have track records not only of activism, and maybe not even that, but of corporate success, community leadership, academic and administrative expertise and political experience. Some have money. Some have time. The lesson is to put together a winning team to guide and even head the committed activists.

Let me also put it this way. If something is wrong and you want to do something about it, don’t be shy or ashamed to ask everyone to ask everyone else. If the cause is just you will be surprised at how often you get what you want simply by asking for it, asking for it and asking for it. When enough good, capable, reliable people are asked enough they will attract more such people. 

Let me come back to the lawyers for a moment. I have had about 20 lawyers represent me and/or my fellow defendants or plaintiffs. One of them, Professor Alan Young, should get the Order of Canada. Another, David Corbett, became Canada’s first openly gay judge. Most of the others have distinguished themselves in ways too numerous to mention. But they all have had something in common, something very important. They fought for what was right, not profitable or career enhancing. Lawyers will devote part of their time to the high ideals of their profession, if asked. Lawyers get angry about some things too. I have many recollections of how incensed many of those representing me were at how the authorities have behaved. It is good to have a skilled and angry lawyer on your side, and one skill that is crucial is that he or she works well with the activists and supporters.

Now, sadly, one lawyer is the polar opposite of all that. Former justice minister Rob Nicholson. I want to tell you about one single moment in his life. I think it was a defining moment for both him and Canada. In March 2012 the Ontario Court of Appeal basically upheld Justice Himel’s 2010 decision striking down the key laws against prostitution. A few weeks later Nicholson stood up in the House of Commons and said something to the effect that he was pleased to say that the government would appeal to the Supreme Court and would not discuss the matter further until the court had ruled.

Now let me tell you why I think that was a defining moment.  

Reason number one. I think he knew there were merits to what Himel’s decision contained, merits that he could have acted upon immediately – like allowing sex workers to hire off-duty police as security or work in groups from fixed locations, or support spouses and children who lived with them. I think he knew the laws were void for vagueness and could have made them clearer and fairer. I think he knew that other laws could, as Himel said, be used to control the worst aspects of sex work. And I think he knew the laws themselves created dangers for women and resulted in deaths. I think he knew all this yet, with pleasure, as he put it, appealed the whole package.

Reason number two. He knew or should have known that it was against every principle his party stood for to lump consenting harmless adult behaviour in private, like women paying younger men for sex, men keeping women, women like me who enjoy punishing and humiliating men who pay me to do it, in with trafficked or abused women. That is not allowing for individual autonomy and responsibility for one’s own decisions. I think he knew all this, yet, with pleasure, he appealed.

Reason number three. If I am wrong about the first two reasons it was definitely an even more defining moment. Perhaps he actually believed his stated position that the laws were constitutional, and that no changes were needed. If that is true, if he believed that nothing being said by all the judges, experts, sex workers and others had any merit at all  he is a mental defective.

So, my friends, it was a defining moment because it was then and there that the justice minister proved himself and his government to be either liars or mental defectives. Three levels of court are there to show it. 

Did, Nicholson, the country’s highest legal official, who swore to defend our constitution forget, or even know, what is involved in mounting a constitutional challenge? How many has he done? He should try it some time and see what it involves. For instance, big bucks. Add to that tons of volunteer legal time. The work involved with the experts. Try 3 years of hearings and related preparation. Try dealing with government lawyers who do not hesitate to offer crap as evidence and argument. If you don’t believe it was crap ask Judge Himel and the Supreme Court. Try to deal with a government that orders their lawyers to make it go away by any means necessary and then orders them to appeal, when there are no grounds to appeal, simply to make the issue go away. A government that has no regard for Charter challenges. A government that dismissed with a wave of a hand tens of thousands of pages of court tested evidence that should have been an alarm bell to any reasonably intelligent person.

Then try dealing with a portion of the media who in one breath points to the downsides of the sex trade, whatever that is, while turning a blind eye to the finding of the courts that the very laws they are fighting to retain are largely the cause of those evils. Try dealing with commentators who bring in obscure new studies or reports, not tested in court, to attack legalization of the sex trade, while ignoring the findings of a virtual 3 year public inquiry, with evidence tested in court, that resulted in the Himel decision and what it had to say about other countries. Barbara Kay and Margaret Wente are two recent examples of such cherry pickers who don’t even say in their columns if they have even read the decision. Rosie DiManno said “read the damn decision”, out of frustration with such lousy journalism.

Mr. Harper has replaced Mr. Nicholson with Mr. MacKay, the former defense minister. Women and minorities being harassed in the armed forces is more of a problem than enemy fire. That will be the MacKay legacy. Let me speak for a moment about Peter MacKay. He recently said he was not aware of sexual harassment in his party or in parliament and so forth. He of course conveniently forgets to mention a few things. One is the problem of rape and sexual harassment in the armed forces during the time he was defense minister, as I have just mentioned. It is also an epidemic in the RCMP. But with Vic Toews as minister, who is surprised? But why be surprised at any of this. Elmer MacKay, Peter’s father, was a prominent conservative. When it comes to father and son ask around. Ask Karlheinz Schreiber. Ask David Orchard. Ask Belinda Stronach. Ask Brian Mulroney’s former staffers. Ask the women in armed forces about the culture of blame the victim, blame the women who come forward. Ask around about the fecklessness of the Integrity Commissioner’s office. Ask about the iron grip the government has taken on the internal audit process and destroyed it. Ask about Mr. MacKay’s appearances before the Senate and Commons justice committees where he skated around legitimate questions about C-36. Why didn’t he get thrown out? And this, this is the guy who is talking about zero tolerance for abusive behaviour towards women? Good heavens, he is the only guy in Ottawa who doesn’t know what is going on if he is being honest. His notion of accountability and zero tolerance would scare Joseph Stalin. Well, enough about Mr. MacKay. Believe me, you’ll be hearing plenty more about him and his in the months to come.

Well, regardless of what he knows I also know a few things. I and my supporters and many others have been asking around. You wouldn’t believe what I am being told and shown. I will not take up any more time tonight about what we have been told and provided with, except to say that I will not accept criticism if I, and my fellow activists, refuse to keep to the high road in the debate on the new sex trade laws or in dealing with this government and its supporters. The government and its trained seals hit bottom long ago. They deserve everything they are going to get. They don’t deserve fair treatment. If sex workers are worried about the code of confidentiality, and we are, we must remember that the Harper Brotherhood has disregarded all sorts of codes of honour and we should not, in a fight for the lives of our sisters, feel compelled to hold ourselves to a higher standard. 

Canada faces some threats from terrorists and hate groups. Our men and women in uniform are fighting for us here and abroad. We know what they are fighting against. But let me respectfully say to Canadians what I think our troops are fighting for as well. They stand for security, yes. But security for what? I think they are fighting for our freedoms, meaning, yes, our civil liberties. We disrespect our citizens in uniform when we allow people with power to act arbitrarily, the way Mr. Harper and his lackeys are doing with the sex trade. We disrespect them when we allow Mr. Harper’s government to disregard prominent citizens – judges, professors, leaders in unions, churches, community organizations and other bodies in society that speak for people without money or political power.

So my friends we must all be soldiers, and each do what we can to ensure our governments at all levels are held to a standard of accountability that ensures they respect truth and properly justify their actions. For that matter, governments can hold other governments to such a standard. For example, Vancouver wants the federal government to refer C-36 to the Supreme Court and has indicated that C-36 will work against the guidelines of the Supreme Court decision

In Ontario, Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory must now speak. She has a majority government in Canada’s largest province. He was just elected mayor of Canada’s largest city. I believe how they act, not just speak, in response to C-36, will define their level of integrity. 

Thank you again so very much for this honour, and for having me here tonight.

Dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford to Receive Ontario Civil Liberties Award

Dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford to Receive 2014 Ontario Civil Liberties Association Award in Ottawa this Friday

(Ottawa, November 10, 2014) – Recent developments have underlined a strong societal need to protect the freedoms of consenting adults in all spheres of personal, work, and professional activities. Miss Terri-Jean Bedford will receive the previously-announced 2014 OCLA Civil Liberties Award at a public event in Ottawa this Friday, November 14:

Time: 7pm, November 14, 2014
Place: Alumni Auditorium, University of Ottawa (The Alumni Auditorium is in the Jock-Turcot University Centre building, 85 University Private)

Miss Bedford has fought for the freedom, dignity, and safety of sex workers in Canada. She has joined many prominent Canadians and dedicated activists to this end. She has opposed the unjust laws affecting her profession in court, in the streets, in the Senate, in the press, and in her writings. She has even been to jail under these laws.

Miss Bedford has been an inspiration to those who work to correct society’s moral and legal hypocrisy, and to secure a human right of adult individuals to provide and buy or exchange personal services by informed consent without the state’s interference.

The event is co-sponsored by CUPE 2626 (Union of Student Workers at the University of Ottawa).

About the Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA)
The OCLA vigorously advocates for authentic and unqualified freedom of expression of individuals, on all topics and in every form, in accordance with the right to free expression enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The OCLA also advocates for unimpeded civil liberties and civil rights of all persons, in dealings with public and private institutions and corporations.

Contact:

Joseph Hickey
Executive Director
Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) http://ocla.ca
613-252-6148 (c)
joseph.hickey@ocla.ca

PRESS RELEASE

Dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford to Receive 2014 Ontario Civil Liberties Association Award (Ottawa, October 20, 2014) — The OCLA will present its 2014 Civil Liberties Award to Miss Bedford at a public presentation and reception in Ottawa in November.

“I want to be remembered for standing against secret rules”, said Miss Bedford. “My motto is that I’ll fight for my rights whether you like it or not”, she added.

Miss Bedford has fought for the freedom, dignity, and safety of sex workers in Canada. She has joined many prominent Canadians and dedicated activists to this end. She has opposed the unjust laws affecting her profession in court, in the streets, in the Senate, in the press, and in her writings. She has even been to jail under these laws.

Miss Bedford has been an inspiration to those who work to correct society’s moral and legal hypocrisy, and to secure a human right of adult individuals to provide and buy or exchange personal services by informed consent without the state’s interference.

The day in November and venue are to be announced later. Last year’s recipient was Harry Kopyto.

OCLA’s Award page, updated regularly: http://ocla.ca/ocla-civil-liberties-award/
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/349779428525127/

About OCLA

The OCLA vigorously advocates for authentic and unqualified freedom of expression of individuals, on all topics and in every form, in accordance with the right to free expression enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The OCLA also advocates for unimpeded civil liberties and civil rights of all persons, in dealings with public and private institutions and corporations.

Contact:

Joseph Hickey Executive Director Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) http://ocla.ca 613-252-6148 (c) joseph.hickey@ocla.ca

All Bill C-36 Opponents

October 5, 2014

To All Opponents of Bill C-36

I am the Bedford in Bedford Versus Canada, the case that overturned Canada’s prostitution laws. I am writing to you today to update you about part of what is being done to oppose Bill C-36, which is the new law before Parliament to replace the laws struck down.

This law, like the old laws, will fail to be enforced much. This law will eventually be deemed unconstitutional. This law will cause a major loss of credibility for those who supported it. What is being done to oppose the law is being done and I want to tell you about part of that and what you can do.

I wrote to Premier Wynne of Ontario. I asked her to refer the law to Ontario’s highest court, if and when it becomes law, to see if it is constitutional. In the interim I asked her to publicly state she would do this. I also asked her to instruct her crown attorneys not to enforce the law. All this is within her power. She has a majority government.

She spoke about my letter at a press conference and said her main concern is safety. I have been in touch with her since, but our correspondence is confidential. I am writing to ask all activists to state in any way to Premier Wynne, and indeed to all premiers, the consequences of remaining silent and doing nothing.

The consequences of this new law will likely include more missing and murdered women, sex workers forced out from safe locations and into the streets, the increased presence of organized crime in the sex trade and widespread entrapment as a way of enforcing the new laws.

Please put the focus of the debate on Premier Wynne. She has a choice. She can speak up and act, or let Mr. Harper impose his will on her. Help her and the other premiers decide. Write to them. Premier Wynne’s e-mail is kathleen.wynne@ontario.ca. Tell the media the premiers have a choice. Demonstrate if necessary. Your efforts matter. 

Yours truly,

(Signed in the original)

Terri-Jean Bedford
terrijeanbedford @ gmail.com

Bill C-36 Opponents

September 28, 2014

Dear Opponents of Bill C-36,

I am writing to many of the groups and persons who have stood with Valerie, Amy, me and our legal team against the prostitution laws that were struck down. These groups and persons have voiced their support in so many ways and their messages were heard across the country again and again. I thank all of you for that support. I have done so in person when able. 

The new law, Bill C-36 is of course an outrage. It will of course fail before the courts, fail in its implementation, and in the process its supporters will again be discredited. You and all the others have already been to helping to ensure that failure will happen.

Recently I testified before the Senate and in the question period after opening statements I was ejected. This got a lot of attention. One of the things I said, which also got much attention, was that I would expose some clients of sex workers. Everyone thought I meant politicians who supported C-36.

I have an advisory group working on the legalities and mechanics of that process. Part of that process, if in fact I do follow though, is determining what sex workers think about exposing some clients, and I am writing to ask you to tell me what you think. Please ask your colleagues to tell me as well by sending me an e-mail at the address below.

One reason for exposing some clients is to show how unfair the law is when sex workers can report clients to the police and only the client is charged. This means, it would seem, that blackmail and entrapment have largely been legalized. This would probably add fuel to constitutional challenges.

Professor Young also pointed out at the Senate that immunity from prosecution has until now only been given by prosecutors, not in legislation, as C-36 does. So exposing clients would show how irrational the law is, as well as illegal itself. Exposing would probably also add this fuel as well to constitutional challenges.

Another obvious reason for exposing is to show the hypocrisy of those who want to impose their will on others while themselves engaging in the very behaviour they want to others to stop.

Yet another reason is to ensure the public remains aware of this issue and of the dangers and are unfair hardships the government’s approach would create for those in the sex trade. Nothing attracts media attention as much as politics combined with scandals of this kind. I could mention other reasons, but enough for now.  

However, concerns come to mind too. Does exposing set a bad precedent for the sex trade overall, even if the law is not implemented to any extent or frozen in the courts right away? What other negative repercussions there be for sex workers if I did release part or all of my list? What would the consequences be if I just released one or two or a few names? What should be the criteria for names chosen for release? Would you and your members and colleagues prefer me to back off exposing clients altogether, and if so why? I seek your help in answering these questions. 

Please share this with all you wish to share it with. I will read all e-mails sent to me and take all advice very seriously when I decide what to do. I appreciate that feedback every bit as much as the support shown over these years which, I say yet again, I am sincerely grateful for.

Yours truly,

Terri-Jean Bedford
terrijeanbedford @ gmail.com

PRESS RELEASE

This afternoon I testified before the Senate Committee on Justice and Constitutional Affairs. I gave my speech and then was ejected from the question and answer session for failing to stop speaking when the Chair asked me to. I apologize for losing my temper. I was barely able to read my speech because I was so angry at the government for parading victims with repeated irrelevant information and then organizations who were shilling for government handouts on which they are dependent. The shameful use of victims by the government in this process, and their disregard for life by ignoring court findings, refusing to listen to their own legal staff and refusing to answer questions from legitimate sources made me snap. I have already been told that people are sympathetic to the points I made and even to my outburst. They seemed to agree that the government can’t handle the truth. They have repeatedly shown disrespect for various institutions, processes and persons. The truth will win out.

Speech to Senate Committee

Prime Minister Harper called me again. He offered to appoint me to the Senate. As a government whip. I turned him down. I might run into former clients on Parliament Hill.

I am the Bedford in Bedford Versus Canada, the constitutional challenge striking down the prostitution laws. I know the sex trade in Canada as well as anyone. I learned about the issues by working in and managing almost all aspects of the sex trade over 30 years. I have fought the prostitution laws for many of these years. I have been in jail because of the laws. I have been in court as a defendant or appellant more times than I care to remember. I am Canada’s most famous dominatrix and perhaps Canada’s most famous prostitute. I was in attendance for most of the sessions of the 3 years of the constitutional challenge. So, maybe I know what I am talking about.

In these brief remarks I will make only a few points of my own. You have a library of evidence against Bill C-36, and I don’t want to repeat or submit briefs saying what so many others have said so well.

First of all senators, when it comes to consenting adults, the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.

Second, the national debate currently under way has not given enough attention to sex trade workers who don’t want to exit and are there by choice. If you ask me today I will tell you about some of them. These women, and indeed male sex workers, should not be grouped in with those who want out.

Third, what exactly is Bill C-36 supposed to outlaw? What exactly would be illegal between consenting adults in private for money? The response from some supporters of Bill C-36 are words to the effect that “everyone knows” or “the courts would have to decide”. If everyone knows, why not answer the question? If the courts have to decide, why not refer the bill there immediately?

Fourth, why does the government claim they are making the purchase of sex illegal. If it was legal to purchase sex before, where did all the John Schools come from? This new law changes nothing in that regard.

Fifth. The Justice Minister was wrong to call the sex trade degrading. The clients are there by choice. They are half the transaction. Many are pillars of the community, often business leaders, professionals and politicians.  Most sex trade workers do not consider their work degrading. Lumping them in with those who want out is not acceptable in a free society.

Sixth, those who ask if you want your daughter to be a sex worker might also ask if you want your daughter working in any number of poorly paid, dangerous or menial jobs while getting sexually harassed in the bargain. And while we are at it, I want my daughter to work in the sex trade, but it should be her choice. Not only that, I may want your daughter to work in the sex trade and for it to be her choice. If you don’t like that I suggest you mind your own business and move to a country where the choices of women in the bedroom are controlled by the government.

Senators, it is bad policy to direct scarce law enforcement resources to stop consenting adult behaviour in private – while tax evaders, wife beaters, terrorists and what have you go unpunished.

So Senators, please don’t allow Bill C-36 to pass. Stand up for your country first. Use laws you have to help those most in need, in and out of the sex trade.  

Senators, please, please don’t allow Parliament to force Canadian women to only have sex for free.

Thank you.

Dominatrix to Testify

Canada’s most famous dominatrix will be testifying before the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs at 1:15 on Wednesday September 10th. The hearings are in Room 257E, East Block, Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.

Miss Bedford a plaintiff in Bedford Versus Canada, the case which overturned some of the Canada’s major laws against prostitution. The final appeal was ruled on by the Supreme Court in December. The Court gave the government one year to replace the legislation

The hearings are about the Federal Government’s Bill C-36, the new set of laws being brought before Parliament in the coming session. The hearings follow the July hearings before the House of Commons Justice Committee, which Miss Bedford did not attend.

She will be available outside the hearing room prior to and after her session, which will conclude at 3:00. She will be joined by two other witnesses.

Miss Bedford has been in correspondence with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. She asked the Premier to refer Bill C-36 to the courts if the federal government continues to refuse to do so, in order to determine if it is constitutional – which most knowledgeable observers believe it is not. The Premier has publicly acknowledged this request and stated that her main concern about any new laws was safety. She has written to Miss Bedford since.

If you wish to write to or interview Miss Bedford she advises that you get in touch with her at      terrijeanbedford @ gmail.com.

This message from the friends of Terri-Jean Bedford.