Margaret Wente is a Bad Girl

Margaret Wente is a bad girl. Margaret is a high profile regular columnist for the Globe and Mail, often called Canada’s National Newspaper. On Saturday, June 22, 2013 she wrote an article critical of attempts to, in her words, legalize prostitution. Among other things she said the current case being made before the Supreme Court, Bedford Versus Canada (I am Bedford – one of three plaintiffs), cannot change the fact that legalization would, in her opinion, mean more sex sold and that this is always bad for the women involved and for society as a whole. I do not expect the members of the media to be fair, or even properly informed when they write or speak. They have so many issues to follow, deadlines to meet and advertisers to satisfy. But when someone of Margaret’s stature descends to an uninformed rant, and her editors publish it, it cannot be allowed to stand unanswered. My supporters have asked me to respond.

To begin with, I am not a poster girl. Not one of we three plaintiffs are poster girls. Margaret has spent time with me and said many positive things about me. The other two plaintiffs are dedicated and long time activists against the current laws. I am covered in the media a great deal because I have been before the courts for years. I have been to jail for prostitution and have been fighting the laws for two decades. I have walked the walk. Margaret mentioned none of this. Nor did she say that the court is not making decisions about the right or wrong of prostitution or its legality. It is legal. Margaret did not say any of this in her article either. The court is examining whether the preceding courts, six judges, erred in striking down laws or not doing so, because the laws are in not in accord with fundamental justice.

Margaret also did her readers a terrible disservice by failing to mention that the evidence considered by the courts exceeded 25,000 pages, heard with cross-examinations over three years. Within that evidence was comprehensive court tested evidence of the experiences of other countries and their prostitution laws. That debate about the experience of other countries is over. Margaret’s comments are not court tested. Margaret writes as if she did not read the two judicial decisions, a frightening thought.

I might add that Margaret did not tell you that any attempt to outlaw the sale of sex means the government telling people what is legal and not legal between consenting adults in private. She did not tell you how government is supposed to go about enforcing correct private consenting behaviour. She did not tell you that the judges said that the worst aspects of prostitution are already addressed by other laws. She did not tell you that on numerous occasions the editors of her own paper called for removal of the current laws. As to the good and bad of prostitution, whatever that is, or other acts between consenting adults, people should inform themselves, and others, before giving opinions.

Terri-Jean Bedford

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