I Spoke at The Law Union of Ontario – Part 1 of 4

This is the first of four instalments from my prepared text.
Before I say anything else I want to acknowledge Dr. Henry Morgantaler, who died this summer. I appreciate what he was up against, not just because I have been in legal wars and in jail too, but also because both of us were advocating for women. Blessed be his memory.
Now, on the lighter side, let me tell you a little story I think you’ll appreciate. Some years ago I was whipping a client strapped to a bench. With each lash he had to call out “thank you mistress, another please” and he had to sound like he meant it. After he had wept to my satisfaction I removed his restraints and let him kiss my boots. Then I told him to get dressed and meet me at the front door. Now get this. When I let him out the door we said goodbye to each other. He said “Goodnight mistress”. I said,“Goodnight, Your Honour”.
Speaking of judges, our judges are now, thankfully, addressing the federal government’s so called “Tough on Crime Agenda”, which is a scam. The government itself is an offender if laws passed are unconstitutional, or contrary to Canada’s values. Is it patriotic to focus on length of sentences and ignore overcrowding in prisons? Ignore the misuse of warrants? 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?
Did you know that our constitutional challenge prevented a mandatory minimum prison sentence for keeping a common bawdy house? Even a sad sack like former justice minister Rob Nicholson should have realized that the law was flawed. Justice Himel struck down the law in 2010 and the government was caught completely off guard. They didn’t even know the decision was being released. I doubt if Mr. Harper and Mr. Nicholson even knew of the challenge. Yet, an appeal was announced within 3 hours of the release of the decision, despite the fact that Judge Himel said Parliament’s involvement was required. Same reflex reaction after losing at the Ontario Court of Appeal. Nicholson said the government’s position was still that the laws were constitutional. Beverly MacLaughlin and the Supreme Court, in my opinion, then confirmed that Mr. Harper and Mr. Nicholson and their cronies were either liars, who just wanted the issue to go away, or dummies. She did not say which. Take your pick. Then remember that this is the same gang that may be drafting new legislation. 

I Spoke at Concordia University – Part 4

After opening remarks we responded to questions we were given in advance. Here is another question and the answer I gave. What are some of the potential positive effects of the opposing models? Here are 4 potential positive effects of the Nordic Model: (1) It creates jobs for those working in law enforcement (2) Women can make money by blackmailing any guy who takes her to dinner saying he tried to buy sex from her (3) Women can blackmail any landlord saying she paid them with money she got from selling sex (4) If you are making a good living committing crimes unrelated to the sex trade the police will be less able to catch you because they will be hunting down women who get paid for sex or men who pay them, while all over the place women are having sex for free.

I Spoke at Concordia University – Part 3

After opening remarks we responded to questions we were given in advance. Here is another question and the answer I gave. Assuming we can’t continue with the status quo, what model should Canada adopt for regulating the sex trade industry? The Canadian model. Regulate it like you would regulate any other business. Enforce labour laws that do not mention consenting adult behaviour in private. Police no more frequently. Encourage and act on legitimate complaints. Regulate the sex industry for payment of taxes, health and safety, zoning and so forth just as often and just as enthusiastically as if it was a factory making shirts. Enforce human trafficking laws, but do it for nannies and domestics and mail order brides and sweat shop workers on an equal basis to sex workers. Enforce laws against child pornography to the extent you catch more than 2 or 3 per cent of offenders. Enforce laws against domestic abuse by building more shelters for women, and have shelters that accept family pets so the pets are not used as hostages by wife beaters. And elect a prime minister who walks the walk. Mr. Harper said judges should not make laws. Then he hides behind the skirts of judges through 2 appeals when the judges said he should not appeal, but just bring in new laws via Parliament, if at all. All the time organized crime and terrorists and human traffickers and predators are thanking him because the laws he kept saying were constitutional were the ones that prevented safety for women.

I Spoke at Concordia University – Part 2

After opening remarks we responded to questions we were given in advance. Here are the questions and the answers I gave. Here is the first question, in 2 parts. With the striking down of the 3 parts of the criminal code how are communities responding? What processes are under way in Canada today? First of all, the laws were under-enforced for years, and the number of charges were falling dramatically even though the population and sex work businesses were expanding. The laws left in place for another year are themselves illegal. For this reason the police and crown attorneys are dropping many charges laid under those laws. Also, they have mostly stopped enforcing the laws. Sex workers are coming out of the shadows and into the light where it is safer. For the future, if authorities use any laws to control when consenting adults have sex by any description, they will violate the ruling of the Supreme Court. That ruling said that the laws, and their enforcement, must not be arbitrary, discriminatory, overreaching and so forth. The original judge was explicit. She said the worst aspects of prostitution were addressed by other laws. We must move away from a moral basis and toward a safety basis and that means enforcing the laws on the books that were not struck down, for a change.

I spoke at Concordia University – Part 1

(Here is the text I prepared and delivered for my opening remarks at a conference about where we should go from here for the sex trade). It’s good to be back in school. In 2 of the facilities I ran we had classrooms too, complete with desks and blackboards. Have you ever been in the classroom of a dominatrix? I made the students, most of them middle-aged men, dress as girls. Their lessons usually included the strap, the whip and of course standing in the corner. The tuition was hundreds of dollars per visit, and they would leave deep in debt. Just like Concordia. So, we may have new prostitution laws. The government wants our input. That’s going to be tough, since they won’t specify what they are talking about. I think it’s safe to say they mean, by prostitution, sexual intercourse for money or other payment. But what about what I do? If a man pays me to kiss my feet, or for me to spank him with his pants on, is it prostitution? I wrote an article which some of you may have read asking many such questions. I am on record as saying that any model or whatever we may discuss, must first specify what behaviour between consenting adults in private is being controlled by the government. The Supreme Court, and the lower courts agreed. Any new laws must be clear in defining what constitutes a sex act. If they are not, no model will be enforceable. So I look forward to hearing from my fellow speakers tonight, and perhaps from you in the audience, what I can and cannot do if I open another facility. And why. One thing everyone is agreed on is that sex workers, whatever that means, have a right to safety. The courts were clear. No other person involved in a legal activity is prevented from taking basic safety measures. The fact that some operators who hire and supervise sex workers are not good people is not a basis for legislating against that practice. Women are sexually harassed in the RCMP, the armed forces, offices and the home. Why not outlaw the people responsible for that? Why just the so-called pimps, good and bad? And why should I not be allowed to hire security, salespeople, receptionists and so forth? Why should I be denied police protection for doing a legal activity? Why single out sex workers, whatever they are? If Mr. Harper gets tough on prostitution he will be doing what organized crime and terrorists want him to do, meaning, he will divert the already strained resources of police, courts and jails to cracking down on women in their bedrooms while dangerous criminals get a pass. The Harper government, in 2010, announced an appeal of Judge Himel’s decision within 3 hours of it’s release, which caught them off guard. Shame. Then, after the Ontario Court of Appeal sided with her for the most part, Mr. Nicholson, then Justice Minister said the government still believed the laws were constitutional – all 3 laws. Well, 14 judges say he was either lying or stupid. You choose which. The sad part is that this is the same Harper bunch that may bring in new legislation? Mr. Harper himself has not even answered the simple question of whether he has read the Himel decision. Sad. I can’t comment responsibly on his policies on the economy, foreign affairs or the environment. But I can say that the less he brings in to regulate the sex trade, and the more he does to enforce the laws still on the books to protect women, the better he will be doing his job. Thank you.

University of Windsor Speech, Part 3 of 3

I fought this battle before. In 1986 I was raided in Windsor, but I did not have the means to fight. In 1994 I was raided in Thornhill and decided to fight, because this time I had help. In 1998 the judge gave an appalling short oral decision after a long trial and refused to say what I could and could not do. The real travesty then was that the Ontario Court of Appeal made an even worse decision, and the Supreme Court refused to hear the matter. Professor Young said he took the case because, as he said “you guys broke all the rules”. What he meant was that the justice system was not designed to allow justice, and that if the authorities did what they did you just took it and moved on. To this day, I cannot tell you what my crime was back then. The laws as they were written were so vague and arbitrary in their enforcement, that they were unconstitutional. Remember, in my first trial in 1995, the charges were thrown out because they were too vague. But the courts then basically said that was o.k. and what was done to me was o.k. Well, it wasn’t, and the ruling last month by the Supreme Court, unanimously said so. Remember that the 3 provisions which were struck down specifically were done so in part because the Criminal Code definitions were vague as to what was a crime and what was not. That, in my view, is the first stage of the debate now under way. Exactly what private activities between consenting adults will the police devote scarce resources to stopping? The Supreme Court has now said that this must be answered before we comment on what model, or what laws, if any, should be brought in to the Criminal Code to replace what was struck down.

It’s good to come back, after almost 20 years, a winner and in the right. Remember, I had a lot of help. They say that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, and that means every citizen who can should do something, however little, to ensure that our freedoms are protected. If prostitution remains legal and no new laws are passed to regulate it, things will be better. We have many other laws that protect women. We just need those laws enforced for a change.

Thank you all very much

University of Windsor Speech, Part 2 of 3

In a larger sense WE also includes the women of Canada, for whose freedom a blow was struck, and all Canadians. This is because any new laws must meet new guidelines of fairness.

Before 2010 the federal government’s tough on crime agenda was meant to impose harsher penalties for violating laws that were themselves clearly illegal, such as the bawdy house law. When the first decision came out striking the laws down in 2010 they announced their intent to appeal within 3 hours. When the Ontario Court of Appeal basically supported the first judge in 2012 they appealed again; stating that they still believed the laws were constitutional. Now I ask you, are you going to accept anything, anything these guys come up with now?

Mr. Harper and his trained seals are on record as saying that prostitution is bad. What does he mean by prostitution? Let’s just say for now he means sexual intercourse for money. Well guess what. I say it’s good. And I happen to be right. Escort services, bawdy houses, strip joints, massage parlours and informal arrangements among adults are occurring everywhere. And this was under the now defunct laws and under Mr. Harper’s tough on crime agenda – which is a scam. Mr. Harper was doing what organized crime and bad pimps wanted him to do, which is to keep women underground and subject to blackmail and potential harm.

I can’t comment responsibly about his economic policies, his foreign policies or about what he is doing to protect the environment. But I can say that he has been a national disgrace in his handling of the matter in which I have been involved. If he is really concerned about the welfare of women, why does he not speak out about wife-beating, which is a national epidemic, or about divorced fathers who can but don’t pay child support. Why is he silent about sexual harassment in the armed forces and RCMP? Why is he silent about the shortage of women’s shelters or the refusal of women’s shelters to accommodate family pets, which abusive husbands use as hostages to keep battered wives in the home. Why doesn’t he speak out about low wages and low social assistance or the shortage of affordable housing – which encourage women to become prostitutes by the way? Why do he and his supporters undermine groups which promote human rights and address matters that affect women? A real man protects poor women and children. Why doesn’t he visit food banks or public housing complexes or our overcrowded jails? Are aboriginal women better or worse off since he came to power?

Whatever the reasons are the facts are there.  Show me press clippings or videos where he has spoken on these matters. You won’t find much. What you will find is that he only needs to appeal to a minority of voters to remain in power. Thus he has hidden from these issues. Take the current matter as an example. He crows about how judges should not make policy because they are not elected. Yet he hid behind the robes of the judges to make the matter go away for a while, while the judges themselves were imploring him to get involved. Now he is in a bigger mess than ever.

University of Windsor Speech, Part 1 of 3

How many of you saw me on television last month? One of the things I said was that Prime Minister Harper offered me an appointment to the Senate, as a government whip. Well, today, here in my home town of Windsor, I am declining his offer. You see, it seems Senators are always in trouble with the police, and I’ve had enough of that.

It’s exciting to be back in my old home town again. The university certainly has grown. One part of that growth I am told has been the womens’ studies and social justice areas of study. I am also told that the legal battles that I and so many other women have been fighting these past two decades have received considerable attention in various departments here, and for that I am grateful. The Associate Dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Eleanor Maticka-Tindale was an expert witness in 2009, supporting our motion to strike down the so called prostitution laws in Ontario. In 1998 Daryl Hill of the Department of Psychology here was an expert witness at my trial, testifying about cross-dressing, and whether it was sex. Julie Fraser, a PHD candidate in that same department spoke at my fund-raiser in 2000; and both graduate and undergraduate students have visited me in person, spoke to me over the phone, e-mailed, and sent me their papers over the years. Thank you all again.

And I have also spoken here. In 2009 Professor Young, Val Scott and I spoke at the law school about our Charter Challenge, then just beginning. Now I have the pleasure to be here just after it has ended, and WE have won. I want to talk about that word – WE. We are thousands, at varying levels of involvement.

The first person to mention, in my view, is Madam Justice Susan Himel. She won too because her decision was reviewed by 14 judges, first at the Ontario Court of Appeal and then the Supreme Court. In the end everything she decided was upheld.

There are of course the 3 plaintiffs, or as some would call us, affiants – Myself, Val Scott and Amy Lebovitch. Val Scott has publicly advocated for the rights of sex workers for over 20 years. Amy Lebovitch is younger than Val and I. Her participation was most critical of all because she is not retired like Val and I are and her standing was not subject to challenge.

Then there is Professor Young, who deserves the Order of Canada, and his fellow lawyers and the rest of the legal team. About 10 lawyers represented the matter through 3 levels of court. About 20 students worked on the matter.

Then there were the expert witnesses. About a dozen of them, on our side, who came to Toronto and testified for us – Eleanor included.

There were the activists and sex workers across the country who spoke to the matter and marched in the streets. One of the most prominent women in Canada is beside me today, Chanelle Gallant. She is one of the leaders of such women.

There were as well the vast number of citizens who informed themselves at universities, community colleges, high schools and informally.

*

Idea City Speech

The Idea City Speech by Terri-Jean Bedford:

I see some former clients in the audience. Does it still hurt?)

Before anything else I want to thank Valarie Scott and Amy Lebovitch for leading this fight and for being such wonderful spokespersons in this, and other initiatives to protect women and our freedoms. They will have many important points for you to consider today.

I would also like to thank my lawyer Professor Alan Young who headed our legal team. My superhero disguised as an ordinary citizen. I would like the thank Her Honour Justice Susan Himel and the Ontario Court of appeal for striking down those monstrous laws!

Now, if I was an adversary of Prime Minister Harper, I would thank him too – for being so feckless in this matter. For those of you who may not know … ‘feckless’ is a person who is lacking in efficiency or vitality – who is unthinking and irresponsible. I really have no business commenting on his handling of the economy, his foreign policies, or what he is doing to protect the environment and so forth. But on his handling of the issues we are discussing today, I can tell you he has been a very bad boy indeed.

His government was caught totally off guard when Judge Himel’s ruling came out in September 2010. I am told they made no preparations for the release. They announced they would appeal about 3 hours after the release, and they did so without time to read it properly and consult properly. Incompetence! He fired no one for this.

Naughty Mr. Harper says unelected judges should not make laws. Six judges have told him to involve himself and that the laws are problematic to say the least. Yet the elected bad boy runs to hide behind the robes of yet more unelected judges. What does that say about him?

Does he know that these proceedings are the culmination of 4 years of a virtual public inquiry? Does he know that the findings were that the present laws create more violence against women and human trafficking than they prevent. Does he know that the judges found that there will not be much of an increase in prostitution – whatever that is – if the laws are removed?

Mr. Harper says he is against prostitution, and he vowed never to make it legal. Yet he wants to keep the current laws intact. Under the current laws prostitution is legal. Can you believe this guy?

Now we all know that pre-marital sex is also legal. Women can have sex with whomever they want, when they want. Does Mr. Harper have a problem with that? It appears he does. It seems to me that he has no problem with it, so long as she does it for free. It seems to me that he wants to control women’s bodies. If she negotiates dinner for sex, is she a criminal? Does she have to lie back and think of Harper when she has sex?

What does Mr. Harper mean when he says prostitution anyway? Does he mean sex for money? How about when I tie men up and tickle them? Is it sex? Is it legal if I do it for free? When I put men in corsets and dresses, am I a prostitute? I am sure Mr. Harper can share with us some of his acknowledged expertise in these matters. He should, because the laws he seeks to preserve are impermissibly vague in giving us the answers. That means that unelected officials, for arbitrary reasons, will decide when people’s private consenting behaviour is not legal. If anyone knows something about officials like that, it’s me.

Women are having sex for free all over town, all day, every day, anywhere they want, whenever they want, including the privacy of their own homes. The minute one red cent is exchanged she is a criminal. Why does Prime Minister Harper feel the need, the need, to have his lackeys tell me what I can and cannot do in the privacy of my bedroom with another consenting adult?

We must move away from a moral basis for legislating on this issue and towards a safety basis. We women must not lose control of our bodies and our lives. Other countries are hopefully moving forward in emancipating women. Don’t allow Mr. Harper to take us backward.

So I turn to Laureen Harper, Mr. Harper’s wife. I ask her to read the decisions and tell her elected husband what the findings were and then send the Prime Minister to me for a lesson in behaviour modification he’ll never forget. I will make a man of him.

Terri-Jean Bedford
http://DominatrixOnTrial.com

The 2012 Prostitution Appeal Decision – An Expression of Gratitude

On March 26, 2012 five judges of the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled on the governments appeal of the 2010 decision of Justice Susan Himel, which struck down the three laws seeking to prevent prostitution, whatever that is. Those laws were against living off the avails of prostitution, keeping a bawdy house for prostitution and communicating for prostitution.

First, the court upheld Justice Himel on the avails provision, so basically prostitutes can now have security, chauffeurs, accountants, landlords and so forth. Second, they told Parliament it would have to rewrite the bawdy-house provision to remove the reference to prostitution within 12 months or the provision falls. And third, they left the communicating provision intact, although the judges split 3-2 on that.

The media recognized that the Court has essentially legalized brothels in Ontario and thrown the matter to Parliament. Remember, the communicating provision remaining intact is essentially to deal with street prostitution and the penalties so minor as to be on the level of a traffic ticket. Police officers sympathetic to us have told my supporters that they are no longer going to act against indoor prostitution because it is prostitution, whatever that is.

This is an historic victory because it shows that we were right about the laws being unfair for a whole host of reasons and have now ensured that the debate will not be suppressed and changes will come. In the coming weeks I will be writing about fairness in any new laws that might be brought in. However, for now, I want to express my gratitude to many wonderful people.

Professor Alan Young has worked on this case for a decade, and against these laws for years before that. He supervised, in my estimate, about 50 students who assisted as part of their studies. He had to advocate for funding. He devoted summers and worked extra hours when he had teaching duties. He did this on the heels of publishing his wonderful book profiling the terrible shortcomings in our legal system. He defended me in the past when I was arrested under these laws despite offering no sex. He has inspired scholarship and advocacy in an area of the law desperately crying out for attention from governments. The Order of Canada award was created for people like him.

My fellow plaintiffs Amy Lebovitch and Val Scott deserve the nations thanks for coming forward and exposing their private lives and taking a position, so as to make the challenge legally viable. They have stood against these laws for years prior to this challenge coming to maturity. They have walked the walk in every way. Val has also served as Executive Director of the Sex Professionals of Canada (SPOC), and as such has led others who have helped to work towards more fairness in these laws and in societys treatment of sex workers. Val has been an amazing spokesperson. Nikki Thomas has succeeded Val and has also spoken for the current initiative with amazing insight and effectiveness.

I also want to pay my thanks to lawyers besides Alan who have represented me and assisted me in the past, and generally enabled me to carry on and tell my story. As they defended me or represented me in appeals and other ways they too fought these laws. I will, as I have in the past, list them now in the order they participated and they all have my gratitude: Ken Danson, Morris Manning, Theresa Simone, Murray Klippenstein, Charlie Campbell, George Callahan, Leah Daniels, Paul Burstein, Justice David L. Corbett and Sender Herschorn. Their assistants and staffs are not to be forgotten either.

Finally, let us not forget the many activists from the past. There have been coalitions in the past seeking to amend the bawdy-house and related laws. In the middle 1990s Robert Dante headed up the coalition formed after I was raided. Andy Anderson and the late Richard Hudler and so many others over the years are not to be forgotten. Their stories will be told, and it is my intention to do so or see that it is done. This is their victory too. Long live freedom.

Terri-Jean Bedford
http://DominatrixOnTrial.com