Vacation Time

I have not been updating my blog each day because I got a great invitation to stay at a cottage for a week. It was sudden and I had to leave right away and it has been great. The only way I can vacation is if it doesn’t cost anything, so I can’t plan.

My supporters are watching for the release of my book on the Internet. Instructions for downloading it will be on this web site and in my blog as soon as possible. Some technical issues are currently being resolved.

Direct e-mails will also be made to many contacts I have made over the years. Hard copies should be in major bookstores soon as well. I’m very excited and encouraged by the reactions I have been getting thus far.

Thanks again for your interest.

Upcoming Publication of My Memoirs

I am advised by the publishing company in the United States that my memoirs have gone to press and should be up on the Internet any time. I will have instructions on how you can get them in the coming days. For now I just want to share a few thoughts about them with you before they come out.

At the encouragement of some of my key supporters in the early days I wrote about what was happening to me and about what I did as a dominatrix. For example, the chapters about my practice as a dominatrix were written many years ago. I worked on them after my first house was raided and closed and again after my second house closed. The two chapters on my life before my first house were the first written. The chapters on the early legal battles were drafted not long after the events occurred. Final consolidation into a complete draft for all but the last two chapters was done in 2009 after the Himel decision was released.

I was assisted by my key supporter Scott and my web master. The editorial staff at Iuniverse (the U.S. company for self publishers) edited the drafts during the months of January and February of 2011 and in March I made my final revisions before the final editing process set in. During this time my lawyer, Sender Herschorn, ensured that the manuscript was fair and balanced in its recounting of legal events. A very few changes were made in April and May. Basically the book ends early in March 2011. Obviously the book could not have reached the standard it has without the extensive editorial assistance provided. I salute the three editors who worked on the book with me during the last months.

The book has been circulated to some media and intellectuals a few weeks ago, before final editing was completed. Some chapters were provided in draft form to graduate students at a couple of universities who were writing papers on the current case. A couple of interviews with me were published before the Court of Appeal sittings so as not to be conflicting with the coverage of that. This was at my explicit directions. I did not discuss the memoirs while the court was sitting. But now that this has happened, there is no longer, in my view, any reason to withhold publication any longer.

The book will be available on the Internet any time now and in Canadian bookstores in about 10 days, possibly sooner. I hope you will find it informative not only about me, but about the issues that have surrounded me and so many others over the years.

Some Reflections on Recent Media Coverage

I am appreciative of the media for presenting me in their reports so frequently, but I must remind everyone that I am one of three plaintiffs in the current constitutional challenge. Val Scott and Amy Leibovitch have for years been in the forefront of the battle to change the laws.

In the 1990’s Robert Dante headed a coalition to amend the laws. Richard Hudler and numerous others met regularly at 519 Church Street in the middle years of the decade just concluded to make efforts for amendment. Andy Anderson is not to be forgotten. He too has been a presence during all these years. This list of activists is long and not confined to Toronto.

I and some of my key supporters have been in touch with some educational institutions and may be participating in histories and other studies to be written on the initiatives over the years to change the laws. The media has largely ignored this history and this is a shame. It is my wish that all the heroes in this long struggle be acknowledged.

I am going to be publishing my memoirs this week, so in future blogs I will talk about my book and address some questions about it that people may send me. I will attempt to share the questions and answers with you on this blog. Also, I will now reduce my blogs to every second day or so for the present time. Thank you for reading what I have to say.

Some Reflections on the Prostitution Appeal

We have now concluded the hearings of the appeal by the governments of Canada and Ontario of Justice Susan Himel’s striking down of Canada’s prostitution laws in the fall of 2010. A decision is expect in the fall of 2011. It is widely expected that the matter will go to the Supreme Court of Canada, but this is not certain. The stay on Judge Himel’s decision remains in effect until at least the release date of the current appeal decision.

There is also widespread agreement amongst those following the case and involved in the case, that Parliament, not judges should decide what is legal and not legal between consenting adults. I will comment on that in the future, but for today I just want to share a couple of observations looking back on the week just passed.

Most of those studying this matter, by far, in the academic community are women. I know this from contacts I and others have made during the three years of this case and from seeing who attended the overflow room at the courthouse. In my opinion, many women are concerned about being told how to conduct themselves in private and about being legally denied the right to take measures for their security. This case has hit a nerve amongst women, whether for or against the original decision. Perhaps the current laws remind them of the authorities in other countries denying women basic rights and protections.

Another observation to share. At the Conservative Party convention before last week delegates voted to oppose any liberalization of the prostitution laws – meaning not giving prostitutes any more rights. At their convention this weekend, as far as I know, the New Democrats have been silent on the issue. Whatever these parties advocate, I hope they begin by defining exactly what prostitution is. I hope they distinguish which private behaviours between unmarried adults at home for free are to be illegal in private for money. The more specific they are the fairer they are. Fairness would be a start.

Court: Day 5 – Last Day

Well, the appeal hearings are finally done. They ended this morning after just a short sitting. I was home for lunch. Today the lawyers for the federal and provincial governments and our lawyer Professor Young replied to the intervenors. As I have said before, the intervenors, in my opinion, just reinforced or reiterated the arguments made by us and the government lawyers. However, the judges wanted them to be heard.

Yet again, these hearings were about Judge Himel’s 131 page decision and the evidence presented to her. New arguments and evidence were not relevant. The question is whether the judge erred. But of course so many commentators and even lawyers wanted to speak to the issues as if the issues were being raised for the first time. They just don’t get it.

I have made many comments in public this week and last. Some have taken offence at some of my remarks and some have pointed to factual errors I may have made. Others have praised what I have said, and of course some have disagreed. I apologize if I made any factual errors or poor choices of words. I assure all of you that I would never intentionally do so. I am not a lawyer or professional spin doctor, so I don’t have the presence of mind that they do. Yet, if I was not to speak publicly, I would be condemned as too scared to do so, just like Prime Minister Harper (even though I haven’t even touched him yet). I am doing the best I can. I am so grateful to all the other activist gals who are speaking to support our side.

Court: Day 4

I was in not at the court today. I am following the plan to attend on the Monday, Wednesday and Friday of the week. My health will not stand going every day. And it works out well. Monday was the first day, so significant decisions might have been made on how to proceed or whatever, and it was wise to be there. Wednesday was our presentation by Professor Young, which I told you about in my previous blog. And tomorrow, Friday, there are the replies to the presentations of the intervenors the day before, and a scheduled ruling on the extension of the stay on Justice Himel’s strike-down of the prostitution laws.

Today, Thursday, the numerous intervenors were heard. It is important to keep in mind that the judges were presented with materials by the intervenors well before today. The issue is whether the lower court judge erred, not further arguments or evidence about the issues. A knowledgeable supporter watched the full proceedings from the media overflow room and told me that there was nothing unexpected in the proceedings. Judge Himel ruled against having any intervenors, excepting the Province. However the Court of Appeal overruled her and there were three intervenors in the main hearing, all opposed to our motion. Yesterday there were many more, about half in favour and half against.

I hope they added something to the question of where the first judge might have erred, if at all. But let us not lose sight that the present laws are the worst laws we can have, whatever your views on prostitution, whatever that is. And further, almost all commentators seem to agree that Parliament, not judges, should make the changes. That brings us to Prime Minister Harper, as usual. As I said before, he is clogging the courts so he can hide from leading on this issue. Impressive? More about that another time. Much more.

Day 3 in Court

I was in court for the entire sitting on day three of five scheduled. The seats were hard and narrow and my back was killing me. On day one I was only there half the day and yesterday, day two I was not there at all. However it was so interesting I often forgot the discomfort. Alan answered back for our side. He answered the judges more directly than the federal and provincial crowns. His summary was so on point and moving that after we rose I went outside and wept tears of joy.

Reporters approached me outside but I asked them to give me some time. A couple did interview me as I sat on a bench in the shade after the hearing. But, as I said before, the focus must now be on the lawyers, judges, other activists and the issues – particularly whether Judge Himel erred or not in the decision now under review. But I wasn’t going to miss our day in court, and Alan’s presentation, for the world. He answered back so well that I had to cry. It was one of those times when one has the feeling that the fight is worth it and right can triumph in the end.

It seems to me that the editors of the Globe and Mail support our side. The Toronto Star also seems headed in that direction. My view is that Parliament should bring in new laws. I will have plenty to say about that in the future. Tomorrow, Thursday, the interveners will be making presentations. My understanding is that fifteen groups have submitted documents to the judges who will question all their lawyers briefly. I don’t know how that is enough time for so many groups to be dealt with, but if it is the appeal concludes Friday. On that day the judges will decide if the stay on the striking down of the laws continues, and what the terms of the continuation will be. Or, they may say the laws fall on Friday night or shortly after. We will see.

After 2 days at the Ontario Court of Appeal

We have now had two days at the Ontario Court of Appeal and both the federal and provincial governments have been questioned by the panel of five judges. I was not at the court today, but from reports and from what I saw yesterday it appears that the judges are having problems with the appeal. Tomorrow my lawyer, Professor Young, will respond. I am hoping to be there. On Thursday the intervenors on both sides will make their presentations and on Friday final replies and discussion on possible extension of the stay on Justice Himel’s decision striking down the prostitution laws.

I am struck by the crown attorneys on the one hand saying that the government has no responsibility to protect prostitutes (prostitution is legal while activities surrounding it are not) yet at the same time arguing for the present laws because they say they want to protect prostitutes (which is nonsense).

Already there is widespread acceptance of the need for Parliament to act. The National Post today called for Parliament to overhaul the laws to make them more logically consistent. I found it amusing that their editors noted that prostitution is legal and then concluded their editorial by saying that prostitution should be legalized.

When Parliament does get around to acting the important thing is that the laws are clear, equitably enforced and recognize that this is a free country; and that what consenting adults do in private is not under the control of Prime Minister Harper

Prostitution Appeal after 1 day

Today was the first of five scheduled days before the Ontario Court of Appeal, who are reviewing Justice Susan Himel’s striking down of Canada’s prostitution laws in Ontario. She issued her decision in September 2010 and there is a stay on the strike-down until at least June 17.

I attended most of the day and then went to the CBC for interviews. Now I’m back home and here I will stay until, I think, Wednesday. On that day Professor Young, my lawyer and head of our lawyers will reply to the federal and provincial governments’ arguments.

From what I saw and what I heard the federal government lawyer was not doing well with the judges. That comes as no surprise. The issue is whether Justice Himel erred. She took a year to prepare her decision. It was 131 pages. There were 88 volumes of evidence and transcripts. Hers was not a whimsical utterance. From what I and the press have seen so far it appears that it is standing up on appeal.

In my comments to the press I attacked the Prime Minister Harper. I believe he can stop deferring dealing with the fact that the present laws are a fiasco, whatever your views on prostitution, but I think he is afraid to do it. I look forward to when Parliament considers new laws, as I think they will. That is what I have fought for. But I am mad at Mr. Harper for his determination to keep intact the laws the Liberals kept intact for so long at such a high human cost. Nothing can be worse than what we have now, whatever your views.

Welcome to Terri-Jean Bedford’s Dominatrix Blog

For those of you who are just finding out about me let me say a few words of introduction. I am Terri-Jean Bedford. I am a retired Canadian dominatrix, whose trade name was Madame deSade. I have been in the news for many years because I was charged under the prostitution laws yet, I maintain to this day, my conviction was wrong. I never sold sex or sex acts. I operated two “dungeons”, one from 1993-94, for which I was convicted and one from 1999-2002, for which I was not even charged. I have been engaged in numerous legal proceedings to clear my name and reform the laws. The most recent of these, where I joined with two other women as plaintiffs, resulted in Canada’s laws against prostitution being struck down in September 2010.

As you may know, my memoirs are about to be published. I have been working on them for almost 15 years. However I am withholding their release until after the appeal of the September 2010 decision. This appeal is being held at Toronto at the Ontario Court of Appeal from June 13 to 17 inclusive, at least. Even if it adjourns without concluding I will not delay the release of my memoirs much beyond the 17th, if at all.

For now, let me just say that these proceedings are a disgrace. They involve 5 or 6 judges and 32 lawyers and countless other support work and resources. Judge Susan Himel, who wrote the decision under appeal, was clear. The issues raised are for Parliament. I accuse Prime Minister Harper of cowardice in hiding behind the courts. Real criminals and serious crimes will go unaddressed as he clogs the court system so he can sidestep the issue. At least for now. Or so he thinks.

Thank you for sharing this time with me. I will continue to enter my blogs daily during the next couple of weeks, and regularly thereafter.